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June 05, 2005

Catalina Adventure

During the long Memorial Day weekend, Elizabeth and I journeyed to Santa Catalina Island, which is about twenty miles off of the shores of Long Beach. We spent the time wandering through the streets of Avalon, boating in the harbor, touring the interior of the island, and looking at fishes.

Catalina is one of the Channel Islands, and probably has the largest amount of development. A map can be found here, which shows some of the major features. It seems to be a destination for many southern Californian boaters, with plenty of mooring opportunities and facilities. Much of the island is owned by the Wrigley corporation, and developed as a private equity investment. (I wonder if that helps or hurts the development of the island. Is there a point in the development of a colony that a single large investor is no longer the best way of financing growth? [Best for whom? What kind of growth?] Those kinds of questions were probably important in the early days of American colonialization, and may become important again in the next centuries as we colonize off Earth.)

The weather was generally pleasant. There was a thick marine layer on Saturday morning, but it burnt off for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. It was clear on Sunday, starting at about noon, and stayed clear through Monday. We stayed at the Seaport Village Inn, which was a quiet, clean place with good facilities, within walking distance of the main strip. There were packages that included ferry tickets, and it was a nice touch to pick us up from the ferry dock.

We took a couple of (somewhat pricey) tours. We took the daytime version of the kelp forest submarine tour, which was fun. Because of that good experience, we took the nightime version the next day. There were fewer fishes to see at night, but we could see some lobsters, and the nightime cruise back into the city was very nice. (I enjoy the sea at night, with the plentiful stars above, and the lights of civilization ahead.) We also took the bus tour of the interior. The interior roads were in poor condition, so the it involved some intestinal fortitude. But, the views were worth it. The grassy hills rolled to the cliffs, which fell into the deep blue ocean.

Avalon harbor, from the ferry, as we approached on Saturday afternoon.
Northwest of Avalon is a complex of condos called Hamilton Cove. We didn't go there on this trip, but looked interesting from the boat.
Enjoying lunch at Antonio's Pizza, on Saturday. It has a nice outside patio, right next to the water. They play weird music, though.
The northern edge of Avalon. For whatever reason, I'm a fan of public stairways. This one has a nice view of the harbor. (But, then again, just about every place in Avalon had a nice view of the harbor.)
We took a submarine tour through Discovery Tours. At various points along the trip, the threw out fish food, and swarms of fish came up to the boat.
Elizabeth liked the fishes.
So did Jeff.
While most of the fishes were calico bass, there were a significant number of bright-colored Garibaldi fish, the official marine fish of California.
The growth of the city of Avalon is limited, which probably increases the value of existing developments. I am always suspicious of homeowner associations that seek to restrict growth (including my neighborhood association). Is it to prevent degradation of the community (measured how?), or to merely to reduce supply for the sake of higher rents?
The famous Avalon casino, as seen from the harbor. A poker-loving co-worker had been very disappointed to find that it wasn't an active casio anymore. They show movies there, though.
Foxy says please keep Avalon clean.
The Skyline tour was gut-rattling but beautiful.
There are real buffalo on Catalina, as we found on the Skyline tour.
Another view of Avalon, from the hills.
A self-portrait of the slightly-sunburnt us, on Monday, before we left.