"Above the Waves: Catalina Island, California"

Solana Travel Writing, Spring 2021

Ava Whistler

Four years ago, on a crisp December morning, we flew fifteen minutes off the coast of Southern California to an island once owned by chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley Jr. Upon landing on Catalina Island, an immediate feeling of peace settled over us. White sunbeams peeked over the hills and through the trees. People wandered the streets by foot or in multi-colored golf carts. Icy water crashed and receded on the rocks lining the shores. The harbor was full of boats. The town was busy but in a settled, relaxed, routine way. 

We spent our days on the island wandering the streets, talking to island residents, and always returning to the breakfast diner for fresh pineapples and pancakes. The people we spoke with seemed entirely content with their quiet life on Catalina. 

The key moment of our excursion came when a family member suggested trying our hand at parasailing. An hour later, we found ourselves boarding a small ski boat with a handful of other families. Out on the water, a comfortable silence settled over everyone. We could feel the sharp, saltwater breeze through our clothes. The engine purred, and the boat flew across the water, leaving wakes and forming foam on either side. 

We took our shoes off and harnessed up. When the time came, the ski boat drivers hooked us up to the parasail and pulled us higher and higher into the sky. Eventually we stopped, and the noise from the boat’s engine became a muted hum. The wind was in our ears, the sun was bright above us, and our legs dangled hundreds of feet above the surface of the water. 

A stillness cut deep into my body, as we hung there in awed silence. I felt it in my skin and bones like the sharp, salty wind was cutting through me. I felt this stillness so deeply, even through the following hours; it stayed with me for a long time. 

I was freezing that day, but that’s the last thing I remember. What I remember most, was how still everything was and the enduring peace of our world away from the noise. It was a beautiful accident that I ended up on that boat in December. Someone else suggested it, so I went along. It was a perfect moment, but a rare one too. I don’t live by the ocean, and I don’t own a parasail or a surfboard. Somehow though, I have found the same stillness in places far from Catalina. It's found it across the globe, across the hills and valleys, and across the oceans and brooks of our earth. 

I’ve discovered that Mother Nature holds a stillness that she only offers us if we reach out our hands and if we actively search for opportunities to find it. It’s always been there, but we only need the courage to look for it and chase it.


My name is Ava Whistler and I'm an eighteen year old photographer and writer. 
Instagram: @ava.bridget.whistler

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