Santa Barbara to Avalon, Santa Catalina via Santa Cruz Island
We departed Santa Barbara mid afternoon on
October 3rd for the short hop across Santa Barbara channel to
Smuggler's Cove on the back side of Santa Cruz Island.
Before leaving, we strolled down the shoreline to the huge,
weekly arts and crafts fair and along the way, encountered an
anti-Iraq war protest. They had named crosses laid out in
perfect lines on the beach for each of the 1000+ US service men
and women who have died to date (there have been over 30,000
Iraqis killed in the war to date) as well as other visual
displays. It was very tastefully done, very respectful and
of course, extremely thought provoking. No matter where
you stand on the issue, you could not help but be moved and
sobered by the display, the magnitude of which was immediately
apparent to everyone, including the kids but whose rationale was
quite a bit more difficult to fathom, much less explain to an 8
Early evening found us safely anchored in
Smuggler's cove where we rendezvoused with S/V Trinity once
again. We stayed two nights (deciding not to go ashore due
to the large surf) and departed early on the 5th for Avalon
Harbor on Santa Catalina Island. Avalon is almost
certainly the most "touristy" place we are likely to encounter
on our entire voyage with the possible exception of SeaWorld.
Cruise ships arrive daily, pouring thousands of tourists into
the small town, effectively doubling the population.
Everything from the stores to the restaurants to the streets
themselves are geared to handle and channel this massive influx
of humanity in search of the perfect commemorative t-shirt.
Melissa and I where here 20 years ago before we were married and
thought it was touristy then when a much smaller number of
visitors arrived mostly by ferry from Los Angels. It's
worse now. We've seen small towns (those unlucky enough to
have deep water ports) similarly impacted in the Northwest and
SE Alaska. Cruise ships may be good for the local economy
(at least for those seeking low-wage retail jobs hocking cheap
plastic junk made in China) but dealing with the concentrated
volume of visitors breeds a homogeneity that sucks all the
authenticity and originality right out of a place.
The last day we were here, no cruise ship
was scheduled to stop. It was wonderful actually being
able to walk along the sidewalk without having to dodge the
milling throngs. Mel and Roma engaged in some retail
therapy while Eric and Steve took the kids snorkeling around the
corner at "Lovers Cove" (though its hard to imagine any real
lovers coming here with all the tourists in golf carts driving
by). Even with just ferry visitors, the boys had to work
to avoid the huge glass bottom boats made up to look like fake
submarines. With all the faces peering out from behind the
portholes, it felt a little like snorkeling in the aquarium at
Sea World, but the kids had fun at least.
All in all, Avalon is probably a nice
place to live and I'm sure the thousands of people who bought
ice cream and a lacquered turtle during the three days we were
there had a wonderful visit, but it will probably be a long time
before we visit again. Next time, we will choose to
explore other parts of the island or spend more time up in the
As always, click on the photos for larger sizes.