I like to run wherever I am because those minutes or hours are ones I will never forget. I can still picture the monkeys and kudu from St. Lucia and the exact route I took around Paris. These runs are precious to me, like handmade souvenirs from each place I’ve visited. I put them on a little shelf in my mind and occasionally dust them off and call each one to mind.
Angela brought me to Catalina Island this past weekend for a birthday getaway that provided me with yet another keepsake to add to my collection. We spent 2 full days in paradise, otherwise known as Avalon, in a hotel 1/2 a block from the ocean. Catalina is a place that draws in many Californians looking for a getaway that is not far from home yet feels a million miles away. It feels so distant because this is a place free from Starbucks, McDonald's and any corporate chain you can think of. Globalization has made it genuinely difficult to escape these names, but somehow Catalina has come out unscathed and McDonald's-free. I guess it is possible.
We went directly from the traffic of Long Beach to a town with golf carts and only a handful of cars. The noise of the city vanished as we stepped off the ship onto the island of peace and quiet. Small, mountainous and only an hour boat ride from the coast of Los Angeles is Catalina. The LA smog seemed like a distant memory as we breathed in the fresh ocean air.
It was like a switch flipped and I was instantly relaxed. Catalina has that effect on most people. For two whole days crashing waves replaced honking horns and sirens…Happy birthday to me!
We spent Saturday on an Eco zip-line tour that allowed us to see the island in a unique, panoramic way. It was our first time zip-lining so we had no idea just how fantastic it would be. The guides were extremely knowledgeable locals able to answer every conceivable question we had about the island. This was such a memorable gift and thanks to Angela I will always have video of it, not that I want to watch myself scream hysterically. I will attempt to post one of the videos in which I am not yelling or saying inappropriate things.
On to the food! It can be challenging to find fresh, organic foods when traveling and you’re forced to eat processed junk foods. I prefer to eat clean and fresh when traveling and enjoying whatever is in season. We were relieved to find a café serving fresh, vegetarian fare. We enjoyed a sandwich overflowing with beets and fresh-made pesto. It was so tasty that we later went back for some of their unusual varieties of hummus to eat on warm pita. We stumbled into a coffee shop set in the back of a charming courtyard serving organic, fair-trade coffee that blew Starbucks out of the water. I already miss the smell and taste of it. We enjoyed my “birthday” dinner at a restaurant steps from the ocean dedicated to serving organic food grown through sustainable practices. That to me is true comfort food.
Our last day was spent exploring and perusing the island which landed us in front a dirt trail leading up a grassy mountain. It started directly behind a sign that read “Private Property: No Trespassing” so we figured it must be a good trail. It led us straight up and around a cliff with a breathtaking view of the ocean. It left us momentarily speechless. I persuaded Ang to let me take copious amounts of pictures and she was gracious enough to take many of me as well. We eventually continued up and down the trail until it spit us out on a golf course where we continued our run back into town. I am glad that I was able to share that impromptu mountain run with Angela. Now I can reminisce with someone and never lose it. It was our shared adventure bringing us equal amounts of joy.
Our unexpected ocean view
I am grateful to Angela for bringing me to a place full of such beauty and peace, and for sharing those unforgettable moments with me. This trip was a reminder to appreciate the exquisite subtleties in life and find the beauty in the little things. Whether it’s a sip of delicious coffee, the smell of the ocean air or that moment when you catch a glimpse of something radiant – soak it up, store it away in your mind, and relive it from time to time.
Running Warrior :)
Happy Running Everyone!