The timing may not have been perfect, but the weekend certainly was... my in-laws invited us to share a weekend with them on the island of Catalina (off the coast of Long Beach) this past weekend. It was the first visit for most of us, and it was truly remarkable. After the hour and 15 minute ferry ride Friday morning, we checked into our hotel and had lunch. We took a short walk down the Green Pleasure Pier
and then got tickets to go on an "undersea tour" on a boat with seating and large windows below sea level. This was definitely worth doing - we saw a ton of fish (including the beautiful, bright orange Garibaldi), and Brynne says this was definitely the highlight of the weekend for her.
The small town of Avalon has what you might expect - souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, jewelry boutiques and small art galleries, seafood restaurants, etc. What we didn't expect is that the town is overrun with golf carts! Apparently, the wait to get a standard-size vehicle to the island is many years, so all of the local residents get around via golf cart. We spied every possible make and model, even those outfitted with the latest in child safety (!)
Brynne spent Saturday with grandma and grandpa, so Jerry and I took advantage and did some hiking. We started with a loop on Chimes Tower Road and Stage Coach Road. The views were spectacular, as were the wildflowers on the hillside.
After lunch we took the tour of the famous casino, which includes a mini pipe organ concert in the spectacular theater and a walk upstairs to view the incredible ballroom. It's a fantastic building, filled with stylized murals and elegant furnishings - a great piece of architecture that would most likely never get built today.
After lunch, we walked from town up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden. The garden has a spectacular display of succulents, cacti, and a number of endemic plants. At the top of the hill is the Wrigley Memorial (William Wrigley Jr. - of chewing gum fame and preservationist of Catalina island) - a great spot to frame a view of the valley.
It was fun to look at the different architectural styles in town - from bungalows to Victorians to more modern (and sprawling) estates. Evidence of the pottery tradition established by the Catalina pottery company is virtually everywhere, and original pieces are fetching astronomical prices in the antique and gift shops in town. We were particularly impressed with some modern tile work on the stairs of the Avalon Hotel
and the creative underwater scene recreated using succulents and tiles in the otherwise "dead" space along the street under the main floor balconies:
I think this would be so much fun to do in our back yard somewhere... the wheels are spinning!
All in all, we had a wonderful and restful weekend, and there are even more pictures!
Coming back to work on Monday was exciting because I was looking forward to a visit from Laura of Loloko fame and her lovely family - Jan and Austin (hi!). Laura and I corresponded before superbuzzy opened, and she was full of tips and suggestions and overall support. She is just as sweet and generous in person, and I'm so glad we were able to meet during her trip to the area. Of course, Loloko is a wonderfully dangerous shop, full of more Decole goodness than I can handle!