Rainy Day

The Life and Times of a Weimaraner

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A test Drive

After working on getting insurance on a vehicle that is virtually unknown and obtaining a special pass that allows us into the interior of the island we were ready to have a test run of the Ol’ Buffalo Chaser to see if indeed it would make it to Middle Ranch and back so I could get to my Rosie as often as possible. We piled Rainy in the car where she promptly began pacing and whining as she understood she was on another great adventure as she liked to do daily in Moab.

Ye Ol’ Buffalo Chaser
Rainy on her first Catalina Wilderness Hike

Middle Ranch is where I learned to ride as a child. Its in a valley deep in the interior of the island but getting there is a straight up journey on the very edge of a mountain. Its only 10 miles away but no matter what vehicle you are driving it usually takes an hour to get there because its such a rugged journey. On the way Ron got to see a buffalo….a very very common sight in the interior, especially as you get closer to Middle Ranch. In fact during mating season the bulls often duke it out right in the middle of the ranch often knocking down fences as they do. Another common sight is the abundant yet very small mule deer and the grey fox who are about the size of domestic cats. There are no predators for these creatures so spotting them is a sure thing. You can see some of my incredible shots in a couple of days in my photography blog. We finally made it with 62% of our power left….plenty to make it home….especially since its all downhill.

The Grey Fox

Eagles Nest Lodge….once an old stagecoach stop

A Catalina Buffalo Bull

I got to show off my baby to Ron and Rainy….first time they had seen her. I also inquired about a power source at the barn in case I run low in the future and that was no problem. As I messed around with Rosie, brushing her and giving her carrots, Ron and Rainy went on a little walk about at the lake behind the Ranch. When they returned Rainy was dripping in black pond mud and stunk to high hell. I rinsed her off and we got in the car as I readied myself for the ride home. But NO….Ron had other ideas. He felt since we still had 62% power why not explore a little so off we went. Now mind you I was a bit skeptical but he pushed on. Soon we saw my beloved Ben Weston Beach on the other side of the island. The only way to get to it is by horse back or hiking. I use to ride there as a child and let the horses swim and we would run on the beach. Its very secluded and rarely has people there aside from the occasional camper. On the other side of the mountain is the cove that ultimately took Natalie Woods life. A majestic vista with rocky crags and smashing surf. If you look out you see the occasional sailboat and of course wildlife such as sea lions, dolphins, whales and sharks. Where we stood was high above it all where there is an old WWII bunker that is a favorite make out spot etc…

Absolutely disgusting

My beautiful girl

What a sweetie
Rosie next to her BFF Rapiletto….quite the size difference….He’s the same size as my Elliot was. He panicks when he cannot see her….she’s the tough one.
After taking many pictures we got in the van and headed home. Interestingly enough we began to see the power just plummet on the van. My original fear was quickly being realized. We were not going to make it and there is absolutely no cell service in the interior. Somehow Ron rolled us to a perfect location that was high enough to get a weak signal and we called Mike King for help. He is the one selling us the car. He also sold us the house and we are neighbors. He lives in the old church that was built in 1888 and we live in the rectory so we share a gate to the property. He told us he would be right there. Being a long time resident he has a “real” vehicle so he made the trip in a short amount of time. Meanwhile I noticed we had run out of power right in front of a buffalo. He stayed where he was and Rainy had no interest in introducing herself. He then chose that moment to lay down and do some “man maintenance” as if he was showing off. Eventually Mike showed up and he gave Ron a tow to the top of the hill. He then made me ride with him and Ron and Rainy were on their own. Apparently when there is no power the brakes become less reliable but he assured me if nothing else Ron had the emergency brake. Thankfully my loved ones arrived alive and we all had a good laugh as I tried to reassure Mike this was not going to be a regular event for him as I gave Ron the raised eyebrow.
Ben Weston Beach

Cove where Natalie Woods died

The infamous Buffalo Poo that resulted in Rainy’s bath

The clear water allows you to see one of many kelp beds

We ended the day with Rainy getting the dreaded bath and she now shimmer shines. All in all it was a great day that told me I could drive the Buffalo Chaser back and forth to Middle Ranch when I go ride Rosie.


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AFISHinados Flying Fish Tour

Ron and Ann, my mother

My husband is the greatest. He is always looking for fun events that can include my mother. Living with a person who is limited to a wheelchair teaches you how hard it is to get around. The world is still very limited in where they can go. But Ron sees such things as challenges so he got the idea that my mother might enjoy getting on a boat and seeing the flying fish that she grew up with when she was a child. He went down to Afishinados and talked to Karen and John about getting my mother on their amazing yacht for a night tour to see the flying fish.

The Catallac

Can hold up to 49 people
Captain John who is also a chaplain and does weddings on his boat as well

The Flying Fish are revered here on the island and as many times as I have been here I have never seen a flying fish. I learned why. They come here to the island to spawn among the abundant kelp fields here in our waters. They only come out at night and if you shine a flashlight at the water they are attracted to the light and will jump up and literally fly low over the ocean for varying lengths of time. They are a favorite food of the fun loving sea lions so they have adapted an amazing escape strategy. Their side fins have evolved into these incredible large fins that literally catch the wind like a sail on a boat. They use their powerful tails to gain speed and momentum to propel them out of the water and then their incredible fins catch the wind and it carries them off to safety in a different location away from incoming sea lions. Sometimes its just a short hop but other times they will catch a great wind and they will fly over their water for great distances.

We are pretty excited to get this show on the road

Ron taking a shot from the upper deck
a place to sit out of the wind and of course wine and beer

John and Karen are long time residences of Catalina and they were only all too willing to help a fellow islander. So we met the “Catallac” at 8 o’clock and there were plenty of people that just grabbed a hold of my mothers chair and got her on the boat. We got a great place on the back of the boat and off we went. As we pulled away I marveled at how beautiful the twinkling lights of Avalon looked and Karen reminded me of my good fortune when she said “We are so lucky to live here!!” This came from a woman that was born and raised here and has lived here her whole life. The Island is absolutely magical and enthralls long time residents and tourists alike. I hope I never take her for granted.

You never get sick of looking at it
The harbor that is absolutely breath taking lit up

Our beloved casino

Too beautiful to look away even for a minute

A sunset and the low level clouds,….California eddy….that contribute to our moderate temperatures
As we approached the first kelp field John shined the boat lights onto the area most likely to have them and then all of a sudden I saw one. I could not believe the brilliance of these little blue fish. Before long they were everywhere. Some kelp fields had many and some just a few. Others had babies and still others had giant ones. I was riveted to the water and got pretty good in a short amount of time at tracking their flights with my flashlight. Then we turned around at Long Point (the widest part of the island) and turned off all lights as we moved to deeper waters. 
Tracking fish with my flashlight

I was getting into it

Brilliant blue even in the night

Little jewels of the sea

There is nothing like being on the water at night. Its so serene and mysterious. We had a small sliver of a moon that shone brightly and upon occasion we’d see lights from a boat moored off shore or from the lights on shore at various camps and other secluded areas. Finally John turned on his lights and told us to do the same and not only were there tons of Flying Fish but now we had the sea lions involved here too. The sea lions have learned to use the lights of our boat to track the fish and for a short time it was a feeding frenzy as sea lions flew out of the  water with a mouth full of fish. It was incredible! It was as if I was in the middle of a filming for Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel.

A shot to show their incredible fins that allow them to take flight

Just missed it….a sea lion flying out of the water with a mouthful of fish

After a short time john suggested we turn off our lights to stop aiding the sea lions in their feeding frenzy. I was impressed that he didn’t want to abuse his knowledge of the behavior patterns of both prey and aggressor but it was nice knowing the sea lions had a good meal for the night.

Ron tried his best to capture such moments on his camera but trying to capture something at night that happens in a blink of an eye is near impossible however he did get some impressive shots non the less that I am pleased to share with you.

Even more beautiful coming home

A Perfect Night

If any of you come to visit before October when the fish move on until next year I will definitely be taking you on this incredible boat experience. I know I will never take it for granted. I especially want to thank Karen and John for one of the best nights of my life and for working with my mother. You will get a lot of business from me.

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A Town of Golf Carts

Catalina Island is 22 miles long and 8 miles wide but the town of Avalon is approximately one square mile. There is a full time population of 4000 mostly living in the one square mile. The rest of the island is for conservation only. The wild life and plant life are very unique and are guarded very carefully. Meanwhile you have a town of residents driving mostly golf carts. To own a full size vehicle means you go on a waiting list that is approximately a 20 year wait. My challenge was to find an approved vehicle that could make it into the interior where my horse is located that is quite rugged. Hence the mini mini van or as Ron calls it The Buffalo Chaser……they don’t have much to worry about considering the vehicle tops out at 25 mph.

The Miles mini and the Yamaha tow cart

The Buffalo Chaser

But the reason for my post….the golf cart….the chosen vehicle used by most islanders. I have more or less grown up on Catalina so the golf carts were an overlooked phenomena until the fourth of July parade…..a parade of golf carts. It was freaking adorable.

The fabulous Trojan cheerleaders

USC Trojans Band….an island full of Trojan fans
pretty sporty

My other option for a vehicle….but they only come in manual transmissions….not for me

mini coups and smart cars are accepted vehicles

Any golf cart looks good with red, white and blue

The Avalon Princess golf chariot

A golf cart hot rod

We are all ready for the fourth of July festivities….notice Rainy’s bling

Not a fan of the fireworks

Island fireworks

I am now more aware of these cute little vehicles and I have also noticed the residents here are very creative with their golf carts to make them stand out. I even saw one the other day that had a hood ornament that you would normally only see on a Rolls Royce. So here are some photos Ron and I have taken of these creative little vehicles. We also have noted there are three “tow golf carts” that run to the aid of fallen golf carts.

Some creative golf carts

A tow golf cart

Now that worries me

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Catalina’s First Days

I know its been awhile. I finally have my computer back and if I push boxes out of the way I can even get to it now. I am sitting here drinking a much deserved margarita and I am wondering where do I begin. Its been a little over three weeks and yet it seems like its been three months. I know technically I am in paradise but it sure hasn’t felt like it. I think it will soon but we certainly had a rocky start.

Ron packing up the last of our stuff just hours before leaving….Rainy sporting a neon pink bandage

Alaska, Jessie and Me trying not to cry

Me and my girls, Eileen and Jessie

This picture still makes me cry

After some very painful goodbyes we got on the road……me driving the van with my mother and Rainy and Ron in the penske truck full of the remainder of our belongings. It took us 48 hours to get to the island after driving all night to Wilmington, CA. where we unloaded the truck after driving all night and loading up the container that would be placed on the barge. We didn’t have time to drop off the truck in order for us to catch the last boat going to Catalina that night. Needless to say we were exhausted. I had a room set up[ for mom and me but Ron was planning on taking Rainy to the house and camping out there. However we could not get to the house because it was locked up tight and we didn’t have the keys. Thankfully my mothers friend Sandy (whom she went to high school with) had a rental that was available for a couple of nights. That was all we needed because as we informed the contractors a month ago we were arriving on the date we did in fact arrive. They were told the house was to be finished and if they didn’t think they could get it done we would get them additional help to get it done because as we had someone moving into our house the end of June we had no choice.

Absolutely exhausted….the boat to get to Catalina

Well they apparently didn’t take us seriously. We also informed them IF for some insane reason they would not be done they would be responsible for our hotel bill and meals (can you tell we were a little OVER IT???). Well we found a hotel (thanks to my moms friend Sandy again) that was handicap friendly but they would not take dogs. I innocently asked if that applied to service dogs as well and Raul (the hotel manger) said “Of course I take service dogs…..bring her in.” I didn’t technically lie….I never said Rainy was a service dog….I cannot help it if people make assumptions. I didn’t think this would be a big problem because I just knew in a matter of a few days we could move in.

I felt like this poor seagull with a broken wing….


Two weeks later I was ready to HURT SOMEBODY. Here’s the ironic part. The last thing we stipulated in that letter to our dear contractors was if nothing else make sure my mothers bathroom was finished first and then the kitchen. They we just finishing the kitchen and then they had to do my mothers bathroom which involved painting and tiling (including the floors) installing a sink and a toilet and handicap bars……hence the two weeks. I couldn’t even look at my contractors face the last week because I feared I would spit on him.
Now I don’t like bad mouthing anyone and do not like talking behind anyone’s back but my advice to everyone is if you want to remodel a home on Catalina Island DO NOT use Straight Up Builders (OOPS!!).

Mom going down the hill from the hotel…the same hill that tries to kill me when I am going up….I almost sat on moms lap to get a ride

Okay so enough of my sarcasm. We FINALLY got in last week. They delivered our stuff. Yes, I knew our house was small but you can never really understand the reality of the situation until three houses worth of stuff is delivered and you have to somehow get it into a very small house (as 90% of most island homes are)….900 sq. ft.


where the hell am I going to put it all??

Front unfinished deck and more stuff

the upper backyard and STUFF

We had given away and sold literally truckloads back in Moab but I can honestly tell you it just wasn’t enough. SO….we frantically tore through boxes trying to part with our last precious belongings as we stored as much as we could under the house. We were racing the clock because everything was outside and Hurricane Fabio was threatening to make our lives very wet. I am happy to tell you we beat Fabio, made some money and made a lot of islanders very happy.

Incentive to lose weight

and two more…..crap!!

just a short walk from my house and I have a gorgeous view

So now we just have the fun of actually really truly going through the rest of the boxes. I am feeling more and more like my grandmother everyday….its just stuff. If it doesn’t fit comfortably in this home it goes. I am so over carting books and junk all over the country. But don’t get me wrong I am saving every last one I can.
Did Straight Up Builders pay for our hotel and meals you ask? Well no they didn’t….but this is not over….have no worries….a new drama unfolds everyday of which I will keep you informed of every last detail.

Trying to keep a smile on my face

So we live in Paradise you say….yes we do and I am starting to get that through my head as I now take time to walk the island and explore. Also Rainy met the new vet here and he is fantastic. We finally got Rainy’s staples removed and I am pleased to say she healed beautifully.

Rainy and her 23 staples

Still a happy dog as always

The newest addition of our family arrived last Tuesday and she is PRECIOUS> Rose arrived with her new friend Rapi on the barge at 9:00 last Tuesday. I had Rapi’s mom Haley (the girl who literally drives the yellow submarine) pick me up and we drove the truck onto the barge, hitched the trailer and drove inland to Middle Ranch where I spent the night with Haley, Rose and Rapi. I haven’t woken up in Middle Ranch since I was a little girl. It was heaven.

Me and Haley Strickler….the girl that drives the Yellow Submarine

The Barge approaching

Note the little horse trailer tucked between the containers

Trying to calm the horses….their sedation had definitely worn off by the time they got there….the whole trailer was jerking as the horses kicked up a ruckus

Me seeing Rosie for the first time

She is beautiful

I am too jazzed

The only thing left to do is to get a vehicle that will get me to the interior to see my Rose but we have found something that we think may work. A mini, mini van. Its a mini van the size of a golf cart that is completely electric. Its adorable. We will test drive it for a month but it should get me there and back. It has 250 minutes on a charge. Its only ten miles to Middle Ranch BUT….the vehicle tops out at 25 mph. A far cry from my Mustang…I know….but to drive the roads that get you into the interior any faster would be suicide anyway. In the meantime I have met a bunch of great people that are all part of the Saddle Club here so I have been able to get plenty of rides up there.

The mini mini van….note the golf cart tow truck behind it

So that is a brief synopsis of what has been three weeks of a lot of ups and downs. I truly think things will start to improve and in fact have already done so. Ron and I have taken some stolen moments to have fun and I have found a wonderful nurse named JoJo that comes and takes care of my mother for two hours four days a week. My mothers care is now incredible and I feel blessed to have her.
I will now make multiple posts a week as my saga continues. Thank you to all of you that have worried and stressed at my absence and thank you for all the love and concern that has been sent my way.

Love Lisa