I was recently gifted with two round-trip tickets for a helicopter ride to Catalina. Last Thursday my mother and I took advantage of the voucher for an overnight trip. I was a little nervous about taking the helicopter. But I had no need to be worried. I ve had scarier elevator rides. I thought, I took a Xanax for this? It was a gorgeous trip. As I looked out over the great blue expanse, I asked my mother if it had been nerve-wracking keeping track of five small children on a rickety boat in the middle of the ocean. She quickly replied, No. Not at all. After a moment of hesitation, she added, The only time I ever felt like a bad mother was when your brother fell in.
We had to share a cab from the helipad to our hotel. The guy sitting "shotgun" had his window rolled down and I was getting blown away by the wind. I gently touched his arm (to indicate that I was speaking to him, and not to the driver) and asked, "Do you mind rolling your window up part way?" He completely freaked out, hissing venemously, "Don t touch me!! Don t you ever touch me again!!!" I recoiled, "Woah. Sorry." Maybe he had brittle-bone disease or something. But my fiesty 70-year-old mother wasn’t going to let him speak to her daughter that way, "And I thought I was grumpy! she exclaimed, Just praise the Lord there aren’t many more out there like him!" After enduring ten minutes of a silent, icy ride, I mumbled to my mother, "We re in this island paradise and now I’m in a bad mood." She replied loudly, "Well, you never know what people might really be upset about. Maybe his wife beats him. Or maybe she DOESN’T" I’m not sure if it was the invocation of our good Lord Jesus Christ or the accusation of Sado-masochistic tendencies that made him ask the driver to drop him off right there.
The Canyon Resort and Spa was actually a motel, with an Escher-like labyrinth of stairs going every which way up and down the courtyard and a seriously unwelcoming pool area. Since we had arrived well before check-in time, we relaxed in the caf�. Still a little shaken by our uncomfortable cab ride, I ordered a mimosa. They brought it to me in a pint glass.
We called my brother, who frequently sails to Catalina, and asked him for recommendations. "Well, first, you have to get your Wiki Wacked!!! You have to go to Luau Larry’s! . Now, I had been specifically warned that Luau Larrys was a tourist trap. But there are some touristy activities, such as wearing Micky Mouse ears or getting a hurricane at Pat O Briens, that have become such time-honored traditions they surpass their own cheesiness and become obligatory. When we passed Luau Larry s we went in for the requisite Wiki Wacker. It didn t seem watered down, and in conjunction with a pint of Mimosas, I was now officially wacked.
As we wandered along the row of restaurants at water s edge, we happened upon El Galleon, which looked like an nice classic Italian restaurant. Inside, it had a crazy hodge podge of a decor marrying New Orleans and Tiki Room with a nautical flair. Mardi Gras beads, winches, glass floats and fishing nets hung from the ceiling. Mounted on one wall was an Alligator Bass , a hideous Frankenstein of a practical joke, an alligator head fused onto the body of a fish. But the brick walls gave the room a warm feeling, and the old-fashioned wooden booths were comfortable and comforting. El Galleon s current owners bought the restaurant in 1993, but its actual age was unclear from the printed history, which seemed to imply it had been around since the days of William Wrigley. The menu was not Italian, as I had surmised, but a combination of seafood steakhouse and barbecue, with some modern touches like Panko crumbs and Jasmine rice.
166925,166925,0,2005-11-04 23:23:02,Elise’s Catalina Story”