Living the Catalina High Life

“Monster’s gonna get us. Everybody get out. Here comes the big bad monster,” mimicked comedian Carl Wolfson in a good ole boy, hillbilly-kind of voice from the stage of Catalina Island’s comedy club.

“Monster’s gonna get us. Monster’s gonna kill us and that newspaper man’s going to write our obituary,” Wolfson said referring to me, of course.

It’s the only comedy club on Catalina. In fact, it’s also Catalina Island’s only sushi bar.

Flip’s Sushi and comedy bar bills itself as “The freshest sushi in Avalon – The funniest comics in the country.” It’s definitely the freshest sushi in Avalon, but whether or not it’s actually home of the funniest comedians is yet to be decided. Although, Wolfson and Flip’s owner Mary Schickling were pretty darned funny – except that Wolfson kept picking on me all night.

But comedy and sushi aren’t the only two offerings in the one square mile or so that makes up Catalina’s only city.

Nope, those Catalina natives pack a whole lot into a little area.

The residential population, according to one local, is about 4,000 people. By 11 a.m. on a Friday morning of a non-holiday weekend, the visitor population was already close to 5,000. And, for a 4-day, mini-vacation, my wife (Simone) and I were part of that tourist population, taking full advantage of everything Catalina had to offer.

To celebrate our one-year anniversary (thank you) Simone and I decided to take a trip to Catalina. I had never been there.

We stayed in the Hotel Atwater – a hotel that offers cozy (well, actually crammed) little rooms for a slightly overpriced but a decent rate during the week and a bit more on the weekends. However, due to an accounting error by the night clerk, we received our rooms for the lesser price (which was still overpriced) – But we didn’t complain.

“When you’re on Catalina, things move at a different place,” said one regular island visitor. “You just say thank you and enjoy the island.”

That’s what we did. We said thank you and had a good time.

We didn’t even complain (at least not that much) about the price of bike permits purchased at the Catalina Conservancy so that we could ride our bikes all over the island. We bought the permits with the best of intentions – Simone rode this way … I followed. She rode that way … I still followed. We rode up this hill and that hill … and when we finally arrived at our destination – a sign reading: “Bike Permits Required” – I was tired and hungry. We went back to the Hotel Atwater.

Over the course of our vacation, we sampled a number of different activities on the island and we missed out on even more.

We didn’t go snorkeling, diving, parasailing or jet skiing. We didn’t go on the glass bottom boat or the new partially submerged submarine adventure. We didn’t go camping or journey over to two harbors.

What we did do is relax, rent a motorboat, bike around the area, sample the Catalina cuisine and paddle around in a kayak. And, we spent four days on the island.

You don’t have to own a boat to go to Catalina, because you can rent them there (little ones with lawnmower-style engines, anyway).

Though, seeing the leisurely lifestyle of boat owners, sure does make me want to get a boat and take a few more trips to Catalina

by Brian Barsuglia

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