Tag Archives: catalina island

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


I Lived. So I’ll Tell The Tale.

Boyfriend and I left for Catalina at approximately 4:30AM.  Our boat left at 6:15, which was the sole explanation for that barbaric waking time.  We did, however, receive an unexpected gift for our bravery in facing such a dark morning:  a scarlet sunrise rising beneath the deep and smoky lavender clouds.  The harbor seemed transfixed by that burning sky.

Our zip appointment was for 11AM.  I was nervous as all hell, but it’s really useless to indulge in mindless terror once you’re On Countdown.  When we sat down to breakfast (yes, always hungry) the first thing I noticed was a sign on the wall:  RELAX.  Didn’t work.

If you ever want to do this, you sign up, get your tickets, etc. at Descanso Beach, a little behind the Casino.  Everyone has to Weigh In.  I was so deeply shocked at my poundage that for a few minutes, falling to a messy death in one of Catalina’s hidden ravines didn’t seem so bad.

You get fitted with a harness and a helmet.   There is a 20 minute orientation, 90% of which is spent explaining what to do when something goes wrong.  During the bus ride to the first station my hands were shaking.  With my gear and fear I felt like a soldier being driven to the front line.

Line #1:  500 feet above sea level.  501 feet in length.  I was one of the last to go, but I went before Boyfriend, so he could take my picture.

Hook, Line and Sinker

 I took one step into nothingness and when I felt the harness and cable accept  my (considerable) weight, I tucked into the ‘cannonball’ position – as instructed – and by God, away I went. 

Ready, Willing and Cable

I assumed there were trees beneath me.  An ocean was floating around somewhere over my shoulder.  I was staring at my sneakers in front of me, and at the next station coming at me.  You partially land/gallop to a halt, become unhitched and follow the others to the next line. 

Line #2:  The longest line – 1,045 feet.  About half way through this run, to my horror, a stray breeze caught me and I started to spin.  Thank you, balmy island weather, thank you so bloody much.  Anyway, things steadied, and I continued on.  When I was done here and still among the living I could have allowed myself a handful of confidence, but that would have been foolish.

Line #3:  702 feet long.  This time I was coming in too fast.  I lowered my legs, increasing wind resistance, then tucked back up on my reciever’s instructions, stationed at the next, oncoming platform.  The wind was whistling by me – this might have been the fastest line, when one can propel down those twin cables at over 40 mph. 


Line #4:  892 feet long.  The path shoots over a den of eucalyptus trees which had been trimmed so as not to slice off the ankles of those who prefer to do their hiking while airborne. 

Line #5:  531 feet long.  This was called an ‘easy’ one, so we were encouraged to do a little free-form zipping.   Interpretive zipping?  Don’t think so.

A Grim Grin

And we were finished.  And we were successful.  And we were alive.  And we felt rather fabulous.  And we’ll probably do this again.

That evening, we went to the New Year’s party at the Casino, sharing a table with a rather entertaining couple:  the husband once broke open a champagne bottle with a samurai sword.  I don’t think he said this to impress us, because, frankly, who would want to?

Next morning we had breakfast at a jolly little place which always has a New Year’s Day PJ Party.  I wore my best jammies and to prove that I did this thing, had my photo taken in front of the restaurant.

Toast and Jammies

The object I’m holding is a toy Catalina Buffalo which I bought on the island.  We took it to the party, as we thought it was fitting.  Neither of us ordered buffalo sausage or bacon, just to be polite.

So…Happy New Year.  Face and embrace all that it dares to give you.

Colors Over The Casino


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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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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