Catalina Island, California

My girlfriend Gilda and I took a catamaran out to Catalina Island today. We were prepared to pay $50 each for the roundtrip boat trip. Instead, a good samaritan gave us two free tickets as we waited in line. We will certainly pay it forward in the future. The ride out was a little bumpy, but nothing two water lovers couldn't handle.

Upon arrival to the island, we went to the bike rental shop and took out an 18-speed tandem bike to conquer the hills above Avalon. It turns out those are off limits for tandems, but we still had a whole day of exploring. I had ambitions of circumnavigating the island, but when I learned that the island is about 1/2 the size of LA, we decided to save that journey for another day (or week more like it!) It takes some coordination and communication to stay balanced on tandem bike. Good practice for couples!

We trudged up the gradual valley grade to the Wrigley Memorial Botanical Garden. Yup, the same person whose name graces the friendly confines of the Chicago Cubs. Turns out he owned the whole island during the 20s and into the 30s.

Then we coasted down the slope to the world famous Casino. It's no Monte Carlo, but the Casino is the landmark of Avalon. Gilda and I learned that the Casino on the island isn't a place of gambling, but just a meeting/entertaining place that is true to its definition in Italian.

We found some cozy cafes to enjoy tea, chai, cold french fries, buffalo burgers, and ice cream. Gilda and I both share the favorite flavor of butter pecan! Overall it was a very special day. A unique way to close out 2005: sharing a special moment with someone you love on an isolated island from the #2 metropolis in the USA. 2006 here we come!

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Where I've been in the USA