Day 13

Route

KPAO (Palo Alto, CA) KSZP (Santa Paula, CA) KAVX (Catalina Island, CA)
300 nm, 2 hrs, 22 gallons

Weather & Terrain
The weather was cloudy in the morning but the clouds had burned off by noon. The terrain was mountainous, which was beautiful to watch roll by.

Why we chose this stop
Catalina Island was discussed by numerous articles out there as a great place for general aviation pilots to fly. Additionally, Anil knew about the island as his sister lives nearby and had long had an interest in visiting it. 

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Smooth/Not-so-smooth
The runway on Catalina added some adventure to our flying. There were a number of potholes and a hump midway down its length which deceivingly makes you think you are about to run out of runway. Luckily, thanks to pilot reports, we knew about these in advance so were able to plan our landing prepared for these added adventures.

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We no sooner landed than we met a couple of fellow RV pilots named Scott and Dawn who were at the "Airport in the Sky" awaiting the shuttle down from the mountain into town (which comes every two hours). We hit it off quickly and enjoyed conversation for the next hour while sitting outside on the airport's lovely patio surrounded by fabulous views, quickly passing the time waiting for our shuttle and forming a quick friendship.  

Eats and Sleeps

We stayed in a hotel in Avalon, which is the main town on the island. The hotel had a great California feel to it, with a cool breeze blowing through its walkways all day, and it was perched right next to the beach. 

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One of our best meals was shared at a place called the Bluewater Grill - Avalon with our new friends Scott and Dawn. We passed the evening sitting right on the water eating delicious freshly caught fish and enjoying the cool air. 

Highlights

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  • The island exceeded our expectations. We could have stayed for days (though I think we could say that about every place we've visited this trip!). There is a feel to it as if you've suddenly stepped onto a Caribbean town; the pace of life and vibe is relaxed and carefree. We enjoyed just walking around the town and taking the beauty in.
  • Our morning run along the beach.  The sound of the water lapping against the rocks in some places followed by views of the docked boats with the morning sky and ocean as their backdrop just created a sense of peace that we'd like to hold onto. 
  • Seeing the bison as we drove through the island's mountainous terrain! Yes, bison. The ride down from the Airport in the Sky to the town of Avalon takes you on about ten miles of dirt roads weaving through mountains. In these mountains thrive over a hundred bison, originally brought here in the early 1900s to support a movie set. They were then left on the island and, without any predators, multiplied.
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