Until last weekend, Catalina was one of the many places I had visited only through childhood photographs. There's a photo of me and my grandmother in front of Avalon's famous harbor. I know it's Catalina because my grandmother would tell me the story of our day trip there. In another photo, I'm smiling for the camera, while in the background, my mother naps on the grass.
|My first trip to Avalon|
Luckily, I was able to make new memories of the trip and snap some updated photos. Not much has changed over the past decades. Although something tells me the trip used to be more affordable than it is today. At forty dollars for the ferry, the hour-long trip is pretty expensive. Locals complain that they have to wait 16 years for a car-owning lottery and gasoline is over seven dollars a gallon. There are some tricks, outside of befriending someone with a yacht, to making the trip on the cheap.
First. You say it's your birthday? Birthday boys and girls travel the 26 miles across the sea from Long Beach or San Pedro to Avalon for free. Plus, restaurants and museums offer discounts to celebrants.
Next, try booking midweek lodging and stay on the beach for less than the little inns and cottages during the higher weekend rate. I drove down from Santa Barbara and stayed with a friend before heading out to Long Beach Saturday morning. The island is small enough to see everything in one day. With enough planning, you can book a land and sea tour. However, for me, having time to write, lounge, and read a book without the regular distractions was worth the extra day on the island.
|Buffalo on the island|
I took a land tour to the airport in the sky at the top of the island. The view of California was spectacular. The bison were out and I saw a fully grown gray fox and several large birds.
|An Avalon Fox|
My favorite part of trip was riding inside the yellow submarine. The semi submersible was just like the ride at Disneyland, except there were no mermaids. I saw Garibaldi (the state fish), plenty of perch, a sea lion, and gigantic kelp. What gave me an extra thrill was firing the torpedoes of fish food. A green light came on to indicate that the food torpedoes were armed. Upon depression, a boom and explosion of fish food causes dozens of fish to rush to the front of your window.
|The Yellow Submarine|
Last weekend, I was blessed with perfect weather, a beautiful sunset, and fun memories to at last say goodbye to Summer. It was also nice meeting friends at Avalon, 26 miles across the sea. Glad I happen to be in California for a quick trip to Santa Catalina.
|Santa Catalina Sunset|