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Doyle Hollister has written a paradise/paradise lost/paradise regained personal narrative about his heart- and soul-felt relationship to his family’s historic ranch. He will take you deeply into early initiatory childhood experiences with ranch wilderness—darkness, wind, storms, silence, and cowboys; then into the grief-filled consciousness of losing all connection to his free-range childhood; then into the ecstatic, poetic, and spiritual reconnection with the same land of his childhood, now in his elder years. It is a journey that exemplifies the importance of our connection to wilderness, and the dire consequences for us all as we progressively lose this connection on a collective level. His words could change your life.

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Praise for I Only Went Out for a Walk

"This is a charming petite memoire. One does not have to know the author to appreciate his attachment to this particular stretch of the California’s central coast. His descriptive prose invites the reader to accompany him as he revisits memories of this once expansive ranch. As we read, we can almost smell the saltwater marshes; feel the embrace of the coastal winds; see the blend of sky, surf, and shore. Most narratives of this type have only a limited, regional appeal, but Hollister overcomes that obstacle. He writes that it’s a personal story and journey. It’s a story of his early encounters with the natural beauty of this special piece of land, his loss, and his subsequent return to it. Many of us have experienced similar walks and can empathize with their loss. Few of us are fortunate enough to find them again. "

—J. Allen Russell

“A dream loves to be met in a dream. Doyle Hollister meets his beloved, Nature’s dream, in this deeply personal, genuinely intimate account of the wilderness surrounding his childhood home.”

—Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D, founder and presiding chancellor, Pacifica Graduate Institute; author of Dream Tending: Awakening to the Hidden Power of Dreams


“This is a book about the transformative powers of the land, the miracles it holds, and the profound grief that is unleashed by its loss. It is a love song to the ranch, and to the vital wilderness places of the earth.”

—Cynthia Carbone Ward, author of How Writers Grow and Getting There


“The silence, deep darkness, and fierce winds, forces that would intimidate most young boys, come alive in us through Doyle Hollister’s penetrating prose.… A little treasure of a memoir.”

—Paul Relis, founding Executive Director, Community Environmental Council; author of Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier


“Doyle Hollister wonders out loud, on behalf of us all: ‘What is being lost when we lose our intimacy with nature and the wilderness?’ An authentic, moving story with implications for us all.”

—Maren Hansen, M.Div., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute


Santa Barbara Independent Book Review:
Doyle Hollister’s ‘I Only Went Out for a Walk’

To Read the Full Article on the Santa Barbara Independent's website, click here


By Eric Hvolboll

In 1980, 15 years after he’d left as a teenager, Doyle Hollister returned home and walked across a steep coastal bluff west of Gaviota. His life changed in that moment, as he watched a blue-winged teal fly over the slough at the mouth of Santa Anita Canyon. As a boy, he’d hunted ducks around the same estuary on his family’s renowned ranch.

Hollister’s new, deeply personal memoir ― I Only Went Out for a Walk: Finding My Wilderness Soul on a California Ranch ― describes the transformative power of a connection with the land, especially during one’s youth. Some of the best parts of this short book are Hollister’s evocative descriptions of a boy’s intimacy with rural solitude ― frenzied joyrides clutching high, wind-whipped eucalyptus branches; gusts of shin-stinging beach sand; dark, moonless nights; unexpected thunderstorms; hunting crossbred deer on the San Julian ridge; and the classic western symphony of cow, cowboy, terrain, and Tico, Hollister’s horse.

Doyle and his horse Tico

As a man in his thirties, Hollister’s walk over his boyhood hunting fields stirred in him feelings of loss and grief — awakening long-dormant wounds arising out of an abrupt teenage separation from what he describes as his wilderness ranch soul. The concluding sections of the book describe Hollister’s psychological journey of reconnection. He chronicles feelings of anger; an immersion into silence; mentoring from his aunt and uncle, Jane Hollister and Joseph Wheelwright; and a reunification with his past.

Hollister’s journal illuminates regional and global patterns and challenges. As he explains, “The memoir is about what happens to us as humans if we disconnect from the wilderness. If we don’t pay attention to the wild and reconnect to it from our self-exiling unconsciousness, if we don’t reconnect our interior nature to our physical nature, our planet, we’re terminal.” 

Hollister lives today in a mountaintop perch overlooking Point Conception, Southern California’s wildest corner, on rugged land where his family has lived and worked for 150 years. He has keen vision both outward and inward, and the reader is fortunate to share his walk.

This Article is Copyright ©2018 Santa Barbara Independent, Inc. 

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