According to http://www.catalina.com/history.html the Spanish explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, first sighted Catalina on October 7, 1542. Then, on “November 24, the eve of St. Catherine’s Day, the ship of the second Spanish explorer, Sebastian Viscaino, sighted the Island. Viscaino renamed it Santa Catalina in honor of Saint Catherine.” Like the Spanish explorers, my visit was short, but significant to me. The ancient Pimungans (first island inhabitants) are gone now, with only their steatite (soapstone) and chert artifacts to remind us of their presence here. In place of their canoes, yachts and sailboats fill the harbor. The thousands that come to the island’s shores each year come to relax, to shop, to view the scenery of this semi-arid rustic island. I met many wonderful people from many places and as usual, learned much more than I expected or intended. It has been quiet here, in comparison to other parts of my trip, and I can see why Zane Grey chose this place as a home and a writing retreat. I like it as a hotel/retreat. The rooms have no TVs or phones. Each room is named after a Zane Grey novel. They are furnished simply, but adequately.
On Monday, I went to the Airport in the Sky where many movies have been filmed. There was a little historical display. To my distress, I found out that the Yankees established a base here in the Civil War in 1864. As usual, they ran everyone else off the island. I wondered why they would put a base here so late in the war, then I remembered that the Alabama and Shenandoah were terrorizing Yankee fleets and decimating the North’s whaling business. As this photo reveals, I found one of the Yankees who had remained on the island.
This morning, I looked out my open window and the sea was as slick as glass (pardon the cliche), sunlight touching its surface—it should have been painted. In a few minutes, I’ll make my way to the ferry, back to LAX Airport, and then to DFW and on to Louisiana. It will be a long day, but I’ll be meditating on what I’ve seen, what I’ve done, and those I’ve met.
Goodbye, Catalina . . . Until next time.