UPDATES: Close Encounters of the Island Kind

May 30, 2019

[Photos by Akasha Garnier.]


"The harder you work, the luckier you get."~Thomas Jefferson


A few years ago I started writing a travel blog when I was living on Hawaii's Big Island.

I've always known that I wanted to be a writer, now I'm balancing working smart with an invitation to write a book. The first one has a dash of Wild with a side of Make a Name for Yourself, mine is affectionately known as  Shine through the Noise (It's released! Final title: Secrets to Shine Through the Noise and the sequel, Shine Through the Noise: Spark Creativity. I donate 15% of sales from both books to Teen Cancer America.) 

 The first travel thriller series novel will be close on these heels: Davanti.  The Who played Chicago this week and I had a great chance to catch up with a spread the good word on their charity, Teen Cancer America. We discussed several campaigns and events, so I'll share more good news and intriguing views soon! So I have several tasty baited hooks in action right now. Welcome to all the new members of my tribe! We're in for a fun ride!

As I edit 3 manuscripts I'm not blogging until I meet some deadlines, balance my day job and dream job and stoke my luck for the best book deals on the horizon. 


I've always had extra good luck around St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy the story of my first full day on the Pacific Ocean off Kona, Hawaii...when I met my first shark!


During my fantastic winter away on Hawaii’s Big Island, I’ve been able to entertain many intriguing visitors. Enter Chicago’s Captain Sparrow - a friend of the champagne pirate ilk. For his visit, I booked my first private boat tour on the Kona’s Pacific coast. Fortunately, I met a local pro surfer and charter Captain Jeff Silva on our press tour of Hula Kai’s Deluxe Snorkel & BBQ Cruise.


Captain Jeff of Kolina Kai (“pure ocean”) was gracious in designing an ocean adventure day with many options including our first ocean fishing expedition. Yes, Hawaii brings out new sides in many of my friends. Well, alas, here I am 4,600 miles away from my Land of 10,000 Lakes tackle box, but – no worries, Captain Jeff provides all the gear and local fishing knowledge as well.


I was just getting ready to ask, “Hey, how do we know when we have a bite?” when it became crystal clear that we had one on the line. Sparrow and Captain Jeff wrestled the 40-lb ono on board. It has been many moons since I’ve fished so I snapped photos and kept an eye on the fish locator for the time being. I will enthusiastically say that ocean fishing is significantly more fun that fresh water lake fishing that involved no talking, sitting in one place and temps peaking at about 50 degrees. I’ll take 80 degrees and trolling along the coast any day. The ono went in the fish bag and we geared up for our next catch. And, all this ono excitement happened before 8:30 a.m!


With our full day tour, we were hoping to see dolphins, whales, sea caves and maybe a shark. We caught a glimpse of a large, shy humpback. Shortly after, we were surrounded by hundreds of naia (spinner dolphin) and spotted bottlenose. We made our way from Keauhou Bay all the way down to South Point. We went in search of oceanic white tip sharks and pilot whales… and came across my first shark sighting – a hammerhead!


Since we had run across a fair amount of flotsam and jetsam still left from the tsunami, it was hard to believe that the dorsal fin was real and not a floating branch! The dorsal alone was about a foot high and the shark was about 11 ft. in length… but shy. For me, that made it all a bit better. I definitely have watch too much Shark Week footage and had only seen baby sharks in Shedd Aquarium and the Mall of America’s Underwater World (this place is a shark’s nightmare, I bet). I just needed to see a shark and hopefully meet one in safe conditions.


Seeing my first shark won’t keep me from another surf lesson or boating adventure. It was actually reassuring that it took us quite a while to find a shark and that it was not near any place I’d go surfing. I’ve been promoted from “uncomfortable being near sharks” to “Akahele” as in ‘careful or cautious”.


I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend more time on the Big Island. Most of my other adventures happened in the spring. Now I’m here for humpback whale season.  I started the sejour with sunset sails, a pod of four humpback whales following our boat for Christmas sail and many fun reunions and stories with other travelers and snowbirds. We've enjoyed “Whales & Cocktails to let down our hair and soak in the breeze. To ease from my Chicago city life to my island style, I hone in on Anaehoomalu Bay, (“A-bay” to most sailors).  The Marriott Waikoloa is a three minute walk to cat sails off uncluttered, brown sand beaches, with views of Mauna Kea and remarkable starry skies."– what’s not to like? The guides have whale tales from all over the Pacific and Puget Sound (


I’m expecting more visitors. I’ve moved on now to sublet a Keauhou Bay condo to enjoy some of the epic waves, panoramic Pacific views, and an early toast to the new year. Yesterday morning I was stoked by two story wave splashes…then as sunset rolled in the waves doubled in size – and careened off the cooled lava rocks. We oohed and aahhed, and some scattered, protecting their cameras.  I’m grateful that I feel like I don’t have to do much back peddling after this year. This time I’ve come to Hawaii to get my mind and body right. For me, some detox has always helped me to ramp it up for a new year.


When you spend 4 months living in a castle in Hawaii (photo below), it sticks with you. Yes, there's a book and film in the works on that too, since it ties into my #Davantithriller series. 



I'm able to stay healthy in the islands and on the mainland with fresh fruit from Vicky and Take Home Maui. (Much Aloha. They have been a great hit at my book launches after I do a reading from #ShineThroughtheNoise!!)


Loved these ideas from reader Jacky: Happy to share her 100 Best Things to Do in Hawaii to help you plan your next trip (and to share Aloha, of course)!


Last year I was sailing Catalinas out of Marina del Rey (“Coastal warmth + L.A. cool”) and ferociously writing my first thriller (affectionately known as “Avanti”; it’s still a work in progress as I map out my trilogy). I go out in Chicago. A lot.  I love helping some of my friends businesses and staying in touch with the ebb and flow of our lives. Some of them understand my writer side. Others wonder why I disappear for days or weeks at a time.  I’ve finished my writers’ boot camp, to shape the foundation of my writing as a business as I got into the bidding war for my travel “thrillogy” in progress. (See my "Davanti" thriller update here! More book and film news coming in June, please sign up for updates. Mahalo!)



I’ll enjoy my marine apex predator sighting with a toothy trophy grin as I head out again this week looking for a few more adventure on the Pacifc. Thank you for your support.


Here's to warm wishes, Aloha and fresh perspective for your travels!


It's time to share the update on my books, Teen Cancer America and my next trip. Read about it.



Ready to enjoy some more shots from this story? Voila!


Aloha & Huzzah!
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