Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

What a Weekend!
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Shelley pulled off an amazing weekend for me, along with friends Jenn and Kenny. They kept the scheduled activities from me until the last moment, making for continuous surprises.

On Friday evening we caught an express boat out to Santa Catalina Island, easily found our hotel, and chowed down on some great seafood. After that many presents came out of the luggage! :-) These included a FinePix S7000 digital camera (Shelley got tired of me complaining about my older camera's flash dying); Pirate's Cove and Turn the Tide games; some cool biking jerseys and socks; an ID band to wear while cycling; an elaborate ceramic windchimes in the form of cascading tree leaves.

Shelley brought a cooler with an ice cream cake too, which she packed on dry ice. The cake and ice cream stayed so hard that we had trouble eating it, although the frosting somehow turned puffy and exploded all over the hotel room when I blew out the candles. It had us laughing (and cleaning up the bedspread) for some time!

Saturday early morning we had a big breakfast at Joe's, then set out on a day-long adventure of kayaking and snorkeling. A small boat took us (and a guide) up the east coast of the island about eight miles and dropped us off, and we paddled all the way back to Avalon. Jenn and Kenny did us proud, since they had never kayaked before! We travelled in nice sit-on-top boats with hatches to keep things dry (even when tumbled in the surf during landing for lunch).

Our guide showed us two pairs of bald eagles along the coast. We stopped and watched them a while, during which time they flew out (really low, just over our heads) to catch and bring back fish. They're impressive birds. We also observed many other seabirds and sea lions and seals. Plus, we got to snorkel amongst kelp beds and coral outcrops, where we could see some amazing purple flora and gorgeous bright orange fish (garibaldis) as well as many other kinds of fish and plant life. (It was also good to see Kenny snorkel for the first time, although the water was chilly.)

Another nice meal that night, and then some gaming on the bed in our tiny hotel cottage.

Sunday we caught a bus tour into the interior of the island and back along a narrow, winding road. A very entertaining driver amused us with crazy talk, guffawing, and many puns. We got to see some of the buffalo that we missed on our 1999 trip too.

We completed the weekend with a round of mini golf, a good lunch and the ferry boat ride back to the mainland. The weather cooperated nicely, and we got some more gaming in waiting for and during the ferry trips.

In short, my 39th was not one that I'm going to forget! Thanks, guys!

The early morning shoreline along which we paddled.

All for one, and one for all!

One of the eagles we saw en route.

Higher-level view of where we paddled.

Shelley also received a gift on Friday night. We got engaged on an island off the east coast of the US; this symbolizes starting a family on an island off the west coast. (Thanks go to Brenda and Paul for helping out with this one.)

Soaking up the sun, waiting for Randy the boat captain to appear.

Jenn pursuing her photography avocation. Catalina's a good place for that.

Kenny putts the 18th hole. It's a nice shady course with several multi-level holes.

Some of the buffalo that we did not see in 1999 when we sought them during the photography contest.

Tiles decorate every building on the island, it seems. Here's a tile map, at the airport, of the whole place.

Avalon, the main town on the island, as seen from the road leading inland.

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