Friday, May 11, 2007

This morning, my heart goes out to Avalon.

Many of you may have seen a brief story on the news this morning: Fire on Catalina Island threatens city of Avalon. There is so much to this story that the average person, not from that region of California, would not not know. I can't seem to get this story off my mind.

I worked for Catalina Express, the boat company that serves as the primary transportation source to and from the island the mainland. What an outsider doesn't understand is how small Avalon is. It's a quaint town, very seperated from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. I worked with several locals who grew up on the island, and they would often describe their life as isolated & idealistic. In this town, everyone knows your name, your business. There are no chain restaurants, no chain anything. There are no flashy lights, no roads. In fact, it takes a decade to get a permit to drive a car on the island, and most people only own golf carts. You could walk from one end of the town to the next in minutes, even if you climbed the hills to the far ends. To beging to understand the impact of a major fire on this island, one close enough to threaten the only real town on the island is way beyond us.

One of my best friends is a boat captain for the Express. These 300 passenger vessels can only go so fast, and only carry so much. I am certain they are helping with the fire. I can't imagine how everything was coordinated. Can those vessels I booked thousands of seats for hold enough equipment to help with this fire? Are they helping? How fast can a fire boat from the LA fire department get over there? I'd guess not as fast as the Express boats? I am way too curious a person to not consume myself with these thoughts.

Any wild fire is frightening, more so when it threatens homes. But in California, when those huge wildfires rage, firefighters from all over come together and pool resources. Imagine you're on an island, and the added firefighters, the added equipment, the added help is an hour boat ride away. And your are trapped or forced to leave everything behind and evacuate to the mainland? Horrifying. The amount of coordination it would take for the Express to cancel it's regular routes, and load fire equipment and people, AND EVACUATING THE CITIZENS OF AVALON? My mind just numbs at the thought. My local news isn't telling this story, and the national news isn't giving me the details to piece this all together. I just can't imagine. It must be a terrible situation.

Not to mention the beauty and history of this island. The only images I have seen show huge flames on the hill just above the historic Casino Ballroom. Decades ago huge vessels would carry thousands of people to Casino Ballroom for dancing (there was dancing on the ship, too). The Casino was never a place for gambling, but rather it's shape warrants it's name. The building is beautiful. If it burned, the island just would not be the same. On clear days you can see the island, with it's fat white building nestled in the cove, all the way from my home town. On clear nights you can see the lights of the casino across San Pedro channel. One of my favorite views on the planet. Please let them kill this fire.

Oh Jesus, our local news is using this fire as a trivia question! They sound so ignorant! Makes me want to puke. Not the newscast nor the person who got the trivia answer correct have been to this island. Sad. Didn't they have anything else to ask a question about? Tacky.

I will try and find some of my pictures from my many journeys to the island, and share them in any way I can. I wish I could go back there now, and a drink a Buffalo Milk (THE BEST BEVERAGE ON THE PLANET: Vodka, Banana Liquor, Chocolate, and more... ) snorkel on the Decanso Beach, each a sandwich above the clear blue water crashing against the shore beneath me. Paradise. My favorite little paradise is burning. God Bless those people, and the wild habitat there, too.

EDITTED: Good Morning America did a great story on the island fire. You can read about it here.

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