Ninth Time Across the Continent

Bumble Bee Plane

Is there any way that looking at this world-record tiny plane won’t prompt the thought of a bumble bee? Believe it or not it does fly with crazy-cramped quarters for the pilot; but it doesn’t buzz.

Having driven from NYC to Yosemite in 72 hours going west during my eighth crossing this year I was content to take my time going east on my ninth crossing. I managed to spend three days in Arizona and New Mexico and a fourth day in Colorado. Then I heard that my new iPhone had arrived and within three days I was home again. It’s nice to be back.

While I loitered, I saw many things but I’ll only mention four here now. Continue reading

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Avalon Area Hikes with Cliff

Casino from Hilltop

This vantage point above Avalon gives perspective on the island. It juts out of the water with force and is quite unforgivingly. It is an island with strong character, not some sandy mound that barely surfaces.

The island tempted me to hike its length in stages. First I enjoyed walking around Avalon between sessions of the JazzTrax Festival. Later I ventured out to hike around the ridge of the valley around Avalon and from the “Airport in the Sky” to Avalon. Having 2/5 of the island under my belt I decided I should tackle the recently completed enchilada, the TCT.

My scheme was to tempt my uncle by leading him down the same path.  Continue reading

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Hiking the Trans-Catalina Trail

Travis on the TCT

Happy to have succeeded I rewarded myself with a giant cookie from the Airport Cafe. It’s a little mental motivation I gave myself to finish the Trans-Catalina Trail. Another great adventure complete!

The trail was 38 miles long but I hiked over 45 to make it happen. From the top of Catalina at Starlight Beach to the bottom at Pebbly Beach I hiked and hiked and hiked. Logistics were a bit of a challenge. Weather interrupted my progress for a day. However today I completed my goal: I hiked the TCT!

So how did this compare with other hikes? I was surprised by how difficult the trails were and it took me a while to figure our why. I’ve hiked many steep mountains but they rarely have felt this challenging. Then it struck me. Those who designed the TCT very rarely used switchbacks to make climbing easier. Instead they simply took you straight up a mountainside which, of course, is shorter but takes much more effort. But for the 35 pound pack on my back I wouldn’t have minded.

I’m not going take you on a blow-by-blow of my days of adventure. It was in many ways a walk across a desert island with sea and sky almost always in view and more often than not the coastline too. There were animals I did not recognize, bison often too close for comfort and beautiful landscapes. 

I leave you with my favorite impressions: harbors, beaches and coves. Continue reading

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Camping with Pirates at Two Harbors

Pirate Pier

I did not expect to find hundreds of pirates when I arrived in Two Harbors. Sure, it was the end of Buccaneer Days but I had no idea the zeal to which people got into costume. There was “Argh” aplenty!

Camp sites had been unavailable prior to my arrival. This harbors town in the north of Catalina Island was flooded with 3,000 visitors from the mainland. With no more than a hand full of hotel rooms in the area, everyone had to camp. Not till they left could I reserve a space. Today I caught the exodus.

Flirtatious Pirate

Two Harbors was my base of operations at the start of my hike along the length of Catalina Island on a trail called the Trans-Catalina Trail (or TCT). I started my day in Palm Springs, drove to Long Beach for to the ferry to Avalon where I left my festival clothing, and then boarded a bus for the ride north to my campground. The air was thick with tired reverie, hoarse voices and residual inebriation. Buccaneers had come to have a good time with apparent success. I’d come for an entirely different type of good time and hoped to have similar success. The first stop: set up camp.

While dry and dusty, this desert campground was a stone’s throw from the harbor. What a joy to be in such a beautiful setting. As I assembled my tent I could hear sails luffing, metal clanging against masts, and happy boaters winding down their visit. The place would be quiet by night as everyone went back home and I would have the place to myself.  Continue reading

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