HolyCoast: 26 Miles Across the Sea...

Friday, October 28, 2011

26 Miles Across the Sea...

Going to be remote blogging today from Los Angeles County's island getaway and gang crime haven of Catalina Island. A few months ago I bought a couple of half price tickets for the Catalina Flyer out of Newport Beach from Groupon and we finally found time to use them.
I've been over there a few times. The first was back in 1973 on a family vacation, riding the S.S. Catalina, the Great White Steamer out of Los Angeles. That ship ran the L.A. to Avalon route from 1924-1975, with pauses during WWII to act as a troop carrier.
I found this photo from the trip of my mom, sister and I in Avalon:
We rented a "car" for that trip, which on Avalon usually consists of a golf cart.  This was our ride:

In 1980 I decided to take a day off and go to the island by myself.  Great idea and I thought it would be okay to sit on the upper outside deck of the boat.  Big mistake.  By the time I got to Avalon I was already feeling the effects of what would probably be the worst sunburn I ever got.  My legs were roasted.  I spent much of the day looking for shady places to stay out of the sun, and when it came time to go home you could see nothing but whitecaps across the Catalina Channel.  The winds and seas had come up and the ride home took much longer because they had to slow down due to the big swells.  I was never so glad to end a trip in my life as I was that day.

For my wife's birthday in 1989 we went over to the island with a couple of friends.  We rented a golf cart to drive around the island and we stopped at a scenic point above the city to take this shot:
My wife had spent the entire trip over and the first two hours we were there seasick as a dog. Our daughter was only nine months old, and the nervousness about leaving her for the day combined with taking Dramamine on an empty stomach made for a very queasy passage. She finally got better as the day went on and had no trouble on the trip home.

That same picture spot was chosen when in 2001 that baby girl turned 13 and we took her, her brother and a friend over to the island for her birthday.
One of my more memorable trips was in 1999 when I was asked to go over to do the field work on a Christian camp that wanted an insurance quote.  I left Long Beach on a 6am ferry and arrived at the dock in Avalon about 7:15 where I was told the camp guy would pick me up.  What I didn't know until I got off the boat was he was picking me up in a little Boston Whaler because the only way to get to the camp was by water.  It was February and pretty cold out, and here I was zipping around the island about 30 mph in this open-air boat.  It took about 20 minutes to get to the camp.

Fortunately the day warmed up and I was finished with everything by around noon and we zipped back to Avalon.  I had one more appointment with a church in Avalon and the business administrator was waiting for me at the dock in his golf cart.  He lived there and didn't own a regular car (it's very expensive to bring a car to Avalon and there are restrictions on the number of cars that can be on the island).  It was a fun experience.

Probably the most fun I ever had on Catalina Island though were trips in which I didn't take a boat - I flew myself over there.  During 1978-1980 I made three trips that I can remember, the first one in which I met my parents over there and took my dad up in the plane for a circle around the island.  Unfortunately I can't find any photos from those trips.

However, for the first time flyer into Catalina's Airport-in-the-Sky, for a couple of bucks you could get an official certificate attesting to your oceanic navigation skills.  Here's mine:
That was only a couple of weeks after I got my license. They had great buffalo burgers at the airport cafe, but you had to pay a lot of attention to your landing if you wanted to enjoy one. The runway is cut out of the top of a hill and has an east-to-west uphill grade. On landing the runway seemed to rush up at you, and on take-off the plane seemed to take forever to get up to speed. Once you crossed the threshold at the west end of the runway the ground dropped away in sheer cliff. It kept you on your toes.

I'll be posting from time-to-time during the day as I travel to and from Avalon.  Looks like the weather will be perfect for the crossing and the day in town.

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