By Jeffrey Briar
On behalf of the Laguna Laughter Club
Jan. 17-18, 2010 - Laguna Laughter Club members and friends (18 in number) went on an overnight Laughter Adventure to Catalina Island, 25 miles off the southern California Coast.
It was a sunny morning when we departed Dana Point. We managed to commandeer the front cabin section of the boat, where we spread out our breakfast snacks and filled the room with the sounds of friendship and hilarity. At one point the ship’s captain came up and asked “What’s going on around here?” We were so uproarious in expressing our gladness, he thought perhaps we were dunk – and so early in the morning! Once we assured him we were gigglers (not guzzlers) he accepted our boisterous mirth without further concern. As we approached Avalon Harbor, we couldn’t help but notice that the approaching clouds were growing thick, dark and ominous.
Our bags were transported swiftly to our hotel, and a jolly group-promenade on the boardwalk followed. Laughter abounded at our brunch gathering at “Armstrong’s” on the dock, and a trip to the super-friendly Gelato store (“C. C. Beau” Deli) compounded our delight.
Particularly delectable was our first excursion: the “Undersea Tour” where each of us had a seat in a semi-submerged boat. We were surrounded by clear windows about 15 feet below the water and our ship putted over to a protected cove where the abundant fish-life and radiant vegetation astounded us. “Ooo’s and Aah’s” filled the air often, and when the captain threw over some treats for the fish, the scurrying of the underwater denizens brought out myriad squeals of delight. One of our group even saw an octopus! (This was considered a rare sighting in the daytime.)
Our hotel the “Atwater” was built in the 1920’s and was clean, comfortable and bright. Some of us went shopping, but many took a nap. The evening was highlighted by dinner at “Steve’s” where an Early-Bird Special (supposed to end at 6:00) was extended for our jolly group. We ate well and at a bargain price. A stroll to enjoy the shops led many of us to an international boutique with intriguing goods from all over the world, and a majestic cat with the colorations of an exotic spotted puma. The evening’s planned trip to “Chi Chi Club” never materialized because everyone fell asleep before 9:30pm – by then, the club hadn’t even opened!
All gathered for breakfast at the cozy, well-lit “Jack’s” (it seems like everyplace we dined was someone’s name: “Anderson’s, Steve’s, Jack’s…”), where the sharing and laughter was abundant. Then most went to the beach of the harbor, where a Laughter Club session was held, all the Leaders present sharing in the guiding of exercises. It was definitely cold and windy, with storm clouds menacing; but the laughter kept us warm, and the rain had not actually begun.
Not yet, anyway.
We then heard from some of our group who were still at the hotel. “Huge storms are coming. We have to get off the island on the next boat, or we may be stuck here for four or five DAYS!” We were scheduled for a “Scenic City Tour” (by open-air tram) that afternoon, but when we realized it was “Get off the island now or you may be trapped for a while,” we all decided (after just a little more shopping) to pack up our bags and depart. (And it is unlikely they would have run the tour in the pouring rain which was soon to arrive.)
On the pier waiting in line for the (now completely sold-out) boat to the mainland, the rain started to fall in earnest. We giggled a bit, but any laughter-roaring would probably have received smirks of displeasure from the rest of the huddled, wet masses yearning to get aboard the “Last Boat Outta Town.”
It was bit cramped inside, and several of our group went to the top level of the ship where they felt ocean spray on their faces and watched the ship careen through substantial swells. Above decks it was “Whoopee, this is fun!” while those down in the hold were holding their stomachs. After an unsettling lurch or two, the boat made it to the dock in Long Beach (50 miles north of our original departure dock). We all managed to transport ourselves, most relocating to one participant’s home -- where we had a delicious feast, festive party, and storytelling.
A few days later, one of our group said, “You know, if we HAD gotten stuck on the island for a few days – we would have had a GREAT time!” And she was so right. Because our group was dedicated to the Inner Spirit of Laughter - bringing Joy whenever possible, turning our focus to sharing laughter – we would have made it a great time together, no matter what. As it was, the 2010 Laughter Adventure to Catalina (our first sailing) still had many wonderful memories, heartwarming laughter, and great stories -- of our frolics, and our Great Escape!
Footnote: The storms were some of the most severe in decades, and the island of Catalina actually received the visits of several tornados (rare in California). We truly would have been marooned there for four days if we hadn’t gotten out “in the nick of time.” Hahahahaha!