Reviewed by: Anne Holmes for the NABBW
It is easy to see why Linda Ballou is a well-known adventure travel writer, each of the stories takes you to a special place and allows you to share the sensual experience of being there without straining a muscle, getting altitude sickness or losing control of your horse.
Her use of words is commanding and her descriptions so vivid you will feel you have traveled alongside her and seen all the beauty of the surroundings which she so deeply appreciates. Here’s an example, from the chapter titled, “Stepping Outside of the Big Box,” which describes a February trip to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert:
“…A warming lunch and a snooze later, the sun was shining. I headed up the canyon to walk along a path tracing a chatty creek full of itself from the recent rains. Fast-moving clouds morphed from threatening gray to billowing white in a cobalt sky. The granite spires of the Baboquivari Range were now cloaked in a dazzling cape of fresh snow. I rock-hopped the bulging creek lined with gray willow, sycamore and cottonwood trees bereft of leaves… What is often described as a “vast wasteland” by those hurtling through the desert at 75-miles per hour in hermetically sealed automobiles, is, upon closer inspection, an on-going act of cooperation between plants, animals, and sometimes humans to survive.”
Ballou’s tales of her intrepid soul’s search for beauty in the wilds and her ability to physically handle the demands of her settings will thrill you. (Not to mention that they may possibly incite you to become fit enough to actually see yourself doing some of the things she is daring and athletic enough to do.)
Some of her tales, like “Falling in the Footsteps of John Muir,” about an accident she experienced four days into a horse-pack trip into the High Sierras, and “Look Both Ways on Small Islands,” which details her interrogation by French gendarmes while visiting a Club Med in Tahiti, will make you glad you’re just reading of her painful experiences – not actually living them.
But don’t despair. She not only lived to tell these tales, she actually manages to make them somewhat funny. Besides, MOST of the stories are upbeat and inspiring, while those that contain her “Eco-Alerts” are also informative.
You’ll enjoy this book and come away wanting to read it again!