This facility is on the opposite side of the island from Avalon, where most visitors go, and I'm told it is a rugged ride to get from Avalon to there by car. USC runs its own Coast Guard cutter-equivalent back and forth from San Pedro each day, weather permitting, to the dock of this marine institute to shuttle faculty, students, staff, visitors, and supplies. The time-pressed, wave-adverse, or well-heeled can get there by helicopter.
I had visited once before just for the day, so I knew that this was no mere field station. In addition to the labs, classrooms, dorms, and faculty apartments, the college of letters, arts and sciences (of which I am a part) installed a cluster of executive-quality "houses" a few years back, ideal for retreats such as the one I attended. I was going to show you a photo of those houses, but it would have looked like a Tuscan village and you would have never known we were on Catalina Island. Instead, here is the view I had on an early-morning walk, five minutes outside of the institute.
In a bald ploy to ensure I am invited back for future retreats, I brought along two large containers of my super-duper chocolate chip walnut cookies and peanut butter blossom cookies, the favorite of many Colburn recital receptions. The ploy worked. In fact, the faculty and staff said if ever I wanted to bring a batch of any cookie of my choosing by on Friday afternoons, I should feel free.
We got a lot accomplished during those two days, and we participants are returning to our respective squirrel cages with long to-do lists and renewed commitment.