• Veronica Cline Barton

Island Fun and Mystery Too, #InspirationResearch (IR)

26 Miles (Santa Catalina) Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance, romance. Water all around it ev’rywhere, tropical trees and the salty air, but for me the thing that’s a-waitin’ there’s romance. It seems so distant, twenty-six miles away, restin’ in the water serene. I’d work for anyone, even the Navy, who would float me to my island dream. Twenty-six miles, so near, yet far. I’d swim with just some water wings and my guitar. I can leave the wings but I’ll need the guitar for romance, romance, romance, romance…

Santa Catalina Island is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California, offering mainland visitors  a chance to come over and experience island life, without having to go on a five hour+ plane ride. It is the only Channel Island that is widely inhabited by the general public, with main town Avalon offering tourists a charming look at its quaint and colorful island cottages, seaside stores, food selections to meet any appetite, and for those inclined, harbor sidewalk bars that can put you into a Jimmy Buffet state of mind fairly quickly if you so choose.

Heading over to Catalina is a special trip for me this year. My sweet hubby has a big birthday this week and we have decided to take a trip to Santa Catalina Island to celebrate (and write, cannot forget the writing). Since I’m in a British state of mind with the writing of book 3, I’ve been paying special attention to the influx of tourists flooding to the seaside towns in the UK to try and beat the July heatwaves. I keep thinking of the British mysteries I’ve read that were set in beachy areas, and this Catalina trip has become my faux British beach-side fix. I’m especially excited because we’re staying in a new part of the island I haven’t been to before—so it’s exciting to be able to explore some new grounds and perhaps do a little pretending that I’m in a British beach area with mysteries unraveling all around me.

Land Ho!

The great thing about going to Catalina is that it really is only 26 miles or so offshore from the mainland (the distance varies a bit depending on your point of departure). Our trip was approximately two hours with loading and unloading. It’s pretty magical when you pull out of the harbor and the engines accelerate, taking us quickly away from the mainland. For a brief period of time you see no land as you head to the island (and for me, that definitely gets the disaster and evil deed ideas flowing). On the bright side, we were treated this trip to seeing lots of dolphins racing along side our boat, jumping in and out of the water—love seeing them.

The video clip above is the sight when we finally were making our way into the Avalon harbor, passing by a huge cruise ship that was stopped for a brief stay before heading down to Mexico. I was struck by the beauty of the island against the bright blue water. Luck was with us too, as soon as we made our way to dock, the sun broke through the marine layer that had clouded most of our trip. Island charm was in full force 🙂 .

Harbor in Town

Once we unpacked and got situated, we headed into Avalon for some lunch. The town was bustling with daytime tourists enjoying some beachfront swims in the harbor, and roaming the quaint streets of the town. Kayaks, paddle boats, and rubber dinghy boats were out in full force as folks enjoyed the beautiful summer water. I for one was especially excited because we were treated to a lovely breeze as we ate our lunch on an outside deck (and it was even a bit cool!). I did my people watching with a writer’s eye this time, imagining the conversations going on in the docked boats and passing hoards of tourists. I wonder how many dastardly deeds were being planned or in progress? I think I counted at least three…

The Casino and Harbor

After lunch we headed back to our new haunts, passing the iconic Casino building overlooking the Avalon harbor. The Casino today has a movie theater and an area with great murals to see. There are many artists here, painters, sculptors and beautiful tile  artisans. We plan on exploring as many of the shops and museums that house these great pieces, and maybe, if we’re lucky, even find a mermaid almost royal crown to add to our almost royal crown jewel collection (I can just hear Veronica killjoy now, but she’ll just have to wait her turn until Thursday’s #WritersDiary, anyway, Pippa approves).

I’m Feeling A Little Evil Under the Sun-ish…

This was our new island location this trip, the beautiful Hamilton Cove. The condos have an unobstructed view of the sea, and it was breath taking. The winding road to the area treats you to seeing beaches, zip lines, and deer—-lots of deer who have no qualms of coming up to you as you drive by in your golf cart (just about the only motorized form of transportation, automobiles and trucks are limited on the island).

I have to say as soon as I saw this view, I instantly thought of one of my favorite Dame Agatha mysteries, Evil Under the Sun. I understand that I’m not on Burgh Island, where Mrs. Christie wrote the original story, but this will do nicely. I was mesmerized and a little transplanted into the book’s setting, particularly the cove area and rocky beach. I was sure I would see Hercule Poirot himself, sitting on one of the decks, sipping a super sweet mint liquor, observing all the people swimming in the cove…..waiting and watching.

My Own Pixie Cove….

Lo and behold, I did find my own faux version of Pixie Cove (no dead bodies under red hats, thank goodness). I even made my way down the sea rock beach into the very cool waters of the Pacific. It’s a bit cold swimming here, but compared to snorkeling in Iceland in January, it was actually a bit balmy :). I stood in the cold water for some time, getting pushed around by the waves and the shifting rocks. A million thoughts raced in my mind, and just for a moment, I was imagining I was standing in a scene of a favorite book. That folks, is bliss.

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Happy Birthday sweet Hubby, xoxo.

P.S.S. 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) Songwriters: BRUCE G BELLAND,GLEN LARSON, © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, For non-commercial use only. Data From: LyricFind. Here’s a link if you would like to listen to this tune. Gemma would approve 🙂  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dPaeUGrmdA

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