Santa Catalina Island
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Dylan and I's first vacation together was to Catalina Island, a small island off the coast of California. We flew from Chicago to LAX and then caught a ferry out to the island. We stayed in the quiet little town of Avalon while we were there and snagged an amazing deal on a hotel room located directly on the beach!

Dylan and I each have our own individual strengths, but unfortunately planning is not neither one of our strong suites. We booked the trip on a last minute whim after doing absolutely no research, but we lucked out. As soon as we pulled into Avalon Bay I knew we had made the right choice. The small town was bustling and full of life and the sun felt so warm on my skin, a nice change of pace from Wisconsin's freezing winter. We went during the off-season, but the temperatures were already climbing towards the high seventies.

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The first day we grabbed some coffee and muffins from our hotel and took off to explore. We walked along the beach and weaved in and out of small touristy shops. We had such a hard time deciding where to grab lunch, all of the restaurants along the beach looked delicious and boasted extensive fresh seafood menus. We finally decided on a spot with live music and a 2 for 1 fish fry deal. After a few Corona's and some amazing fried cod, Dylan convinced me to try oysters for the first time. Slimy, but not bad!

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During the middle of our stay we rented a golf cart and drove around the island for hours, just the two of us. We found a hidden helicopter pad and caught some beautiful ocean views from high above the city. We also saw a shark (or seaweed, the jury's out)! Dylan and I both have a thing for architecture, so we loved checking out all the beautiful homes scattered at the top of the bluffs. The golf cart rental attendant warned us that Santa Catalina is inhabited by wild buffalo, we were careful not to venture too far inland. My favorite part of our Tour de Catalina was finding the private beach hidden only a few miles down the coast from Avalon. The beach was reserved for guests of a swanky hotel, but luckily no one noticed us slip into a shaded cabana to relax.

The best part of the trip by far was Dolphin Quest. Ten of us piled into a small little dingy from the Avalon pier and took off in search of dolphins. The tour guide said it was also the perfect time of year to spot orcas (my favorite). The "quest" was only an hour, and after 40 minutes we still hadn't seen anything. We had begun to feel discouraged as we had circled the island twice to no avail. The guide was starting to head back toward the bay when all of the sudden I felt a splash. I looked up to see our small boat surrounded by a pod of about 40 dolphins. They were jumping in and out of the water, each time they breached we were met with a small playful splash. The dolphins raced in our wake and swam loyally along with our small boat for the next twenty minutes. I was so surprised to see how small they were!

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On our final evening, we had freshly caught fish from a cute shack on the pier and enjoyed a few Coronas. I snapped these pictures as we watched the sun set together on the beach. Leaving the next day was hard, and the thought of returning to reality (and a very cold winter) weighed heavily on my mind. I cheered up quickly as on our ferry ride back to LA we saw dolphins again! We have so many great memories from this trip and we cannot wait to go back (hopefully soon)!