Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Warm Aloha for the Holidays

What better gift than a journey to ancient Hawai'i. If you purchase Wai-nani on my site I will provide gift wrapping and free shipping anywhere in the U.S., including Hawaii.

I will also include Wai-nani's Wayfinder, a map I created that takes you to sacred historical sites on the Big Island.  I visited almost all of them in my research for Wai-nani. Reading my book and having the map in hand will enhance any visit to the Islands.
Wai-nani's Wayfinder

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  

 Subscribe to her blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoyou.com and receive updates on her books, and travel destinations.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Heart felt thanks to my readers

I have been on the journey of a self-published author for nearly a decade. In this time of year end reflection it dawns on me that I owe a debt of gratitude to my readers. The collateral goodness of writing is connection with the hearts and minds of kindred spirits. Making a buck is always a good thing, but that is not why writers write. They do it because they want to share experiences in a way that engages and inspires others.
 The act of writing our thoughts comes back to us in strange and mysterious ways.

While I was at a guest ranch a man took a tumble off his horse. He bounced back up smiling and said" I want to thank you little lady. You just saved my life! I read you article the "Art of Falling" and I knew just what to do to break my fall and keep from getting hurt." That meant more to me than I can express here.
Fun Night Sharing Wai-nani with Book Club

It has been so wonderful meeting people online who have read one of my books and have found it worthwhile, even rewarding to travel with me, and my characters. Even though my books are in different genres, a common theme is that they are all destination pieces. They all take you to a places you can't get to any other way. It is my extreme pleasure to give back to the world in this way.

This a note of thanks to all of you have purchased my books and posted reveiws for them. That means so much to get feedback and to know that people have enjoyed my work. I hope there will be many more readers who want to see the ancient Hawaiian culture through Wai-nani's eyes, or will take a thrilling ride with Gemcie in the Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon, or become a stow away in the " Lost Angel's "backpack for more wonderful outdoor adventures.

I am busy gathering more tales for my second travel collection. You can help me by selecting the title you like best.

(1) The Lost Angel Rides Again
(2) Wild Ballou Wander
(3) 50 Shades of Ballou

Please leave a comment letting me know which one you like the best.

Wishing you a Bountiful New Year filled with love and laughter!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Holiday Hike to Share with Friends

Trail mates come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. Get to know a new friend, or catch up with an old one, while you  burn unwanted holiday calories on this easily accessed 2.5 mile loop.

The Sara Wan trailhead located on Pacific Coast Highway at the foot of Corral Canyon is one of the Santa Monica Conservancy’s newer acquisitions. The well-maintained path is wide enough for two and switches back and forth to heavenly vistas. Bear to the left on your way up canyon and enjoy the murmur of Corral Creek as you begin your hike. Fog chased by a cool breeze off the Pacific drifts through stands of eucalyptus, alder, Coastal Live Oak and willow tracing the path of the creek and keeping things comfortable. Soon you will be in mountains
frosted with pink bush mallow and lavender Chia sage, so bring a hat, water, and sun block. Once aloft, you enjoy an easy stroll with sweeping views of the coast all the way to Point Dume.
The path takes you to a vantage point with stunning views of Catalina and the Santa Monica Bay before leading you back to the parking lot.

The best ahi burger on the entire 27-mile stretch of scenic Malibu Coastline awaits your return at the open air Malibu Seafood Café adjacent to the parking lot. You can treat yourself to lobster live from the tank or be happy with scrumptious fish and chips. From the upstairs covered patio, dolphins are often seen cavorting in the deep channel. A flock of wild parrots, migrants from Mexico, have made homes in the palms swaying overhead.

A siesta on the Dan Blocker beach on the other side of PCH is a wonderful way to cap off this outdoor day. Bring a good book and wait for sunset. You can park in the Santa Monica Conservancy lot all day for five bucks—such a deal!

Your friends will thank you for bringing them here.

Directions: Malibu Seafood Market 25653 Pacific Coast Highway is about 11/2 miles up the coast from Pepperdine University between Malibu Canyon and Kanaan Road. An MTA bus stop is there for those who prefer not to drive.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voicefrom Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  

 Subscribe to her blog Linda's Blogand receive updates on her books, and travel destinations.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon in the Ribbons

Year in rear view mirror for The Cowgirl Jumped Over theMoon 

 California Riding Magazine selected
The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon for the Good Reads in their Holiday Gift Guide.
What better gift for your horse loving friends?

It was quite a leap of faith for me to publish this story.  Writing it was part of my own healing process when I had to give up riding due to an injury. I am so pleased that The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon is a finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards.  For it to receive this recognition is quite on honor.
Cowgirl has garnered numerous 5-Star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads from horse lovers, and general readers alike. I am marketing it under the genre “New Adult”, but the story can fall under “Women’s Fiction”, or even “Western Romance.” Here are some of my favorite comments from readers
**Horses. Romance. Adventure - who could need anything more from a book?

** I could smell the leather and sweat, feel the wind buffeting the flags at the shows, hear the whispers of the trees when Gemcie was out in the trail.

** Her writing is so descriptive that you feel you are in the saddle and experiencing everything Gemcie does. The words describing the amazing mountains makes you able to feel the wind and smell the rain.

While writing The Grand Prix jumping scenes in Cowgirl I kept a vision of Susan Hutchison in my mind. She is an incredible rider whose slogan is “No Guts-No Glory.” I saw her riding Samsung Woodstock in the 90’s when they were on their way to World Cup. She kindly agreed to an interview that appeared in the California Riding Magazine. The timing was auspicious because she was inducted into the Jumper Hall of Fame in 2016.

I especially enjoyed my conversation with Diann Adamson Can WeTalk”  that appeared in her newsletter Le Cour di l’ Artiste.

The Response to my storyand interview with Le Romantique, a site hosted by a Canadian teen, was important to me because I wanted to know if my book held appeal for the younger audience.

Cowgirl went Down Under in an interview with Christine Meunier, author of the Free Rein Series

A fantastic write-up and endorsement for my book appeared on Equine Addiction in Sept. 2016

Gina McKnight of Riding and Writing Fame spotlighted me on her blog early on.

I am grateful for all the enthusiastic support that The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon is receiving and can't wait to get back in the saddle myself for more riding adventures. Cheers, Linda

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  

 Subscribe to her blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoyou.com and receive updates on her books, and travel destinations.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Star on the Senior Adventure Travel Blogs for 2016

It pays to google yourself once in awhile. I discovered that I am on the Best Senior Adventure Blog lists for 2016 !!

 Once for my adventure travel column on the National Association of Baby Boomer Women

and again for my personal blog Linda Ballou Talking to You.
I would love for you to subscribe to my blog. It is an ecclectic mix of travel adventures, insights into Hawaiian history and mythology, and pieces about Cowgirls who jump over Moon!!

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  

 Subscribe to her blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoyou.com and receive updates on her books, and travel destinations.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Best of Times with Bobo

While living on the north shore of Kauai, I got a job as a cub reporter at the Kauai Garden Island
Napali Coast Kauai
  This gave me access to people on the Island I found noteworthy.  Suzanne “Bobo” Bollins, who lived at the notorious Taylor Camp (1969-1978) where young people fleeing the Viet Nam war and materialism of the mainland were living out the ultimate hippie fantasies, seemed a good prospect. It was said that Bobo swam the tumultuous waters of the Napali Coast wearing only a belt with a pouch containing a dry pareau for when she reached the shore. This seemed quite a miraculous feat to me, so I made an appointment to interview her.
She welcomed me in her tree house abode with a glass of Merlot. She told me that dolphin often played with her on her swims from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Valley—some eleven miles away. She said she felt their intelligence when they came close to look her in the eye.  She seemed perfectly at ease in her Spartan quarters, forerunner to the “Tiny House” movement today.  Her brown skin was weathered from the sun and a thick braid of golden hair went to her waist. Stories of the residents cavorting nude were over-stated, she told me. She was wearing a sarong tied at the shoulder in the early Hawaiian kikepa style, and said regular clothes were worn by residents in the evenings to fend off mosquitoes.
 She was highly animated in the telling of her month-long stays in the valley held sacred by Hawaiians, but abruptly stopped short to announce that the lava rocks in the canvas-domed sauna just outside her door were ready. This was to be an evening of sharing with the other residents in the camp. Bobo offered me a hit off of a joint of the most powerful pot I have ever run into in my life, and asked me if I would like to join them in a ceremony celebrating Earth Mother. Curious minds want to know, so I stripped to my undies and joined the group wearing no more than their birthday suits. We sat in a circle around the steaming crimson rocks holding hands while chanting a reverberating Om.  The heat generated by the cauldron of molten rocks combined with the intense communal sharing of energy brought me to a feverish crescendo. I stumbled out of the sauna, and planted myself face down in the frigid mountain stream running through the camp to cool off.  Energy shot through the top of my head like a comet, leaving my mind as clear as the sparkling heavens above.

At that time, the highly romanticized camp of peace and love hippies, glorified in coffee table books today, was nearing an end. Elizabeth Taylor’s brother, Howard who owned seven acres of beach front property had originally allowed a group of thirteen disenfranchised youth from San Francisco to build their camp on Ke’e Beach. Soon, there were over 120 people, including women with small children living at the camp. The residents of Taylor Camp who did not pay taxes, lived on welfare and food stamps, soon found themselves at odds with the locals. What’s more native Hawaiians didn’t like the desecration of the Kalalau Valley by hippies camped there. It was rumored that home boys had put a dead pig upstream the week before my visit to contaminate the water and encourage the tree-house people to move on.

Still, I admired Bobo for her extreme bravery and athleticism.  At the time I did not know that I had found the inspiration for the dolphin that would be the loyal friend of my heroine in Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i.  It is fascinating to witness how life experiences boomerang into an artist’s consciousness and appear in their work. Many Wai-nani readers view her relationship with a dolphin family as fantastic. The truth is that all of the interaction between my heroine, and her best friend--a bottle nose dolphin, is real. That is to say, I researched the behavior of dolphins and their relationship with humans throughout history to bring authenticity to the story.  A documentary film detailing life in Taylor Camp was released in the Islands. Bobo’s granddaughter, Natalie Noble, stars in the film swimming alone in the buff along the majestic Napali Coast. I suspect there are dolphins playing in her wake.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Gift of Understanding-Kahuna Garden

Pi'ilanihale-Hana, Maui
A rutted road in Hana, Maui leads to the site of Pi’ilanihale, the largest remaining heiau (temple of worship) in all of Polynesia. You must cross over a creek to get to the entrance of Kahanu Garden where the heiau was hidden from sight until 1999. It is hard to believe that this immense structure spanning three acres built of basalt rocks could be so overgrown with jungle foliage that it would go unnoticed until modern times. The side facing the sea rises steeply in five stepped terraces. Construction of the main terrace dates back to the 14th century when remote, water-rich Hana was heavily populated by Hawaiians.
Lono -God of Agriculture

Our guide, also named Pi’ilani, one of 14 children in a blended Hawaiian family, explained that Lono, the god of fertility, was worshipped here for agricultural bounty.  She said, the Hawaiians were so embarrassed about the paganism in their past that they let the heiau become overgrown. They may have also wanted to spare it from being demolished like so many of the ancient sites were at the behest of missionaries who prohibited hula, surfing, and even the language in schools in the 1800’s. Perhaps, the gods did not want this structure trampled upon by disrespectful tourists. Regardless of why it was hidden from time, the people of Hana cut back lush jungle foliage that threatened to swallow the edifice fifteen years ago, revealing a monument to a race of industrious, ingenious and loving people.

Kahanu Garden where the Pi’ilanihale is located is a flat expanse of green overlooking a tempestuous Pacific Ocean crashing on black lava cliffs. It was a landing place of early Polynesian settlers bringing plants they would need to survive. It was chosen by the ancients to be the site of the Makahiki Festival that ran for four months from November to February.  Warring was forbidden as this time of peace that allowed warriors to practice skills with contests and games. Elders played Konana, a form of checkers, and talked story while children frolicked. The tax collectors came around at this time collecting the bounty of the common people to be given to the royal class.

 Chief Pi’ilani, who ruled here in the 16th century was beloved by his people for uniting the warring tribes of Maui and bringing prosperity in his reign.  Under his rule the Pi’ilanihale (House of Pi’ilani) Heiau that began construction in the 1200’s was completed. Rocks from as far away as Hana Bay, seven miles away, were used to finish the task.
Wandering the grounds that boasts the largest collection of breadfruit trees in the world, as well as samplings of all of the indigenous plants brought by early settlers in double-hulled canoes, you can imagine the joyous village that thrived here under Chief Pi’ilani’s rule.  Our guide, Pi’ilani, talked to us about the many uses of the kukui nut used to keep the fires burning at night. She said the day began in the evening when the work was done and people came to share what they had gathered that day in their fish nets, in their taro gardens, and fruits from the mountain trees.
Linda, Lorraine, and Pi'ilani

 Pi’ilani generously answered all of my questions about the realities of the people of old. At the end of our tour she told me she wanted to empower me with the gift of her knowledge. Instead of correcting or judging my tale of her ancestry in my novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i, she told me that she understood that my work was built on what I knew. She said that she would be happy to add her knowledge, as it was handed down to her, to my pool of understanding. We held hands while as she invited us to join her in a chant to the gods who reside at Pi’ilanihale and give thanks for the bounty of the Kahanu Garden, a gift to all who find their way there.A big mahalo to my friend Lorraine Brodek, author of Nobody in a Somebody who resides in Hana, for making this very special tour possible for me.

Linda Ballou is the author of Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler's Tales and The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon. www.lindaballouauthor.com

Monday, August 29, 2016

Living Spiritual Temple-Mo'o'kini Heiau

Mo’okini Heiau sits high on a knoll and enjoys a panoramic view of the Upolu Point of Kohala and the distant shores of Maui. It stands in the center of a once-royal complex that was a vital center of sacred and secular power. It is one of the first luakini heiau (temple of human sacrifice) built by the Tahitian Priest Paao in the 12th century. Legend has it that it was the site of countless thousands of human sacrifices to the gods. The current site includes remains of the sacrificial temple measuring 250' x 130' with an open stone paved court enclosed by 20-foot-high stone walls and the sacrificial stone. According to oral tradition it was built in one night by 15-20,000 men passing stones to one another from the Niuli’i, nine miles away.

The Tahitians believed that there was not enough respect on the part of resident Hawaiians for the gods, and they set out to strengthen the kapu system by building this temple and enforcing the strict laws of the land (kapu). Paao summoned the warrior chief Pili who brought stones from one of the most sacred sacrificial temples in Tahiti and placed the bodies of fresh victims beneath these stones used as pillars to consecrate Mo’okini Heiau. Mu, or body catchers, collected the humans to be sacrificed. These were most often conquered warriors or members of the slave class. Women and children were generally spared. The bodies of the victims were then baked and the flesh removed from the bones. The bones were used for fish hooks or parts for weapons.
The oldest, largest, and most sacred heiau in old Hawaii is all that remains of the royal Kohala complex dismantled by sugar plantation owners in the 19th century. To Hawaiians it is a living spiritual temple and not a cultural artifact.

It was long held to be strictly kapu to visit, but In November of 1978 Kahuna Nui Leimomi Mo'okini Lum rededicated the Mo'okini Luakini to the "Children of the Land" and lifted the restrictive Kapu. In doing this she made it safe for all persons to enter the Heiau and created a new legacy for the Mo'okini Luakini as a place of learning for future generations to discover the past. Kahuna Nui Lum followed closely the wishes of her father Kahuna Nui Dewey O. Mo'okini who visualized this sacred site as one for the children of Hawai'i and the entire world. 

Take Highway 270 north from Kawaihae. Near Mile Marker #20 turn left at the sign to Upolu Airport. Just before the airport, turn left on the unmarked dirt road and travel approximately 2 miles. The site is on hill to the left.

 Research for Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i became a beautiful obsession that called for numerous trips to the Islands. I visited sacred sites, interviewed elders, spent nights in Waipio Valley where the bones of ancient chiefs are hidden in caves in steep walls framing the canyon. .www.lindaballouauthor.com

Friday, August 5, 2016

Spotting Spouts on Dana Wharf Whale Watching Adventure

Dana Pride-Dana Wharf Whale Watch
For a day beneath tender blue skies with a teasing sea breeze rippling aquamarine waters head to Dana Point Wharf for a whale watching adventure!!
 It felt wonderful to leave the smoke-smudged skies from recent fires behind and to breathe deeply of unsullied air.  We motored through the harbor past the breakwater to a deep channel where “Red”, a humpback whale, has been feeding for that last couple of weeks.
Whale Salute-Eric Frigger
We watched him dive and flip his tail in salute before heading on to find a splashing pod of common dolphin. These guys are smaller than the bottle-nose dolphin often seen on the California coast that are about four times their size. They travel in great numbers and seemingly fly through the water at an alarming speed. Occasionally they take time to do a flip, or splash to the cheer of the guests leaning over the bow of the boat to get a good view of the action.
Common Dolphin- Dana Wharf Whale Watch

The giant blue whales run in July, but we were not lucky enough to catch sight of one. The Gray whales are seen in numbers in the winter months when they are migrating from the icy waters of Alaska to Magdalena Bay in Baja California where they give birth to their young. Common dolphin sightings are consistent all year round. Sea lions and sea faring birds are often seen on the cruise. Your Captain shares information about the creatures you see as you patrol the shimmering blue water in search of marine life..
Sea Lions-Eric Frigger
There is a galley on board if you need a burger and a libation during your voyage. Back on shore  Proud Mary’s with open patio seating overlooking  the sparkling bay offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.  
Capt. Bringing us back to Dana Pt. Marina

Sailings on the “Pride of Dana”, a luxurious catamaran with viewing decks above and enclosed dining area below, go daily from dock #1 located in the Dana Point Marina. There is plenty of free parking in the marina. During the week the crowds are light even in the heaviest tourist season. What better way to beat the heat of the long, dog days of summer?
Linda cruising on the Dana Pride

For sailing schedule and  reservations go to Dana Wharf Whale Watching  www.danawharf.com

Based in Los Angeles, Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, is the author of Lost Angel Walkabout-
One Traveler's Tales. Find travel articles on her site www.LindaBallouAuthor.com

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Epic African Journey

I made it to Africa and it was all that I had hoped for and more!!
Journey of Giraffe on the Chobe River

It’s late May in Chobe National Park, Africa’s third largest wildlife preserve, and creatures great and small are fat and sassy. Tall golden grasses are plentiful. They are the favorite of the many herds of massive elephants and a host of antelope along with Cape buffalo, zebra, and more. The sable with its handsome striped face, the kudu with its elegant curled horns, and the seemingly thousands of impala all glow with good health. They look at us in our open-air, tiered safari vehicle with curious eyes as we trundle along sand tracks.
Leopard-Courtesy of OATS

I got to share highlights of the trip in this video clip on Around the WorldTravel. A wonderful excuse to go to Santa Barbara, my favorite get away. Your comments  are welcomed on this YouTube video

The finale of the trip was a stop at spectacular VictoriaFalls  where I embarked on an Elephant Back Safari spotlighted here in FabSeniorTravel newsletter.  

I traveled to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This piece" Botswana Highlights" is the first in a series of three giving more d
details onn what I experienced in each country.