I’m already California dreamin’ as the fall weather here in Michigan begins to settle. As pathetic as this sounds, the only things keeping me warm at the moment are my fuzzy socks, blanket and the happy memories of Catalina. Santa Catalina is an American island paradise 22 miles off the coast of southern California. With picturesque landscapes and a quaint but bubbly town, this destination was perfect for celebrating my 2020 30th birthday. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I had plans to celebrate my birthday in Italy and then Uganda. But as we are all aware, making plans this year is almost laughable. The key to survival seems to be plan as you go. And that’s how I ended up on this hidden gem of an island with the people I love in September. ZERO REGRETS!
The weather was lovely, the people were friendly, I was with my family. Despite the few bumps, it was all almost perfect. Story time: Apparently, the island was experiencing a bee infestation. Hello 2020!! And throughout the entire trip the bees would focus on my sister who absolutely hates bugs. As she squealed up and down, running back and forth with her shoulders hunched up, a natural reaction to a physical threat, I would proudly give her tips on how to not get stung. I’d tell her to relax and mind her business. But irony came in the form of a nasty bee sting on my right thigh which has only just healed after a week. What was I doing? Minding my own business, cruising in the passenger seat of the golf cart. Also a note to the reader who is thinking of visiting Catalina: You should definitely pack a few sweaters and sweatshirts for night time!
If any of the Mediterranean cities and any of the Caribbean cities decided to get together and make a baby with southern California, you would get Santa Catalina. That’s the best way I can explain it. Descanso beach and Hamilton Cove make you feel like you’re in Greece or Spain. The yachts in the blue water give off a Monaco vibe. The colorful buildings on the hills and the tourist luring shops in Avalon are reminiscent of the likes of the US Virgin Islands. Everything else was very Californian.
Let’s talk food and dining, a favorite past time of mine. Our go to spot was Mrs T’s Chinese Kitchen…but for beignets! These warm and fluffy pastries of heaven fueled the mornings. Her place is a bakery in the morning and a Chinese restaurant in the afternoon. I unfortunately never had the opportunity to try out her lunch food, but I was well satisfied with her beignets.
Honorable mentions are Catalina Coffee & Cookie Company that boasts a long line every morning with people trying to order coffee, sweets and breakfast sandwiches. They even gave me a free birthday coffee! They’ll always have a special place in my heart for that. Bluewater Avalon is a great restaurant for delicious seafood and ambiance. Luau Larry’s is another mentionable spot because you get a free straw hat when you order a special cocktail! Plus their coconut shrimps are delicious!! Also, if you do happen to visit Catalina during a pandemic, be prepared to sit outside…probably on the beach. I don’t think any of the restaurants had indoor dining. Oh, did I mention to bring a sweater? BRRR!
It wouldn’t have been a complete vacation if I didn’t indulge in some action! Bring out the jet skis!!! I already love being out in the water. It’s one of my favorite summer activities. Add adrenaline inducing high speed jet skis…YESSSSS! And this was one of my best experiences with a jet ski rental company. They gave us the rules, our parameters and then let us do our own thing. Of course I went all the way full throttle into the Pacific ocean!
And last but not least, an unexpectedly adventurous activity was the bison excursion. Long story short, about a century ago a number of bison were introduced to the island for an old Hollywood movie. A lot of movies have been shot on this island. Anyway, when the film wrapped up, the bison were left behind. Those bison reproduced and reproduced and now they’re all over the place. Of course the humans are doing their part to regulate the population of the herd. I did have a pulled bison sandwich for dinner on my first night!
Our driver took us on an adventurous and adrenaline raising ride up and down the 47884 acres of land that make up the island. My two favorite natural occurrences are large bodies of water and mountains. My heart was blissful as I gazed the landscape and saw mountain and ocean meet.
Now with my posts, I would usually end with a little life story with an inspirational ending, but I’m going to keep it short and simple this time around. My pastor challenged the congregation to be the source of joy to someone else. And now I am passing on the challenge to you my readers as well. Today’s current atmosphere has caused people’s emotions to be heightened. We all could use a little joy. And sometimes it’s hard to find joy that’s right in front us because we’re distracted by the hurts and disappointments in our lives. Heck, I even cried today shortly after hearing my pastor’s sermon because I too was quickly distracted. But a simple text from my mum dried my tears. She wasn’t even aware of my emotional breakdown. She pointed me to another sermon describing the portrait of God through Psalm 23…The Lord is my shepherd. I needed that reminder. There are others out there that need a reminder either through words of affirmation, physical touch, or an act of service. Even your presence alone can be the source of someone’s joy. Your act of kindness could be someone’s saving grace. Either way I challenge you to seek joy and be a source of joy!
I know I said I was going to keep it short and simple, but the words just kept coming. My bad! Stay blessed!