Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Catalina Report

Now that the baby news is old news and the PW review is posted, I can stop and reflect on my trip to Catalina over Thanksgiving. This past weekend, while nursing a cold, doing housework, and writing like a mad woman, Catalina seemed a million miles and a million years away, but the wonderful memories linger.

Susan and I stayed at the Pavilion Lodge. If you go to Catalina, I cannot say enough about staying at the Pavilion. It's clean, charming, nicely kept, and the location can't be beat. It's just steps from the sand and surf and fairly reasonable. Get one of the packages that includes transportation and save some money. Not being good on water, even though I love it, I was worried about the trip over and back on the Catalina Flyer. To be on the safe side, I took Dramamine and was fine. It was spitting rain when we left Newport Beach for Avalon, but the weather the rest of the weekend was great. It was cool on Catalina in the early mornings and evenings and we needed jackets, but during the day it was lovely.

Mornings and mid afternoons, I grabbed my Alpha Smart and settled in at a table in the courtyard of the hotel where I got a lot of writing done. After breakfast, Susan and I would explore the town, the shops, and just sit and enjoy the ocean. It was so relaxing, I felt like Gumby by the second day. Evenings we would have dinner, then settle back in our room to watch movies. There's not a lot of night life on the island, especially in off-season, but then Susan and I aren't big partiers.

On Saturday morning during the continental breakfast at the hotel, we met Alex and Kerry, two girlfriends like us on a weekend getaway. Kerry is an American living in England and Alex is a mother of three living in Orange County, CA, not far from where Susan lives. The four of us hit it off and got together that evening in our room for some girl talk and laughs. They tried to talk us into going out for karaoke, but it was a hard sell and we weren't buying. The next morning was the last for all of us and we met up for breakfast again.

The only tour we took was the Scenic Avalon Tour which consisted of a bus ride throughout the area in, around and above the town of Avalon. Our guide was a 40 year resident of the island and it was very educational and well-worth doing. (I had taken the 3-hr inland island tour before and that really gives you a grand view of the entire island.) We saw the burn areas from last year's fire and it was frightening to see how close it came to roaring through the town. Two tidbits I learned during that tour that I didn't know before: 1) There are only 800 cars allowed on the island and there is a 15-year waiting period to get a permit for one. That's why most everyone uses golf carts to get around. 2) The hospital on the island doesn't do any surgery and serious medical emergencies require being airlifted by helicopter to the mainland to the tune of about $12,000. Susan and I were thinking that Catalina might be a great place to retire until we heard that. Though, I still wouldn't mind spending a chunk of time there in the future. I'll just have to make sure if I get sick, I give myself time to stumble onto the ferry.

The last morning, Susan and I got up and wandered out to the beach by 6 am to watch the sunrise. It was well worth the effort. To our left, the fog rolled over the mountains ringing the town, while the glow of the sun rolled over the hills to our right. It was a hazy morning and the sun didn't shine bright, but it was spectacular just the same.

Even though I'd visited Catalina before, this was my first time staying overnight on the island, and I highly recommend it. There are lots of hotels to suit everyone's taste and style, great food of all kinds, fresh air, and endless ocean views. I can't wait to go back.

By the way, the main purpose for this little jaunt was research. Catalina Island will be featured in the 2nd Ghost of Granny Apples mystery.

Photos: Top - Catalina's famed Casino building. Middle - me, Alex, Kerry and Susan. Bottom - the beach and pier at sunrise.


jlewis said...

Glad to hear you had such a pleasant and relaxing trip! We always love to hear how we're doing from our guests, Sue Ann! You can visit our own
to leave comments and to keep up with the latest deals and events on the island.

Morgan Mandel said...

You've got a photo of the casino, but did you go there? Win or lose?
My usual vacation spot is Wisconsin, where my DH fishes and I go to the casino or shop. Can't afford the casino the rest of the year. Probably next vacation won't be able to go there as much either, the way things are going - unless I get a bestseller. (G)
Morgan Mandel