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Journal of No. 118


August 20th, 2011

Catalina @ 02:31 pm


Dr. Pookie and I took a nice weekday trip to Catalina.

Near the ferry landing at San Pedro (in the shadow of the Vincent Thomas Bridge) is SS Lane Victory.

On the way over, a pod of dolphins leaped about in our wake:
Dolphins!

We also spotted some whale spouts, but they were very distant.

It sure seems to me that June Gloom is extending further and further into the summer, and certainly the channel was as gloomy as could be. Our first sight of Catalina looked like it was fogbound, but as we approached, the last fingers of cloud melted away:
Last wisps of gloom, coming into Avalon

And the island was in happy sun:
Avalon

Naturally, we gawked at the Casino:
Casino murals & chandelier

And since we had more time than sense, we hiked up to the Wrigley Memorial and Gardens.
Wrigley Memorial and gardens

One peculiar aspect of the stair up to the memorial, was that the walls channeled sound in a way that added amazing reverb to people's footsteps. It had the same wet 'Poit! Poit!' sound of a Dick Dale guitar.
Wrigley Memorial

The dingus is quite a folly, with lovely tile and marble interior, but my favorite shot shows some of the carving, and a tiny little cactus plant growing right on the roof of the dang thing:
Wrigley Memorial

We had a great dinner at the Avalon Grille. My pork chop could have used a bit more of the molasses glaze, but it was done to perfection and excellently tasty along with the garlic greens and mashed taters. Becca opted for a glass of the Rusack Sauvignon Blanc, and though we didn't know it at the time, Mr. Rusack married into the Wrigleys. We lucked out that we happened to mention our intent of seeing the movie, for they have a dinner and a movie deal and we lucked out on free tickets to see Captain America. But the real star of the show is the Casino Theater:
Casino light
Casino Theatre interior

The next day, we did the glass-bottomed boat. Dr. Pookie was a little worried when I said I took her out to Catalina to make sure she fed the fishes.
Glass Bottomed Boat

Lunch at the Lobster Trap
Mike and Lost Coast Beers

And then our tourbus into the interior, taking us to the airport and back. You get great views of Avalon as you climb out of the city:
Avalon

And we did catch a few glimpses of bison:
Bison

And enjoyed wandering around the Airport in the Sky:
'Airport in the Sky'

Saw a couple small planes take off, and then back down toward Avalon. Along the way we spotted a mule deer:
Mule deer

Our guide, Steven, was quite a card. He managed to pull off corny jokes with aplomb.

Dinner that night was at the Country Club, which was a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. Rather a headache to even just get a reservation in the first place (while the situation at mealtime suggested they were not in the least booked solid at the time we had asked for a reservation). And I recognize that shipping stuff to Catalina is expensive, but the wine prices were still pretty outrageous. Possibly Trader Joe's has spoiled me, but seeing a Ravenswood Cab go for about five times the TJ's price was a little alarming. I seem to have done well that the Girard Petite Syrah was only twice the going price... which is probably a freaking bargain on Catalina. My prime rib was very tasty, but the horseradish was barely horseradishy. Maybe unfair to compare to the Tam O Shanter, but the Tam wins easily on the whole package.

Next morning I tried out the local links. Not the 9 hole golf course, but the far more difficult minigolf 18:
Mike on the Front Nine

I shot a 64, which sounds like a pretty good total, except that the extremely stingy par for the course is 51. It is one of the world's most challenging and beautiful 18-hole miniature golf courses, and lives up to its name. Its beauty was enhanced by a visit from a swallowtail, which afforded me the opportunity to take a fantastic photo:
Swallowtail at the (mini)golf course

And then we were soon on the ferry back to the mainland. We saw, I hope, an otter on the way back. What it most looked like was a rat on a board, but I'm hoping it was an otter lying on its back.
 
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Journal of No. 118