The Wife and I took a bus tour over the weekend to Californy, Long Beach to be exact, for two nights on the Queen Mary. The trip there was uneventful and if it wasn't for the tour guide, boring. David, the guide, kept us entertained with questions and historical facts about the desert and mountains along I-10. I would guess the average age of the old people on the bus was somewhere in the 70's, and they were a pretty lively old bunch.
Prior to checking into the Queen Mary, there was a stop to visit the Long Beach Aquarium and stretch our laigs, and ankles, and hips. We got rid of some of the kinks and wandered around looking at the sea life - amazing, it was. We went on to the Queen and found our rooms, which weren't bad for a ship, lotsa wood and old equipment all over and you still had your choice of water, salt or fresh, in the shower. The salt water was shut off, of course, which was a good thing in my mind. I hadn't found anything therapeutic in the salt water showers on the Navy ships and couldn't believe they used to advertise salt water as being healthy and great for the skin and body. We hit the sack after partaking of a sumptuous meal in the Promenade Cafe. I didn't know that a hamburger could cost $15, but there it was and the other menu items equally as pricey. The guide had already told us that the Sir Winston was fairly exclusive, requiring dressing up, which was out of the question with the clothes we brought. We also received a brochure about the ship with a diagram of the layout in case you should get dis-oriented, and there would be free time to explore the ship on Sunday morning.
Saturday came too soon, and the party headed for Catalina Island for the day on the Catalina Express, which made the 26 miles in about an hour and arrived there about 9 AM. Tour-wise the only things scheduled were a trip on a glass-bottom boat at 11and a bus tour of the city of Avalon and part of the island at 2 PM. I enjoyed both, never seen so many damned fish up close or so much damned kelp, either. The two-man crew was very helpful and caring, helping us old-timers on and off. The Captain was almost an old friend. He said his father had a tattoo like mine and served on the aircraft carrier ESSEX during the Korean War, so we were practically family, except I was never on a carrier, let alone the ESSEX. Anyway, as sea stories go, he was pretty good at it.
The bus tour, after a nice, slow lunch of a garden salad with chicken for me and shrimp salad for the better half, was even more interesting. Hell, I never had an inkling there had been cowboys on Catalina and there wasn't, as far as I had been told. But, by golly, there was the Zane Grey Hotel on the hillside. The Great Western Writer, Zane Grey, had been there to film The Vanishing American and had brought along fourteen buffaloes to use in the film. And the story goes after the filming was over, only seven were shipped back to the mainland. They couldn't find the others and pretty soon they had to do something to get rid of some of them. It seems that Catalina was just fine for over-producing buffaloes. Some of you already knew this, didn't ya? So, Mr.Grey liked it so much that he built this big house on the hillside which was later turned into a hotel. But the folks who stayed there had to be careful since there wasn't any room numbers (and still that way). The rooms are named after his book titles.
Out of town on the bus was a few tight curves and narrow roads and the Catalina Island Fox, which we heard plenty about since it was near extinction before the Conservationists took it under control and began producing more. Two Harbors on the other side of the isle is where all the action takes place, the Yacht Club being there. You have to be a member to get in there, though. Back to town, we went by Marilyn Monroe's house where she grew up, a small place stuck in between larger houses.
As far as books and bookstores, we didn't see anything but the library.
(TO BE CONTINUED, MAYBE.)
HAPPY LABOR DAY TO EVERYONE AND ENJOY THE LONG WEEKEND.