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!
I’m excited to say that my annual Facebook party, December 7th is going to be a CLUE Party!
I have 12 western romance authors and 11 mystery/thriller/suspense authors joining me for the 12 hours of fun. Each author will be on the Facebook party page for 30 minutes. They will each reveal a clue that those who follow the party need to keep track of. Here is the party link. Head on over there and click “Going” if you want a chance to win one of TWO Kindle Fire 7 ereaders that I’m giving away to those who gather the clues and play the game.
Each author will also be giving away ebooks, print books, and other fun stuff during their half hour. If you have time to spare and would love to visit with and meet authors new to you or maybe ones you already know, come on by, maybe win something and be sure to play the CLUE game for a chance at one of the Kindle Fires.
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.
The jangle of spurs mingles with the jingle of sleigh bells in this celebration of Christmas, cowboy style….
A Cowboy Christmas Western Celebrations, Recipes, and Traditions By Shanna Hatfield (October 2019 • 304 pages • 978-1493042340 • Cloth •$26.95)
Through photos, interviews, 15 how-to’s, and 75 recipes, this book offers a guide to creating your own Cowboy Christmas and a celebration of the style, traditions, food, and family celebrations unique to the lifestyles of American cowboys. Featuring ranch families, rodeo cowboys, and communities with western-style Christmas celebrations, this book will highlight the things that make a Cowboy Christmas special. Each chapter will feature traditions, recipes, decorations, and stories from the interviewees.
USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, snapping photos, or trying new recipes, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, at their home near Walla Walla, Washington.
I have a penchant for color. I like vibrant colors. Bold purples, pinks, orange, yellow, blues, and reds make me smile. Whether they are on clothing, flowers, dishes, blankets, paintings. I love color!
I know there is a place for black, brown, gray, and tan. They make great backdrops for splashes of color. Somber tones are needed to evoke certain moods.
When there are dark gray or black clouds in the sky, they inevitably spark flashes of lightning to brighten the darkness and illicit tingles of excitement, and in some, fear.
I love flowers, but, alas, I do not have a green thumb. It is a feat when I can keep a plant alive long enough for it to produce flowers. This summer I had several that exceeded my expectations, coloring my summer with joy.
When I told a friend about how I have trouble keeping plants alive he gave me a cactus. It bloomed this spring. The color was gorgeous and I hope it will grace me with blooms again next year.
I planted sunflowers in the same bathtub as I’d planted a peony from my dad’s yard. the peony had only a couple of blooms this year. I hope it will be full next year, but the sunflowers bloomed brightening the last of summer with they yellow cheer.
I try to add color to my writing without dragging the description on and on. I’ve received several reviews that comment on how I give just enough description without overdoing it. That is something that makes my heart sing as much as vibrant colors!
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.