A Travellerspoint blog

20 July, Wednesday

A long time trip and birthday surprise for Calli, a trip to Catalina. Caught the 0815 Express out of Long Beach. This terminal is walking distance from our motor coach. Splurged and got the Commodore seating. This gives you a more roomy seat, free drink and less people. They are famous for their Bloody Mary's. Arriving in Avalon at 0925 we went for breakfast at our favorite cafe. Good food, good coffee and a view of the harbor. From there we walked the main or Front Street on the way to the Casino. Saw several items that would be purchased on our return walk.

Arrived at the Casino for our 1145 tour. We were given the history of Catalina, Avalon and the Casino. Got to sit in the theater and watch a documentary of the area. The sound was perfect with the curved ceiling. One only had to whisper to be heard anywhere in the building.
From the theater we walked the ramp to the upper lever. There is the largest circular ballroom in the United States. There are no pillars to block you view or upset your dance steps. During the BIG BAND era, all the majors played there. Even today it is a magnet for entertainers.

After the Casino we continued walking towards Descanso Beach Club and the Zip Line office. There we confirmed our time for the briefing and filled out the necessary papers for the ride. Our two guides, Curt and Quintan, were very good. They explained what needed to be done and how to do it safely. Then into the bus and the ride to the top of the hill. On most Zip Lines you have to climb a hill or ladder to start the ride, here you ride to the top, some 640 feet higher than the end. Then all you have to do is ride down. There were 10 in the party, each taking their turn going first and last.
A few screams initially but soon all were comfortable with the rides.

After reaching the bottom a stop at the Beach Bar for a Mojito and relaxing. Finally it was getting time to eat so we stopped in the Blue Water Cafe and secured a table on the waterfront deck. Fish and Chips were the order of the day as they are the best ever. Soon it was time to walk back to the Express dock for the ride home. Stopping along the way to purchase the goodies eyed before. The Express sailed at 750pm getting us back to port at 910pm. A short walk home and the day was over.

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20 July,Wednesday

Murals painted on the inside of the theater. This has never been repainted, only cleaned.

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20 July, Wednesday

A photo of the Casino built by Wrigley in 1929. The upper floor is a ballroom and the lower is a theater.

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20 July, Wednesday

The Harbor at Avalon Bay, Catalina. There are still a few open buoys for use. You can buy one for several hundred thousand, but when they lease it out you get none of the income. On busy weekends they raft together, you can walk across the bay.

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20 July, Wednesday

The 3 of us all rigged for doing the Zip. This was after the safety briefing by Curt and Quintan. Most of the zippers were first timers.

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19 July, Wednesday

Getting 'connected' to the line by Curt.

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20 July, Wednesday

Calli on the way down to the next station.

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19 July, Tuesday

Daughter arrives this AM on Southwest. Have to drive to LAX, only 17 miles but will take 50 minutes or more due to traffic. Flight arrives at 0925, so will be on the road during the later part of rush hour.

Met the flight and headed back to the coach. A friend of my daughter from San Jose also arrived at the Long Beach airport. She was waiting at the coach when we returned. Had BIG plans to just relax at the beach here in Long Beach or in Seal Beach. HOWEVER a major break in a sewer pipe in downtown Los Angeles broke sending LOTS of raw sewage down the Los Angels river (flow beside the RV park) and into the bay. THUS they had to close the beaches. So a nice breakfast out and then the pool at the RV park for the rest of the day. Sun was out full force so sun tans and burns were in stock for the afternoon. Early salmon dinner and back to the Long Beach airport for the friend from San Jose.

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17 July, Sunday

Long Beach is home to many activities, one of which is the Long Beach - Catalina Water Ski Race. This is an annual event and has been occurring for the past 68 years. There are two venues of racers: Those being pulled by boats 21 feet and shorter and those by larger boats. The small boats start 10 minutes ahead of the larger boats and the larger boats still finish first. The large boats may have as many as 4 engines and may pull more than one skier. The average time for the 62 mile course is 45+ minutes, incredible. Two years ago we watched as two of the past winners were competing for the win. They crossed the finish line only 6 inches apart going 99 mph.

As you can see in the photos the skier does not simply hold on to the rope, he has a butt strap. SO if you were to fall you are in serious jeopardy.
The tow ropes are long, some up to 300 or 400 feet. With this in mind you can imagine that at times the skier cannot see the tow boat in heavy swells.
There are also lots of wildlife in the waters they ski. It is not uncommon to ski over a blue whale or have dolphins along side the skier.

The oldest skier of record was 77 years old, he finished the course in 2015 in 1:34:15. That is still an average of 50 mph. The youngest skier was 7 years old, finishing the race back in 1996 at a time of 2:20:23, remarkable.

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17 July, Sunday

The finish line for the race is at the stern of the Queen Mary. If you look closely you can see two buoys painted black and white.

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17 July, Sunday

The Fire Boat from Long Beach under full spray for the opening of the Long Beach - Catalina Water Ski Race. Always a spectacular view.

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17 July, Sunday

This shows the start from Long Beach as they pass one of the oil islands. These are the BIG boats, over 21 feet and super powered. Some even pull two skiers.

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17 July, Sunday

The 2016 winner, Jake Tegart, from Australia taking a victory pass of the crowd. He also won last year with a time of 45m31s: this years time not yet announced.

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17 July, Sunday

This shows a skier close to the finish line. Notice his butt strap and ski handle. This and the next photo came from their program. The skier is doing in excess of 80 mph. We saw two skiers doing 99 mph as they crossed the finish line 6 inches apart.

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17 July, Sunday

Close upof a skier on the race. (not taken by me) Shows the butt strap and handle they use.

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