We’re not the only ones to read a book and be so inspired by the sense of place described in the book that we started planning a trip.
Long ago, with our children leading the way, we visited Canyon de Chelly after reading “Sing Down the Moon” and traveled to Prince Edward Island after reading “Anne of Green Gables”. The Channel Islands stayed on our list for many years. Inspired by “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, it was based on the true story of a young Indian woman. She finds herself stranded alone for 18 years on one of the Channel Islands, many miles off the coast of California.
Although our children were grown and “out of the house,” we still wanted to visit that place too. Many trips were planned that would take us to The Channel Islands; none of them happened. Would we ever make it to this place?
Chumash Indians had lived on the island until the early 19th century, and, within 40 years, the entire island had become a sheep ranch. The ranch has now been shut down. It had disrupted the island’s environmental balance. All domestic animals were removed from the island, and efforts to restore the island to a balanced ecosystem are underway. Today, the National Park Service owns 24% of the island, and The Nature Conservancy owns the remainder.
The Channel Islands were never connected to the mainland so endemic species of plants, birds, and animals can be seen. On our hike toward Potato Harbor, an endemic Island fox appeared at the top of the hill on the path ahead. The fox quickly maneuvered off into the brush and made a wide circle around us, only to rejoin the path below us. We took photos as he made his way down the trail.
Would we have taken the boat ride out to visit Channel islands National Park had we not read “island of the Blue Dolphin”? Probably not. The book inspired our trip and changed how we saw the island. We thought about the Indian girl as we walked on the cliff looking out to sea. The beauty and remoteness of the island must have been a blessing and curse as she struggled to live alone all those years. The Channel Islands didn’t disappoint us, and we’d love to go back again.