Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Gift for You

My gift to all my Friends. A little Holiday Aloha!

Free copy of Love Bird Cafe----A mini twisty turner set on Kauai that will keep you guessing.

Just go to Kindle and find your gift free until Dec. 25....Merry Christmas!
Love Bird Cafe        Click here for Your Gift

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kimo West shares Warm Christmas Aloha

Kimo in Hana
Christmas aloha filled the cozy Coffee Gallery last night. James Kimo West and friends spread good cheer with a range of tunes from a Here Comes the Sun makeover, to classic slack-key. Kimo held center stage with tender renditions of Hawaiian favorites. Taught by the legendary masters of slack-key, Kimo is carrying on the fine tradition of soulful guitar. Often slipping into a jazz-like riff he takes you on a lovely ride. Quoted has having a “soft, sweet, or gentle voice” his music is a fusion of old and new rooted deeply in tradition. When the violinist, Dave, and local boy guitarist Kapo Ku, joined in the place got jumping. A sensual hula dancer, along with a fine vocalist added to the brew.
Kimo sharing aloha at Coffee Gallery

Kimo is making several stops on the mainland this holiday season. You can find him in Santa Barbara, Redondo Beach at the annual Slack-key fest, and back at the Coffee Gallery where seating is limited and gets sold out early with another slack-key artist in January. You can get full details of upcoming venues on his website Jim Kimo West

If you can’t make it, his Christmas CD and other more classic renderings are available at most online distribution sites.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Journey through the Hawaiian Islands Without leaving Home

Hula Kumu, Mikalani Young’s creative performance “Journey
through the Islands” transports viewers through visual media, storytelling, music and dance. Guests will leave with more insight of each island that will make them want to go back to the islands and visit these places that aren't spoken about on a bus tours and adventure tours.  Many stories are passed on through oral history and music.  She hopes to bring you to the Islands right here in California and that you leave with a deeper love and understanding of Hawai'i and the Hawaiian people.

Wai-nani and I will be greeting guests at Mikalani’s Ho’ike . Like Wai-nani in her progress throughout ancient Hawai’i, Mikalani shares places that aren’t in the guidebooks imparting the legends behind them.  The result is a dynamic and captivating performance that lifts you out of your seat in California and takes you to the Islands. No security check needed. Just go to WWW.MIKILANISKANIKAPILA.COM   and grab a ticket.   

 Can’t make it?  Let Wai-nani take you to hauntingly beautiful Old Hawai’i. Available on Amazon and my site Linda Ballou If you purchase Wai-nani on my site you receive Wai-nani’s Wayfinder, a map of sacred sites on the Big Island, and I pay the freight anywhere in the U.S.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A hypnotic spell that takes us to ancient Hawaii

Toby Neal (MAKAWAO, HI, US) -

Press in to really "get" this book. Wai-nani’ s story is told in a hypnotic, fairy-tale or high legend voice that took me a chapter or two to get into--but once I did, I was fascinated with the way Linda Ballou had taken us into the intimate and unknown world of the Hawaiian people through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine. Wai-nani is fierce, passionate, and deeply connected to the land and ocean--and to her complex and multi-faceted warrior husband. It reminded me how fully developed the civilization of the Hawaiian people was, and how large their population, before the fateful arrival of "Kapena Kuke" and his "floating heiau." 

Thanks for this journey to another time and a Hawaii seen through a princess of its people

That Toby Neal author of the Lei Crime series set in Hawaiian Islands, who grew up on Kauai and presently resides in up-country Maui fell under Wai-nani’s spell, makes my heart sing. In my poetic rendering of the people of old I mimicked the rhythm of the meles and legends handed down through a centuries old oral tradition. Hula was a form of mediation to bring more mana,or spiritual power into your world. Inbreeding among royals kept the bloodline of the chiefs clean. The love affair between Kamehameha the Great and Ka’ahumanu,(the inspiration for the character of Wai-nani) rivaled that of Napoleon and Josephine. Kamehameha’s prophesied rise to power plays out like a Greek tragedy. The responsibility to impart this story of mythic proportion in a way that would engage western readers, while remaining true to the culture felt at times overwhelming. That Toby Neal, a woman who knows the history of the Islands, is deeply rooted in the culture, and is a fine writer herself, finds my effort worthy is extremely gratifying.
Photo by Mike Neal
Another dilemma I had when publishing this book was whether to use a pen name since my main writing credits are in the travel narrative genre.  In a blog conversation Toby echoes my sentiment that it feels like a deception that she doesn’t feel comfortable with. She attempts to place an umbrella of all things Hawaiian over her series of Lei Crime novels and her psychological suspense novel Unsound. As an adventure travel writer I have tried to include my historical novel in my travel identity as a book that takes you to a place you can’t get to any other way. Wai-nani speaks to you from the spirit well of pre-contact Hawai'i. Her story is a celebration of of the people of old and a window into a hauntingly beautiful place that no longer exists in its purity.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Around the World TV -Ecuador-Interview with Linda Ballou

I am thrilled to have my adventures in Ecuador spotlighted on Around the World TV.
In this interview I  share my adventures at Sacha Lodge, a jungle lodge nestled in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin that is a birders nirvana, but fun for anyone who enjoys exploring the natural world. I also share highlights of my horse trek in the Andes  with stays at Colonial Haciendas with Sally Vergette owner of Ride the Andes. The story opens in Quito the gateway to adventures in a  small country with big surprises in store . More details to come in my articles that will follow.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Saddle Up in Ecuador

Soon, I link up with Sally Vergette to ride in the Andes of Ecuador outside of Quito. I'm told the weather there is like springtime in England all year round.  Sally will collect me at a charming little inn called the Hotel Sierra Madre. For the next four days I will be in her capable hands.  We will ride from Colonial Hacienda to Colonial Hacienda on a tour that promises to take me through a patchwork of pasture lands in the shadows of snow-crowned volcanoes.
Evenings relaxing at graceful historic haciendas enjoying local wines and fine cuisine await the weary rider. I just had to ask Sally a few pointed questions before signing up. Click for my interview with Sally Vergette,, the owner of RidetheAndes, in my column on the National Association of Baby
Boomer Women site.
Quito, Ecuador

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ano Ano (the seed) for Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i

Let Me Take You There
Ano Ano (the seed) for Wai-nani - A Voice from Old Hawai’i took root in my heart when I lived on the north shore of Kauai.  I became smitten with the great personage of Ka’ahumanu, the childless bride who was the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great. This was in the late 70’s, a time when women were breaking the traditional mold. Ka’ahumanu faced down the all–powerful priests and ended the 2,000-year-old kapu system that called for harsh penalties for infractions. Writing the story of this empowered woman, mostly overlooked by western historians, became a beautiful obsession.
Readers of Wai-nani are amazed at the authentic detail and depth of my research. I went to most of the places described in my book, including the sacred Waipio Valley now closed to overnight stays. I hiked across the smoldering floor of Iki Crater in Volcano National Park, and spent hours in The Place of Refuge on the Big Island trying absorb the mana of the ancestors. I read old and new chronicles on Hawaiian history, spent hours at Bishop Museum and hired a Hawaiian scholar to read my manuscript. In short, I did everything in my power to stay true to the culture and re-create an authentic portal into a world that is lost to us now.
Place of Refuge

Free shipping and a copy of Wai-nani's Wayfinder-a map to sacred sites on the Big Island if you purchase Wai-nani on my site 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Doing it My Way on the Hana Highway

The highway to Hana, Maui should be listed as another wonder of the world. Each day thousands traverse the narrow road that hugs the coast of southeast Maui. It is a miracle that the over fifty one-lane bridges, many of which are over a hundred years old, don’t collapse beneath the steady stream of cars. Drivers are rubber necking to see the most beautiful waterfall, and angling to find a pullout near unmarked trail heads to take a closer look. Pesky locals press tourists trying to take in the beauty on the unfamiliar curvaceous highway to go faster. That distracted drivers careening around blind curves don’t plunge over the steep precipice into deep gulches to an instant death is a mystery to me.

Chaos can be avoided if you do the highway my way. Make arrangements to spend at least two nights in Hana, rather than rushing in and out in one day to the Seven Sacred Pools aka O’hi’o Gulch. This gives you time to explore and make stops along the way. Fuel up at trendy Pa’ia, the gateway to Hana, where there are several good eateries. While you are there, stop at the Mana Food Store to pick up a few supplies for picnic lunches. Leave at about noon giving the rest of the travelers a head start.

 Stop at the Garden of Eden about halfway into the drive. There you will find miles of manicured lanes winding through an incredible array of tropical plants shaded by the canopy of towering mango, banyan, and enormous fanning palms. Viewing platforms framed in luxuriant foliage overlook a vast blue expanse of the Pacific and stunning Puohokamoa Falls. I strolled through the garden in reflective solitude on a sunny day in January, peak season in the Islands. When you leave the Garden of Eden keep an eye out for the trail head just past the eleven mile marker to the pool beneath Upper Puohokamoa Falls where you can take a dip.

I wanted to make this journey back to what is left of Old Hawaii to revisit a time when I was in formative stages. Seeing the lush tapestry of deep ravines cloaked in deep green and spiked with orange African tulips soothed my weary little soul way back then and still does today. I dropped out of society to live on the north shore of Kauai in 1978. I found peace there listening to the patter of rain on the leaves, lull of the surf breaking on the reef a half mile out, and waking to the chorus of birds. I remembered taking long walks on lonely beaches and just being there. I hoped Hana would allow me this once again.

There only a few places to stay in Hana: the exclusive Travassa Resort, a smattering of bed and breakfasts, or setting up camp at Wai’anapanapa-Black Sand Beach. The beach park is riddled with sacred sites, burial grounds, and caves that are easily accessed on a coastal trail that wraps the bay. Ferocious bearded monsters pummeling the black lava into sand make a dramatic show, but don’t make for safe swimming.  I found an eco-lodge tucked in the Hana Botanical Garden close to the beach park. The entrance to Kahanu gardens, the site of the largest and one of the best preserved heiau (temple) in the Hawaiian Islands was about a half mile from my rustic digs. You must make reservations to tour this 15th century heiau that spans three acres.
Hamoa Beach-Hana

I rose early and drove through sparkling, dew-laden meadows stopping to take in splendid Wai-lua Falls along the way to Haleakala National Park. I was eager to hike the Pipiwai Trail, a root and rock strewn path that traces a death-defying gorge up to the Waimoku Falls, a 400-foot plunge down a sheer rock face. A portion of the track took me though a towering wind-whipped bamboo forest that felt like being inside a giant wind chime. By the time I got back to park headquarters the tourist vans had arrived. I shared the famous Seven Sacred Pools with other travelers from around the globe. Bracing, sweet water spilling over rock ledges to form three large pools did not disappoint. I swam in the second pool that is said to “free limitations.”

The rest of day was spent lollygagging at a scalloped-shaped cove where gentle, turquoise waves curl onto a powdery sand shore. Hamoa Beach, by far the best swimming beach at this end of the world, is not to be missed
Ka'ahumanu (Wai-nani ) as I see her

Kauai is where I fell in love with the relaxed ways of the Islands, the warmth of the people, and beauty without end. That is where I met Captain James Cook, Kamehameha the Great, and his favorite wife Ka’ahumanu who became the inspiration for my novel Wainani; A Voice from Old Hawai’i. She was a royal whose mother hid in a cave here in water-rich Hana so that her child would not be killed by her jealous ex-lover, the ferocious ruler of Maui.  Hanalei on the north shore of Kauai, most recently the backdrop for the film The Descendants, was a sleepy, backwater when I was there. That is what Hana still is today—remote, rugged, rainy, undisturbed, gorgeous, and inhabited by a few lucky souls who want to keep it that way.

On the way back to civilization I enjoyed a diversion to the Ke’anae Peninsula. This road hugs a dramatic coastline and deposits you at a handy beach park. While sitting beneath a broad-leafed tree on a rock perch watching enormous swells cresting into foaming white against jutting lava, it became clear to me; the searing sunsets, the embrace of warm translucent waters, the endless azure skies, and the wind voices had spoken. My imagination was ignited once again by primal elements; earth, wind, fire and the ceaseless energy of sea as sure as these Islands continue to be forged by them today— and forever will be.

Take Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty with you. It is an excellent guide to the Hana Highway experience.
Hana Maui home page

Friday, April 26, 2013

Would you trust this man with your life?

 We blasted across cobalt blue swells with Captain Zodiac on our way to Kealakekua Bay, one of the top ten snorkeling spots in the world.  Our skipper had a demonic gleam in eyes as we shot out to open waters. I bounced a foot, or two off the seats of our rubber craft holding on to lifelines to avoid being dumped in the drink.
“Land is the other way,” I yelled over the roar of the outboard motor.
“Thought you might like to see some whales.” he said with a sly smile.
After spotting a few flips of tales in the distance, he careened the boat toward the shore of the Big Island where jagged black walls of crusted lava meet the sea.  Our captain slowed the engine as we glided into the serene bay where Captain James Cook met his demise at the hands of Hawaiians. We were greeted by about a hundred petite spinner dolphins doing back flips, triple spins and riding in our wake five abreast!
He cut the engine and told us to jump into the translucent waters teeming with sea life in front of Capt. Cook’s monument. Below the surface a colorful array of fishes going about their business in the pristine coral reef didn’t seem to mind the big-footed fish padding above them. A moray eel slithered into a crevice making himself invisible to passersby.  A lone turtle swam through the underwater scene where I spotted rainbow parrot fish, wrasse and clouds of bright yellow tang.
 Once back on board we were told that the walls above the bay are filled with the bone of great chiefs. A young boy was lowered on a rope to place them there. When the deed was done, the rope was cut and the boy plunged to his death.  He also explained with accurate and vivid detail why the great navigator was stabbed in the back.  I was glad that his rendition supported my theory that it was justifiable homicide.
Enough talk. Next, we were off on a full-throttled ride on the back of huge swells crashing into caves and blow holes sending huge plumes of white into the sky.  An abrupt halt in a small crescent bay brought us to a fierce looking rock face attached to a reclining torso said to be an altar where sacrifices were made to the volcano goddess Pele.
 Jack, our second in command, lay prone to help us imagine her voluptuous outline.  I’ve done more research than I should into sacred sites on the Big Island and this one was news to me.  I was very excited to make this discovery, but I think it might have been a story our Captain thought would make for a more exciting ride. This spectacular day with Captain Zodiac is part of the all-inclusive “Un-Cruise” Adventure holiday aboard the Safari Explorer.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares Great Outdoor days in L.A, as well as 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  

Her quest today is to get to as many beautiful places as she can before they are gone. Subscribe to her blog and receive updates on her books, and travel destinations.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Life Beneath the Apple Tree in Descanso Gardens

Breath of spring
Lifting white blossoms
Floating like snowflakes
Blanket green grass.
Trill of song birds
With their excited message
Spring is here!
Spring is here!
Glad flowers lift
Pretty faces to the sun
Shush whispers the creek

Listen to my story.
The clang of the tiny train,
The squeal of children on board
As it winds through shady glens
Brightened with shocks of pink.
Blossoms perfume the air

By Linda Ballou

Monday, April 1, 2013

Armchair Travel Book Club Debut in the "Bu"

I am pleased to host the Armchair Travel Book Club  on Wednesday, April 24, 7 PM – 8 PM in Malibu at the Bank of Books.   
Linda with Ann Lambert Manager of Bank of Books

I selected Hold the Enlightenment, by Tim Cahill, for my first selection because Cahill’s style is conversational, entertaining, well-researched and often LOL funny. Tim, one of the founding fathers of Outside Magazine, says his stories are about "remote destinations oddly rendered."
Tim Cahill author of 9 travel collections

To Learn More go to and click on Book Clubs

Point Dume Village, Heathercliff Rd. #109, Malibu, Ca 90265

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Un-Cruise Highlights on Around the World Travel TV

I was most pleased to be guest on Around the World Travel TV/Radio.  In this interview I share highlights of my “Un-Cruise Adventure” on the Safari Explorer in the Hawaiian Islands. The journey begins at Lana’i, the sweetheart isle, with whale watching on the way to Maui, a hike in the the sacred Halawa Valley on  Moloka’i and snorkeling at the foot of Captain Cook's monument in Kealakakua Bay on the Big Island.   These are just a few of the incredible experiences to be enjoyed in this all-inclusive holiday. This video is just my segment. For the complete program go to archives.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Moloka'i Welcomes the Safari Explorer to her Shores

Mouth of Halawa Valley - Moloka'i
Moloka’i, a small but majestic island in the Hawaiian chain, has remained aloof since the days of old. The north shore’s monster surf crashing against the highest sea cliffs in the world have kept many a visitor away. But, around 650 AD early Polynesian voyagers guided here by the brightest star in the heavens discovered the verdant Halawa Valley framed in protective cliffs. They lived in the valley in splendid isolation for about 900 years evolving in distinctly different ways than migrants on the other Islands. Moloka’i became known as the Island of Powerful Prayer. It was the go to place if you wanted to enlist the services of an “ana’ ana” priest to send a malicious spirit on an errand, or to pray your enemy to death. 
Honi Greeting
The road to Halawa traces the southern shoreline and provides views of fish ponds constructed by early Hawaiians. They engaged in sophisticated aquaculture and built over seventy-three fish pools enclosed in rock walls along this coast that is protected by the longest reef in U.S. waters. Hina, the moon goddess said to be the mother of Moloka’i, watched over her people and made sure their fish ponds were full. The road starts to climb and becomes a heart-catching one-lane highway overlooking a vast expanse of cobalt blue before descending to the valley floor.

 Our group from the Safari Explorer was greeted by a Hawaiian elder who sounded the conch and provided us with offerings wrapped in ti leaves to be placed on an altar. He then honored us with a traditional “honi” greeting before we were allowed to enter the sacred valley. As we hiked up the ancient path shaded by a canopy of enormous vine ensconced mango trees, we passed by the rock walls and terraces built by the early settlers. After a picnic and a dip in the pool beneath double-tiered Mo’oula Falls we reluctantly headed back to our home for the week.

That evening we enjoyed a gracious buffet of local culinary treats, authentic music, and a prayerful hula at the Moloka’i Museum and Cultural Center. The people of Moloka’i have staved off over-development and want to retain their Hawaiian heritage, but are opening their hearts to visitors. The 150-foot Safari Explorer, with a limit of 36 passengers, enjoys an exclusive relationship with the people of Moloka’i who do not allow any other cruise line to dock in their harbor. There is only one hotel on the island and the restaurant in it is closed for remodeling.  The “Un-cruise Adventure” which includes two days of exploration on the island is by far the best way to see the wonders of Moloka’i.

In my travel collection Lost Angel Walkabout, I have more about the land of Mo'o!