A Modest Proposal
by Calendar Hacksaw
It's a small community, with only a few paved roads and darned little traffic. As I stumble around, I'm greeted by just about everyone I encounter, even though I'm unknown here. The rolling hills are beautiful in the morning light; the lodgings sparse and few. It's amazing to find such peace in a setting so close to Los Angeles. There is a general store, a cafe, and a quaint little "newspaper." I spot a resident deputy from the Sheriff's Department, who attends to what few "breaches of the peace" occur in these parts. There are cats, dogs, chickens, cattle, and a schoolhouse. The first choice of motor vehicles would appear to be old pick-up trucks. This is "open range," and it is not uncommon to see some pretty big beasts lumbering through town or along the roads.
It takes the better part of an hour to get from here to somewhere else that calls itself by any other name other than what the people here call this here place. (Note to the reader: You might want to read that last sentence again, just to make sure you got it right; ol' Calendar's pretty proud of it)
The surrounding terrain bears witness to the extensive mining in these parts that began in the middle of the 19th century. There are some families who seem to have been in the region forever. The area was popular with Native Americans as well, and the U.S. Army led expeditions here.
Many people who live in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area escape to this spot on weekends and holidays, where they enjoy leading lives 180-degrees different than they do in the city. The best time to visit is mid-week from Fall through Spring, as that is when only the locals are around; no weekenders, part-timers, or bicyclists to put up with.
Welcome, neighbors to Two Harbors, at the isthmus of Catalina Island. And ol' Calendar's here to propose that we romance the community of Two Harbors a little bit to see if they'd be interested in becoming our "Sister City," since we have so much in common. They've got "two harbors," and apparently we've got "two oaks," although I haven't found them yet.
The similarities between Two Harbors and Twin Oaks are striking. I set sail for the island on warm winter weekends to read, write, hike, sleep, and enjoy one of the greatest vacation bargains imaginable. Try this: two days and one night, including lodging, food, and round-trip transportation, all for about $100. That's right, $100.
Each day, huge boats capable of carrying upwards of 500 people leave from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Newport Beach and ferry their human cargo for Catalina's "capitol city," Avalon, located at the opposite end of the island from Two Harbors. Some of these transports will occasionally make a brief stop at the isthmus to drop off or pick up a few people before returning to the mainland. A safari bus also runs between the two cities, driving for about two hours across a treacherous, mountainous, mostly-one-lane dirt road, making just one stop at the Airport In The Sky. But we don't give a horseshoe about Avalon; we're here to talk about Two Harbors.
Now let's examine the Calendar Hacksaw Bargain Basement approach to the Two Harbors experience.
Most people don't know that a few times each week a small boat departs San Pedro and motors directly to the Isthmus. This watercraft pales by comparison with the big ships that carry the multitudes to Avalon, but it's fast, comfortable, and it gets you where you want to go in a hurry.
On arrival, you'll check in for assignment to the "Catalina Cabin" you've reserved by telephone (you did phone ahead, didn't you? The number is (800) 785-8425). These are pre-fab modular units which open onto a common deck area. The interior of each has only enough room for a single bed or bunk bed, a chair, a small refrigerator, closet, and heater. Since all you're going to use it for is to sleep, it's all the room you'll need. You did remember to bring your sleeping bag and pillow, didn't you? Restrooms and showers are a short distance away, as is a common outdoor cooking area. You did remember to bring your own food and cooking utensils, didn't you? The snack bar is open for breakfast and lunch, but you'll have to assemble your own dinner, as Doug's Harbor Reef is closed during the late Fall and early Winter, re-opening each year on Presidents' Day Weekend (the official start of the yacht season).
So, what would our obligations amount to if Two Harbors was willing to hitch up with us, you're probably asking. Well, not too much. Several times each year, a delegation of high-ranking officials from Twin Oaks would embark on a journey to Two Harbors; people with names like "Lefty," "No Brains," "Outhouse," "Lorraine," "Fritz," "Lost Lariat," "Lost Touch," and "Wayne." Upon arrival, they would function in sort of a Peace Corps capacity, teaching the islanders the latest techniques in barbecuing, bull castration, egg candling, quilting, lying, political vitriol, T-shirt sales, poverty, and tasteless humor.
In return, the natives of Two Harbors would, on occasion, dispatch their own emissaries to Twin Oaks, where our locals would learn all about halibut fishing, small boat theft ("borrowing"), water taxis, yuppie-thumping, T-shirt sales, poverty, bison castration, running over bicyclists, and accidental collisions with range whales.
In order to get this thing moving, I would suggest that someone package up about five copies of this edition of the Fence Post and ship 'em overseas to Two Harbors (P.O. Box 5044-I, Two Harbors, CA 90704-5044), so they can take the matter under consideration.
And what the hell, if they turn us down, there's always Sageland.