To kick off summer, I travelled to Catalina Island off the coast of sunny southern California. Leaving the laptop at home, not checking email or updating facebook or writing blog posts was part of the goal — to leave it all behind, just for a few days, and let the slowness of island life sink into my skin on the sand.
Most moments were lazing moments, gazing out at the sea, clear green-blue water brimming with orange garibaldi fish and tiger-striped bass – reading a paperback and drinking in the cool wind off the water, the warm sun. Others were spent hiking and biking up hills, then flying back down them again, heart pumping and eyes wide, exhilarated. Kicking back with a glass of wine at happy hours, watching the light glimmer and change over the waves, the boats rocking in the harbor, and the people walking on the beach. Listening to the quiet chatter in spanish, english, and japanese around me, the hissing & hushing sibiliants mixing with the constant sound of the waves lapping on the rocks.
It was a few days of freedom, a few days of paradise on an island that is home to a little over 4,000 and a day trip for many who live in mainland California. Others, like myself, travel to its sunny shores from farther off lands — reveling in its slower pace and unadorned beauty.
Should you visit, you’ll want to try the fish tacos at Mama Roses, grace happy hour at at least three different restaurants on the beach (Bluewaters was my favorite) and rent a bike (mountain, electric or a golf cart) to explore the inner parts of the island.
In the 1920s and 30s, Wrigley brought the Chicago Cubs to the island for spring training, which was where he made his summer home. The Wrigley home is now a bed and breakfast, and where it sits high up on the rocks, it boasts arguably the best view of the island. At happy hour one day, a waiter told me that Wrigley positioned his home there because it offers the most sunlight -making it the first home to be painted with sunlight at dawn, and the last to lose its rays at dusk. The windows always remained free of any curtains, allowing the sunlight to penetrate through the entire home.
You’ll find the Wrigley Memorial building at the top of the botanical gardens, with many exotic looking desert plants and paths to explore. If you are drawn to the sea, take a glass bottom boat ride or view the fish from inside a semi-submersible submarine. If you like adventure, ride a zip line or take an eco-tour to see the 150 bison that roam the island. The bison were brought in to the island by a film crew in the 1920s, and have flourished – at one point numbering over 400 on the island, but over half were relocated to an indian reservation in North Dakota because they were eating too much of the island’s vegetation. The island spends a lot of time and money on conservation, and a visit to the nature center is worth the stop to learn about the varied plants and animals on the island as well as the challenges they face. See this link for more info: https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/
Catalina Island is a place for lovers, families, singles – a place for outdoor enthusiasts and beach bums, a place where you can choose to do absolutely nothing or many things. It’s a place rich with beauty, history and languages. It’s people will flow and change with the tide, and eventually, even the island itself may recede into the sea with the passing of time. But for now it remains a place of sunny respite from the pace of city life, where you can relax and enjoy a glass of wine as you watch the boats bobbing slowly, up and down in the waves.Here are some online resources for Catalina Island:
I’ve had a lovely start to my summer, and hope that you have as well. It’s hot here at home in Louisiana, which means many days spent pool side and others seeking an air-conditioned respite from 100 degree temperatures. I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day holiday — posts to come this week will be book reviews, and, with a little time to write, a new poem. Happy Summer!