Twenty six miles across the sea

On a recent trip to the Southern California to visit family, I decided to do something I almost never do: splurge. There’s plenty to splurge on in SoCal but I had never been to Santa Catalina Island.

The island is 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, California. Regular folks can get there via high speed catamarans from Newport Beach, Long Beach or Dana Point. Rich folks can take their yachts or private jets, and athletic folk can swim. (Although there are sharks in the channel so I doubt many folks take that route.) Above is the “Casino.” Today you can take tours and see how the super wealthy once partied or … view the nightly showing of a Jim Carrey movie that died at the box office years ago.

The largest town on the island is Avalon (about seven thousand permanent residents). The first thing you’ll notice about this town is the tile work. It’s everywhere, on almost all the buildings.

Even the utility shack!
And the fountain in the town square.

The island has been inhabited for almost eight hundred years; first by Native Americans and then by otter hunters, smugglers, ranchers and miners until, in 1919, William Wrigley Jr. (of chewing gum fame) decided it would make a great resort. He created the Catalina Clay Products company to provide year round employment for the island’s residents knowing they would be key to the success of the service industry. It was a great idea. Today you can take tours of the tile work or even create your own. You could literally spend a day wandering the town enjoying the tile work.

For a few decades the island served as a playground for celebrities and deep sea fishermen. But eventually it attracted cruise ships and with that … the floodgates were opened. The super wealthy had to find other exclusive and remote playgrounds.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about other things the island is famous for. Meanwhile, here is super cheesy song about the island.

11 thoughts on “Twenty six miles across the sea

  1. I’m surrounded by tile work. The Mexicans would as soon lay tile as take a piss. But it is all so beautiful, especially the floors. The Spaniards and that Moorish influence. You have done well to take these photos. When you think about them consider this quote from my old pal BBrecht: Unhappiness doesn’t grow on the chest like leprosy. Poverty won’t fall off the roof like a loose tile, no; poverty and unhappiness are man’s doing. I think Brecht was trying to protect tile, trying to show that the tiles are doing nothing wrong, even when they fall and brain some bastard in the head. (I’m cranky today, what with the US becoming a fascist country.) Love. Duke

    1. I didn’t know that much about the island so it was a pleasant surprise. The first day the island was quiet but the next day the cruise ships moved in and it was a zoo. Yes, we got problems here in the states. This weekend’s Pride celebrations in SF are going to be a wild.

  2. What a joy to read this capricious post on such a sad day, Jan. Like you and Duke, I also love tile and wish there were more of it where I live (Massachusetts). I also wish I lived a country with a Supreme Court that cared about women and humans in general. Can’t wait to see footage of the Pride parades!

  3. Hi JT
    I heard of this interesting place before but did not know about the song – also – your unique photos give us a nice feel for the variety of tile
    I do like tile because it is so durable and can be beautiful –
    Nice to splurge for some fun too!

    1. Most people know the song but don’t know much about the island! It’s still too expensive for most people to visit. Plus it takes 1.5 hours to get there!

    1. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. My daughter kept telling me it was boring and so we only stayed one night. If we ever get back I’d definitely like to stay longer and make some tiles!

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