A Not Funny Thing Happened On Our Way To…


You know how when you fall, you get discombobulated? You stand up, but it takes a long minute or two to regain your equilibrium, not to mention the embarrassment. Such is what happened on our recent vacation.

This is the not funny thing that happened on our way to see the sea turtles:

There we were enjoying the turquoise waves of Laniakea beach, lapping at black volcanic rocks on the North Shore of O’ahu. We stopped to watch two huge sea turtles bask in the sun when a quick stop turned into a long ordeal.

Endangered sea turtles in Laniake Beach O'ahu Photo by Mona Alvarado Frazier
Kulihi, an endangered sea turtle-Laniake

We parked our rental car on the shoulder of a two-way road where several other vehicles were parked. Three hours later we returned to the car. I was starving, so we drove into the town of Hale’iwa, ten minutes away, to eat. “Pop the trunk,” I called out, ready to head into Killer Tacos. I stared at an empty trunk. No purses.

“Maybe I left it at the beach,” I said, although I know I didn’t take my purse out to the sand.

“Just get mine,” my sister said.

“It’s not here. Nothing’s here.”

Well, you guessed it. We were robbed. When we returned to the crime scene, we called the police. A woman approached us. Her car window had been smashed open. The take: a bag of wet water shoes and a towel. Us-we lost our debit/credit cards, driver’s license, cash, etc.

Luckily, we had our phones and began locking our cards online. While we were with the police, our niece took our phones and downloaded new cards into the Apple Wallet-a lifesaver. After all that, we received a sheet of paper with a police report number and advice to get to the airport extra early because we no longer had ID.

And then the charges on my sister’s card came rolling in. The first one was at a Long’s Drugstore a few minutes away. We drove there to check the dumpsters and surrounding area to see if our purses were tossed. At the least, maybe I could get my eyeglasses and ID back. Maybe my Costco and Barnes and Nobles gift card. Nothing. The only item I really needed was on my person. I was wearing my prescription sunglasses. Although, I’m sure I looked odd wearing those for the next five nights.

A few days later, we found out we couldn’t check into our next hotel without physical credit cards or IDs. They wouldn’t take Apple Pay or the photocopies of our IDs and passports. (Both of us had these uploaded to our computers and could access them on our phones).

Again, luckily, we were traveling with friends at another hotel, and they came over with their credit cards to secure our lodgings. Having my Kaiser Permanente card in my Apple wallet helped me get more meds at the local KP pharmacy, that and the police report.

I must say that TSA at the Honolulu airport was helpful and courteous. However, my sister and I were separated and taken to a supervisor, where we reiterated our story. They then asked us several questions. After TSA was satisfied that we were who we said we were, they went through our bags and waved us on our way.

Moral of the story: If you lock your purse in the trunk, make sure you know how to lock the rental car. The car we had didn’t automatically lock (like my sister’s personal car does). Better yet, leave one credit card along with your photo ID in the hotel safe and take a paper copy of your ID with you. Or take your stuff with you to the beach-which presents another problem.

Later that night, I remembered my word of the year, “Within.” After prayer and meditation, a quote with the word “Within” came to me.

quote on compassion, strength, courage, love is within you by Matt Hogan

I no longer experienced the disconcerting and unnerved feelings and enjoyed the rest of our O’ahu vacation.

The highlights were the Polynesian Cultural Center, Byodo-In-Temple, and Pali Lookout. (Click on my Instagram icon for more photos, and if you’d like to follow me, I’ll follow you, too).

After returning home, the Ukraine crisis filled the news. This reminded me that meditation, prayer, and self-care are a daily necessity for me and to limit information on TV and social media lest I feel overwhelmed.

I’m reminded that the International Red Cross and other long-standing organizations are ready and willing to assist the Ukrainian people. Here’s a list of sites to connect you.

Writing Life: 16 months to Publication

I received a three-page Excel sheet detailing all the “To Do” items before the publication of my YA novel.

First up was re-working my “sales hook.” The limit was sixty words. This is what I came up with, and I hope it’s enticing enough to motivate a reader to look inside the book:

She didn’t run because she killed him. She ran because she didn’t. But no one believes Juana, an undocumented seventeen-year-old incarcerated for her husband’s death. Amid the chaos of prison and her grief, she creates a garden in the yard—a safe space. A place where she gains the strength to take on the system before she loses her child.

What do you think?

Next, I need to develop my back cover. I have a 200-word limit there, but if you pull a couple of books off your shelf, you’ll see that most are in the 100 word range.

This month, I watched a couple of writing webinars on YouTube. The majority of them are free. For those of you who want to publish this may be helpful:

Best Practices in Marketing, Promotion, and Reader Engagement. by Author’s Guild.

Now, I must get back to cat-sitting my daughter’s fur babies and taking care of her 101 plants.

See you next month. Until then, take care of yourself.


Traveling-it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.-Ibn Battuta

Chelsea Bridge, London photo by

The quotes on this page sum up a great deal of why I travel. Some years I go overseas, other years I’m exploring a new U.S. state.

I’m a planner. I’ll search for the best flight, best hotel deal, research the sights, read the reviews of tours, and generally go on a quest of the intended travel site at least four months in advance of the trip.

Detailing an itinerary is not on the menu. Instead of “we need to see this in this day,” I list top sights to see on the trip. We usually get to most of the sights and find new ones when we get lost. And we always get lost, not scary lost, just wrong turn lost.


Churchill Arms Pub, London. photo by m. alvaradofrazier

“When overseas you learn more about your own country than you do the place you’re visiting.” – Clint Borgen


The Churchill Arms pub is full of atmosphere inside and out, but I’d stick to having a beer or beverage and skip the food, which isn’t pub food but Thai (mediocre).

I overheard a seventyish English gentleman having a conversation with an American couple, in their forties with Southern accents, about President Trump. They were Trump supporters. The Englishman said, “He’s a stupid arse,” to which the conversation ceased and the couple left the pub.

Several times we were approached and asked if we were Americans; a couple of times we were invited to drinks. I wasn’t viewed as an ethnic minority from the USA, I was identified as an American. This made me think about how we are seen by the citizens of another country. Refreshing change. There was an interest in what we thought about issues but a strange fascination with Southern California.


“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Although I’ve been to London twice before, I’d not seen several areas beyond the city. Planning this was a little trickier since I needed train reservations from London to Manchester, Manchester to Bath, and Bath to Heathrow.

I used National Rail to find routes and fares. Buy your tickets at least two weeks in advance; a month is better. Buy the day before or day of almost doubles the price. I had no problem using the self-service machines to collect my pre-paid tickets and the staff at the machines was always helpful. Take a train and explore the region.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

Every day we made our ‘activity’ goal, you know the one on the iPhone app that tracks your steps. Each day we walked more than five miles, once it was twelve miles. Those Tube and train stairs made me so glad we only brought one piece of carry-on luggage each.

We had friends in Manchester, an industrial city, where we visited the Rylands Library, a library to rival libraries. It’s a late Victorian, Neo-Gothic building, with a tremendous amount of books and archives, including medieval illuminated manuscripts and a Gutenberg Bible. Interestingly, this was built as a memorial to John Rylands by his wife, Enriqueta, his Cuban born widow.

John Rylands Library, Manchester, UK

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle

Bath was a hub for us. You can walk or take a bus or a river barge and see the sites in one twenty-four hour period or a leisurely two days. Walking is better.

The city was in a Jane Austen Festival frenzy with the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death. Several women dressed in Jane Austen attire strolled the streets or ducked into a pub for a Jane Austen Earl Gray Red Ale, a beer brewed special for this occasion.  The main garden area had this lovely floral structure, an ode to Jane, although my photo doesn’t do it justice. They’re taking volunteers for the 2018 festival next September.

Jane Austen floral tribute for 200 year anniversary


The highlight of our trip was the mini-van tour, Mad Max Tours, from Bath to Stonehenge, the Avebury Stone Circles, Cherhill White Horse (the Uffington White Horse is 3,000 yrs. old), and two Cotswold villages. Gorgeous scenery and such interesting commentary.  We went early before the crowds and had a chance to take photos without too many people swarming Stonehenge.


Stonehenge. Photo by m. alvaradofrazier

Enroute to our destination we stopped to view the Avery and Cherhill White Horses on the hillsides. These are from 1750 and 1805 and part of seven white horses etched into the hills. They signified protection in ancient times.

Lalock and Castle Comb villages were a step into another time. Castle Comb is the quintessential English village. Both places are home to several movie scenes from Dr. Doolittle, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, and we just missed Johnny Depp at the pub by two days, when filming for Fantastic Beast 2 wrapped up.

This 1361 pub in Lalock used to roast meat on a spit turned by specially bred dogs called Turnspits (of course) which was a long-bodied, short-legged dog, now extinct.

The George Inn a 13th Century pub, Lalock, UK photo by m. alvaradofrazier


Part of our memories in our travels was the food. My favorites: Steak pies, chicken and mushroom pies, Cornish pastries (pas-tays), fish and chips, elderflower beverages, the beer, minted peas, mushy peas, and Sunday roast. I need a meat pie and minted peas recipe and find Elderflower beverages.

There was a diversity of dishes, from Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Turkish you name it, they had it, even Mexican burritos (which we didn’t have because, well, we’re from California).

I could go on and on about the wonderful sites, the food, the people, but I have included some photos on my Instagram (newly opened) page. I’m at m. alvaradofrazier in case, you’d like to view my other photos.

Next year I may go back and see the more of the Cotswolds and travel to the rest of the UK. I’m thinking I can fly solo, something I’ve never done before, but why not.