Saturday, June 2, 2018

Catalina Island #1

Avalon, Catalina Island

Research for SLICK DEAL

          We spent five days in Avalon, on Catalina Island to research our latest book, SLICK DEAL the fourth in the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.

          For those of you unfamiliar with Santa Catalina Island it's just 22 miles (35 km) off the coast of Los Angeles.  And yes, it is the place the Four Preps refer to in their song 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) released in 1957. For a waltz down memory lane go to:
          Believe me when I say Catalina Island lives up to its reputation for romance and adventure!

Our boat ride to Catalina on the big Catamaran was smooth. The dolphin swam and seagulls flew alongside the swift boat. Catalina boasts that they have fish that fly and birds that swim. And it’s all true. But check back later for the real flying fish and cormorant stories.

Sailing into Avalon Harbor, you're greeted by the Holly House with its quaint white architecture, red and white roof nestled in the side of the hill.

We spent four hours at the Avalon Public Library while waiting for our room at the Holiday Inn Catalina Resort. The library is small but stocked full of interesting information about  Avalon in the 1950s and way back to the early1800s.  Did you know that the most common way of staying on the island during the late 1800s in a tent! Apparently, the Victorians of that era were clamoring to travel to exotic and adventurous destinations. Catalina Island was a thriving vacation spot as early as 1891. You could rent a tent for $7.50 ($187.00 today). It included beds, bedding, basic furnishing and limited cooking facilities. During the summer 80-100 tents would be rented, and it climbed into the next century.

The librarian, Paul, was very helpful in pulling all sorts of information from the archives on everyday life in the 1950s.

Something we didn't know about was the Catalina Grand Prix which raced from 1951 to 1958. This motorcycle race attracted the rich, famous and enthusiasts.

In 1978 the manual telephone switchboard was finally modernized. Avalon holds the prestige of being the last in the US to be brought up to modern standards.

Private full-sized cars are not allowed on the island.  The preferred mode of transportation is by autoettes, similar to golf carts
We took a short walk along the harbor to reserve a golf cart for the next day to tour the island. We asked the two young girls there, "Where would dump a dead body." We (of course explained first that we were authors of murder mysteries). They immediately gave us two places complete with directions, cross streets, and landmarks. They seemed to have thought about it!

Our room was finally ready at 3:30, we took the hotel shuttle into the hills. It seemed the hotel was haunted the minute we got into our room. After unpacking we noticed the drawers (all the drawers) wouldn’t stay closed! Then suddenly as we put drinks into the small refrigerator, it started to leak all over the floor. The last straw was when we noticed the wood door in the entryway to our room was cracked and separating, you could see the sunlight through the door panels!!

We got a different room, one floor up, the drawer opener ghost followed us!

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