Lin Pardey and her husband Larry are internationally famous for their sailing adventures. But in 1980 – fresh from an eleven years-long sailing journey, where they forged the early years of their marriage on high seas and in exotic locales – they came to California looking for a good spot to build a boat, test Lin’s skills as a writer and taste the apparent security life ashore could offer.
Nestled in a rocky outcropping of winding, sparsely populated dirt roads, 60 miles from the sea and 50 miles from Los Angeles, Bull Canyon would seem an unlikely place for boat-building. But when Lin and Larry set eyes on the abandoned stone cottage at the top of a rutted, dusty lane, it was love at first sight. The house was certainly a fixer-upper, but there was plenty of room to build a boat, not to mention peace, quiet, and an abundance of natural beauty. They knew they’d come home.
Bull Canyon would bring them joy, victories and failures – but also packrats in the pantries, flooding rains that would make Noah himself cower, the occasional cougar, and an oddball collection of neighbors as ready to assist these hapless appearing newcomers as they were to gossip or occasionally cause trouble. It would be a life lived close to the land, coaxing vegetables out of acrid soil, living side-by-side with wildlife of all types, navigating dangerous roads to simply get to the nearest grocery store, no piped in water, no electricity, no phones – not even a proper address to receive mail. Their marriage would be tested, too, working side-by-side, 24/7. Life in the canyon would prove daunting, gritty, and dangerous, and a tougher bargain in the end than what they’d signed up for.
But as tough as life could be there, Bull Canyon was, indeed, the place where dreams could come true. It was here that Lin and Larry tapped into the affirming core of their marriage, accomplished back-breaking physical feats (moving enormous boulders and pouring tons of hot lead, among others), and grew to love the magical yet difficult environment.
In the tradition of Under the Tuscan Sun and A Year in Provence, Pardey takes readers on a voyage – landlocked, but a voyage nonetheless – of the heart, sharing candidly and with great humor the four years she and her determined husband spent in Bull Canyon. From the Thanksgiving when they had to hang the turkey from a ceiling hook to keep it safe from invading animals, to their constant companion, Dog (who is actually a cat), to Lin’s run-in with a couple of drunk hunters, to Larry’s careful coaxing of rough-sawn timber into the beautiful boat, Taleisin, their story, related in the warm, personal voice of the fireside storyteller, is a funny, tender, and engrossing tale. Bull Canyon is the story of two “dreamers and schemers” who have taken life by the horns – and bring the reader along for the wild and joyous ride.
“Lin Pardey has captured the very heart of a full life (the good, the bad, and the uncomfortable) in Bull Canyon. It is a must read for anyone with an adventurous spirit or those who need to be encouraged to follow their dreams.”
·Lee Stanley, Award-winning filmmaker, producer (Grid Iron Gang)
“It’s great. Very very funny and insightful. Captures a time and place.”
·Herb McCormick, Editor at Large, Cruising World/Sailing World.
“Lin Pardey makes it clear why she has such a following among her sailing readers: she’s a great observer of human nature and a natural storyteller. With Bull Canyon, she has bridged the divide between sailors and landsmen and will touch readers of every inclination.”
·Karen Larsen, founder and editor, Good Old Boat
“Bull Canyon is the story of Lin Pardey and her husband Larry. Both are well known for their sailing adventures. In 1980, after sailing for 11 years, they decide to come to California to find a spot for Larry to build a boat and for Lin to work as a writer. What follows in this book is the tale of nearly four years in Bull Canyon, an area sixty miles from the sea. The house is a fixer upper with no electricity or phone lines, and the neighbors are all quirky characters.
They battle rats, bugs, frogs, fire, floods, and earthquakes, yet despite all this, they fall in love with Bull Canyon and the simple, unspoiled life it offers to them. There are many black and white photos throughout the book of their time in California. I was in awe of the boat that was built in this remote canyon.
I loved this book! Each chapter reads like a travel memoir. Lin and Larry have chosen a non-traditional lifestyle that was fascinating to read about. I loved picking up this book and traveling back thirty years in time to hear about this couple’s adventures and trials while trying to adjust to a life back on land. Lin’s writing style was easy to read and pretty much grabbed me from the first few pages. I was sad when the story came to an end. I had a wonderful glimpse into their lives for the many years they worked and lived in Bull Canyon. Whether one has been sailing or not, does not matter, this story is an amazing book that would be a recommended read to anyone who has dreamed of doing something different or reading about it. I want to thank the goodreads giveaway program and Lin for this book!”
·Melanie Coombes- www.goodreads.com
“I loved Lin’s book! I was absolutely thrilled to see her lifestyle described in such a way that make the book more than a memoir but a journey of adventure and love. Bull Canyon showed the hardships of Lin and her husband, Larry’s life. They chose to live on land after their many years at sea. The canyon had presented its challenges each testing the couple more and more, but it still was a place for their dreams and aspirations. Their love for each other and dedication for their work was amazing. The descriptions come alive and I often found myself picturing the scene as if I was part of it too and got lost in the book. It was beautifully written. Their life out at sea and land had its ups and downs but in the end it was all worthwhile. Any reader would appreciate that. The pictures were great too as it helped me picture more of what I thought was happening. I reread my book twice because I just couldn’t get enough. “
·Linda Dao’s review in Goodreads
The following Review is by Deb Fowler, book reviewer and a member of the National Book Critics Circle