Two gulls alight on a cruise ship anchored outside Avalon Harbor, a great vantage point to scan Catalina Island for a possible breakfast on a bright spring morning. Most of the Catalina coast is visible, along with some of the California mainland (on the horizon at right). The town of Avalon at the eastern end of the island is out of the picture to the left. The sprawl of white buildings is a condominium development at Hamilton Cove, just west of Avalon.
I took this picture on 10 May 2007, the day before a brush fire burned 19 km2 of the island’s undeveloped “interior” west of Avalon, including the hills above Hamilton Cove. The fire, touched off by a construction contractor using a blowtorch to cut steel wire on a radio tower, reached Avalon city limits but damaged only a few buildings before it was contained. It forced the evacuation of all visitors and many residents, and closed the island to tourists for over a week.