Recent Discoveries

Note: “recent” being the last two days; “discoveries” being things that only recently entered my awareness. Read about other such “discoveries” from my trip to British Columbia thus far.


I did not think anything would match the aviation excitement of driving into Victoria while the Snowbirds were buzzing around over the city. I was happy to be wrong.

Tim and I traversed an open and nearly empty parking lot along the harbor to get to the Red Fish Blue Fish for lunch. It must have been the low thrum of big radial engines that prompted me to scan the sky.

I was so stunned to see the CAF’s B-17 flying right up the harbor toward us that I mistook her for a Super Fort (pretty dumb of me–STUNNED, I was). By the time I had stopped gawping and fumbled for my phone thinking, ‘I have to text Dad!’ she had already banked northward toward Victoria International Airport. So on we pressed on towards the dock, where lunch awaited.

Bottle label reads: Phillips Sparkmouth Ginger AleOr to be accurate, we awaited lunch. However, it was here that I learned that fish and chips, made fresh out of an upcycled storage container, can be AMAZING. This is also where I discovered the best tasting cane sugar ginger ale I’ve ever had. Sadly, Phillips does not ship to the US. *has sad*

Bronze sculpture of hands tying a rope to a mooring ring by artist Crystal PrzybilleThis bronze sculpture was somewhat unsettling to happen upon. After some searching, I found that this sculpture was one of a dozen sculptures meant to represent Victoria’s past. The public art walking tour is called The Hands of Time by artist Crystal Przybille. Context makes for not-creepy hands!

I learned that Hatley Castle served as a filming location for several movies, including those in the X-Men franchise. It has beautiful English gardens. Lots of weddings happen here.Front entrance of Hatley Castle. Inside of the circle drive is a gardenI discovered too many things to write while walking the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail. I’ve most enjoyed watching the water and sky change with the weather. Blue water laps the pebble beach littered with driftwood.Did someone plant these wildflowers that are clinging to the rocks?Wild flowers cling to the steep cliffsideThe book cover reads: Cover of We All Wore Blue: Funny, romantic and moving - a young girl's adventure in the wartime WAAF by Muriel Gane PushmanI found that I need to read more about Emily Carr upon visiting her childhood residence–a fascinating person. In the meantime, I have this to read, from a local bookshop on Cook Street: We All Wore Blue by Muriel Gane Pushman, who wrote about her experiences in the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during WWII.

Of Tea and Scones

For no reason at all, I woke up early. But this wasn’t so bad:

Looking out of the second story window over the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Oh, good morning.

After breakfast, we headed downtown to the harbor and played tourist. Here’s herself, Queen Victoria, standing before the Parliament Buildings.

The queen stands very straight, holding a scepter. Her left foot is extended however, giving her the impression of motion
Statue of Queen Victoria before the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.

I love how straight and tall she stands–and yet the sculptor managed to add the suggestion of movement, with the extension of Victoria’s left foot. You know this one had a wicked flying front snap kick in her.

Just to the east of the Parliament Buildings is the Royal B.C. Museum, where we went next. Good collections, really well-done exhibits. The Modern History Galleries were fun. There were lots of kids engrossed in the interactive exhibits, like the Endless Seas.

An impressive wooly mammoth at the Royal B.C. Museum
A young girl’s exuberance gets the better of her.

I found the exhibit on First Peoples’ languages fascinating. It’s a complex topic and multimedia heavy–the curators handled it well. I enjoyed the First Peoples Galleries the most. Totem hall gives special acknowledgment of the art and aesthetics of First Peoples works. As the museum website points out, up until the last decade or so, First Peoples works had been presented as artifacts, in an anthropological context. Material cultural is fascinating but its study can have a distancing effect–the study of The Other. Art, on the other hand, is transformative, radical.

A Nisga'a carved mask. The museum desciption: Conceited White-woman Mask
There were dozens of beautiful masks at the Royal B.C. Museum. This one, however, won it all. Photo by Timothy Johnson.

There was a Native Plant Garden I didn’t have time to visit (rats!). Three hours was not enough time. And today was high tea day at The Empress.

The Empress sits caddy corner to the Parliament buildings, with a view of the harbor. This statue of Emily Carr was fun. She’s looking over her shoulder at her monkey… which had an adorable name. Google will know it.

Statue of Emily car seated, with her dog, monkey, and notebook. The Fairmont Empress Hotel stands behind the statue
A statue of Emily Carr! With The Empress in the background.

Afternoon tea at The Empress was a complete and utter indulgence. I have absolutely no regrets–

A three-tier servers holds bite sized treats, scones with heavy cream and jam, and finger sandwiches--at The Empres afternoon tea
Someone was a good little Anglophile today.

No… I’ve run out of steam and I haven’t even told you about the amazing chili oil at Pizzeria Primo Strada! In brief: yum.

Finally, this would-be Canadian legislator:

Planes, Ferries, and Automobiles

I spent most of today on a plane, car, or ferry; however, after delays on I-5 in Seattle, delays at the border crossing, and heavy traffic for an airshow(!), I find myself in Victoria, British Columbia.

File under: life is too short, Tim and I decided to do a trip this year–and not one that is tacked onto some conference I have to attend. A real vacation. No work. I couldn’t afford to do London like I had wanted (bummer–someday!). However, the Pacific Northwest is amazing. Why not go further north and west? Bonus: the region is called British Columbia for a reason. I can’t make it to the U.K. but dammit, I’ll be sipping tea and nomming sconesĀ in about fifteen hours.

So first impressions: everyone really is that friendly. There are a ton of pines here. Like TONS. And water everywhere. The variety of accents is surprising–even if it shouldn’t be–with many regional dialects converging on Victoria for summer vacation. That’s it really. Like I said, lots of time spent confined to a seat today.

Oh, so this airshow? 30-40,000 people showed up because: RCAF Snowbirds! Here’s a news report. We’d be stuck in traffic downtown somewhere and hear them buzzing overhead. The RCAF website calls the sound of the CT-114 Tutor distinctive. This statement is not some sort of lame PR fast one. I can’t describe the sound.

We never got to the Dallas Road waterfront to see the airshow properly (the place we’re staying is *right* on the water–it would have been the perfect viewing spot!) but we caught some incredible aerial acrobatics. So… yeah. I managed to catch an airshow on my first day ever in the great nation to our north.

Now photos, of which there were not many to choose from.

I'm on a boat. The Strait of Georgia is pictured, with a sliver of pine-covered land of what I believe is Galiano Island.
I’m on a boat.
Weaving through the Strait of Georgia. The forground shows the deck of the boad, with liferaft, "Spirit of British Columbia, Victoria." Dramatically sloping land masses (pines and rock) jut into the strait. Blue blue sky.
Weaving through the Strait of Georgia

Also, there have been cougar sightings in the city as recent as today. I remain vigilant!

Photos Up

I finally put up a few photos from vacation. See them here. It occurs to me that they are all of buildings and scenery. Russ and I don’t appear in any of them. If pressed, I suppose we have no real photo evidence that we were there at all. Too bad, I got a cute hair cut before leaving, which feels fabulous now that I’m back to a 30 degree climate.

I should put in a good word for Bob and Bonnie of Noble Manor. We had such a relaxing time and lovely breakfasts while we were there. I highly recommend this B&B!

In other news, a few of you have probably heard me complaining of exhaustion and low appetite over the last fews days. The appetite is back- although I’m beginning to wonder if my stomach shrank or something- and I didn’t feel as tired this morning as I did the previous two mornings. The sinus pressure and headaches, however, have not gone away but this, at least, resembles life for me (I’m a chronic sufferer). I’ve been eating decently and drinking a lot of water today and I plan on getting to bed at a respectable hour tonight. Hopefully, I’ll be alert and sharp tomorrow. I still fear that there’s a plague of mini-zombies inside of my skull, gnawing away at my cerbral cortex. Maybe that’s just aging.

Pensacola

A drawback of seeking out warmer weather: allergies. When I left Indiana, frosts had pretty much eliminated that problem. Here, not so much. I have a lot of sinus pressure and was glad Russell wanted to spend the day in. It must be a little amusing watching me move around. The room tends to do this spinning thing. I probably look a little drunk. Le sigh.

The bright side: I’ve been reading a lot. I liked Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. It’s way better than the Twilight series. I also read Maureen Johnson’s first two books, The Keys to the Golden Firebird and The Bermudez Triangle. I love Johnson’s snark. Her characters are very real and well developed. I have more of her books with me and will probably keep reading when I have some down time.

Seville Quarter, downtown Pensacola, Florida
Seville Quarter, downtown Pensacola, Florida

I ventured out on my own Monday morning and played with the camera with mixed success. I won’t post them to Flickr until I get back but here is a shot from the Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola. I also visited Saint Michael’s Cemetery. The cemetery wasn’t as old as I’d hoped it be. I had a relaxing stroll, if nothing else. Later Monday night, we saw Quantum of Solace, which Russ and I both really liked.

I think the congestion just clogged my brain. I’m out.

Safe travels to all who are journeying out for Turkey Day!

Sea and Sky

Here’s what I did today (courtesy of the camera phone).

View of the Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola Beach.
View of the Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola Beach.

We’ve arrived safely in Pensacola, Florida. Our rooms at the B&B are beautiful and the proprietors are very friendly (both originally from northwest Jersey). In fact, everyone we’ve met here is extremely friendly. And laid back. The town has a lot of history and has a pretty unique blend of cultural influences apparent in the architecture of the town. I definitely have plenty of material with which to test out the camera (and any crappy photography I produce is purely the result of my lack of knowledge and skill and not the fault of the camera!).

Upon arrival, we headed immediately for the beach. The weather was cold and windy today, so it wasn’t quite ideal for a stroll on the beach (nor a nap on the beach but we did it anyway and have the sand in unmentionable places to prove it). On the other hand, we had the beach almost completely to ourselves. In fact, the town is pretty dead. We are hitting very little traffic and parking has been very easy thus far.

There are a lot of cultural things to do (museums, the zoo, etc.) and we plan to make it out to Fort Pickens. I want to take pictures, sit on the beach and read (it is supposed to get warmer), explore and visit the public library branches.

Random good things that happened today:

  • I saw cotton fields! I don’t know why this makes me so happy. I guess it’s part of that Southern landscape that I’ve always read about but never experienced. Damn Yankee. Russ keeps teasing me that I’m going to pull over, rip up a plant and smuggle it back to Bloomington across multiple state borders. If only he knew how right he is.
  • Russell was very indecisive about where he wanted to eat, which resulted in a us wandering around for a good thirty minutes by car and foot BUT in the end we found a great place called Rag Tyme Grille. Yummy food, friendly staff and great atmosphere. I imagine it’s even more fun with the live music acts that appear occasionally. Thanks, Russ, for being an utter food/atmo snob.
  • By some miracle, Russ and I are not completely bitchy after being up for 36 hours on little sleep (we left Bloomington at 11pm and took turns driving throughout the night). Early bedtime for us tonight.

Hope to have more photos up soon!

Snow!

I see flurries! I tried to get a picture (I’m borrowing Tim and Sara’s Canon for the next week, so I can get a feel for what kind of camera to get for Christmas- donations to the camera are welcome :) ) but the snow didn’t show up.

In other news, Russell and I have reservations for 8 nights at the Noble Manor B&B in Pensacola, Florida. Here’s a gMap featuring where we’re staying, places to see, etc. Included are a number of cemeteries. I figured I might get some interesting pictures there (and The Graveyard Book has absolutely no influence on this activity at all).


View Larger Map

I’m excited! I think I may even get the hang of this relaxing thing…