My Trip to Catalina
By Jonathan Craig, Army
Writing Type: Prose
By Jonathan Craig
It was the spring of 1987 when I left Arizona and headed for sunny California to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my 16 years of life. My folks, brother and I headed west at 4:30 p.m. from our home in Tucson in our Chevy van. My brother and I fell asleep after daylight faded and awoke in San Diego early the next day around 4:45 a.m. as the sun started rising from the east.
My brother and I were amazed at the expanse of the Pacific Ocean unfolding before our eyes as we approached La Jolla beach. The many people walking hand and hand along the shore. Surfers on their boards, riding the large waves. The hundreds of seagulls. And of course, the main attraction, those beautiful girls in their bikini's with bronze tanned skin.
Leaving La Jolla, we headed north to Long Beach, where we spent the night to get rested up for our boat ride to Catalina Island. We head to the port of San Pedro the following morning to catch our tourist boat to Catalina Island, which lies almost 25 miles off the California coast.
Arriving in San Pedro we parked our van in the secured area and purchased our roundtrip tickets. We boarded a 105-foot vessel and headed out of the harbor and into the vast Pacific.
I secured a spot on the bow of the boat and found it hard to contain my excitement on this first-time adventure. The warm, balmy breeze, the salty spray on my face, the dolphins racing at the bow, the spouting whales in the distance, were all new and became indelible in my mind.
We approached Avalon harbor after a one-hour boat ride. As we entered the harbor, I was amazed at the quaint shops, marina, the huge casino and the hustle and bustle of life unfolding before my eyes. My brother and I explored the shops, beach and oddities on our own, while our parents seemed to prefer a chance for a bit of alone time. I can see why they call it "The Island of Romance."
Leaving Catalina Island behind, we were on our way back to San Pedro at 7 p.m. After arriving, we drove back to Long Beach for the night and some much-needed sleep from a long day of fun and adventure.
Having rested from the day before, we ate breakfast then headed to Anaheim, Calif., for a surprise. A 30-minute drive brought us to Disneyland, and what a thrill for all of us. The theme parks, rides, animated characters and food all provided a great day for all of us. The Disneyland Electric Light Parade was the star attraction to top off our Disneyland adventure. We decided to stay in Anaheim for the evening and head back to Arizona the following morning.
Our trip back home brought a sadness to us all, as we talked and laughed about our fun days on the Pacific coast. I haven't been afforded the opportunity to go back there in these past 44 years. But I will never forget that once-in-my-lifetime adventure.