Santa Catalina Extravaganza Plus a Flower Mart Adventure May 21-23, 2013

30 May

 Just a year ago, I was on the beautiful, yet sometimes somber, Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai that for more than 100 years was the home of thousands of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy).  It was a very thought provoking 5 days that I

On board the Catalina Express

On board the Catalina Express

spent helping the Sierra Club do a service project.  I didn’t think that I’d be on another island this soon, much less an island so close to home.  After all, Santa Catalina is only 26 miles across the sea, just a-waitin for me!  But here I was enjoying all of Catalina’s attractions with two lively, pun filled (plus groans), happy-go-lucky buddies, Connie and Dick

We left Long Beach on the Catalina Express catamaran, which seemed to go very slowly, but it only took a bit over an hour to arrive at Avalon.  I was excited and thought the trip was worthwhile just to see the dolphins frolicking near the boat.  Some just bounded through the water but others put on a real show, leaping high out of the water and doing a bit of a spin.  I was ecstatic to see this display!

Beach and Casino from Steve's Steakhouse

Beach and Casino from Steve’s Steakhouse

We parked our bags at the Pavilion Hotel because our rooms weren’t ready yet and sauntered over to Steve’s Steakhouse for lunch.  It’s a neat place because not only does it have good food, it is on the second floor and provides a wonderful view of the bay and casino.  I had my first buffalo burger ever there and enjoyed every bite of it.  I doubt if it was a Catalina buffalo as just about every restaurant there offers those burgers and that would decimate the small herd of 250.

After lunch we were able to get into our rooms and then had a brief staff meeting to decide that we would go on a tour of the famous Catalina Casino.  What a delight that was.  I had walked around the building but never gone inside.  So this was a real treat.   By the way, there was/is no gambling in the Casino.  It was built strictly for social amusement such as dancing and viewing first rate movies.

The Casino

The Casino

The Casino Ballroom that could hold thousands of people

The Casino Ballroom that could hold thousands of people

The Casino of today was built in about six months in 1928-29 for about $2 million by chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr.  It was built in Art Deco and Mediterranean

The theater had/has terrific acoustics

The theater had/has terrific acoustics

Revival styles and the first to be designed specifically for films with sound.   With a height equal to a 12-story building, it was built to serve as a theater on the main floor and a ballroom and promenade on the upper level.  About 3,000 dancers can be accommodated at one time!  An amazing fact is that several thousand people can be dancing to a live orchestra in the ballroom while movie patrons can watch undisturbed a film downstairs.  It is that well constructed and insulated.  We were told the Casino was built by 500 men working 24/7 and that the building’s concrete was done in one pour.  That seems far-fetched but it might be true.  A testament to the fine construction and materials used is that many of the accoutrements of the Casino have not been replaced such as the walnut wood and ceiling material in the theater lobby.   Wrigley installed ramps in the building to allow large numbers of people move safely and quickly to their destinations, an idea gleaned from Wrigley Stadium in Chicago.   You can tell that I was impressed with the building.

Upon finishing our tour, we decided to visit the Catalina Museum since it is housed in the Casino’s basement.  We saw

Dr. Glidden's charnel house (aka museum)

Dr. Glidden’s charnel house (aka museum)

pictures of celebrities who have visited the island throughout the years, exhibits of tragedies (such as Natalie Wood’s unexplained drowning in Two Harbors) and exploitation.  A Dr. Glidden (who may or may not have been a real doctor) fancied himself as an archeologist and excavated many, many Native American artifacts on the island.  Glidden displayed his “treasures” in a garish, irreverent fashion. He sought respectability as an archeologist but, in reality, was a shameless promoter who tried to make a lot of money.

Posing with the buff (not in the buff)

Posing with the buff (not in the buff)

Walking along the waterfront in Avalon doesn’t take a long time since it is only about 5 short blocks long.  Not far from the Casino, we espied a tame buffalo on the main street

right by Big Olaf’s Ice Cream Shop and posed for pictures.  He was very amenable to our wishes and didn’t even ask for a tip.  Probably the cheapest service on the entire island.

A daily offering at our hotel was afternoon wine and cheese tasting and, of course, we couldn’t miss that.  Oh my!  That wine was very tasty!  Originally, we were sitting near the

Ben, the considerate gull

Ben, the considerate gull

main street ,which is right on the beach and it became cool with the afternoon breezes.  So we decided to move back into the hotel courtyard where lounges were strategically located amidst beautiful flowers and other flora. There, we encountered Ben, a gentleman sea gull who loved the fine cheese we were tasting.  Obviously he had done this trick before, but it was new to us.  He hopped up on the lounge and watched us.  Connie fed him a bit of cheese and soon he was eating out of her hand.  Ironically,  both Dick and I were taking pictures and we snapped the same shot from opposite angles.   You notice I said Ben was a gentleman gull.  He didn’t peck Connie’s hand and he hopped off the lounge when he had to poop.  I thought that was very considerate as sea gulls can be very messy.

Dick's gullwings

Dick’s gullwings

Looking into the courtyard at the Pavilion Hotel

Looking into the courtyard at the Pavilion Hotel

This courtyard, its privacy and serenity along with the colorful flowers, reminded me quite a bit of being in Hawaii.  In fact, I felt the entire experience was very relaxing just as I

Entrance to the Pavilion Hotel

Entrance to the Pavilion Hotel

have experienced in all the Hawaiian Islands.  Perhaps being on an island has something to do with it.  The pictures above display the simplicity, yet elegance of the Pavilion Hotel.

Do you think the paparazzi will recognize me?

Do you think the paparazzi will recognize me?

That evening, we ate at the Lobster Trap that a nice lady told us was excellent.  I think she had a dish other than what I had.  It was ok, but certainly not excellent.  I think Connie had the same experience.  But we made up for that by visiting Big Olaf’s and had some excellent Dryer’s ice cream.  The Pavilion Hotel provided a very nice continental breakfast the next morning.  Lots of good fruit, some pastries and coffee worked out very well.

At our staff meeting that morning to decide upon the day’s itinerary, we elected to begin with hike up to Mt. Ada (named after Wrigley’s wife).  Actually it’s not far and we were able to get some great views of Avalon and its bay.  It

The female Atlas

The female Atlas

was fun to walk through the neighborhood away from the beach and see where the “real” people live.  Eventually, we accessed a relatively narrow road that kept going and going up in elevation.  We walked by a small canyon with little foliage and many markers that turned out to be a small pet cemetery.  It was obvious that Catalina folks loved their pets.  As we rose in elevation, the value of the houses did likewise.  It made sense as we were on the road to the Wrigley Mansion that is now an expensive inn.  There was a house overlooking the bay that was for sale with a view to die for.  We speculated on living there and Connie decided she would like it for her summer house.  We did get to the best vista point and took many pictures testifying to the fact that we were there.  Connie even got one proving to her personal trainer that she did work out on her trip to the coast.

Our patriotic Aloha from the Catalina vista point!

Our patriotic Aloha from Catalina!

We hiked back down the hill and then headed up another canyon toward more points of interest…the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, the golf course, the ball park, the hospital and Bird Park.

Connie had to stop and kiss a frog, but alas, there was no prince after the kiss.

Looking for a prince!

Looking for a prince!

Alas!  No prince!

I was robbed!

The Memorial was waaaay at the end of the canyon and we never made it due to heat, fatigue and a time factor since we were scheduled to take an interior island tour that afternoon.  But we did visit the hospital where Dick was once

Looking for Cart Exit 44A

Looking for Cart Exit 44A

Dick no longer has to stand by

Dick no longer has to stand by

ensconced for possible heart problems.  We also saw a small ballpark but not the same one that the Chicago Cubs trained at during the 20s.  We walked by Bird Park, which once housed an aviary built from the steel framework of the original casino.  There are no birds in it now, so it’s just a bird park in name only.  One thing that struck me funny on our hike was  the Wrigley Field  #44A exit sign.  Most of the locals (and all tourists) drive golf carts (except for buses and trucks that need to go to the airport or remote locales of the island).  So there are no freeways or even wide roads, for that matter.

That afternoon, we boarded a 1953 bus that reminded Connie and me of Clyde, the bus that took Chapman students to contests or tours.  I doubted the bus could make some of the steep roads, but it did just fine.  Freddie was our very knowledgeable driver on the inland tour.  He fancied himself quite a jokester (We always knew when Freddie told a joke because he laughed like crazy at his own jokes) and, indeed, he had many puns. That fit right in with our punny duo.  (I’m primarily the foil which all punsters need). Freddie did give us a very thorough history and good running commentary of what we were seeing although about half of the tourists didn’t speak English.  I felt sorry for them, but they chose to take the tour, probably having no idea of what they were going to see or hear.

This was a great tour as far as I was concerned as we got to see two Catalina buffalo and one Catalina Island fox.  Freddie said his tours hadn’t seen these critters for a few days, so we were lucky to have the chance to view them.  The little fox is only as big as a large cat and is very skitterish.  So we only caught a short glimpse of him.

The elusive Catalina buffalo

The elusive Catalina buffalo

Our tour took us to the “Airport in the Sky” aka Catalina Island Airport, a non-traffic controlled facility (elevation 1602’,

Catalina Airport in the Sky

Catalina Airport in the Sky

runway length 3000’).  It sports a little restaurant, museum, hangars and places to park planes.  Here you can see the bus we were in.  Such a kick!

Our trip back to Avalon was uneventful as we saw no extraordinary critters or sights.  We did stop by the Catalina Zip Line place where the kids who run the concession were practicing on the lines.  It looked like fun, but I don’t think that I would like to try it.

We hit the wine and cheese tasting one more time before bidding farewell to Avalon.  It was a lovely tasting but there was no Ben to help us with our cheese.  I thought he was waiting for us at the dock to wish us “Bon Voyage.”

A classic sipping pose

Sipping some classic wine

Ben again

Ben again

I was right!  There he was atop the fish food machine, giving us the once over (and quietly exhorting us to give him some bites of our sandwiches)

The return voyage was great for me as we got to see some more dolphins giving us a short escort back to port.  Dick got some beautiful photos of the Port of Long Beach and I’ll share one of the Queen Mary.  I love his photos!

The Queen Mary in Long Beach

The Queen Mary in Long Beach

The next morning marked Connie’s transition from a relaxed Catalina cavorter to a “we’ll never be ready!” florist for her granddaughter’s wedding the following Sunday.  Off we went to the flower district in downtown Los Angeles.  The visit, in and of itself, was a new experience for me.   I don’t think I’d ever been in that part of LA before, much less seen any of those flower shops. Connie had ordered her flowers ahead of time and that part of her purchase took hardly any time.  They were ready for her!

Checking the flowers twice at Mellanos

Checking the flowers twice at Mellanos

After consulting with Ricky, her personal Mellanos’ advisor, she decided she needed more flowers and we went next door.  It reminded me so much of the Rose Parade and all the flowers they use there.  It was an amazing place filled with flower stalls, buckets, flowers of all kinds, colors, scents, and people scurrying to beat the deadline of the place closing at noon.  (They open at something like 2 or 3 AM!)

The following is Dick’s journalistic recounting of our experience at the Mart.  It’s short but to the point and that’s a journalist (especially a photo-journalist) for you.

The highly regarded and nationally-recognized floral design company of Colorado Springs, Connie’s Creations, sent their founder and Chief Executive Officer, Constance Raub, to California last week to oversee floral arrangements for the major wedding ceremony of Meredith Vivian and Brian Turner, Saturday, May 25, 2013 in San Pedro, CA.

In advance of the wedding, Ms. Raub performed professional expertise and keen acumen during a visit to the famed downtown Los Angeles Flower District, on Thursday, May 23rd.  From an array of billions and billions of botanic blossoms, blooms, buds, greens and various flora-miscellany spilling over the floors of the sprawling square-block LA Flower Market, Ms. Raub decisively selected the precise items in her floral vision that would beautify the wedding two days later.  She was accompanied by her West Coast Operations Director, Cora Johnson.

These photos convey Ms. Raub’s professionalism during her floral safari through the vast LA Flower District, the atmosphere of which, for an ordinary florist, would be a difficult, intimidating and confusing experience.  But an ordinary florist, Ms. Raub is not.  Striding assuredly through the District, from vendor to vendor, across the warehouse landscape of the LA Flower Market, she smoothly and efficiently gathered the ideal floral items to pay tribute to the bride & groom, to beautify the wedding party and to decorate the ceremony venue–all of which she would later assemble in her makeshift floral design studio within an otherwise ordinary room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in San Pedro, CA.

A bouquet of accolades and kudos to Connie for her floral vision and expertise under unusual conditions and deadline pressure!

Checking the invoice

Checking the invoice

Selecting more flowers

Selecting more flowers

Almost done with selction

Almost done with selction

Where's Connie?

Where’s Connie?

Where was Connie?  I’m not sure. When we left her at the Doubletree Hotel, she was amidst hundreds of blossoms in the makeshift floral repository(aka the shower).  I know those flowers were stripped and prepped for manipulation into gorgeous creations  and Connie was pretty tired that evening.  I assume the wedding went off without a hitch…oh wait, they were getting hitched.  So I guess there was a hitch..  Anyway I haven’t heard anything to the contrary.  Connie created a wonderland for the bride and groom and I know the wedding was wonderful and will be remembered by all.

BC getting a little TLC

BC getting a little TLC

Dick and I zoomed back to Cerritos to see BC and take care of her needs before we drove over to Brea (some 16 miles) for Dick to get a Schlotzky’s fix.  He adores those

Dick showing off his Schlotzsky's sanwich

Dick showing off his Schlotzsky’s sandwich

This is a great cone!

This is a great cone!

sandwiches and, since there are none in Sacramento, he indulges whenever he is within 50 miles of one.  It was a tasty meal and we both enjoyed Schlotzsky’s best that they have to offer.  I must say that I really enjoyed the ice cream afterward as much as the sandwich.  Love that soft ice cream…especially with the chocolate sprinkles!

Again, this account has lengthened itself into an epistle, but there is just so much to say!  I used to not have much to say, but I when I’m having a good time, I want to share it with everyone!  So here it is.

I want to thank Dick and Connie for a wonderful, remarkable journey into two completely different realms.  It was great being with them and I hope they had as much fun as I did.  I also want to thank Dick for the use of his pictures because his always tell a great story.  Thank you RD!!!

One Response to “Santa Catalina Extravaganza Plus a Flower Mart Adventure May 21-23, 2013”

  1. Connie Raub May 30, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    Great job, as always, Big C! It was fun to relive our adventures via The Buzzard! I had forgotten about the frog! What a fun time we had. Thank you again so much for going to the flower mart with me. It really helped bringing all the flowers in the hotel also. Our waiter, Aurtro, was my waiter the whole time. He asked for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: