Yes, another trip to an island named in honour of Saint Catalina, this time the Pacific island that is part of Los Angeles Co., rather than the island in the Gulf of Cortez south of Loreto, in Baja California Sur.
In both cases the attraction was to see an endemic succulent – the massive Ferocactus digueti in Baja and Dudleya virens ssp hassei here. A visit to the Botanic Gardens, originally created by Mr Wrigley – he of discovering chewing gum fame, thus helping to create the stereotype image of an American of a gum chewing individual – of course also gun slinging and smoking Marlboro cigarettes or Cuban cigars.
The recent weather system seems to have settled back to fairy land blue skies and sunshine, leaving people to mop up their homes and roads. Palm trees leave a mess after strong winds and heavy rain!
Where as Isla Santa Catalina was uninhabited and our journey to the island was made on a panga, disembarking on a pebble beach, we arrived at Avalon on Catalina Island by catamaran – similar to the Pompey to Isle of Wight foot passenger ferry, except that this was a 75 minute journey.
As usual, just because you are at the town from where the plants are reported, that does not mean that they grow down the middle of Main Street, so where do we start looking? There were places that hired out golf carts that are the main form of transport on the island, lined up along the steep rockwall on the road towards the shops and restaurants. We went for the shade of the rockwall side and soon spotted the Dudleyas growing there, but with a lot of debris between us and the plants. By selecting the best viws, we managed to get some good shots.
We found Tourist information who suggested a walk up to the Botanic Garden, but with the mercury pushing 30C + the trolley service, without windows as it’s aircondition system, was a more attractive option. Dudleya hassei was in the ‘Catalina Island endemics’ section of the garden. Plants looked a lot cleaner and their ID was confirmed by clear labels – providing perfect images to crop to blend in with true habitat pictures in future presentations. We climbed to the top of Wrigley’s monument, photographed a Catalina Island endemic fox scavenging around a waste bin and caught the trolley back to town where we succumbed to souvenirs and margaritas, before strolling back to the pier to catch the Cataline Flyer. The rockwall where earlier we had photographed Dudleya in the shade was now bathed in sunlight offering a new and better selection of shots.
The boat trip back provided more images as the sun set with the island behind the horizon.
We had overdosed on fresh air so enjoyed a good night’s sleep after emptying a bottle of Malbec.
Another great day!