Archive for Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia

August 11, 2008

Last nite I explored some areas not near the harbor, which I think is too touristy except for the Parliament Building [with pretty white lights on the edges], the marina, and the block long, ivy covered, fancy Empress Hotel [lit up with changing colored lights at nite].

Victoria has grown on me.  I really like the totem poles they have here.

Today I’m going to check out the Legislative Building, Butchart Gardens, and if I can pass US Customs/Border Patrol…will be on a ferry later today to Port Angeles, which is on a San Juan Island off Washington [and next to Olympic National Park].

MUST do’s re Vancouver Island:
* must drive to Long Beach/Tofino
* must book your accommodations [camping/room] in advance [in August].  Do NOT wing it…it is either impossible, or nearly impossible to get a room/camping spot…anywhere.

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Parksville, British Columbia

August 6, 2008

I am in Parksville.  Yesterday, my plans for yesterday and today changed about every 2 hours.  You are lucky I wasn’t sending emails out, and are spared the minutia.

 

After I sent the email out yesterday morning, I realized that I had asked Meredith her opinion of where to go/what to do.  She nixed several places I had heard about.  Told me I needed to go to Tofino, Ucluelet [both on the west side of the island. half hour apart], and she mentioned Parksville several times…even mentioned 2 places for me to stay here.

 

Victoria is on the southern end of the island.  There is a highway that runs along the eastern side of the island, and one, maybe two roads that cross the island to the west side.

 

My goals are to drive north along the eastern shore [6 hours to Port Hardy] and also to cut across to visit Tofino on the western shore [drive north 2.5 hours, then cut west].

 

Yesterday my only question/concern would be: which to do first?

 

I saw a Gremlin [car].  When’s the last time you’ve seen one of those [or a Pacer]?

 

Lots of wineries and fruit stands.  I had my fill of strawberries in WI and MN, then I had my fill of cherries all thru Canada to Vancouver.  Am currently eating my fill of raspberries and blueberries.

 

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the highway is “near” the eastern coast, but NOT next to it.  Besides lookout/viewing areas, I hardly saw the water.  The landscape w/o the water, is just OK.

 

I got to Parksville, which just happens to be the turning west point and decided I needed to suss the situation out [see if further north the landscape suddenly gets the “wow” factor].  Meredith had highly recommended me staying here, so I decided to do that.

 

I am unsure why she’s is so keen on Parksville, and have decided that maybe this is the best there is.  To me, it’s just an ok little town.  The big thing here are the beaches, and I’m not a beach person.  The tide does seem to recede greatly – several hundred meters, and the water is warm.  They claim it’s around 70’, I’m not sure about that, but I would consider it warm.

 

I made 3 friends yesterday, all of whom said that the drive north is exactly the same as the drive from Victoria.  I have had my fill.

 

The big thing to do here [besides the beaches] is to go to Coombs.  It is a little community about 10 minutes away that sells a bunch of artisan products, has a health food store, a café, and several ice cream places.  The store/café has a grass roof and goats live up there.

 

While standing in the café line, I met Sandee, her 2 poised, well behaved daughters, and her mom-in-law.  Sandee is a spitfire and I loved her company. I had lunch with them and then hung out with them while the daughters and MIL shopped.  Sandee grew up just north of here and they are staying there with friends.

 

Her hubby and father-in-law come here each year to go fishing.  Depending upon the size the fish, they come back each year with between 200 – 300# of fish.  They catch the limit, take it to a place to be cleaned and shipped to them in Calgary.

Sandee says Tofino is “mind blowing”. It’s rugged, the edge is a Provincial Park [Long Beach], the trees are only so high cuz of the wind, you won’t find anyone swimming in that water…the COLD Pacific Ocean…which is the only thing between you and Japan. [You had to hear her say it to fully enjoy.]  Hanging out with her was thoroughly delightful.

 

We were looking at maps, and she said that all that land [where there are no roads – the middle of the island] is full of pot growers.  The gov’t stopped flying over the land cuz they kept finding too much, and now they just rely on people squealing on their neighbors.

 

After that, I went to the coffee shop…and met Anne Marie.  She’s  a little older than myself, teacher and wheel chair bound.  I talked with her all afternoon re things to do on the west side/coast.  She told me I would be a fool if I came all this way and didn’t drive the 3 hours [along twisty turning roads] to Tofino. Just a fool.  She said it’s something I just have to see.

 

I then went and explored the beach[es].  As mentioned above, the water is warm…but not warm enough to entice me [at 5pm].

 

Later I had dinner with Anne Marie, her hubby and her son, who is 10.

 

All around an enjoyable day.

 

Am off to Tofino to have my mind blown.  I wonder if that includes a stop along the way to a pot growing farm?

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Change of Plans – in Victoria, British Columbia

August 5, 2008

As I was leaving Vancouver yesterday to drive to Seattle, I found out my Austin music was cancelled.  So, instead of driving south, I drove east and took the ferry over to Vancouver Island and went to Victoria.

This weekend, and especially yesterday, BC is celebrating their 150 yr anniversary, and Victoria is the provincial capital of BC.  Needless to say, it was a madhouse!  I had heard there was a music festival going on…which is always good, but oh goodness.  You know what it’s like when a stadium event lets out?  Well, that is what it was like there.  It’s a town of approx 75,000 people, and they claim over 100,000 were there, packed into the city center.  Good thing I had my bike, cuz I had to park wayyy aways and then cycle into town.

Burton Cummings played – from The Guess Who [No Sugar Tonight,  These Eyes, American Woman…].  Sarah McLachlan played for a whopping 30 minutes.  Others I can’t remember…the last act was Fiest.  I hadn’t heard of her but apparently [in Canada] there is an ipod advert on tv where someone is singing “one, two, three, four…”.  If you know what I’m talking about, this is her.  Bubblegum pop to me.

I am unsure 100% re what my plans are.  I need to go back to the Victoria city center too see how it is without the crowds, but yesterday my thoughts were that it was just ok…I little too touristy for me.  A female cop laughed at me when I asked her for a non-touristy, “character” place to have lunch.  In the city center???  Ha ha ha.  She was right.  I had such a hard time finding a place to eat [besides $4 scoops of gelato], that I actually went to the downtown mall’s food court.  Imagine that.

I have been invited to dinner Thursday nite by a woman [Meredith] I met last nite.  So, I most likely will travel around Vancouver Island for the next couple days, have dinner with her and her friends Thursday nite…then head/ferry it to Washington.

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