Santa Catalina Island
Friday, October 23, 2009
Julia, her best friend Maeve, and Maeve's husband
Eamonn, and I took off into clear skies; our destination Santa Catalina
Island. The island is located about 22 miles (35 km) south-southwest
of Los Angeles, California. We left Oakland Airport with a three
hour flight in front of us so to break it up we landed at San Luis
Obispo. After a nice lunch we all piled back into the airplane (who I now refer to
as Matilda) and continued our flight south.
As we crossed the Santa Monica Bay, making sure
to stay well below the Los Angeles airspace above us, Santa Catalina
Island began to peek out at us from a misty veil. The day was still
very clear, but a bit of stubborn morning fog clung close to the
island. The airport at Santa Catalina Island is perched on the top
of a peak. There are vertical drops at both ends of the runway. This
made for an interesting feeling in the pit of our stomachs as we
glided down the final approach to the tarmac; nothing below us for
1,000 feet until we were right over the runway.
Avalon in the only town on Santa Catalina Island and it is a bumpy one hour
bus drive away from the airport. It was easy to see, as we made our
way in the bus, that the island was very dry. Little rain this
summer had turned the landscape into a cinderblock. The main
attraction on our journey was spotting a group of bison. Since 1924
the island has been home to 150 American bison. The story goes that
after filming a western the film makers left the bison there.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The little town of Avalon is a touristy beach
town. Its most impressive building is the grand art deco Catalina
Casino and movie theater. Just a short walk out of the town is the Wrigley Memorial.
The island was owned by the Wrigley family (of chewing gum fame) for
years. The Wrigley Memorial is a reminder of their neo-aristocratic
influence on the place.
The island does not have much in the way of great
restaurants, but is has many fair ones; and they all serve wine. We
all enjoyed much fruit of the vine while we visited Avalon.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
After another hour on the bus from Avalon we made
it back to the airport not too jostled. It was another wonderfully
clear day and the takeoff was spectacular. The excitement was increased
by the huge drop at the end of the runway. Once Matilda lifted off,
the ground disappeared below her and gave everyone a rollercoaster
sensation. We made a quick pass around the island and over Avalon
before heading to Santa Barbara Airport for fuel and lunch.
We left southern California behind us and
returned to the beautiful city by the bay.