For the first 20+ years of our married life we celebrated my husband’s Halloween birthday either by taking our sons out trick-or-treating or answering the door to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood (or both). For the last decade or so, we’ve carefully avoided trick-or-treaters by planning dinner out and have learned to linger over our food and enjoy the mostly empty restaurants on Halloween evening.
This year, it seems we have been celebrating all month. We headed off to Disneyland earlier in October (see here), spent last weekend in Alabama with his family, and yesterday set off for an adventure on Catalina Island (about 26 miles offshore from southern CA). To make this treat less of a trick, this year Halloween fell on a Saturday. We’d talked about exploring Catalina for a while now…and when we learned that the boat ride over is free on your birthday, it seemed like the perfect solution to our Halloween/birthday celebration dilemma–we turned the trick into a treat!
We headed out from Long Beach and were accompanied by playful dolphins as we neared Avalon. They jumped and dove, surfing the wake of the boat. I wasn’t able to take any decent photos, but the view was majestic…and unforgettable! We arrived in the Avalon harbor to a beautiful, warm and sunny day making the blues brilliant and the whites crisp as you can see in this unedited photo.
After breakfast we climbed into a military hummer for a tour of the interior of the island. We maneuvered over rocky, dusty, steep unpaved roads as we explored the history and the topography of the island. We learned about the native plants and animals, the conservation efforts, and how they are dealing with the drought. And the views were breathtaking!
You can see San Clemente Island in the distance, almost seeming to float on the sea. The sky was so clear we could see for miles! We also took in the prickly pear as well as other native plants, and learned about the Catalina fox and the bald eagle–both which faced near extinction on the island and are now recovering. We also learned about the only non-native animal on the island, the buffalo, brought originally by a Hollywood movie maker at the turn of the century and then encouraged by the Wrigley’s who owned the island. In its native beauty, the island is spectacular, now mostly owned by a conservancy that protects and maintains its natural state.
Hot and sweaty from our time in the back country (it was an 85 degree day!), we treated ourselves to some ice cream and spent some time exploring the city of Avalon. The iconic building is the casino, but it isn’t a gambling hall, it is the home of a movie theater, a small museum, and we hear…a magnificent dance floor. We hoped to go inside, but alas, it closed quite early on a Saturday. We did explore the outside.
We spent some time watching the divers who enter and exit the water from behind the building. While I was watching them, I noticed a couple in what seemed to be brilliantly colored wetsuits (most wetsuits are black). As they swam up, I noticed that the Hulk and Aquaman (I think) were emerging from the sea…and was ready to snap a few shots as they headed for dry land. They were definitely diving in the Halloween spirit!
Further exploration led us to discover the local radio station, this small green building. We also talked to a woman who has resided on the island for 45 years and was eager to close her shop and accompany her grandchildren to the Halloween parade.
As we got ready to head back to Long Beach, we came across a friendly pelican who was more than willing to pose for photos. I took a number of shots and managed to snap this one as the pelican took flight.
As the sun began to set, we said good bye to Avalon and headed back to the mainland.
This adventure was quite a treat and a fun way to celebrate Geoff’s birthday. By the time we returned home, the trick-or-treaters were back home sorting their haul and we enjoyed a spectacular Halloween filled with wonder and play. Now the big question…how do we top this for next year?