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.

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