I went to Catalina for the first time this weekend. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 12 years now, and this was my first trip. I’ve been to the Channel Islands (well, two of them), but this was my first trip to the big one. The crossing was fabulous. The town is charming, and much smaller than I imagined. Here are three other things I learned about Catalina:
1. Things are more vivid on Catalina. It’s not that houses are painted brighter colors or anything, I’m guessing this is because the air is so clean. And the water is clean, it’s a wonderful aqua color, which I guess is why we call it that. Everything is so clear and crisp. You look up to the hills and you can see them. Out to the horizon, and it disappears naturally, not in a haze of smog.
2. It all smells like ice cream cones. Or waffles, I’m not sure. But Avalon, the whole place, doesn’t matter if you go up into the hills, it all smells like sugary waffle cones. This being my first trip to Catalina, was unexpected. In the movie, Postcards from the Edge, Dennis Quaid’s pickup line is “Did anybody ever tell you that you smell like Catalina?” So, I thought Catalina smelled like sage and pine and maybe sea spray. Nope, turns out Catalina (well, Avalon) smells like a vanilla and brown sugar Yankee Candle.
3. The golf carts are noisy. I don’t think I could stand to be there for a long period of time. Having seen pictures and films that feature Avalon, I expected the golf carts to be pleasingly quiet, like the electric ones on the lot. Instead it sounds like the island is covered with bees, leafblowers and motorscooters. What I liked about the whole cart thing is that they obviously outnumber the cars in Avalon so the streets and parking spots are designed for carts (and teensy cars). But what I loved most were the speed limit signs. There were posted speed limits everywhere, yet the carts did not have speedometers. (I’m guessing a cart can’t go over the speed limit.)