Sunday, March 30, 2008

Catalina Island ~ Episode Seven

Wednesday, March 5th we woke to find another beautiful sunny day.  In looking out our cabin window, it was obvious we were anchored off Santa Catalina Island. The ship was moving around on it's anchor so we were treated to continuous views out our window. 

Our excursion today was an Avalon Scenic Tour at 11:30am.  The cost was so reasonable...just $16 each for a 50 minute narrated bus tour around the Avalon area.  We took our time, eating breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe, as our scheduled time to depart was at 10:30am.  (Here at Catalina, we were tendered off the ship in small boats while the ship sat out in the harbor.)

After breakfast, we went back to the cabin to gather our cameras, put on sunscreen and get our jackets and my tote bag. We headed down the elevator to deck 1 to board the tender. When the elevator doors opened we were both horrified...hundreds of people were in line to get off the ship.  In fact they were in line up the stairs clear to deck 3. Oh my gosh...what were we going to do?  We had 10 minutes to catch the tender to get over to the island in time to catch our tour bus.  Well, after some quick explanation to the ship staff, they hustled us ahead of the crowd and got us on the tender about to leave.

Once we got to Avalon's dock it was about a 10 minute walk to the tour center at the middle of the town. We had plenty of time so walked leisurely taking in the beauty of the surrounding hills and the sight of our beautiful ship at anchor in the harbor.

Soon the open air tour bus pulled up and Betty gathered our tickets and told us to sit where ever we wanted.  There were plenty of seats so Bob and I each choose a seat next to the window across from each other. That way we could share views. Betty told us that she & her husband had lived on Catalina for over 25 years. So I knew instantly she was going to give us factual information about island life.

Catalina was developed back in the late 1880's for a pleasure resort, mining and ranching opportunities. After the streets were laid out, developers held a real estate auction to sell off lots to the wealthy and to businesses. One of the first private homes to be built at Avalon was Holly Hill House.  It was finished in 1890 and still stands today.   Another beautiful home up on the hill was built by William Wrigley, Jr ( of chewing gum fame) who purchased stock in the island sight unseen.  When he finally visited the island with his wife Ada and son Philip in 1919, he was so smitten with the place he soon bought out all the other investors which made him the sole owner of the Santa Catalina Island Company.  He and his wife fell in love with the beauty of the island and in December 1921 their beautiful 6 bedroom Georgian Colonial style home was finished.  It remains there today, perched on a hill above the harbor in a location that Mr Wrigley chose because it received the earliest sun in the morning and the last sun in the evening. He named the place Mt. Ada in honor of his wife.  Today this stunning home is a bed and breakfast with daily rates between $300 and $700. (I don't think, I'll ever get to stay there)   Another building that still stands from those early days is what Wrigley called the Sugarloaf Casino. Not a gambling casino but a theater, a circular ballroom that could accommodate 500 dancing couples and a a circular terrace surrounding the ballroom. Betty reminded us that "casino" is an Italian word that meaning "gathering place or place of entertainment." 

During the 1920's Catalina was often a sight for movie making.  When the film "The Vanishing American" was being made there, 14 buffalo were barged over from the mainland to be part of the movie.   That part of the movie ended up on the cutting room floor but the buffalo were left behind and are still there today. The Catalina Island Conservatory now maintain a herd of 150 buffalo. One of the most famous movies filmed on the island was Clark Gable's "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1935.  Another famous person who built a home on Catalina was Zane Grey.  His place is also still there and also used as a bed & breakfast.

After our tour, we were brought back to the center of town where we had an opportunity to browse the many shops.  I even broke down and had a small treat from the Coldstone Ice Cream store while we sat in the sun relaxing. 

There are very few cars on Catalina...Betty told us there was a limit (can't remember the number) but most folks get around in golf carts.  And I noticed they all have license plates on them.  I saw the parking enforcement lady, walking along one street putting parking tickets on golf carts that had overstayed their parking time.

We caught the 3:30pm tender back to the ship, looking back..taking in the views of that beautiful island.  What an experience. 

When we got back we got freshened up and changed clothes to go to the 6:45pm entertainment.  Paul Boland was on the stage this night and we had enjoyed him last August on the Alaska cruise, so didn't want to miss him.  We headed down to the theater and Bob said "now we'll be going right to dinner after this right?"  I replied yes and he said he'd forget his reading glasses to read the dinner menu so decided to go back to the cabin to get them.  So I proceeded thru the Casino to the theater when I encountered three people who were obviously very boisterous and tipsy. I hesitated and then they seemed to calm down but just as I walked by them, the man in the group pushed one of the women and she bumped into me and would have knocked me over except I hit the side of a slot machine. As my body was twisting to the side I felt the "POP" in my poor right knee.  I thought I was going to pass out it hurt so bad. I grabbed the stool in from of the machine and was able to get myself perched on it.  I waited a few minutes...stepped out on my right foot but I couldn't walk on it. Thinking Bob would be along any minute, I sat there for about 10 minutes just waiting. Finally is was getting later and the show was starting, so I signaled one of the Casino supervisors.  She came over and I told her what happened and she said she'd call for a wheel chair.  About 10 minutes later a fellow came with a chair and wheeled me into the theater.  Of course by this time, the show had started, the house lights were down and with about a thousand people in there I could not see Bob.  After the show was over and the light came up, I started scanning the audience.  Then...right in front of me, Ned and Vicky stood up.  They took one look at me in the wheel chair and came running over to me.  After I told them the situation they said to just hang on & they'd get me to the dining room and when Bob showed up for dinner he could take over.  So Ned pushed me thru the ship and down the elevator to the dining room.  They got me to our table as Vicky and the waiters moved chairs aside to make room for the wheel chair.  I was so grateful to run into them...I might still be sitting there had they not come along.

After dinner I had Bob take me to the Photo Counter so I could pick up some pictures and then it was back to the cabin.  I iced my knee, took some Tylenol and got ready for bed.  It was a horrible restless night.  No matter what position I laid in, the pain in my knee was excruciating.


jlocorriere05 said...

Catalina looks beautiful Linda, you sneaked this entry in just as I was reading the San Diego one! Lol! I know exactly how your knee felt, I had an accident a few days before I went away and the pain in my knee was awful ~ and much worse at night when I laid down. It's still keeping me awake even now. I hope yours is improving. I love Holly Hill House, I could live there! I think Katinka and Nina would like it too! Jeannette xx

justplainbill said...

Linda, Catlina looks like a great stop on your trip.
What a horrible experience that was with your knee. Wonder if you can keep anyone responsible for the damage and pain?
Good luck with the MRI, Bill

lv2trnscrb said...

I've only been to Catalina once, but I enjoyed it very much; we rented a golf cart to get around, that was fun!!

that was too bad about your knee!! ouch!!! I know you are still having knee problems now; its hard to not be able to exercise!!! thanks for the comment in Koda's and my new journal :)

your trip has been such a delight to read about so far!! Seems like you had a really wonderful time!


mariealicejoan said...

Thanks for taking us on this lovely trip to Catalina with you Linda!  I enjoyed it very much.  You're really good to share it all withus and such lovely pictures too.  I feel as if I were right there with you. Sorry that your knee caused you so much trouble on your trip.  I hope it's feeling a lot better now!

ally123130585918 said...

Linda thanks for a lovely trip ~ glad the staff were so helpful in hustling you through the crowd ~ So sorry about your knee hope it is feeling better now ~ thank goodness Vicky and Ned came to your rescue ~ Ally x

wwfbison said...

Catalina Island sounds gorgeous - I didn't know any of the history behind it, very interesting.  So they have 150 buffalo on the island!!  I bet they have luch pastures to munch on.  I have never tendered on any of our cruises, I've heard it can be a nightmare trying to get to your excursions so it's good the shuffled you to the front.  Sounds like another wonderful day, except for your poor knee.  :(

fasttrack58 said...

Catalina was beautiful!!
So sorry about your knee... did those people even realize you were hurt... probably not...
Linda :)