Oh April, you sneaky little devil you. You like to pretend you’re all sugar and spice and everything sickly sweet and nice… but then, WHAM! You go and make me a year older once again. When will I ever learn that you just can’t be trusted?
Ah, but I am learning, albeit at a slower-than-a-snail’s pace. This year I did my research and discovered that, on your birthday, and your birthday only, a certain ferry service gives you a free ticket to Catalina Island. Free! And it’s normally not a cheap little ride, either. Yes, they’re assuming you’ll bring along a bunch of your ticket-paying friends, but… ha ha! Joke’s on them! I have no friends to bring along, so… uh… (excuse me while I go cry in the corner for a minute)… instead of moping about, contemplating my impending mortality, I decided to hop on a boat and head off for uncharted, touristy waters.
Now, since I’ve got the loudmouthed cat-machine at home, who misses me terribly when I’m gone for even a couple of hours, I didn’t want to stay overnight. So the plan was to just go, look around a bit, have lunch, and call it a day. Nothing too big. I was also extremely nervous that, since I’m prone to car-sickness and air-sickness and amusement-park-ride-sickness, and I’ve had a couple instances of outright vertigo (jeez, you’d think I’d be a lot skinnier with all that vomit coming out of me)… that I’d be a wreck on the boat and then I’d be sick and alone on an island all day waiting for my ride back home. That’d seriously be the worst birthday ever.
Well, nothing ventured nothing gained! Right?
The recommendation for seasick-prone individuals was to sit outside in the breeze, and then to be sure to stare off into the horizon instead of focusing on the movement of the boat. Which is exactly what I did. It was kind of touch and go for a while; if I moved my head even a little, I felt enormously dizzy. But thankfully, it never ended up developing into full-blown nausea, and over the course of the hour-long ride I started acclimating little-by-little. And the cool breeze helped a lot.
And once we docked at Catalina? I stood up and wasn’t seasick! Hallelujah!
Since I only had a few hours, I planned on going on two short tours. One was a general bus ride around the island. And the other was a tour of the “Casino”, which isn’t a place of gambling, but rather a dance hall and theater space.
I had really wanted to book a zipline tour of the island, since I was feeling brave and stupid after my trapeze stint, but sadly it was popular enough it had been sold out for months already. Darn.
Ah, but never fear. There was plenty of alternative entertainment to be had. The island tour ended up resembling a hilarious childhood trip on a school bus. The driver/tour guide kept yelling at people to sit down in the back, and at one point pulled over and threatened to kick a particular lady out if she didn’t sit her butt down. Classic! We did, though, stop at a bunch of places so we could take pictures, and as luck would have it, I was seated next to the open-air “window” with the best view. Take that, lady-in-the-back! (And now sit yourself back down!)
I also learned that there’s no hospital on Catalina. Or rather, they can’t do any surgery. If you have an accident, you have to be air-lifted off of the island. Likewise, if you’re pregnant, you have to leave a couple weeks before your due date, just in case. Yiikes! I do not want to know how much an air-lifting would cost you.
For lunch I had a buffalo burger… because there are buffalos on the island, apparently? I seem to recall going to a Native American Museum as a kid in Oklahoma, being shown the majesty of live buffalo, and then was given the option to eat buffalo burgers for lunch (I passed). I guess I’m much less sensitive now, because… bring on the buffalo! Or rather, bring on the meat that tastes exactly like hamburger!
The Casino tour ended up being very short. I think we were taken to two rooms and then stood on an outside balcony chatting with each other for a while. Some young lady asked to have her picture taken with me, and I’m still wondering what the heck that was for. I can only assume it’s because of my newly-dyed turquoise-tipped hair, but I’m also not unconvinced that I wasn’t mistaken for a Japanese pop star. Maybe one of those AKB48 girls? No? Okay… if you say so. I still think there’s a striking resemblance.
We did get to see the inside of the theater, though, which featured some fascinating acoustics, intricate murals on the walls, an organ that I really really wanted to test drive, and little twinkling lights in the ceiling. Overall, pretty nifty.
Before arriving on the island, everyone who was celebrating a birthday had been given a little ribbon to wear around town so that people would know it’s your birthday (and you also got discounts at certain places with it). That also meant that you got to meet a bunch of people with the same birthday as you. Silly, but kind of fun. Also, random strangers would wish you a happy birthday just because. And it turns out one married couple in our tour group were both celebrating birthdays. What are the odds of that!
On the ride back home, I grabbed another outdoor seat on the boat, and was pleasantly surprised I felt much less dizzy than on the way over. I think the waves are less choppy heading back to Long Beach at that time of the day, so… yea!
I admittedly didn’t take full advantage of my visit; there’s a lot more you can do, particularly of the water-sport or nature variety. But, it was an enjoyable day that didn’t end in seasickness. And that’s exactly what I was looking for.
Did I mention I didn’t get seasick?! (Just thought I’d mention it.)