Wednesday, August 1, 2007

catalina island: la isla bonita

About an hour’s trip from the California coast is a little gem of an island called Catalina (actually it’s Santa Catalina, but no one calls it that). In my opinion, it is the best thing California has to offer (and Cali has a lot of good things to offer). All they need is a good vineyard and it would be the perfect little vacation spot.

Anyways, Catalina has a special place in my heart so I was devastated when wildfires ravaged the tiny island back in May. Nearly 4000 acres were burned. The island is only 22 miles long so that’s a good chunk of land. I nearly cried when I found out about the fire. Obviously, Cali has been very dry lately and is almost always susceptible to fire practically yearly. But I knew for a fact that Catalina had been in a drought for quite some time. The last few times I had visited, the mountains and hills were mostly brown because of all of the dry brush.

Because Catalina is heavily dependent on its tourism industry, I was more than happy to schedule a day trip during my vacay. I wanted to help the island any way I could. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. My boat leaving Balboa Pier was packed with vacationers.

There are no vehicles allowed on the island (for residents, there is a 5 year wait for vehicles) so Jesse and I rented a golf cart (the transportation of choice for Catalina residents) and drove around the island. It was a gorgeous day and we were able to see some amazing views.

But before Jesse and I rented the golf cart, we had to have a mini golf rematch. Catalina has the most beautiful mini golf course I have ever seen and it is incredibly difficult (as a mini golf connoisseur, I feel that I could speak to that with some certainty). On our first visit together, Jesse and I played the course and I beat him. This year, we had a rematch. It was a close game!

Here’s Jesse after his hole-in-one.
jesse's hole in one

Here’s Jesse at the 18th hole.
jesse at the 18th hole

It was down to the wire. I needed to get a hole in one to tie.
move over, Tiger!
I missed and Jesse won!

This sleepy, chunky kitty greeted us at the last hole.
the kitty at the mini golf course

After lunch, we got the golf cart and drove around.
another view of avalon

look at the ocean!

Here is a view of Avalon (one of two cities on the island) from a hill.
jesse and avalon

Another view of Avalon. You have to click to enlarge this picture to see how clear the water is.
a view of avalon

Here I am with Jesse.
jesse and me and avalon

Here is a view of Avalon from the dock
a view of avalon from the dock

Here’s another view from the dock with the Casino on the right.
the boats at the dock

Here’s my favorite photo subject on the dock.
jesse and the boats

In case you were wondering, we did see where the fires had burned the island. It was very, very sad to see. Naturally, I made sure the burned parts didn’t show on any pictures.

It was hard to leave the island, but it had been a long day. We had plans with my family for dinner that night. I am happy to report that dinner went fairly smoothly.

You just never know when my family’s going to get all crazy on ya.


media concepts said...

Thanks for the post and the pics. On clear days, I can see Catalina from my home. I can't wait to get there, and I'm glad to hear that the whole place wasn't burned.

sunchaser said...

"You just never know when my family’s going to get all crazy on ya." haha! you're not the only one (whose family isn't crazy to some degree?)

Gorgeous pics! And looks like you both had lots of fun! :)

I just found out I'll be going out to San Diego for a brief work trip at the end of the month. Yay! :D

Madame M. said...

So pretty!

I want to go!

lizzie said...

media concepts--wow! you must have a nice view!

while driving through the hills, we did happen upon the parts that had been burned. it was not a pleasant sight. and you couldn't go up to the high school, which i believe suffered some damage. it was interesting to see some lush green plant life next to the seriously charred cacti and such. you could almost trace the path of the fire.

but the island is still beautiful for the most part.

sunchaser--yes, every family has its quirks. thanks! we had a great time on the island!

i'm so jealous that you're going to SD. i hope you get have some fun while you're not working!

madame--it is gorgeous. the next time you're out in cali, you should check it out. there are tons of family things to do there too!

Anonymous said...

It's normal for the dry vegetation in southern California, including Catalina Island, to burn occasionally. It's been happening for thousands of years. Thankfully Avalon wasn't burnt to the grown!

Anonymous said...

Jst curious did u ever lived there? since u say it holds a very dearly place in ur heart!!!
I did i went to high shool there and all my best friends still reside there, and yes it beautiful and and amazing!!!
I miss it sooo much!! glad u had fun!!!

may191 said...

Catalina Island is an awesome place. Thanks for making this post. I love seeing people have a good time there. Its like going to a whole other world but its so. Close.