Last week my nephew John Campbell traveled with me to Southern California for a speaking engagement with Child Evangelism Fellowship, and we went a day early so we could visit Catalina Island. It takes nearly an hour-and-a-half to travel by boat the twenty-some miles from Dana Point to Catalina, but the ride across the Pacific channel is beautiful. Once ashore at the port town of Avalon, we found a charming harbor, beachside shops and restaurants, and wonderful hikes. Motor vehicles are rare; golf carts are the primary means of transportation, even on the major roads in and out of town. Perched on the hilltop was the Wrigley Mansion, built in 1919 by chewing gum king William Wrigley, who established Catalina as the spring training camp for his Chicago Cubs, accompanied by the team radio announcer—Ronald Reagan. Catalina has long been a hangout for famous Hollywood stars. We didn’t see any, but I was reminded that it was here, off the coast of Catalina, that the famous star, Natalie Wood, drowned in a mystery that has haunted her husband, Robert Wagner, ever since. Marilyn Monroe also lived here, attempting to find a simpler life amid her cyclonic fame. We didn’t have any brushes with fame, but we drank in the island’s beauty with every glance as we puttered around town.
I had one disappointment. Have you ever had Catalina Dressing on your salad? I felt certain it had been invented by a chef on this island, and I had hoped to visit the restaurant that had made Catalina Dressing famous. John and I had planned to track down the site and have lunch there. Alas, no one knew anything about Catalina Dressing, and when I asked the woman at the Tourist Bureau about it she said I was the first person in fifteen years to ask her that question. We ended up having Mexican for lunch.
Nevertheless, it was a marvelous day. Next time, I want to stay longer and explore the whole island. Here are some pictures.