Saturday, July 08, 2006

Trip to Catalina

We woke up in a seafaring mood after spending much of yesterday watching the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie (loved it!) and so booked two round-trip tickets on the 12:45PM catamaran from Marina Del Rey to Catalina Island. In the past ten years, we’ve been to Catalina maybe three or four times—usually just for lunch, then we turn around and head home. Our favorite restaurant, located on the main boardwalk, serves exceptionally crispy carnitas. We like to eat at the outside bar so we can people-watch and see the ocean.

Since the Marina boat doesn’t return until 7:30PM, we decided to pack our own supplies in case things got boring. We grabbed our iPods, a radio (to listen to the Angels game on the way home), books, jackets, and hats. I also filled three bottles with water in case of sudden drought(!). After opening all the windows in the house—so the cats wouldn’t die of heat while we were gone!—we turned on the porch light and left for the Marina.

We, of course, were the first passengers to arrive. The ticket counter is located in Fisherman’s Village, a sad little restaurant/shopping area that probably saw its last heyday some thirty years ago. I was desperate for a cookie or other baked good, but could only find ice cream (three different stands!), prepackaged sandwiches and t-shirts. I finally settled for a small bag of Doritos, opting not to ruin my appetite for carnitas.

The other passengers started to arrive while we waited at the dock. There was a family from Oklahoma that was going over to attend a wedding or some such event. There was also a group of four Asian women, only one of whom spoke English. A young couple had a small white fluffy dog in tow and others were loaded down with all kinds of luggage. Then there was the handsome young man who immediately latched onto an attractive young Australian woman, claiming that he was going to Australia himself next month for a job. Tim and I gave each other the secret “Yeah, right!” look and then quietly eavesdropped to see how far he got.

The boat was now 15 minutes late and so I ran to the restroom one last time. Naturally, as soon I left, the boat arrived, causing quite a flurry to get on board. Anxious to get going, we all rushed down to the dock only to be directed back up the ramp to wait a while longer. Finally, after about 10 minutes, it was announced that the boat had hit a “big fish” on the way into LA and would have to be inspected before it could leave for Catalina. As we soon found out, they actually did hit either a dolphin or whale—“a large flailing fish and lots of blood in the water,” was how the captain explained it—which, of course, could very well have caused a lot of damage.

After another 20 minutes, we were told that water was seeping into the boat and so our trip was canceled. We quickly got our refund while the poor Oklahomans, et al., tried to figure out a way to get to Long Beach to take the next boat out of there.

By now, it was well beyond lunchtime, so we headed up Admiralty Way to Casa Escobar, past the crowded restaurants of the Marina. Located next to a decidedly “downscale” Best Western, Casa Escobar is another relic of the 1970s that is well past its prime. Still, on a warm summer afternoon, the view from the patio is just as beautiful as the view from the nearby Ritz-Carlton; plus Casa Escobar serves one mean plate of carnitas. Who needs Catalina anyway when good food and the ocean are just ten minutes from your own front door?


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