Tag Archives: avalon

Sharktopus Goes On Vacation

It was fortunate for Sharktopus that the Catalina Express charged extra for only bicycles and surfboards.  He was therefore able to ride along in my purse – complaining about the tight fit and cheap fake leather smell all through the trip – for free.


He didn’t like the 4AM call either, but I was with him on that.

When we arrived,  he stayed in the hotel room while Boyfriend and I took a walking tour of the Casino (Sharktopus was hoping for a game of craps later that evening – we had to set him straight and tell him that the Casino was a place for legal festivities only).  We also played – horribly – a  game of miniature golf.  But really, it’s hard not to enjoy such a cute and micro game.

Friday, Boyfriend went surfing – we all went along.  The previous night we had gone to a neighboring liquor store to pick up some water and trail mix – Sharktopus’ request for Mickey’s Big Mouth went unheeded.  What with the freedom of the island and the headiness of the ocean air, he was getting a little out of hand.

But once we got to the beach, he calmed down.  It was, after all, called ‘Shark Harbor’.  He went out on his own and inspected some of the rock outcroppings and found them Good.

Sharktopus Is A Rock Star

Eating The Scenery

Back in Avalon, we took a walk to Descanso Beach and past the Casino again.  Sharktopus thought it was rather pretty. 

Sharktopus Is On His Way To The Casino

Plush Profile

Finding The Spotlight

Saturday, Boyfriend and I once again once again went zip-lining.  We looked to Sharktopus and inquired if he might be interested.  I never thought a plush animal could shout HELL NO so loud.  He chose to stay in the room, watching TV and waiting for the New Year’s Twilight Zone marathon to begin.

Anyway, I’ve learned something about zip-lining.  There is No Way one can look dignified suspended in mid-air, wearing a harness and a helmet.  And this is not a big selling point for Aubrey.

Aubrey Is Scared And Looks Silly

And to make things more intriguing, we went on a foggy morning.  The mist devoured half the cable – you couldn’t see where you were going; where you’d (hopefully) end up!

That night was the New Year’s Eve party.  I think I’ve already intimated that Sharktopus can’t be trusted with crowds and liquor – so we left him behind.  Besides, he would probably have made a fool of himself over the macadamia-crusted mahi-mahi. (and the champagne too – and since Aubrey wasn’t sharing, a situation would have ensued).

The next two days, we walked, shopped and toured all across the bonny island.  Avalon has the prettiest fountain in the plaza.  Seagulls bathe in it, Boyfriend and I have long admired it.  And this year Sharktopus discovered it.

Miles of Tiles

 The cruise back was quick and sleepy.  We kept the party from Sharktopus as long as possible – he can be such an envious little creature – until he found a certain piece of memorabilia.

Starred And Feathered



Every New Year’s Eve Boyfriend and I go to Catalina Island to celebrate an old year – heavy with disappointment and achievement – and to welcome a new year that is as light and empty as a bubble.  We go to the Casino for the buffet dinner, always too embarrassed to go for seconds,

Deco Dinner

to dance, drink and to chase the rogue balloons that fall from the ceiling at midnight.  We make merry  with the other partygoers whom are foolish enough to welcome the passage of time.

Ring In The New

With the recent rains, we hope to see a green, lush island.  We will take the tour through the hills and trees and hopefully see the buffalo standing in the road, staring the bus down with their brown, bovine eyes, steadily chewing the new grass.  Maybe we’ll see mule deer, and quail and the one or two bald eagle couples living on the island.

Boyfriend, of course, will surf.

We will do what we usually do when we visit the island, with the exception of one thing.  This year, Catalina has installed its own Zip Line.  I have never been on a zip line, and for a very good reason.  It’s called Fear, and like many people I prefer to avoid it.  However.  We have purchased our tickets and we will go. 

This line consists of five runs – one which will drop from 500 to 60 feet above sea level, with a length of 1,100 lineal feet.  Speed will approach 45 miles per hour.  Five runs – five stations.  At each station you will be unhitched then re-harnessed before you continue – still screaming – on your next run.  You will also be given a presentation on some ‘interesting aspects of Catalina Island History’ while those requiring the ministrations of a psychiatrist will be tended to.

I’ve read over the fact sheet and have noticed the small print:  ‘And for those who have submitted their soul to the Baby Jesus while on our run, you may pick up your free Bible on your way out.  For those who have begun to speak in tongues, we have the Latin Vulgate Bible available for a nominal free.’

So, yes, I’m afraid of this thing.  But I’m going because, frankly, I don’t think that fear is enough.  In a way, I need more proof.  

The new year affects me the same way.  Is fear of the unknown enough to suspend all anticipation and hope?  Or do we need more?  Shall we spit in the face of the new year’s nameless fears until they become solid and known:  then run like hell…if we decide to?

Happy New Year…and here’s to its New Fear!

26 Miles

Boyfriend and I will be leaving for Catalina Island tomorrow.  We will be celebrating New Year's at the Casino, and at midnight we will be standing beneath an avalanche of balloons.

On later days, we will tour the island, looking for bison, deer, quail, eagles and foxes.  We will play miniature golf, with the local cats s-link-ing behind us.  We will enjoy yourselves on that petite, happy island.

So while I'm away, behave yourselves – do – this New Year's.  I did receive some money for Christmas, but certainly not enough to post bail for the lot of you.

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A Bestiary

A bestiary is an illustrated collection of – not surprisingly – beasts.  It is a zoo on paper, a visual jungle, a forest trapped within a book's woven threads.

Santa Catalina isn't known for its assortment of animals.  It is part of a thirsty spine of islands called the Channel Islands.  There are eight in all, and Catalina is the most populous, sailing heavily like a pleasure ship that is filled to capacity.  It possesses one post office, two markets, two schools and thirty bars.  But it does not have a particularly lush animal population.

However, when Boyfriend and I returned from the place, I couldn't help but think about the creatures that were featured there.  Our vacation was a bestiary of beasties.

For instance, at the miniature golf course – a jungle in itself – a weary employee would always be present to direct one towards the tickets:

And after 18 holes, a person might be too spent to walk home.  Should that be the case, there were always two chauffeurs ready to drive you home:

On Saturday we took a tour of the island's interior.  We saw Pimu, the grounded bald eagle, still yearning, perhaps, for a whisper of the clouds' frosty air – a voice never forgotten:

There was Tachi, a Catalina Island Fox.  There are only 100 of these foxes left – their numbers crashing close to 90% within the past ten years.  She is a product of a captive breeding campaign, but when very young had an eye infection and had to be brought back to health by human hands.  She could never be released into the wild. 

We saw her briefly, a bundle of russet and silver:

Hidden inside a valley is the Escondido Ranch, home to a handful of dainty-faced Arabian horses.  They are proud of their refined profiles, of the silver saddles – embossed with desert landscapes and symbols – they carry, of their deep hearts:

They are also very wise, and don't hesitate to offer free advice to humans who are looking particularly lost:

And no trip to Catalina is complete without a visit with their bovine ambassadors:

It was lunchtime, however, so all meetings were cancelled until a later date:

Now, there are many times when our choices of society, of companions, are regrettable ones.  But for the few days that we were on the island, we were most fortunate in the company that we kept. 

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Cry For Catalina

I'll admit that many times a fire will arouse a thrill of terror in me.  It's a human, but not very pretty, tendancy.  Such a fierce disaster causes awe and fascination.
But this evening when I saw the photos coming from Catalina Island, of the flames destroying the inland brush and hovering over the city of Avalon like the jaws of a furnace, I could only feel a sick fear.  I actually felt my throat tighten when I thought about the danger that was threatening the island I love so much. 
So many wonderful things lie in the path of destruction:  The Airport In The Sky, the Wrigley Arabian Horse Ranch, the buffalo that, well, roam the hinterland of the island…and as the fire peeks over the hill and into the city it glowers over Crescent and Sumner Avenues which house wonderful old hotels:  the Glenmore (where Boyfriend and I always stay), the Hermosa "Sleep Cheap" Hotel (where dad stayed whenever he visited the island in the '40's)…and the glorious Casino.  But if the fire reaches that, well, the entire island will by then be reduced to tinder.
It's night time now, and the water drops have ceased.  They will be resumed in the morning, but for now Catalina burns alone.

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Catalina Caper


I'm not necessarily referring to the movie featuring Tommy Kirk in little swim trunks – I'm referring in all actuality to how I'll be celebrating New Year's Eve. We'll be 26 miles across the sea, in the city of Avalon, partying in the ballroom of the art deco casino.

We went last year, and simply wanted some more of that black and silver decor, the Expansive collection of noisemakers at each table, the big band music, and the gigantic net of balloons hung over the ballroom like the Damocles' Sword of New Year's Eve.  That and the buffet, complimentary bottle of wine (engraved with an image of the casino) and the photograph taken of each couple attending.

Also, when you're drunk and giddy from a party, it's nice to be able to walk home without feeling that you should have a tommy gun slung over your shoulder.  Catalina is safe and small like that, while big cities can be most tediously dangerous. 

'Catalina Caper' can also refer to something else.  I'll just come right out and say it:  in the late '40's, with the war over and all, my father was able to take the boat to Catalina with his friends, dance to the big bands, and act most profoundly goofy:

Can you pick him out, by the way?  In another photo, the blonde fellow – George – was wearing swim trunks and a necktie.  I'm enjoying the rolled down socks in this one.

And I may ask myself:  who are these ladies?

These pictures were taken in front of the Hermosa Hotel & Cottages (motto:  "sleep cheap"), which is still up and running.

The photo of dad on the beach is strangely evocative – sometimes all you need is the sand and a pail.  Perhaps he was feeling meditative.  Or maybe the bars weren't open yet.




This year boyfriend and I will be going with his brother and wife, their son and his wife and I have convinced my parents to come along, too.  It will have been nearly 60 years since dad went dancing in that ballroom.

I just hope the outside of his door won't look the same as it did in 1948:



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