Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Our Little Corner of the World...The East End of Catalina Island!

Only 22 miles across the ocean from our LA ports and I'm ashamed to say 
I can count on only one hand, the number of times I've been there...
and never had I been anywhere but Avalon!

Sooo...a little arm twisting and TheChief and I took a tour of the East End interior of Catalina!

We met our tour guide in a parking lot in the center of town.
Imagine Indiana Jones in about a 5'2" young woman driving a giant Hummer!
Next...imagine Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland...
...yep...now you get the drift of how our tour began!!!  What a wild ride!
Cindy Lowe is her name...and she's a tour guide for the Santa Catalina Island Company.
Make sure you have your seat belts on!!!

We went through the gate to the Conservancy, and hit the dirt road running!!!
A few stops along the way for photo ops...
...and the adventure begins!
As you can see...Avalon is just a very small part of the Island.

On the back of the island, the fog was rolling in. 

Looking down on Avalon...

The island's topography is much the same as Southern California's wilderness areas...
dry (the drought is impacting the island too), low growing shrubs, cactus, and a lot of brown.

A couple of different points of view of the windward coast of the island...

Cindy really wanted to tackle the road on the right...

...but she took pity on us and stayed to the left!

As a tour guide extraordinaire...she's pretty darned good with the camera!

I'm not fond of graffiti, but I really like this one!  
Cindy said she never saw this while doing tours until she hiked the road.
Since then she makes a point of stopping. 

 I think we were basically zigzagging over the mountains of the island, back and forth from one vista point to another, on one side of the island to the other!

It's a stark beauty.

Eucalyptus trees aren't native to the island but were brought over there.
They're good along the road as they anchor the soil.

Looking toward Camp Fox...
Until 2006 Camp Fox was under lease to the Glendale YMCA and was the camp of choice
for all the guys I went to school with...including TheChief and all his buddies!!!

In 2006 the Catalina Conservancy required a huge financial outlay to upgrade the property
in order to renew the lease.  After having the lease for over 80 years,
the Glendale YMCA lost their negotiations with the Conservancy 
and the Conservancy set up an interim management of the camp.
The camp is still operating, but is not at full capacity.

One of the reasons I wanted to do an interior tour was to see the bison!!!
Well... a Bison...or two!!!
In the early days of Catalina's heyday there was a lot of filming done on the island.
It is said that in 1924 the Bison were brought over from the mainland for the silent film version of Zane Grey's Western, The Vanishing American, then left the Bison there. 
It was a very small herd at the time but grew to as many as 600 head.
Because of the environmental impact of the herd, the Conservancy now keeps the number 
to about 150.  When the number goes up, the conservancy removes the excess off the island!

The Bison are not natural to the area, and are not purebred!
They are about 45% domesticated cow!

Cindy took us on a little side trip to find the Bison.  This park used to be alongside
a man made lake, or watering hole for the Bison.
Of course it's now completely dry, because of the severe drought we're in on the Western coast.

Yep...this is the second one we saw!

A natural inhabitant of the island is the Catalina Grey Fox...
...this little guy was quite accommodating for picture taking!!!
TheChief took this one!

Most of you probably don't know about Zane Grey...
he was a American dentist in the early 1900's...who also happened to be an author!
His genre was primarily Westerns and adventure stories.
His novels and stories were adapted into numerous movies and TV shows.
He was an avid fisherman and when he lived in Altadena, California he 
bought a getaway home which became the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel after his death.
The Hotel is currently closed and under renovation.

A beautiful view of Avalon on our return to town!

Catalina Island and Hollywood have quite a long connection...

...Catalina Island has been the location for over 500 movies, documentaries, TV shows, 
and commercials over the years.

The Catalina Casino was the first theater made for "Talking Movies".

Hollywood stars frequented the island...including...Charlie Chaplin and his wife Paulette Goddard, 
Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Betty Grable, James Cagney, Johnny Weismuller and many more.

Norma Jean Mortenson...aka...Marilyn Monroe, at 16,  lived on the island for a year with her first husband James Dougherty who was a Merchant Marine, stationed on the island.

While there, we visited the new Catalina Island Museurm.
Photos from the early years and an excellent look at Catalina's history.

Of course I was particularly intrigued by the exhibit:

Bettie Page was a model in the '50s known as the Queen of Pinups.
She was one of the original Playboy Playmates of the Month and posed for dozens of 
photographers of the '50's.  She has become an iconic symbol of the pin up models of the '50's.
Her life is quite a story, and not one for the faint of heart.
 Bunny Yeager was a photographer starting in the '50's.
She was one of the early Playboy Photographers and was one of the first to use
natural light and "fill flash" in her outdoor shoots of models.
This exhibit featured her photography of Bettie Page...pin ups and nudes...
 Her work is known for her sensitivity in how she worked with her female models.
The New York Times credited her with "helping turn the erotic pin up...into a high photographic art."

The exhibit closes October 16 so if you're interested, you'd better get on over to Catalina Island!

For more images from more little corners of the world, click on the images below!






  1. Great post, Kathy. Thanks for the tour and the links. And the fox. What an amazing thing that he sat so still for a photo.

    1. Thanks Petrea! I like the fact that when Phillip Wrigley deeded the majority of the island over to the Santa Catalina Conservancy with the stipulation that it not be developed.

  2. These are some great photos that we'd never get to see otherwise. There are some stunning views.

    I took a similar tour while in Zion and it was worth every penny.

    1. It was a fun tour...and Cindy was a great guide!

  3. What a place and such gorgeous photography ~ magical ~ Happy Times for you ~ ^_^

    Wishing you a happy week ~ ^_^

  4. Thanks for the tour of Catalina Island. Nice photo of the fox!

  5. What beautiful views here. The fox really stands out!

  6. How gorgeous! Wow! Talk about fantastic views! I love the last photo with all the boats!

  7. Nice set of pictures - sometimes the best places are close to home.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Just back in Melbourne!

  8. Great scenes. I remember Zane Grey Theater on TV.

  9. I've never visited Catalina Island. It looks very rugged. I liked seeing the little gray fox - we have red foxes here in the mountains of CO. Wonderful photos.

  10. I've been to Catalina many times, and you just told me a lot that I didn't know about it.
    REALLY nice photos!


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