Monday, May 23, 2016

Catalina Island

Great food, spectacular views, sunshine on the beach, an epic bike ride and girl talk late into the night.  Sounds dreamy, right?  Well it was.

I got to spend a fabulous weekend with some of my very favorite friends.  At one point in time, we were all neighbors.  We raised our kids together and saw each other through those hard young-mom years.  Several of these lifetime friends have moved, but thanks to our friend Tracy--who's amazing at planning social events--we were able to add a few more unforgettable memories to our friendship history.

We flew out before dawn on Friday morning.  We arrived in California, and made our way to the ferry which would take us on an hour-long ride to Catalina Island.

It was smooth sailing for a few minutes.

Then the waters got exceedingly rough.  Rough enough to elicit nervous squeals and create queasy stomachs.  I kept watching the attendants and told myself that since they seemed calm, we must not be in too much danger.  They even offered us some free ginger ale to curb the nauseousness.

An adorable pod of dolphins jumping alongside the boat helped take our minds off of the dipping, pitching and swaying of the vessel.

Then the island came into view.

It was beautiful and not at all what I was expecting.

It is very small, not a lot of beach and very rocky, with houses built right into the side of the mountains.  Also, cars on Catalina are virtually non-existent.  

From the ferry terminal, we walked a few blocks to the cottage that Tracy rented for the weekend.

After getting settled in, we went for a bite to eat.  The food was good, but truth be told, this was probably my least favorite meal--the others were just that much better.

We wandered around town and marveled at the steep staircases and elevators that ran alongside some of them.

Golf carts are the main form of transportation.  Other than walking, of course.

Even the Fed Ex truck is golf cart-sized.  

Tracy made us personalized cups to use during our stay:

We spent several hours talking and eating in this room.  Just look at all those snacks:

My chocolate wrapper told me not to go home.  So I didn't.

Tracy had arranged for a bike ride the next morning.  We envisioned riding beach cruisers leisurely through town.  Um, this was anything but that. (Tracy knew what was in store, but took great delight in keeping that part a surprise.)

Our guide picked us up and crammed us into his Pilot.  He then drove us nearly an hour up the mountain.  Getting there was a little terrifying.  Hairpin turns, steep drop offs on the side of the road and pot holes large enough to register thousands of steps on my fit bit while I was riding along.  I kept thinking, "We are going to ride down this road on bikes?"

We finally arrived at the Airport in the Sky, which is aptly named as it is on the top of the mountain and there is literally nothing else around it.  A cute little restaurant at the airport served us a nice breakfast, which provided fuel for what was about to be an unbelievable descent.

We stopped every so often to take in the sweeping views.  The pictures can't do it justice.

We took lots and lots of flattering selfies in helmets.

The view on the final stretch of the ten-mile ride as we came back into town.

The small beach was the perfect place to relax, afterward.  We soaked in some sun and waded in the cool water.

Then we cleaned up and went to dinner.  

Another great view of the houses on the side of the mountain.

Sunday morning's church services were held in a conference room at US Bank.

We doubled the attendance that day.  It was a unique service that touched my heart.  The surroundings were different, but the spirt was absolutely the same.

After sacrament meeting, we had one last meal--which was my very favorite of the weekend--right on the water.

It just couldn't have been more perfect.  Such a wonderful, memorable weekend.