More summer stuff: Believe it not, you can see the sunrise over the ocean in California.
How is this possible? Well, it isn’t if you’re standing at the corner of Topanga Canyon Blvd. and Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley. But it definitely is if you’re standing on the pier in Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, which is decidedly a part of California. Nothing tricky, really. Given a crystal clear morning when the infamous marine layer is gone, you can be standing there just as the sun emerges from the depths of the Pacific, even as though you were at Montauk Point at the eastern limits of New York State.
Back when I was approaching my 59th birthday, I decided see if that was actually the case at the very moment when I would begin to exhaust the fifth decade of my life and took the boat over to the island from Long Beach. I booked at the Metropole, which was — and is — a scant 100 yards from the beach (not that it’s going anywhere soon) and took a comfortable room with what they call “partial ocean view” — that means a small scrap of water can be seen around a couple of slightly interfering buildings.
Now here’s the thing about Catalina: If you decide to do a day in Avalon, you’re well advised to go with company. I didn’t, so boredom soon set in. Unless you’re a bona fide beach rat, you’ll be confined to burgers and booze, the former at fly-infested Nick’s, and the latter best taken at admittedly one the best bars in the state — I’m talking about the view here. I did both (like I said, the options are limited), and when the day was done, I retired to my room.
Pretty swell, to be honest. While the afternoon had been a typically hot July matter, by the time the stars were in place — here comes that clear day tomorrow — a classic ocean breeze flow through the open windows and the night was quiet. I set my alarm for about 30 minutes prior to the scheduled sunrise.
At the appointed time I pulled on a t-shirt and shorts and padded down to the pier, to the accompaniment of no one. The only person in sight was a waitress setting up at a breakfast cafe by herself. As a glow began to increase in the east I walked out to the end of the pier and simply waited. No bands played. Even the near-constant blaring of ’50s songs from Nick’s was silent.
Then, as an invisible “59” seemingly rolled up from the eastern horizon, the edge of a brilliant orange sun sneaked a peek at me. I guess I said something to myself on the order of “Whatever,” turned and walked back to the shore-end of the pier, pretty much underwhelmed. It was definitely a BFD moment.
I nodded to the waitress laying out silverware for customers who would wisely not show up for at least an hour, walked back up to my room and returned to newly luscious covers and that priceless breeze through the windows that was now starting to warm, albeit slowly.