October 13, 2010 at 3:32 am (Gypsy Life, Travel)

On October 11, Zach and I set off on the Catalina Express heading to Avalon Harbor, the main town on the island. We were only scheduled to stay for 2 nights, yet we were scheming up plans for adventures that would last most people several days. The Pacific Ocean was a bit bumpy that day and the breeze was chilly, but we were adamant about feeling the cool salty winds and looking for dolphins and whales.

Neither of us had been to Catalina since were were kids. For me it was almost twenty years ago and for Zach at least ten. As we pulled into the harbor, the place looked and felt just as I remembered it. The big casino with its beautiful red roof and gorgeous tile mosaics, the pier and the crescent bay. Once we arrived and got settled in our quaint little beach condo, we started up the golf cart and headed into town. We drove around and checked out some great views and walked along the boardwalk out to the Casino.

Recently, I’ve been told, Avalon has upscaled, but my eight-year-old self did not size things up by price or class, so I cannot speak on the matter of what Catalina used to be. What I can say is that the restaurants in town all seemed very nice with a bit of island charm. We chose a new restaurant in town that came highly recommended. The Avalon Grille is pricey, classy, and has excellent food with a bit of a beach town mellowness. Since it was expensive, we opted to try appetizers. We ordered fried green beans and the most amazing bowl of clam chowder. We later found out that their brussel sprouts are “to die for,” but not knowing that at the time, we were quite satisfied with our apps, and honestly pretty full too. They had a good wine selection, fun cocktails, and good portions. Our bill was modest and we were glad we didn’t splurge on the $99 margarita. After dinner we watched the Giants beat the Braves at the Mexican restaurant just down the street and traipsed around town a bit more before heading home.

The following day was jam-packed with activities. After making a delicious breakfast at home, we headed out. First stop: Zane Grey’s pueblo/ hotel where Zach’s granddad has a painting up on the wall. Then we played miniature golf at the island’s wonderful 18-hole putt-putt course. We had lunch at Pebbly Beach where we looked for pieces of Catalina pottery and instead found the most perfect heart-shaped rock. We took pictures at the old Wrigley Mansion and lounged on the beach at Descanso Beach, where we also snorkeled and saw many vibrant orange Garibaldis. A pina colada and some beach reading was enough to revive me for some more fun. We did a long sightseeing tour, driving all over the hills behind the town and ending up at the Catalina Conservancy. The Conservancy was closed, so on our way back into town, we stopped at a local artist’s place and observed some of his very unique and wild artwork, including his studio that is literally carved into the hillside. The place was full of incredible pottery and tilework, mosaics and sculptures and old whale bones turned into swords. A lot of love and imagination was put into each and every piece. Attempting to not overstay our welcome, we moved on to $1 taco night, a little more baseball playoff viewing, and then we set out to fish on the dock. Now the local fishing in Catalina requires a fishing license unless you fish off the dock for a specific type of fish that I can’t recall. Anyways, we used frozen peas and hot dogs and caught three keepers. So, my wonderful boyfriend went home and fried up some fish for dinner! The last thing I expected to have in Catalina was fresh-caught fish that we actually caught!