Catalina Island  July 15-19

Catalina Island is about a 90 minute ferry ride from Long Beach (near LA).
It is part of the Channel Islands, a chain that starts off the coast of Santa Barbara
and goes down to Baja.  Catalina is the only one with a town on it.  It's called
Avalon, and most visitors don't get beyond it.  You can't rent a car, so you have
to take a bus or hire a tour.  Catalina is 27 miles long, so there's plenty to see
beyond the resort town of Avalon.  We spent our first two nights at a hotel in
Avalon and then took a 2 hour bus ride to the next village called Two Harbors
where we camped 4 nights and spent 1 night at the only indoor accomodations,
a B & B.  We then took a ferry back to Avalon and spent 6 more nights there at
a resort/hotel.

We're on the roof deck of our first hotel overlooking Avalon bay.

These two were taken from opposite sides of the pier in Avalon.

Our first "adventure" was to take a powered raft along the side of the island that
faces the mainland.  I'm sitting on the side of the raft.  We saw a bald eagle (my
first) land on the cliff right near us.  Our guide had us swim into a sea cave and
walk through it to daylight on the other side (a couple hundred feet).  It was pitch
black in the cave full of bats.  We had to climb over slippery rock covered in
barnacles.  I had the only mishap of the trip when I slipped on the rocks and
gashed my legs and hand.  It didn't slow me down any.

After two nights in Avalon we took a bus to Two Harbors.  Along the way we
saw some of the 300 buffalo that now live here.  They are desendents of the 24
that were brought  over to make a movie in the 1920's.  Surprisingly they are not
destructive to the island, unlike the pigs and goats that have been nearly eliminated
by concerted extermination efforts.  Over 90% of the island is under the control
of a conservancy that is attempting to restore it.

Our bus stopped at this overlook of Little Harbor.  We would return here in about
a week.  This is on the windward side of the island facing the Pacific ocean.
There are a few sandy beaches with surf like this one on this side of the island.

This is Two Harbors, a village of about 300 people.  Lorrie is on the trail that
connected the harbor with the camping grounds, about a 1/4 mile walk.

This is the camping grounds.  It had a nice beach.   You can see our tent cabin
on the right side about half way down the picture.

Our next adventure was to go kayaking and snorkeling.

We got to snorkel with leapard sharks in this shallow cove.  You can see the
sharks.  They're the long things.  There must have been about 10 of them, each
about 4 or 5 feet long.

Here we are, happy to have survived the sharks.  They were quite docile, but it
was creepy to find yourself surrounded by them.

The next day I went on my first scuba dive.  I liked it so much
I would do it two more times in Avalon.

BBQ at our tent cabin.

We had to fight off the seagulls from time to time or they would steal anything
on the grill.

From out tent cabin we had to cross a ravine to get to the lovely toilets.