(Authors Note: Catalina makes you do funny things. Things you would never do elsewhere. To that end, I will be using fake names to protect the alternate identities that may be featured in this tale.)
- First and foremost, there is Two Harbors. Situated in the middle of the kidney where the two sides are closest together. Although the name implies there are two harbors, which there technically are, only one is really utilized, the side protected from the fierce pacific ocean. The town of two harbors has only the essentials. A mini market to buy really expensive beer or two bits of charcoal or already melted ice cream. A restaurant which is always being worked by the same people you harassed the night before so it feels kind of good to have the final say. A bar with inside and outside drinking and dancing. Two houses and maybe 20 cabins used by the rotating workforce that keeps the island running. A palladium to hand out regatta prizes to your boat club. A volleyball court and a rocky and quickly slanting beach that always makes your volleyball wet and sandy so as to hurt your wrists. Finally, the campgrounds, which they have smartly placed about a kilometer away from town.
- Second is Avalon. Avalon is where most people go to spend just a day or spend a night with your girlfriend making sure to spend all your money and making sure to feel like you are just a few blocks away from your favorite bar in Newport Beach. I vehemently disagree with anyone who wants to go there, unless they have a bicycle with them, and plan on riding the 20 miles to two harbors.
- An airport, that has expensive food, and maybe one flight a month.
We always reserve anywhere from one to three campsites. You are supposed to have no more than four people
per campsite. We arrive with 30 or more people always. This makes for an interesting arrival on the island when you are talking to the ranger who remembers you from last year. The trip is always supposed to cost less than $100 and that includes the boat ride there and back. This $100 gets you a campsite, boat, food, drink, and random supplies. It is never enough for four days. I like to pack light and here is what I (or someone) will bring:
- A sleeping bag. Preferably one that can cover my head since I will have bread placed on top of me while sleeping which encourages a swath of seagulls to peck at me.
- A knife. Rarely used and mostly just to wittle on a piece of wood while I zone out trying to figure out how the fuck I got back to the campsite last night.
- One pair of “going out” jeans to be used in the evening.
- A hooded sweater that will permanently smell like campfire and vomit and hot dogs.
- Rainbow sandals. Probably the worst sandal for Catalina since they will collect water and dirt, making them treacherously slippery which is not what you want when you are trying to demonstrate your balance on a cliff edge.
- A very very large kite. Mainly sail boats arrive here for a reason, its windy. A large traction kite that pulls you 50 meters with your feet firmly dug into the ground is a really cool thing.
- Three pairs of underwear, but you will only use one pair.
- One bottle of heavy booze. Yea Naveen buys booze, but you want to make sure you are prepared.
- Snorkel gear. Can also be stolen from the rental shack, but you must return them.
- A diving spear. Not to be used to capture Garabaldi, the state fish, and then lift it out of the water to show your buddy Creddo for all to see and reeve your $10,000 fine. Better to be used to launch into a wooden post in your campsite from about 10 centimeters. This will make your day a fantastic one as you dig it out with before mentioned knife while Creddo is freaking out.
- A towel. Often forgotten by the novice Catalina-er. I recommend reading A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
- Bocce balls. Heavy, but worth it. This game will waste many an hour and encourage many a sun burn on the beach.
- Toiletries which are also rarely used.
- The last few drops of underpowered sunscreen.
The boat ride is usually really rough. There is not much to look at except the smog dome of Los Angeles slowly fading away in the distance and the occasional whale or dolphin siting. Drinks are unusually expensive and I enjoy this time to prepare mentally for the weekend to come with deep breathing and deep meditation. When you hear the motors drop in tempo, you know you have arrived. You can run to the front of the boat and see a
magnificent white cliff. In reality, it is not magnificent because it is a giant rock that has been covered in bird shit. There has always been talk to swim to the rock, and know its majestic properties, but no one has ever done it. We have been told if you jump off the boat, you will be arrested. By who? No one really knows what jurisdiction Catalina falls under. The boat arrives and the people disembark. Our pile of things will be about four meters high and 10 meters wide and require five sherpas to help us load the truck. When a boat arrives in Catalina, it is greeted by the analyzing stares of the people who have already arrived. Catalina is very contained and isolated, like a Bio Dome. You know what comes in, and you know what goes out. Although we would like to think so, we do not go unnoticed. The casual traveller to Catalina can sit down at the bar and easily converse with the locals. It wont be too long before they start hearing stories of us. I have heard these stories first hand when I was detached from the group. Stories of a whirlwind landing in Catalina, consuming everything, taking over benches, terrorizing the small boat dogs, harassing every female that doesn’t have huggies, infiltrating the camp fire chats, challenging everyone to a tug-of-war, sinking ships, burning the landscape, etc, etc. Like any myth, there is some foundation to be found in these tales, but rest assured that we all care deeply about this island and would never do anything to hurt her.
The campgrounds are connected to Two Harbors by a long and perilous dirt path that goes up and down and winds around. I always feel like I am putting in the code to Contra. There are no lights on this trail and it is rumored to have claimed the lives of three boy scouts. It has also been used as an inspirational masturbating
point for a few of my friends. Although I have not partaken in the inspiration that Catalina provides for this activity, I do sympathize. Please read Laughter Across the Lake. Personally I like walking real fast to the point that the people I am with cannot keep up, then I hide in a bush, and I leap out at them as they walk by. My inspirational moment came one year after a frustrating night with a girl named Jessica. After she returned to her boat, I walked back to the campgrounds but on my way I stopped at the highest point overlooking all of the harbor. From here I bellowed at the top of my lungs “JESSICA!! JESSICAAA!!” and then continued back to camp. What she or her parents were thinking I do not know.
Each campsite is no more than a flat piece of dirt with a bench, fire pit, stove, and a plastic canopy. Each campsite amongst the 50 or so has its benefits and drawbacks. Naveen has an ordered list of the top 15 sites with a break down of their pros and cons. (Maybe he could provide this list?) Personally, I never gave a shit,
and was happy as long as we did not have young children within visible range of our debauchery. The campsites were arranged on the side of a hill and at the bottom was the communal beach. To walk to the beach meant walking in the middle of other campsites. It was usually really easy to know if you were welcome in a campsite or not. Apparently if you scream and cuss bad words all night, sometimes you are not well received the next day by random families trying to enjoy their vacation.
Extreme Downhill Cacti Jumping
The Benches and Town
The benches are placed on the beach, but we drag them onto the main walking area to ensure that we are in
the middle of everyones way. For those too young to drink at the bar, it is a place to sit, pound a very expensive can of bad tasting beer, and people watch, people heckle, or cry, or be angry. For those people who can enter the bar, it is a resting point to evacuate to when the bar situation is getting too out of control because Bald Doctor is sleeping at someones table with his arms and legs in his shirt, Axe is hitting on the wife of a fat sailor, Naveen is trying to dance with moonshoes, and Roaring is making out with the help.
Eventually the night will wind down and each individual will have their own way back to camp. I can remember one evening walking back to camp and encountering Carmat, the best saxophonist in the world. He was unusually sober, and I chided him for being so. I decided I would make him feel stupid by challenging him to a game of chess and making sure we put money on the game. I was a mess and could barely stand up. He beat me senseless in the game and took my money. I am pretty sure I wasn’t even moving the pieces in the correct places. None the less he took my money. I was infuriated and demanded he honorably give me my money back since the game was not held under sanctioned conditions. He refused. The following night, I walked back to camp to find Carmat once again. Only this time, the tables were turned and I was the unusually sober one and he was stumbling drunk. He decided his best option was to pass out on the bench in a most undesirable way. He had his stomach on the seat with his forehead resting face down. His arms and legs were hanging over the sides very limply. He was not a well shaped human being and was rather hairy. His ass crack was a disgusting site to say the least. Time to get even. We had purchased a 10 liter jug of peanut butter to be used by the group which was hardly used. I decided to use the entire jug to cover every inch of Carmat. Using sticks and other objects, he was completely covered. His face was absolutely featureless except for three straws I had placed in his mouth and nostrils. His ears did not exist. His hair was missing, it was like a blueman group guy but with peanut butter. Down his ass crack, his arms, his legs, his shoes, his socks, anywhere and everywhere. I left him that way and went to bed. The next morning I encountered Carmat completely cleaned up. The effort involved in that cleaning process I cannot imagine. We looked at each other and we had nothing to say. I felt I had gotten
even and he knew exactly why he got what he got. You don’t FUCK with me when it comes to chess. I am 1500+ on Yahoo if you want to challenge me.