When we traveled to California this spring for my sister’s college graduation, we had a few extra days to spare & decided to visit Catalina Island. Growing up, we used to go all the time on our dad’s sailboat. Some of my favorite memories are on the tiny island (26 miles off the coast!) – riding golf carts, scuba diving, counting garibaldi fish, floating in the water…I could keep going. I hadn’t been back in over 10 years & I was so excited to go. We took a day trip over on the Catalina Flyer (1 hour!) into Avalon & it was COLD. Even JB & I were freezing – it was raining, windy and damp. Murphy’s Law, right? Once we arrived, we ate a huge breakfast at a local diner & set off on a gold cart around the island. The sun finally peeked out as we were leaving (of course!), but it was still a great trip. We stopped at the Botanical Garden, which was built by William Wrigley (as in Wrigley gum & the Chicago Cubs), & it was absolutely beautiful & full of different cacti, blooms & bougainvillea.
I live with a research nerd, so here are a few fun facts that he discovered:
1. There’s a 20 year waiting list to own a car on the island – Avalon is the only city in California that is allowed to regulate the number & size of vehicles in it,
2. There is a full time fire department on the island, and to be an employee, you need to be a full time resident of the island,
3. The Chicago Cubs used the island for spring training until 1951, and,
4. Tons of old movies were filmed on the island, including one that brought 14 bison over & left them…there’s now a herd of about 150 (they’re gorgeous!).
My grandma (who grew up in Northern California), has told me stories about going to Catalina in the 1930’s & 1940’s with her girlfriends & sunbathing on the main beach. They’d go to dances in the old casino & camp out in cabins on the beach. Her photos show that not much has changed in the last 80 years! It’s such a fun trip – especially if you’re a hiker. We plan to go back next time & stay the night to do a couple more activities. Seriously, if you ever have the opportunity, don’t miss it!!