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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

11/10/2010 - Just ambling along

My normal walking pace is pretty fast. I pick 'em up and put 'em down like I thought I actually had someplace to go. But, now that my knee is on the mend, I'm trying to take it slow and easy to avoid a relapse. I can walk just about anywhere as long as I take it slow and easy. Not always that easy for me but I'm learning.

Today we took a nice long amble. After talking with Mike & Nita about their trip to the Pebbly Beach area, we decided we really needed to go as well. The only challenging thing about the walk is that it goes up over Mt. Ida. But even that isn't all that big of a challenge. We walked through some residential areas behind downtown Avalon and then started climbing. We eventually got up to where we had some nice views of Avalon from a different perspective.

We continued climbing and, before we turned the corner leaving Avalon behind, we got this view.

Over on the left side, the highest structure you see is the bell tower. This thing is right above our mooring. It sounds every 15 minutes. Fortunately they don't let the gong ring during the night. I'm not sure what time it shuts down (although it's 7:05 now and I don't remember hearing it recently) but it seems like it doesn't start back up until around 8:00 AM. So, every 15 minutes we get a time signal. These aren't the actual notes it plays but they should help you visualize the tune. It's very familiar:
At quarter after: A-B-C-D
At half past: A-B-C-D pause D-C-A-B
At quarter 'til: A-B-C-D pause D-C-A-B pause A-B-C-D
On the hour: A-B-C-D pause D-C-A-B repeat. Followed by a gong for each hour.
Now this isn't all that bad EXCEPT... The D note (or whatever it really is) is just the slightest bit flat. I'm kind of getting used to it but it drives Lulu nuts.

Anyway, the other thing in this picture is the point of land you can see sticking out behind the one with the condos (just behind the Casino*). The camp at Toyon Bay that our friends Kelly & Travis took us to (you read about it a few days ago) is located just about where the land in the background meets the land in the foreground in the photo. The trip from Avalon to there was about 10 minutes by boat. Would've been about a half hour by car.

After we rounded the bend and left Avalon behind, the world changed a bit. There were no houses or anything else at first as we started down the slope towards Pebbly Beach.

A little sidebar: We've seen a lot of prickly pear cactus while we've been here. They almost all have ripe fruit on them. Well, having never tried one before, Lulu decided that she really should and now seemed like a good time. I've had prickly pear and wasn't too impressed. It was one of the various off-the-wall things my Dad was always bringing home from the store. That's probably where I get my penchant for not wanting to order the same thing off the menu every time. We'd all have hamburgers, he'd have the pork tenderloin sandwich. We'd all have Cokes, he'd have a Martinelli's Sparkling Cider. Like that. Any way, I had no desire to eat a prickly pear because, as I remembered them, they were sort of bland, too sweet, and messy. Lulu concurred with those findings plus she had one more. Unlike the domesticated store-bought pears, the wild ones are PRICKLY! So, not only are her lips and fingers bright, bright red, but she's got all these little clusters of stickers in her fingers, on her face, and inside her mouth. And, of course, she was all sticky. She wasn't real happy with herself as she tried to get all the little buggers unstuck. It'll probably be a long time (like forever) before she attempts to eat a prickly pear again.

Okay, back to our amble...

As we got closer to sea level, we started to see quite the little enclave. It didn't look anything like Avalon, though.

This is where the work of running the island happens. The blue tanks in the back are diesel tanks. The diesel is used to run the 3 giant generators that supply the island's electricity which are also located down there. There's also a building supply store (this is NOT Home Depot, however), and a boatyard.

There's a deslination plant for making drinking water. There was even something that looked suspiciously like company housing.

Reminded me of the Eloi and Morloks from H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" although I doubt that the folks at Pebbly Beach actually raise the Avaloners for food.

And just to make sure you know you're not in Avalon anymore:

Now don't think I'm poking fun or trying to belittle anything about the island. I'm not. We love it here. When we saw the quonset huts we both decided that we'd like living in that little neighborhood. It's just easy to forget that a fantasy town like Avalon (or Disneyland) still needs someone to generate the power, filter the drinking water, clean up the sewage, collect the garbage (they have the cutest little 3/4 size garbage trucks here)(oh yeah, and in Santa Barbara, the garbage trucks were shiny, like they were brand new and had just been detailed), store and supply the 2x4s and bags of cement to build the cute little houses, part out the rigs that are no longer repairable, etc. Once we've seen the shiny stuff, we both like to see this side of the coin.

There's one other thing on this part of the island that makes it worthwhile: The Buffalo Nickel Restaurant. On a tip from Mike and Nita, we had lunch there. In case you're keeping score, Lulu had a patty melt and fries and I had a buffalo torta and potato salad (see, there's Dad's influence again). They were great. The restaurant's business is suffering a little because the road from the ferry terminal out to Pebbly Beach along the water is closed to pedestrians, golf carts, etc. The only rigs that can traverse it are fully-enclosed steel vehicles. Why? Well, some geologist decided that the rocky slopes were unstable and rocks might come down and kill someone. Now, this has never happened, but apparently you can't be too careful. The road is privately owned by the Catalina Island Company and they are apparently afraid of the liability (GAWD! I HATE that word!) in case someone gets bonked. So everyone not in a regular vehicle has to make the long, winding, and much more dangerous trek along the road that we walked. Needless to say, few tourists make the trek. The islanders have to because the island's only gas station is over here. And, it closes at 3:30. Could this be any more inconvenient? Anyway, as a move to help bolster their business, the Buffalo Nickel runs a shuttle van back and forth between downtown and their establishment. Very nice as it saved us a really long amble back to town. Hopefully the City of Avalon, the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, and the Catalina Island Company will get their collective sh*t together and fix the problem. Believe me, the "dangerous" hillside looked like lots of hillsides you and I have seen over the years. They don't usually close the adjacent roads. They just find a way to contain the rocks, like wire mesh or something. It's not that tough.

We enjoyed our amble and thought you might be interested as well. There's Avalon on one side, there's the wild lands on the other, and, in between, there are the Morloks. And they are us.

* The Casino is not and never has been a gambling hall. In this case the word Casino apparently comes from an Italian word and means something more along the lines of a "gathering place".


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I simply like to take the road (or lunch) less traveled. Many times you get terrific results. Live your adventure and have a ball along the way. Dad

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Looks like a worthwhile walk. Love those first few pictures of the view!