Thursday, April 15, 2010

CATALINA GETAWAY – 358 SUMNER We found this place through Catalina Vacation Rentals
My wife and I and our five children really enjoyed this place, which is warm and charming and just right for our family. The folks at Catalina Vacation rentals took my wife and my four youngest kids, who arrived ahead of me on the Catalina Express out of Newport, up to the place a couple of hours before check-in time to get settled in as soon as they arrived. This was much appreciated. I was driving our little boat across the channel and made contact with my family on the cell phone. They were quite stoked with how the place was set up and the fact that they were driven up there to occupy it right off the bat
We had a little trouble figuring out the Big TV and were not able to get cable reception on that screen (the little TV in the master had cable we accessed), but we brought plenty of DVD's for the kids to watch. The kitchen is very nice, although we ate at restaurants for virtually every meal. There was plenty of sleeping comfort with three bedrooms and a fold out couch. The living room area had plenty of seating to watch movies on the cool flat screen and I had to mush the kids away from it to hit the town a few times.
The location is not especially quiet, as it is on a corner below where country club drive spills out, so there is a good bit of street noise.
Having two bathrooms is very nice, as are the patio features on both the front and side of this home. I enjoyed sitting out there and watching the world go by. It was a very positive experience for me and our teenaged kids, who are used to sleeping like rabbits aboard our trailer boat in Avalon. It was the first time at the island in many years for my wife and the first time ever for our twin five-year old boys.
The master bedroom has a soft and rattle- prone bed which may prove to be a future deal-breaker for my wife, but that was the only negative aspect of what was a very fun time.
RESTAURANTS –
We mostly ate out while we were there.
Breakfast is available at many locations.
The first day (Tuesday) my wife and kids immediately headed over to Sally’s Waffles, where they scarfed down waffles. We frequently hit Sally’s when we camp on the boat. My wife went to school in Long beach with Sally’s daughter Lori, who owns the shop right around the corner from Sally’s.
We had dinner at Antonio’s, which is my kids favorite spot. The stuff on the wall is great to look at, you get to throw peanut shells on the floor and the atmosphere is warm and relaxing. Our favorite thing on the menu is Mama’s Day Old Spaghetti, which is hard to pass up in favor of the many other delicious items offered. The patio dining are has great views of the harbor.
Despite being stuffed, we still managed to go next door to top off the tanks with waffle cones from Big Olaf’s ice cream, which is a little slice of heaven.
Day two breakfast was at Original Joes, which shares a kitchen with Sally’s and is part of the same building.. The menu is a bit more varied and you can get pancakes. The service is quick and everyone is friendly, which is generally true of virtually every place at Avalon.
After breakfast, all seven of us headed west in flat calm weather on our little boat, crossing through thousands of dolphins moving to the east. We drove up to a
Arrow point and checked out many of the beautiful coves on the way, including the Isthmus, where there is one of our favorite dining spots. We were still too stuffed to go in a pig out. The Isthmus is a great place to camp on your boat and a completely different experience from the much higher level of activity and commerce that Avalon has to offer.
We trolled up a few bonito for the kids to catch and release and made it back to Avalon while it was still warm and sunny.
Dinner on day two was at El Galleon, which is a bit more upscale and very popular. The calamari was better than at Antonio’s. We all love the scallop chowder and several of us ordered it. It was not as good on this particular occasion as we remembered it from the past. We had the ribs, fettuccini, fish, and burgers. It was all good. It is also a fun place to hang out for after dinner drinks and adult fun, but we were on a different mission with five kids. The service was great.
Day three - My son and I caught an early breakfast at Original Jacks (which is part of the same program as Jacks in Bishop off 395 – which is a must stop for our family on trips to Mammoth). Avalon’s Jacks is just as good. It is bright, well lit and very clean. The menu is the most extensive breakfast menu at Avalon, so there is something for everyone. There is plenty of seating. It is a block away from the water, so there is a little less foot traffic dining, but it is an outstanding place to fill up on a humongous breakfast before heading out for a day of fishing, which is what we were doing.
After going around the entire island fishing some of our favorite spots in perfect weather, my oldest son and I rowed in from our mooring to join the rest of the family for a repeat dinner at Antonio’s. Once again, we had excellent service, food and a couple of beers to marinate away the end of a gorgeous day at the island. The fishing was not very productive, but we caught a few in weather that was as good as it gets.
Our last day brought breakfast for all seven of us at Original Jacks again. This became the top vote getter for breakfast as far as my family was concerned. That is due in part, because of their connection with the place in Bishop and also because it is just a great place to start the day and there is absolutely something for everybody on this menu.
One of the five year-olds, who had managed to give himself the runs by eating sour grass from somebody’s planter, so my oldest son and I took him with us early to Dana point on our boat on Friday morning. The ride was rough in increasing gray skies and a cross swell, but we made the run in 90 minutes with a lot of wheel and throttle action and The isinglass to shield us from the spray that otherwise would have slowed our return.
My wife and the rest of the kids had lunch at Mi Casita, and gave it great reviews. They porked down some ice cream cones at Lloyds candy shop before heading back home on the Catalina Express. We had the three best days of weather while we were at the island, as things grayed up and closed off by Friday afternoon.
The island was as green as it ever gets. Although the channel can get a little grumpy and the fish are not always ready to bite this time of year, if you can catch a good window of weather spring break is a fabulous time to hit the island, which seems like a much more distant getaway while your are there. I can’t wait to get back.

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