Monday, August 11, 2014

Around the World TV Spotlights My Oregon Adventures

Multnomah Falls, Columbia Gorge


The Columbia Gorge is a delightful waterfall wonderland with a web of trails lined with ferns and flowers shaded by old growth forests. I hiked them with ten other guests of  New England Hiking Holiday and our  guides who did all the heavy lifting. Days end brought us to stately Skamania Lodge where we enjoyed garden fresh salads and local salmon among other delicately prepared meals.  A nightcap beside a warming fire beneath velvet skies filled with a billion stars ended another brilliant day. Highlights of my trip that included touring the Hood River Valley, a wonderful hike along the Salmon River and a week on the stunning Oregon Coast complimented by award winning, nature photographer Greg Vaughn await you in this interview.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Devil's Punch Bowl in the Columbia Gorge-Oregon

No trip to the Columbia Gorge in Oregon is complete without a hike up popular Eagle Creek. The moment you enter the well-groomed path, you are swallowed in green.


Chatty smaller streams join the run through the majestic forest. The drop-off naturally becomes more precipitous as you climb up canyon. Often the trail narrows to a ledge with a well-placed handrail to steady your nerves. Sprays of pink and white flowers nestled in ferns cling to the basalt canyon walls, and around each bend is another stunning view of the deepening chasm.
Devils Punch Bowl is the first of three falls along the way to High Bridge, our lunch destination. Rock walls deep in the canyon are matted with mosses, ferns, and lichens. With abundant life all about, I felt refreshed, soothed, restored, and deliriously happy to be here. Four-miles in, we crossed over a heart-catching cleft in basalt walls with black water flowing far below. At our lunch stop I shed my boots and dangled my dogs in the tingling water while our guides laid out a delicious spread. Heaven can wait! I'm busy. For more on this adventure to to New England Hiking Holidays.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Columbia Gorge/Mt. Hood Up Close and Personal

Evan and Kristin make it to Oneonta Gorge
Kristin and Evan are a delightful couple from Arizona that joined me on a hiking adventure with New England Hiking Holidays in the Columbia Gorge/Mt. Hood region of Oregon. I am working on articles about this wonderland of waterfalls that will appear soon, but for immediate gratification click go to Kristin's photo album on Facebook

Evan wanted to see the Oneonta Gorge which requires swimming in a mountain stream fed by snowfields in the Cascade Mountains. I take credit for saving Kristin’s life when she slipped and nearly fell into a chasm getting her Nat. Geo. shot.  (Note shot of scraped leg.) Nothing went un-documented. Great fun had by all lucky enough to take this Oregon trip offered by NEHH each year in June when the flowers are in full swing and the mountain air is scintillating.

I am  wearing California Yellow

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is it wrong to fall in love with your heroine?

Somewhere between researching the life of Ka’ahumanu and creating the fictionalized Wai-nani, I fell in love with my heroine.
So smitten was I with the fiery, brave personage of Ka’ahumanu (Wai-nani) that I determined to tell Hawai’i’s story through her eyes. Even though born into the rank and privilege of the royal class, she railed against harsh punishments meted out by priests and ruling chiefs invested with the power of gods. She questioned the status quo and confronted authority. She was clever and moved like water around her enemies, solving her problems with intellect rather than force. She faced her fears and pushed through them becoming stronger in adversity. And finally, she lifted the dragon tail from her path and rose to become the most respected and powerful woman in all of old Hawai’i.
She could be seen skittering across the waves on a surfboard with Kamehameha the Great who declared her to be his favorite wife. She was a beautiful dancer, a strong swimmer, and one practiced in the healing arts.  Though she was a childless bride, she remained Kamehameha’s confidant and paramour over his 40-year rise to power. At his death in 1819 he bestowed upon her the power to rule equally with his son.
Art by Steve Strickland

To me she was the ultimate empowered female and a forerunner to the modern independent woman. I saw myself in her and grew stronger in telling her story. She gave me the courage to publish Wai-nani –A Voice from Old Hawai’i. Is it love, or is it admiration mixed with deep envy of her life in hauntingly beautiful old Hawai’i that I feel for my heroine? I don’t’ think it was wrong of me to fall in love with my character in the process of bringing her to life. In fact it might be required passion in the work for readers to fall in love too.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Video clips shed light on #Ancient Hawai'i

As an adventure travel writer I love to travel and spend time writing about my explorations.  I also love sharing Wai-nani, A Voice from OldHawai’i with book clubs, but I cannot be available for Skype meet-Wai-nani and to direct them to my video playlist.
ups. Brief video clips answering the most common questions I receive from readers about my book seemed a very good answer to this dilemma.
In the story I weave myth, legend, and actual historical incidents that raises the question in the minds of readers “What is True?”   In this clip I address this very important question.
Is the story historically accurate? http://youtu.be/wI4BONZhbjY
Each of the thirteen clips I created answer specific questions about the Hawaiian culture. For instance, the death of Captain James Cook at the hands of the Islanders has long been a controversial topic in Hawaiian history, so I presented my position on the matter.
Did the Hawaiians stab Captain Cook in the back? http://youtu.be/_S0kD-RtcK8
Here is my response to the question “Did Hawaiians have “Love Games?”
Did Hawaiians Have Love Games? 
http://youtu.be/rmUxhOyKJzA
 It is my hope that sharing in this way readers will not only come away with a better understanding of the ancient Hawaiian culture, but that they it will give readers a more personal connection with me.  People love videos because reading huge amounts of written content becomes over-whelming. I hope people will find my videos about Wai-nani, entertaining and informative and will share them with friends!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Magic of the Iao Needle in Wailuku Valley

Was it just a coincidence that the Maui Beach Hotel where I was staying sits on Kahalui Bay where Kamehameha landed in the late 1790 with his armada of Alapa warriors?  From the beach at the hotel, I can see the mouth of the impregnable Wailuku Valley backed by steep cliffs and the primordial Iao needle
Iao Needle
piercing clouds hovering on its flank. .
 I tried to imagine the scene. Hundreds of warriors landing in double-hulled outriggers wearing the red malos of war, carrying spears and short knives. They trampled over the Mauin forces that met them at this beach and then marched “onward to Wailuku” several miles inland to defeat Kahikili,
Mauin Warrior
Kamehameha’s arch rival for power over the Islands. They rolled Lopeka, a cannon seized from a western sloop, up the rocky trail until they backed the Mauin forces into a corner at Wailuku. The slaughter that ensued was harsh even for the time.
Was it just chance that Kona Winds literally blew me off the beach at Paia yesterday and forced me to the venture to the sheltered valley?  When I arrived, the iconic Iao needle normally obscured by thick clouds flashed a brilliant green spotlighted by afternoon sun. The sheer 3,000- foot-pali that protect the valley sheathed in thick blue-green verdure are impossible to climb.
Wailuku River
 Water whispers sweetly through taro ponds with rust-red ti leaves on the edges creating an Eden-like setting for a Hawaiian village. Four streams merge here to form the Wailuku River that was clogged with bodies and ran red when Kamehameha’s warriors finally did conquer the Mauin forces after many failed attempts.
It seemed a guiding force brought me here to witness the glory of this valley. Was it the spirit of Ka’hahumnu who wanted me to know the beauty of this place haunted by the ghosts of so brave warriors? Was she trying to help me get the Hawaiian story right? I like to think so.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Under the Cover with Randy Jay Braun

Over the years that it took me to write Wai-nani, A Voicefrom Old Hawai’i, I had two yellowing postcard images taped to my wall. One was of a woman with arms stretched to the heavens, knees bent deeply, wearing a swaying ti leaf skirt in a classic kahiko dance pose.
The other was a muscular Hawaiian man glistening with vitality wearing a malo, or loin cloth, with knees bent arms outstretched, hair flying also doing hula. I looked to these two images while conjuring the love scenes that take place in the story. This man and woman epitomized the natural beauty and grace of people in a culture I so admired.

After a year of searching on the internet for an image that would convey the spirit of my book, I settled upon one by Randy Jay Braun. He is a photographer internationally known for his realistic depictions of Hawaiian dancers doing the ancient kahiko dance of Hawai’i. It is called “Celebration of Life.” Since Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i is a celebration of the people of old, I felt it was fitting.
The silhouette of a dancer with arms stretched to the heavens to capture mana, or spiritual power, depicts a sacred ceremony.  The deep purple, tinged with gold, sunset evokes a sense of mystery and hopefully invites the reader to enter a world largely unknown to western readers.
Randy Jay Braun


It is ironic that the two images I held in my mind over twenty years of research and writing were also those of Randy Jay Braun. I was not aware of that fact until I found them on his site along with the image that eventually became the cover of my book.   Writing Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i has been a long, satisfying journey with many serendipitous discoveries along the way.  I have met many wonderful people who have opened their hearts to me with warm aloha and lent their talents to enrich the telling of the Hawaiian story. A special thank you to Randy Jay Braun for allowing me to use his image for the cover of my book.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrating Nature's Bouquet on Earth Day

What better way to celebrate Earth Day then to go for hike with my new found friend
Empowered Woman, Tori Eldridge-of Empowered Living Radio fame.
 On the way to her home in Malibu, I noticed that the Coreopsis - a bright yellow daisy like flower atop a shaggy green stem were blooming in profusion. So, we decided to hike La Jolla Canyon where they cluster in profusion. This is where a horrific fire blackened the Santa Monica Mountains a year, or so ago. It was heartenting to see Mother Nature in her recovery phase.


The hills were covered with twisted black limbs of Sumac that reminded me of a perm gone bad, but the trail was lined with Mariposa Lilies and the meadows carpeted with wildflowers. Blankets of royal purple Lupine, spiked with splotches of bright yellow Poppies with dollops of Red Indian Paint brush made up nature's bouquet. 


We talked of many things both somber and light as we marched along enjoying the cool breath off the Pacific fringed in white far below. The day spoke to me about the resilience of Mother Nature, the need for cleansing and making way for new growth and reminded me that throughout the millennium fire has always played a big part in the spectacle of life.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Shady Glades and Sparkling Cascades are Calling

Several years I ago I hiked in the White Mountains with New England Hiking Holidays. In my article “Peak Experience” I detail what an exquisite experience it was to hike in the buttery glow of the autumn sun beneath a canopy of tangelo leaves. Graham, our lead trip guide, told me that the Columbia River Gorge hike was his favorite offering of NEHH because of the dramatic cluster of waterfalls, scent of pine-sheathed mountains, and meadows choked with wildflowers. This image never left me, so I am thrilled to be joining NEHH once
again for their outing in Oregon. Clare Grabher and her husband Kurt, owners and operators of NEHH, make it possible for the average outdoor enthusiastic to experience the wonders of nature by day and the comforts of posh inns offering fine cuisine by night. They run hiking tours in North America, Hawai’i, Italy, the Swiss Alps, and England, as well as historic walks in Spain. I wanted to know more about what goes into creating these top-tier trips around the globe, so I asked Clare a few questions.


There are a few spaces left in the June Columbia River Gorge/Mt Hood Hiking Holiday for more go to

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Real Talk about Transformative Travel

Real talk about the transforming effects travel can have upon you. Join Tori Eldridge, hostess of Empowered Living Radio, and adventure travel writer Linda Ballou in a lively conversation that takes you to Alaska, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hawaii and parts of the Wild West of North America. Find out where these two diverse personalities meet in the middle and discover that they are Soul Sisters.
Hiker Babe meets Empowered Woman 



New Travel Podcasts with AuthorsontheAirbookstoo on BlogTalkRadio