Monday, March 30, 2009

the Great BC Odyssey - island time

I now understand why it's so difficult to get a Vancouver Islander to meet you in Vancouver. It's a major undertaking - a 1/2 hour drive from Vancouver to the ferry, wait in line forever, 1-1/2 hour ferry ride, 1/2 hour drive to Victoria. Once you are ensconced in the city of cherry blossoms, you don't just pop into Vancouver on a whim.

It is a hell of a nice ferry, though. I was expecting some old wooden scow with a fish and chip stand on an outdoor deck and barf bags handed out as you board. But it's shiny and new and
about 6 levels, at least 2 of which are taken up by a car park. There are restaurants and staterooms and comfy seats and two outer decks from which to take in the air. Or the cigarette smoke, depending on where you happen to stand.

It was great to finally meet Toccata and Jen (blogger meetup number 12 and 13, for those at
home keeping score), not to mention Toccata's gorgeous-but-she-knows-it cat and Jen's sweet kid. After settling ourselves in at Toccata's character house, we all headed out and met up with Jen, and between the two of them, Jen and Toccata showed us all the sights - the oceanside graveyard housing Emily Carr and the creepy long-toed nun statue, the houseboats, the dog poop signs, the pebble beach where I scored my only souvenir, the government buildings and the Empress Hotel, all the freakin flowers, and of course the Save On Foods Memorial Arena. Poor Jen was sick as a dog but she cleans up real nice and was a trooper about schlepping all over town. The cold meds had not dulled her fierceness either. Toccata was a wealth of information about Victoria and knows the place inside out.

We met up with Jen's offspring at the Japanese Village for supper, one of those places where they put on a mad chopping, slicing, flipping, sizzling show in front of you. Apparently we were the only party in the restaurant that night not celebrating a birthday, so nobody came out with a drum and wished us happy birthday dear customer. A shame, really. The weird bear/gorilla/owl creature wearing a sombrero turned out to be some legendary Japanese creature. (Ayla: "I knew it!")

And the next morning, after lingering over coffee a bit with Toccata, who was gracious beyond belief to give up her bedroom, we were off. Our whirlwind trip to Victoria was far too whirlwindy. I would loved to have had more time to kick back and yap with Toccata and Jen, but then I would have been in danger of becoming used to being on an island. And we can't have that, can we?

Coming up - the great BC odyssey pic spam. Pinky swear.


Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, man... Ross Bay Cemetery is the shit, isn't it? It's the best cemetery ever!

They only run those really nice ferries on that route, you know. You do get the scow boats between Horshoe Bay & Nanaimo.

Did you get to visit the UVIC campus?

John Mutford said...

I'm jealous of Toccata and Jen. If you don't soon plan a roadtrip to Yellowknife, your first encounter with me might be leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on your doorstep.

Remi said...

Why is it that I always find my comments following the one threatening flaming dog poop? How can I compete with that?

While I haven't been to Victoria yet, I did get to the west coast of Vancouver Island once years ago for a week and a half of outdoor fun and indoor debauchery (and I was paid for it too, which is another story altogether). Magical would not be an exaggeration.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Ross Bay! Thanks for reminding me of the name, Wandering Coyote. It's amazing, right on the ocean like that. Some pretty expensive real estate.
I'm glad I wasn't heading to Horseshoe Bay then, as I was not in the mood for a scow trip.
Sadly, we were in Victoria for such a short time, that we only saw the signs for UVIC on the highway. Next time.

Much as I would be thrilled to receive such a special gift from you, John, I think I would just as soon show up on your doorstep instead. We do seem to be working our way north up the west coast. Yellowknife isn't all that far from the coast, right?

I love hearing stories of people's sordid pasts, Remi. No doubt they are still talking about you on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Anonymous said...

The statue is a tanuki, guardian spirit of restaurants and noodle shops.Each item it wears or carrys is symbolic of something. One physical characteristic in both nature and art is its huge scrotum.
See here:


Anonymous said...

Welcome home Barb!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yes, I do recall the huge scrotum, wh, it was hard to miss. When we asked one of the waitresses about the tanuki, she told us the tale of how he was supposed to guard the sake in the temple, but got drunk instead and was kicked out. Pretty fascinating tale.

It was a great trip, Berni. And I am still bitching about the weather here.

Allison said...

Wow. That is quite the journey. No wonder I never made it there while living in Van.

So great you got to meet up with so many friends on this trip, and that the weather treated you well! Victoria sounds like a lovely place. Can't wait to visit myself now!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I was surprised by what an undertaking it actually was, Al. I figured people from Victoria popped over to Vancouver for the afternoon or evening all the time, but no.
Being stranded on an island would make it very difficult for me to live there, I think.

Gifted Typist said...

You meet-up maven you.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm insatiable, Gifted. It's shameful, really.

Anonymous said...

The trick to living on Vancouver Island is, there is no trick. It's a huge island. If you ever feel like going for a multi-hour drive in the middle of the night, you can do that. The highway that runs down the length of the island is about 200 miles long. There are lots of other towns and small cities to visit north of Victoria. I lived on Vancouver Island for 25 years and I only managed to see a very small part of it during that time.

And if you really need to get back and forth between the city of Victoria and the city of Vancouver in a hurry, you can do what the locals do: fly via floatplane or helicopter.