Sunday, August 23, 2015

11 days on Catalina

Captain Chris and I

I recently had a 2 week summer vacation from my job as Arrowbear Music Camp nurse, so we jumped aboard Espiritu, hoisted the sails and headed across the channel to Catalina Island.

We dropped anchor at the Isthmus, Two Harbors

We hiked across the isthmus to the entrance to Cat Harbor. 
You can see teeny tiny Chris standing on the shore.

This houseboat found a novel way to get satellite for the boat

Years and years of wind blowing across the isthmus have made this tree permanently 
lean to starboard, while Chris impersonates

The closest we'll ever get to "swinging"

Each evening we broke out the guitar, piccolo and fiddle as the sun set and serenaded the anchorage with Irish music. 

It felt appropriate to play a sea shanty as this clipper ship glided by

A local taught us how to prepare cactus fruit for eating. 

       Chris with our cactus fruit in front of the Harbor Reef Restaurant, 
the site of Natalie Wood's last meal, which I'm pretty sure was NOT cactus fruit

After a couple of lovely days at the Isthmus, we headed over to White's Landing, dropped anchor and headed ashore for a hike. 

Chris: "I know there's supposed to be a wild buffalo around here somewhere..."

Mr. and Mrs. Buffalo relaxing in the midday sun

We were careful to keep our distance, as a curious hiker was gored earlier this summer. Only a week after our visit someone had be airlifted off the island with a punctured lung, courtesy of a Catalina bison. 

Cactus flower

Hiking down a steep trail above Moonstone

Newport Harbor Yacht Club 

Looking down on White's Landing

Looking up from the beach


Wall of clouds

I was excited to make the long trek to the top of the island, home of the Catalina Airport. It's a 2,000 foot elevation gain. 

We were told to "Watch for Foxes" along the trail. I don't see any here, do you?  :-P 

After a couple of hours, we finally arrived at the top

I was expecting the "Catalina Airport and restaurant" to be a WWII quonset hut with a beat up picnic table. Boy was I wrong!

Check out the excellent gift shop at the Catalina airport!

Captain Chris: "Maybe we should buy a plane!" 
Me: "cricket, cricket..."

It was so clear you could see all the way across the channel to the LA coastline

Who even knew this was HERE on Catalina? What a great find...

After a delicious lunch watching the planes come and go, it was time to head out.

Many miles to go before we sleep

The views were spectacular. Visible are the San Gabriel Mountains and Mt. Baldy, near Los Angeles

It was hot, though. 

Captain Chris waits in the shade while I lolligag along taking photos

It was so hot that my hiking sandals began melting, falling apart and self destructing halfway through the hike.

A kind pilot at the airport shared some duct tape with us. If there's one thing you know every small plane needs on board, it's duct tape! 

Survival tip: If you only eat half of a pretzel with every bite, according to Xeno's paradox (which states if you only go half the distance between two points, and keep going half the distance, over and over again, theoretically you will never reach your destination) I should never, EVER run out of pretzels. In case of emergency, this bag of pretzels could keep me alive for weeks!   

This sign is along the trail as the beach gets closer and closer...

A well earned barefoot walk along the beach after our long, long hike

The next day we dinghied into Avalon for a Big Olaf's ice cream. They have sugar free now, so our tasty treat was sort of guilt free. :-) 

The kitchen sink clogged -- Captain Chris to the rescue!

We met frequent Mexico cruisers Mike and Judy aboard Lunautica. 

Judy and her cute little salty sea dog Gunner

Catalina sunset

We went on another hike with Mike from Lunautica 

Higher and higher we went...

The top. That's Saddleback Mountain in Orange County off in the distance


Heading down along some precipitous cliffs

Meandering trail

Sadly, due to ocean warming most of the kelp is dead and dying on the island. On the upside, the beaches and shoreline are now tropical blue as the rocks and sand below the surface (previously hidden by the giant kelp forests) now shine in the sun. 

A rope climb near Newport Harbor Yacht Club


This is why we love Catalina

Each day after hiking ashore we swam and swam in the warm, clear water,
 then settled in aboard to watch the sunset

This awesome sunset seems to be literally painted on 
the surface of the water with bright pink paint

It was like we were cruising all over again. We had such a beautiful, relaxed time that we even talked about heading to sea again. We're more experienced now, it would be easier now, wouldn't it? Might it? Wow, we could really do it again, do it better this time, couldn't we?

Who knows. Stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trump: where are we going with this, America?

Notice whenever dictators from history are mentioned in the media, they're almost always referred to as "evil dictators," or "violent dictators." And yes, it's true that many of these men committed unspeakable atrocities, including genocide, to their own citizens.

But haven't you ever asked yourself the question: If these guys were so awful, how did they ever get elected?

Well, you might respond by saying "Well, they weren't elected. They came to power in a violent coup." OK, that is certainly true for many.

Idi Amin came to power in Uganda in the 1970's via coup.

And you might also argue that some of them inherited the power by non-democratic socialist regimes, which is also true.

Stalin was placed in his post after Lenin died. Not elected. 

And there are many more dictators and monarchs in history who were not elected.

But what about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez? Elected.

Iran's Ahmadinijad?

That's right. Elected.

Now, you might say: "Well, they might have won elections, but how fair were those elections? They were pretty much rigged, right?"

You could have a point there. One could question if these elections were completely "democratic." And it's certainly true that many of these guys won with a lot of help by control of the media and voter suppression.

Adolf Hitler -- elected.

Now, for crying out loud: how in the heck did the murderous, monster dictator Hitler actually get elected? 

Well, this is usually how the process goes:

1) A charismatic leader rises in popularity just when the people are sensing their government is not on their side, the economy is doing badly, and there's not much hope for the future. 

Hitler came to power after years and years of poverty in Germany after WWI. Germans were not doing well financially (they, too, suffered in the depression after 1929), and they didn't even feel good about being German. Many Jews in Germany, though, were doing quite well...(you know where I'm going with this)...

2) The leader is always brash, bold, and 100% confident that they can and will save the country.

3) This new leader makes vague promises that they will destroy all enemies and make (insert country name here) great again!

Obviously Hitler was not elected by decent German citizens on the platform: "Hey! Let's round up all the Jews and send them to the ovens!" 

That would come later. After absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Hitler won in the early 30's by promising a renewed Germany, and a renewed German spirit. He promised jobs and food on the table.  In the beginning. 

4) The fledgling dictator is usually unpredictable and doesn't follow prescribed mores of how a president should act. They're charismatic, they're their own man, they're not politically correct and say impossibly off-the-wall things!

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez famously said he could still smell the sulfur at the podium when he followed President George W. Bush as a speaker at the U.N. Wait -- did he say that Bush was Satan? At the U.N.? On international live TV? The world was shocked and horrified. But the peasants in Venezuela loved it. He was brash, bold, and he spoke his mind.

5) While the dictator himself is usually rich and powerful, he tirelessly stands up for the regular guy (German, Venezuelan, Russian, etc.) against the "power." He promises jobs and a great future. 

6) He's a father figure. A savior. "Trust me. I will take care of you." And like a father, he says: "Don't worry about the details, children. I'm in control."

Adolf Hitler -- the beloved fuhrer. (Father/leader)

6) He codifies his country's fears by honing in on a foreign enemy. This could be Americans, or Jews, or Mexicans, or Muslims. 

7) Since they are usually power-crazed super-narcissists who truly feel that they owe nothing to anyone, and they got where they are simply due to their own hard work, and maybe even God's divine plan...once they have the power -- things tend to get out of hand.

And last, and most convincing of all is this:

8) They tend to have very odd fashion sense. 

They dress the way they want to, because a) they don't care what anyone else thinks; b) once they attain dictator status, they're surrounded by 'yes' men who are afraid to tell them what they really look like; and c) they truly believe they are the sexiest, most charismatic man who ever walked the planet.

All of his staff has to wear stuffy, boring suits -- but Khadaffi gets to wear this flowing
 number and shades! It's good to be dictator!

I always liked this crazy Godfather-esque outfit worn by Saddam Hussein. 
What you can't see is the giant rifle he's carrying in his left hand.

North Korea's Kim Jong Il wore the same outfit and glasses from 1987 every 
day for 10 years! Let's hope he changed his underwear, at least...

Vladimir Putin. 'Nuff said.

The only possible explanation for this mustache is a woman told him it looked good ONCE and it went straight to his head. 

I think you see where I'm going here...

 The more outrageous, flamboyant and outspoken Trump gets, the more popular he is in the Republican party.  

Our government and election process is becoming more and more corrupt.  People on the right and the left are fed up with our political system.

Now, am I saying that Donald Trump is going to become America's first violent dictator? Well, of course not. But if history is correct, he does meet every one of the criteria above. 

And, as he constantly reminds us, he has his own money, his own financing.

                       He does what he wants, he says what he wants. 
                    He's beholden to noone.
                 Not business. Not the Republicans. 
                Not evangelicals. Not blue-collar workers.
                 Not the U.N. or international diplomacy. 
         Not Fox News.

        He's beholden to no-one.

And yet, Republican voters are poised to choose him as their nominee for the Presidency.  

Well. Where ARE we going with this, America?