So close and yet so overlooked.  Catalina is a great island destination whether for a week or weekend.  Our recent visit was inexpensive, relaxing, exciting and adventuresome.   




The fun starts on the Catalina Express which departs from Long Beach and Newport.  If you upgrade to Commodore Lounge when purchasing boat tickets, you can relax and start the fun with a Bloody Mary.  With luck, whales and dolphins will add excitement to the trip.



a step back in time….



This may be your last chance, as the hotel is for sale and will likely be purchased by a private party and closed to the public.  But for now you can stay in the famed author’s former abode.  The downside is the same as the upside:  location.  On a cactus covered hilltop near the bell tower, the sweeping views are unparalleled, the area void of noisy crowds and the ambience soothing.  No phones or tvs in the small rooms, but there is a pool.





The common room for hotel guests (above).


This Hopi Indian style pueblo was where the famed western writer Zane Grey could escape and enjoy solitude.  The rooms are named after his books, such as the Riders of the Purple Sage, and Wanderer in the Wasteland.


 The price in May on weeknights was $75 a room.  There is a pool, a common sitting room and balcony, and a light free breakfast.  A free shuttle is offered to town and back a few times during the day.  Otherwise, the 2 minute taxi ride is about $13 a trip.





Rent one in town, but they aren’t cheap.  $40 an hour, and they only take cash, no credit cards.  Have some extra cash for a deposit.  But in two hours you can explore the island, enjoy the views, stop at the Wrigley Memorial, birdwatch in the botanical gardens, and get to know the lay of the land.




            Forget dieting on this island.  Restaurants abound and the food is great!  Dine only feet from the ocean and enjoy a multitude of fresh seafood selections.  Dining at Armstrong’s Fish Restaurant in town, we watched a large gull swoop down on the table next to us.  It flew off with a pair of sunglasses while the patrons screamed.  We ate fresh clams, sashimi and garlic-roasted artichokes.  Warning:  off season many of the restaurants close during the week, but there are still many  choices.



Explore downtown and shop


            There is the usual junk, but also a good supply of high-end clothing and other items that remind me of the shopping in Hawaii.  For years I have visited a shop which has in its window a glass top coffee table supported by a large bronze swimming mermaid.  For $2,000 it is not only too expensive but would hardly fit with my home dcor.  I always visit it and dream!



Catalina is known for its tiles…



 Looking for excitement? If you haven’t explored the outer portions of the Island, there are many tours ranging in time from an hour to a day.  There is lots to see and do, such as a 3,600 foot zip line which takes you to 40 mph, under sea and scuba trips,  glass  bottom boat, and an historic tour of town.



Our two-night stay at the Zane Grey gave us plenty of time to explore and to relax.















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California’s infamous Highway 49 is a living museum of history.  In the Spring it is at its best, winding through green pastures, bank-high rivers, tumbling brooks, and fields brilliant with wildflowers.  It is the time of year when quaint towns have shed the congestion so prevalent in the summer months.  Headed for Happy Camp, we opted to travel north through Gold Country rather than the boring drive on I-5.



A lunch stop at Columbia gave us a needed break.  One of the best-preserved old towns in Mother Lode country, the site is a living history museum.  It was a mining town that grew to incredible proportions during the gold rush, then died out almost overnight. 


52169-Columbia2.jpgThe main street is closed to traffic and affords a leisurely walk through town.  Modern and historic shops and saloons are open to the public, and special events are held on the weekends.  It is a dog and kid friendly town.













Our Gold Country destination was the Murphy’s Hotel which opened in 1856.  It had thrived as a natural stopover for the Mattson’s Stage en route from the railroad at Milton to the Calaveras Big Trees.  Notable guests who stayed there during the early years include Mark Twain, Horatio Algiers Jr., Thomas Lipton, J.P. Morgan and former President Ulysses S. Grant.  Our reservation was for the Grant room.  


We opted to forego a private bathroom and stay in the old part of the hotel, sans tv, telephone, air conditioning, heat, etc.  The water closet was down the hall.  We hadn’t counted on the fact that it was right above the Clamper bar where rowdy festivities lasted into the night.  I’m not complaining, mind you, for it added to the atmosphere!


 Heading north on Hwy 49, we were impressed with the lush landscape, flowers, rivers and flocks of Canada Geese.




Cutting over to I-5 at the Olive Town of Corning, we headed up 5 and passed Redding.  Lake Shasta was full, the bathtub ring it had been plagued with during the past several drought years had disappeared.  With ski crowds gone  and summer visitors not yet arriving, the lake was void of houseboats.  The Bridge Bay Restaurant was closed so we opted to continue on through Dunsmuir and stay the night in Mt. Shasta City.  This cut down on our travel time to Yreka and then the 64 miles on the river road, following the Klamath to Happy Camp, population 1100.



Where is the best place in Happy Camp to take a dip?  Well, there is the Klamath River, various lakes and ponds, hundreds of creeks, or just a plain old swimming pool!
The ranch is quite colorful in the Spring and our dinner salads come right from the garden!  

                          Brother Chris and Boston Terrier Beatrice.    
A deer and two Canada Geese hold a meeting out in the pasture. A large part of our
visit  is
 eating!  George makes good use of his smoker.

Sister Karen raids the coop.








George also raises bees.







The main focus of the trip was to meet Scarlett!  She only cocked her head in amusement as Grandpa pushed her on the swing and made funny faces.

4 of the 7 Garrett sibs at one time isn’t bad.







Heading home on the River Road, a bear cub came out to say goodbye!


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