Footloose Forays is a small travel business begun in 1983 while I was still in graduate school at San Francisco State University. It has grown slowly and organically through the intervening years. I have taken over 10,000 people on various natural history outings ranging from 4-hour night hikes on Mt. Tam to three week adventures in Ecuador. I have enjoyed nearly every minute of this work. The Buddhists refer to the importance of right livelihood and I have been lucky enough to find that. I lead every single trip. Footloose Forays = Michael Ellis. I have no staff except when I enlist my lovely son to help me. I have a very high repeat business and most trips fill up way in advance. One of the many blessings is the lovely relationships that I have with my fellow naturalists all over the world.
Currently I am concentrating on international travel and only offer a few of my favorite Footloose Forays trips in this country, mostly week-long camping in the mountains or deserts. If any of these trips interest you please feel free to contact me.
In addition to my own natural history forays, I often lead trips for a number of Bay Area organizations. I have a BS in Botany and Masters in Marine Biology, though I firmly believe that formal schooling is only a small part of the educational process. I have been a regular contributor to the KQED-FM Perspective Series since 1988 and write the Ask the Naturalist column for Bay Nature Magazine.
I am gone until 1 March leading three back-to-back trips in the Serengeti. This is easily my favorite trip.. Every February I am in the Serengeti since 1991!
The brochure should be in your mailbox soon if not already and there is bad news/good news; many of trips are filled, but some are not. Spring hikes are full, Bhutan = Shangri-La is waitlist only and even Ecuador and the Galapagos next January is waitlist only. Next year's trip to the Serengeti is half-full already. There's a good reason my trips fill right up. I have the perfect itinerary, very competent local ground operators and guides but most importantly my clients are the best! Friendships form that last a lifetime from the powerful experiences that are shared. And I'm very excited about a new trip I'm doing this southern Bhutan. I've been waiting years for the Royal Manus National Park to open. And besides November is the cruelest month in California–my opinion it offers very little in the natural history world.
And speaking of months here's the text from my latest NPR perspective, which runs on San Francisco's KQED radio. I've been doing these since 1988!
by Michael Ellis
December? Wait a minute. That means the 10th month but isn't it the 12th? That got me thinking just where do we get the names for our months. Well January is named for Janus. This is perfect for the 1st month of the year. Because Janas is the Roman God of Gates and portals. And he is always depicted with one face facing forward and the other backward. And the January 1 has always been a time of reflection of what just took place and some potential actions for the coming year. February. Febra was the Roman festival of purification. This was generally held on the 15th of the month. And the idea was to have spring cleaning so to speak. March. This one is named for the God of war–Mars. This used to be the 1st day of the year for to the ancient Romans. And that makes perfect sense because much is beginning in this month. Mars was considered as the guardian of agriculture as well as war. April is not the cruelest month but instead is named for the beautiful goddess of love and beauty–Aphrodite. And how perfect is that? When the world becomes luscious and full of wildflowers. May means “the great one” and who was the great one? It was Maia the goddess of the spring. And she is associated with growth. Though ironically not with sexual union even though we celebrate the Maypole. This is a dance symbolizing the union of male and female. It is June where couples get married. Juno is the goddess of marriage and the well-being of females. Hallelujah. July. This is the month of Julius Caesar. He was the guy that created a new calendar that made a bit more sense than the old one. And in his honor he named a really nice month after himself. August. Continuing in the spirit of self aggrandizing Augustus Caesar who continued to improve the calendar name this month for himself. And now September October November December–78 910. I reckon those 2 months added by the Roman emperors pushed these months forward and so now you know.