Lost Angel in Paradise

Linda Ballou, travel writer, author, and “Adventures in Travel” columnist for the Messenger Mountain News, starts her latest book: Lost Angel in Paradise: Great Outdoor Days from Los Angeles to the Coast, saying, “I have lived in California most of my life, but I am still a tourist, discovering new sweet spots along the coast—and loving it even more.”

This 89-page paperback invites its readers to discover 32 day trips along the Pacific coast where  “Power-packed outdoor days restore the soul, rejuvenate the body, and clear the mind.” 

Nearly half the book covers the first 14 hikes in Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Mountains on a journey that starts at Malibu Lagoon and continues to the redwoods.

Ballou’s familiarity with the terrain alerts hikers to easy-to-miss trail turnoffs, predatory parking enforcement (Point Dume—Bluff Trail), and Lake Cachuma, where “If you sneeze, you will miss the entrance….”

She alerts you to migratory bird-watching opportunities in the Pacific Flyway, and advises caution swimming off the Malibu pier, where, if you’re not run over by a surfer, “tropical storms coming from Baja…send ten-foot waves curling to shore with a thunderous crescendo.”

Ballou also refers to the 2018 Woolsey fire that “scorched many of my favorite trails. I have replaced them with hikes further up the coast and made notes on the ones I believe will recover in a season.” 

“Montecito’s Hidden Gem” (Hike No. 22), just south of the Romano Creek Bridge, remained intact after the 2017 mudslides. Its trail system, maintained by the residents, “meanders through the backyards of their mansions.”

Another hidden gem is Montana de Oro, along the Central Coast, where “the sea is more energetic and dramatic,” not good for swimming but a picnic lunch from the Back Bay Cafe, may be in order. 

Did you know about the Whale Trail along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to California, with sixty designated viewing sites? Topanga may be where the “mountains meet the sea;” Rancho del Oso in Santa Cruz is where the “redwoods meet the sea.” 

Perhaps Ballou’s most historical and poignant account is about author Jack London’s Beauty Ranch. She admires London and considers him “a kindred spirit.” The ranch is maintained by volunteers because the state does not allocate funds to keep it operational. During the  2018 Camp Fire, volunteers rescued treasures and manuscripts from the cottage and museum. 

In its delightful simplicity, Ballou’s personal touch unabashedly expresses her deep understanding and love of all that is nature. Pack this lightweight guide in your pocket. You’ll feel like you’ve brought your best friend along.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares a host of articles and information about her travel books on her site www.LostAngelAdventures.com. You will find information about her novels and media offerings at www.LindaBallouauthor.com.


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at editor@messengermountainnews.com

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