I can’t believe December is half way over and I hadn’t blogged here since November!
Life has been kicking my bootie! I put a lot of miles on my car the last month. Visits to my dad, book signings, and dentist trips. If you are an ice chewer or love hard crunchy foods, stop now before your teeth start falling apart!
With all the traveling and preparing for Christmas, my writing has been on the back burner. This week, I’d planned to get back in book 14 of the Shandra Higheagle series, but I find my narrator for book 2 in the Gabriel Hawke series has finished the reading, and I need to listen to those. So I may not get to Shandra and Ryan’s trip to Hawaii until next week, or even January.
It’s going to take a lot of discipline when I get back to writing. After seeing how hard it was to manage the goals I’d set for this year, I’ve backed off a bit, and have down to write two Gabriel Hawke books and 3 Shandra books this coming year. So 5 books total. I had tired for 7 this year and didn’t make it. Too many things came up and 2 trips of a lifetime.
The good thing is those trips are going to go into books. Which will help me remember the fun I had.
I have been baking for friends an neighbors. That is one of my favorite things about this time of year. Sharing something I’m fairly good at. But I’ll have to say… watching the Cookie and Gingerbread challenges on TV has taught me a few things I didn’t know and I’ve been incorporating into my baking this year. We’ll see if the people who receive my goodies enjoy the changes. 😉
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas filled with family and friends and you are healthy and prosperous in the new year, 2020!
Saturday morning, we planned to drive up to the end of the road past Hanalei and walk the hiking trail to a water fall. We discovered you had to have a parking permit, which were already spoken for three weeks out or take a bus.
We went to Hanalei and had a snack and coffee and tea again in the Wake Up Cafe. We asked the waitress/owner about the parking permits and discovered if you didn’t have one, there was no way to park. So we looked up the shuttle and discovered that we couldn’t get it just a couple blocks from where we were staying but we could get on it at Waipa just a short distance out of Hanalei. We booked it for the next day.
After that we took in a Saturday market, checked out the shops in Hanalei and went back to our condo and hung out waiting for the next day.
Sunday, we rose early, packed drinks, lunch, towels in the backpack and headed to Hanalei for breakfast at the Wake Up cafe. I had the Over The Falls French toast without the coconut and whipped cream. It was very good and kept me full for the hike.
We drove to the shuttle stop an hour early but were lucky they let us on then. The ride in the shuttle to the end of the road, was nice. Hawaiian music was playing and the large windows made it easy to see everything outside.
At the park, we were told the last bus left at 5 pm, to be sure and be back before that time. We walked through the park and found the trailhead. It said 2 miles to the beach and 4 miles to the falls.
We started out planning to go to the falls. Weeellll, let me tell you. The first half mile was all up hill on an uneven rocky path, then we went down and had switch backs were some of the steps were almost too tall for me to pull my heavy bottom up.
But the views! This was the Hawaii I had dreamed of seeing! Bright green plants, beautiful blue ocean, colorful flowers! It was gorgeous everywhere I looked. And I stopped often to look and snap a photo!
We crossed several places were water was running down a small ravine. They were like mini waterfalls. I used one to wash the sand off my feet on the way back.
At the bottom near the beach and before the trail went up to the waterfalls or down to the beach, we crossed a river. It was just the right temperature to cool us down after our two mile trek. We kept our shoes on to cross. The water at the deepest was up to my knees. After staring at the sign for the falls and seeing the trail went up and up, we decided that 2 miles in and back out was all we could handle.
We went to the beach and enjoyed seeing fish in the fresh water coming from the river, a small cave, which I sat in for a photo, then the crashing of the waves and watching sail boats go by. We hung out on the beach for a couple of hours taking photos, enjoying the view, and picnicking.
The hike back was harder as there was more downhill than uphill. The views were stunning and I stopped a lot to take them in and remember this was my paradise!
I had two reasons I wanted to go to Hawaii- I had always wanted to see a tropical island and I wanted to set a book there. After working on my husband for 40 years, he finally gave in. Our daughters who had visited several of the Hawaiian islands suggested they thought their dad would like Kauai the best. When he said yes to going, I quickly booked a place to stay and got plane tickets before he changed his mind!
Last week I showed you the first couple of days in Kauai. This week I have photos from the next two days.
On Thursday we drove the Waimea Canyon Road. The canyon was pretty. It was deep, had lots of deep gorges and narrow peaks. The colors ranged from orange and pinks in the soil and rocks to the vivid greens we’re expecting to see in the foliage.
From the Canyon Viewpoint we continued north and stopped at all the viewpoints along the way. One had a trail to the top of the waterfall we’d viewed at the Canyon viewpoint. Hubby and I started out on the trail, thinking we’d see more than the trees, brush, and vines as we slipped and slid down the muddy trail. After about a mile, we turned around and went back. It was hot, humid, no air in among the vegetation, and we couldn’t see anything.
Back at the car, we continued up the Koke’e Road to the next lookout. The Kalalau lookout overlooked the Kalalau valley and the ocean. It was really pretty.
A short distance from there was another lookout, the Pi’u o Kila. From here we took the Pihea Trail and walked a good mile and a half up it and stopped to have a picnic lunch. This trail had a rocky down hill climb to start, then it even out along the rim of the canyon but was a bit on the slippery side, but not near as bad as the trail that we’d hiked earlier in the day. There were wonderful views of the Kalalau Valley and the Waimea Canyon on the other side.
At the car we headed back the way we’d driven that morning because we had come to the end of the road. We had dinner as a small restaurant and went back to out place to soak in the hot tub and visit with some of the other vacationers at our condo.
Friday I was excited to attend a luau that night. To make sure we weren’t late for the luau we only had plans for me to check out an art show happening in Lihue.
The morning started out with us walking around the area where we were staying. I took photos of the flowers and the Mindanao Gum tree which has gorgeous colored striped bark. The art show didn’t open until noon which gave us time to slowly make our way to Lihue, have lunch at the mall where the show was being held.
I’m so glad I had discovered the art show! I talked with the young woman manning the show and explained why I was there and discovered that the show is held every year and it’s a juried show with a judge. The judge this year came from California! I discovered that I can have Shandra be the judge for one of their shows, by having her be friends with one of the board members. Spending time looking at the art, I wrote down the names of the artists I admired so I can look them up online and get a feel for the type of artists who enter the show. As I walked around studying the different mediums, ideas slowly swirled in my head. While I’m still uncertain how the character will be killed and why, I know how Shandra will be in Kauai, how she becomes involved in the murder, and where I want the murder to take place.
It had started raining in the afternoon. we were almost and hour early for the luau and the man at the gates suggested we go see a waterfall that was about 15 minutes away. We drove there and sat in the car for fifteen minutes waiting for the rain to let up so we could get out and look at the waterfall without being soaked.
We noticed a man standing inside the open door of the men’s restroom when we drove up to the waterfall lookout. He was weaving a basket with palm leaves. Hubby and I discussed he was probably making the basket to sell. We waited until it looked like he was about finished and Hubby walked over and asked him about the basket. He was making it to sell and was asking $10 for it. I had told Hubby I’d to as high as $20 so we were both excited when he got into the car with my $20 basket.
We went back to the area for the Luau, still raining, and waited with the others at the entrance under a small entry to the gardens. We learned what I had thought would be a more intimate affair and I had made reservations for months ago had 500 people attending! It was a fun night with buffet style serving, dinner entertainment of Hawaiian songs and hula lessons and then a beautiful show afterwards. The show at the end depicted dances from all the cultures who inhabited the islands- Philippines, Tahitian, Japanese, New Zealand, Samoa. While it wasn’t as intimate as I’d thought it would be, it was definitely worth the money.
Next week I’ll tell you about finally finding the paradise I’d been looking for.
After 40 years, I finally talked my hubby into going with me to Hawaii! I will have to say the flight over wore us both out! We left Boise, ID at 3 pm CST and arrived in Kauai at 10 pm then drove another hour to where we are staying. It was only 26 miles but the highest they allow you to drive is 50 mph and most of the time it is 40 and 35. Needless to say it was 2 pm our time.
Day one, even though we had little sleep we woke at our regular time. Because we had come is so late, we didn’t stop at a store for groceries. We set out heading north and eventually found a restaurant open in Hanalei. It was a fun little spot with two women cooking and serving. The guava juice was delicious! And my breakfast quesadilla with white rice was tasty.
We drove on north to Haena Beach that has a cave that looks as if it has either been a lava tube or worn in through time from the ocean. There wasn’t a sign to tell us which. I put my feet in the water and walked a bit on the beach. So far, I’m thinking I like my Oregon beaches better. But you can’t beat the beautiful blue water and sunshine!
On the way back we stopped at a grocery store and stocked up for breakfast and a light dinner the rest of the week. And lots of water and drinks. While it is so moist here you feel sticky all the time, we noticed we aren’t drinking enough.
After putting the groceries away we decided to go check out Kilauea Lighthouse that isn’t far from where we are staying. It was interesting but a bit disappointing that we didn’t get to go in it. It has some great history about saving a ship and helping out during WWI. It is also a bird refuge for the Red-footed Boobie and NeNe and well as other water birds.
We stopped a small little restaurt called The Bistro in Kilauea. It was only serving bar fare until 5:30 but what they had on that menu was fine. I had the best ribs and crunchy, tasty coleslaw I’ve ever had. Hubby had a pulled pork sandwich and said it was delicious. So far the food has not let us down. 😉
After ten hours sleep. Yes! We were asleep early because of the lack of sleep the night before. We roused early again, walked to the cliff edge and watched the sun lighten up our part of the island. After that we ate breakfast and headed out to see Wailua Falls. The twin falls made popular because they were used on the opening of Fantasy Island TV show. I was a bit disappointed as I had read you could walk to the falls. There were signs that said no trespassing, no trail.
After that, I wanted to go to the Kauai Museum. It told the history of the island. I found the information about Bird Catchers interesting. Because red and yellow bird feathers were favored for the royal families clothing men could make good money bringing in the colored feathers.
After the museum, I suggested we go see another Falls that it said we could hike to. We went to the other Falls, saw cars lined up but we couldn’t see the falls or any signs that said there was a trail, only no trespassing signs. So we back tracked and went to the Kona Coffee Plantation. It was fun to see and my husband loved seeing how coffee was grown.
After the plantation we stopped in Koloa and had lunch at an Italian Restaurant. After eating we walked the street and I found an art gallery. I went in and asked the woman working there about ideas I had for a Shandra book and how to connect her to the art world in Kauai. She was helpful and with some more digging on the internet, I should have some good info to get the book figured out. Then we drove to Poipu Beach. There were lots of fancy houses for sale on one street. We wondered about that. Then headed back toward where we are staying.
Tomorrow the plan is to get up early and drive the Wiamea Road. I’ll let you know about that in another post.
Two weekends ago, we (hubby and I) and another couple started out shortly after 7 am to check out Sunstones in Plush, Oregon and go on a road we’d never traveled before.
Not even an hour into our trip we saw 4 wolves alongside the highway to Frenchglen. They took off up the side of the rim when we drove by. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to get a photo of them.
Our first stop was Frenchglen Hotel for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 am. They have three long tables with benches where everyone sits. Whether it is guests staying at the hotel or people like ourselves who stop in for breakfast. We always visit with the people at our table. This time it happened to be a father and son who have a Christmas Tree Farm in the Willamette Valley. They were telling us how someone took Jackrabbits from our area to the valley and they now are so plentiful they have become a nuisance over there. The rabbits like to bite the tops off of small tender Christmas trees.
From there we headed to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. We saw a few antelope- my photos aren’t very good. While there we took a road we hadn’t been on before and discovered a nice, but primitive, camping area and a really nice hot spring. Hubby and I walked over to check out the hot spring and found 2 men in the water. One was in his birthday suit! He ducked under water when I came around the corner of the enclosure! LOL
On our way back to the main road, we spotted a fire starting on the top of Hart Mountain. There were people at the Hart Mountain Headquarters standing outside watching the fire. We continued on to Plush but could see the fire coming over the rim of the mountain and travelling along the ridge.
At the Sunstone site, we parked and each went our own way with either a shovel or pick. The wind was blowing like crazy giving us a good dirt shower. I managed to get one stone about the size of the end of my thumb but mostly just little pieces. We dug around there about 2 hours after having a picnic lunch.
After Plush we headed to Denio on a road that is the farthest south in the state. It was a nice drive. We saw some different scenery. I was the only one who wasn’t scared when we drove on an uphill grade that didn’t have a guardrail. In fact, I was looking down the side and relaying to them the pieces of cars I saw scattered downhill.
We reached Denio to find the restaurant Hubby had planned to eat at was closed. But just down the road the Diamond Inn Bar was open. It was an old, bar with the doors all open, locals sitting at the bar talking politics, and a big mutt named Texas sprawled on a small couch. We ordered food from their minimal menu and asked the owner questions about the area. The town had at one time been in Oregon but the residents petitioned and got it moved into Nevada. Because of less taxes. We asked the owner of the bar where he shopped. He said Boise, Idaho about 3 hours away.
From Denio we headed to Fields, Oregon where they still serve real ice cream milkshakes in many flavors. But by the time we arrived they were closed.
We made it back to our house about 8 pm. We were tired but had had a fun trip. I’m hoping our next adventure is to check out some hot springs we’ve heard of.
It seems like ages ago, when it was only about a month ago that I and four friends took a jet boat ride down the Snake River. When my friends mentioned they were going, I invited myself along because I had planned to do the trip as some point this summer for research for the next Gabriel Hawke book.
The only drawback was the trip was three days before I left for Iceland. That is why you haven’t seen photos or heard about the trip. 😉
I had planned to visit my dad in his Senior Living Center that same week and make a round trip by spending the night at my younger brother’s house on his birthday. So tossing in one more day and jet boating worked out perfectly!
Except, the weather! Because it was a cloudy and not very warm day, the clear plastic side awnings, I guess you’d call them, were down to keep use from getting too wet.
We put in at Pittsburgh Landing on the Idaho side of the Snake River.
I wanted to take photos of the terrain. The best place to do that was either in front on in the back of the boat. I chose the back. I have quite a few blurry photos because of the speed we were going but the photos will allow me to remember what I saw.
We stopped at a ranch that is now a museum. The old fruit trees that had been planted years ago had fruit beginning to show. There were a few wildflowers, but we were lucky to not see any rattlesnakes. When I’d participated in our Senior Sneak before graduating from high school, our senior class rafted a different part of the Snake. There was a raft for the boys and one for the girls. Several stops along the way the boys would catch a rattlesnake and throw it on the girls’ raft. Not cool! But ever the tomboy, I’d pick it up and throw it back at them. Then it wasn’t so much fun. 🙂
On this particular trip, we enjoyed wonderful cinnamon rolls made by a woman who takes the trip every year on her birthday. I have never had such delicious, light cinnamon rolls before! From there we watched a fisherman catch and haul in a sturgeon. He was large!
We also saw some rafters trying to right a raft that had capsized. I was glad I was rafting this time!
We rode the rapids, one a class 5, and had a great time. We stopped at the Hells Canyon Dam for lunch that had been packed for us. It was delicious. Then we checked out the visitor center and climbed back on the boat for our trip down stream to the landing where we put in.
To me it felt like the rapids were trickier going back down then gunning upstream through them. I enjoyed watching our guide who had been doing this for nineteen years. When we were in the regular water, he’d relax behind the helm, crossing his ankles. As we neared the rapids, he leaned forward, both hands on the levers. His feet would uncross, and he would eventually stand as he guided the boat through the rapids. When the rapids were behind us, he’d settle back down and cross his ankles.
I guess you’re probably wondering, will Hawke be on one of these boats? At this point, I say no. Only because while talking to the boat’s crew, I learned that there are always boats going up and down this section of the river. If it’s not tour boats, it’s fishermen. The river is open year round. Which made me decide most of the action will take place up on the peaks and rocky sides of the canyon walls. And that is why I wanted to take the trip. To see the terrain and learn what I could about activity on the river.
Friday, my birthday! I didn’t tell anyone on the trip because they had made a big deal out of someone else’s birthday earlier in the week. I just enjoyed the day and being on a grand adventure!
We drove up to the Presidential residence of Bessastaoir, the President of Iceland. It was a large home with farm type buildings out in the middle of open ground. There was a large pond and some geese.
I loved the drive to Lake Kleifarvatn and could see my character Hawke bringing a tracking class out to this moon-scape type surroundings to learn to look for tracks that weren’t there. It had large volcanic rises, sifting ashy dirt, minimal plants, but a beautiful lake.
On the southern end of the lake our noses crinkled. Hot springs, mud pots, and boiling pools of mud and water were just beyond the parking lot. The sulfurous steam that came up from the earth needed to be kept down wind. But the mud, steam, and sulfur made for colorful rock features. Here I had the idea of perhaps Hawke could discover a body half in one of the boiling mud pots. The upper half, making it hard to discover who the victim would be.
Our “relaxation” for the day was an hour in the Blue Lagoon. It was a spa or sorts with geothermal mineral water. We all brought our swimsuits and entered the waist high water. The silt of the minerals was so think you could only see a few inches into the water. I don’t know what the minerals were but it made my body float even more than usual. I could barely stay seated on the cement bench along the inside of the pool.
After the Blue Lagoon we drove to the Viking World Museum. Here we walked on the deck of Islendingur (the Icelander) a Viking replica ship finished in 1996 by shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson. They used information gathered after the excavation of a ship in Norway in 1880. They believe the ship excavated had been built around 870. Using the same tools that would have been used in 870 Eggertsson and a crew built the ship. After it was built they sailed in it from Iceland to North America.
We returned to Reykjavik in the afternoon and met a specialist on the Icelandic language. He told us about how they are trying to preserve the language using more of a Norse language than other Norse countries and sticking to the odd characters in the spellings. He said many of the Norse languages these days are adding in English words and dropping some of the sounds that make the language so distinctive.
After the talk, while walking back to the hotel, I spotted a jewelry store and popped inside. A pair of earring that looked like ice caught my eye. I inquired what the price would be in dollars and purchased myself a birthday gift that will remind me of this wonderful birthday trip.
Dinner our last night was in the Harpa. A concert hall we’d been staring at every day from our hotel. After dinner and a delicious dessert of berry sorbet, a caramel nougat and berry cream slice on a nut crust, we attended a play. Icelandic Sagas: The Greatest Hits. It was a two person show that quickly ran through many of the Icelandic Sagas in a witty and hilarious depiction. I left the theater laughing until I realized I had to get up at 3:30 am to catch the bus to take me to the airport.
I’m so glad I took the chance to go on this trip. I enjoyed the other nine participants and made friends. And I traded emails with the guide so I can contact him when I need information for the book I plan to set in Iceland. I hope the Authors Guild can come up with another interesting trip next year. It could become a yearly trip for me.
Thank you for reading my blogs about my trip to Iceland. Keep checking in as I post about my jet boat trip up the Snake River and other adventures in pursuit of research for books.