Photographer & Author: Francesco Stumpo
Camera:  Bell & Howell Auto 35/Reflex 35mm (Film)
Film: Fujifilm Superia 35mm ASA 200 Color
Processed: Photoshop CS6, Lightroom and VSCO.

Date: July 4th, 2018

Photo Essay:
American Channel Islands
Two short trips to Catalina Island and Santa Cruz Island off the shore of California’s coast.

Since moving to California, I have been continuously fascinated to discover and explore the abundant variety of landscapes, flora and fauna existing in this side of the western range of the United States. Not being entirely familiar with all of the Golden State’s geography, I had always wondered what sort of islands were on this side of the country. So after a few conversation with a close friend  from the Bay Area, I learned about the Farallon’s off the coast of our foggy San Francisco and that most other islands were south of the state, closer to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. It wasn’t until later that we both circle back to our discoveries (after some serious time in the land of google maps) that we sat down to plan out our first visit to California’s Channel Island islandic mountain range which includes small towns, research outposts, abandoned military forts and even it’s own National Park.
Long Beach to Catalina Island:

After postponing the trip for a while, due to commitments at work and other responsibilities, we decided to finally drive south for Memorial Day to embark to the much idealized destination. After talking to a local friend that calls the island home, we arranged the ferry tickets from Long Beach, packed a light backpack and off we went to Catalina Island’s main destination, Avalon.

For three days we were the visitors that wanted to learn the most about Avalon’s ins and outs, local spots, history and what does it actually mean to live off the shores of Los Angeles, and the United States.  

Wrigley Botanical Garden proved to be a worthy spot for hikes and vistas, as it sits all the way at the end of the towns main canyon and where you have one of the best lookouts of Avalon Bay. There, through the walls and history, and the main monument we learned William Wrigley Jr.'s greatest legacy was his remarkable vision and plan for the future of Santa Catalina Island -- that it remain protected for all generations to enjoy. Last, the we heard through some locals that the goal in building the Wrigley Memorial was to use as much Catalina materials as possible. Quarried Catalina stones can be seen in the reinforced concrete construction -- the facade having been sandblasted to hide the cement and highlight the native crushed stones. To this today, I am always fascinated how monuments continue to be one of the few archetypes we have to preserve memory and legacy.

At the end, Catalina Island is just a ferry ride from Long Beach, yet it feels like the other side of the ocean. It reminds me of the Mediterranean, Greece and long summer nights.

Ventura to Santa Cruz:

Second adventure to the islands, we made sure to plan for the National Park sites, this time in the Santa Cruz Island. After sleeping in Los Padres Mountains the day before, we made it right on time to board the first boat to the Channel Islands National Park off the Port of Ventura. On the way you can see sea lions, and if you are lucky some small whales, too. There were also so many stationed oil rigs in the distance, which at night ressemble giant cruise ships docked by shore waiting for time to slow down.

Once in land again, we made sure to venture off the beaten path, have lunch by some of the coves and see kayaks in the distance, all while naming the different rock formations with ridiculous and weird names.  Throughout, I couldn’t help to think how It's always fascinating to come across mountains in the middle of the ocean. Whether it's part of a volcanic reaction, a chain of mountains from the mainland or an isolated geological event, it's always intriguing to imagine how they got there.

Overall, the landscapes of the Channel Islands are certainly soothing to the soul. Everything seems to go at another pace and time when off shore, including naps, hikes and snorkeling for Garibaldis.
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