Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Beautiful Day in Victoria!

We had another spectacular day in this gorgeous city of Victoria!  After breakfast we headed out on foot once again for downtown, and had another wonderful walk along the path around the bay.  Seemed to us a little clearer today, and not quite as warm, even when we were walking back later this afternoon--that was good!  It was refreshingly cool when we walked into town, and, since we started out about an hour and a half earlier than we did yesterday, the path was a bit more crowded, with lots of runners out, in addition to a lot more walkers.  The big cruise ship that was docked yesterday had apparently sailed with the morning high tide, but by the time we were walking back, another ship had taken its place--busy port o' call, I'd say!

This morning when we crossed the Blue Bridge, we stopped first at a Christmas store we had seen advertised in one of the tourist magazines from the visitor center, but, alas, it didn't open until later in the morning.  So we headed on to our main destination for today, the Royal British Columbia Museum.  Sakes alive, was it a fabulous experience.  I'm not sure I can adequately describe how and why this was so, but the way they had their exhibits set up was just fantastic.  There are two large floors of exhibits, plus an IMAX theater, with multiple movies playing at different times throughout the day.  The first exhibit we saw was called Race to the End of the Earth, and told the story of the two competing explorers as they raced to be the first to reach the South Pole, one British and one Norwegian.  The way they set it up was really cool--first there was a brief introductory video explaining briefly how this race came to be--which was good, as neither Trisha nor I remembered enough of our history courses in school to recall ever learning that there was this big race.  The video told a little about each of the expedition leaders, and how they ended up making their quests at the same time.  Then they had you pick cards out of these little dispensers, which was a bio of members of each of the teams, and encouraged you and your group to "become" a part of either the British or the Norwegian team as you went through the exhibit--a wonderful idea, especially for families with young children.  Trisha ended up drawing the card of Roald Amudsen, the Norwegian team leader, and I drew one of the British crew, but not the leader, Captain Scott.  Anyway, then you progressed through various exhibits explaining how each team went about preparing for the quest, how their approaches to clothing, equipment and methodology differed, which really set it up nicely and you could see how the Norwegian approach foretold their ultimate success.  It took the two teams 6 months to sail to Antarctica, but they arrived when it was the solid night of winter, so they had to wait in camp before making their attempts to reach the South Pole--all this was in 1911, but it was amazing to see the ingenuity they all employed.  Anyway, the Norwegians made it first, but the exhibit was fascinating.  This multi-room exhibit took up all of the main floor exhibit space, and the upper floor was devoted to a cultural history of British Columbia, from the natives, known here as First Nations or First Peoples, to the Chinese immigrants who were brought here primarily to build the Canadian Pacific Railway, to a very interesting visual presentation of the last 100 years of BC history.  Another exhibit was devoted to maritime life, both the plants and animals of the ocean and the seafaring adventures of early sailors.

We spent most of the day here, and at the end of the day, realized why they offered multi-day tickets, as there is so much to see, your senses realistically can only absorb so much in one day!  But we broke up our viewing of the various exhibits by taking in the IMAX movie on Kenya and the wonderful display of all the animals there, as well as fascinating footage of some of the rites of passage of men from warriors to elders--very interesting.  Another funny encounter as we were taking the escalator down from one floor to the next--there were a couple of twenty something Asian girls at the bottom of the escalator who looked up and started squealing with excitement when they saw us coming down.  They ran up to us and in very broken English asked if they could take pictures.  Trisha offered to take their picture with me, but the one with the camera kept pulling it back when Trisha reached out her hand, and we ultimately realized she wanted to have someone else take a picture with both Mr. and Mrs. Claus!  After an obliging person took the picture, one of the young women said "You look like Santa."  So I pulled out a couple of the picture cards for them and they just started jumping up and down like 4 year olds!  Too funny!  But a lot of fun.

After leaving the museum, we walked back down to the same restaurant where we ate yesterday, by the visitor center at the main harbor, but ate in the more casual upper level, and had a late lunch overlooking all the activity down below along the wharf.  There is a nonstop flurry of activity as harbor tours, sailing tours, and whale watching tours constantly come in and out, to disgorge one load of passengers, and then load up with another group and head back out to sea. And all along the wharf there are buskers of every sort, proving entertainment for tourists and locals who lounge along the long seats along the wharf, eating lunch, or taking a break from workday routines.  AS we headed back out through downtown we stopped into a wonderful tea shop, where they had an unbelievable array of exotic teas, with big bins to make custom blends.  Sampled some unusual varieties, and marveled at how there could be this one rather large store devoted to nothing but tea.  Not sure it would make it back home!  Encountered another sidewalk chalk artist who had drawn a jellyfish, and had it positioned so you could take a photo of someone to give the appearance of floating on top of the jellyfish!  This a one of the most vibrant and exciting downtown areas of a city we've seen, and it was just a lot of fun.

We walked back to the Christmas store to go in before walking back to the RV park, but what a disappointment!  The signs in the window boasted of 4 levels of thousands of Alpine and other exotic ornaments and other Christmas themed items.  But once inside, we were bombarded with signs all over the store, sternly warning against touching anything, and telling of all the dire consequences that would ensue if you violated any of their rules.  We were initially excited when we thought we were going to see some authentic German decorations, which we had fallen in love with when we had been in Germany in 1991, but, with the exception of a couple of carousels, everything looked pretty cheap, almost like it was made in China!  The proprietors were a German couple, but who were incredibly unfriendly, and were seemingly incapable of conceiving of any of the Joy to the World on some of the ornaments!  What a bummer.

But the walk home along the West Bay Walkway was again as beautiful as ever and we thoroughly enjoyed that.  As we ate supper we watched a child's pirate themed birthday party in full swing on this big sailboat moored next to one of the float houses.  The air is nice and cool coming off the bay, and we  had fun watching the seaplanes take off and land.  Don't know this for sure, but it looks like there may not be any conventional airport serving Vancouver Island; just the seaplanes.  But they also apparently end all flights around 7:00 PM so it's nice and quiet as the sun sets and evening sets in.  Just a gorgeous place to be.  Trisha is knitting away, getting close to finishing a baby blanket she's making for a friend's soon to arrive new grandbaby, and she's happy as a clam doing that.  One of these days I'm going to put together a post of just all the gorgeous things she's knitted on this trip; it's really quite something!  She's so excited to have all the time that retirement affords for her to do so much knitting.  But somehow, even when she finishes one item, the multiple containers of yarn don't seem to get any emptier, but rather seem to keep overflowing with more yarn!!  I guess it's all those stops at yarn shops along the way!  But I'm so happy she's able to do this, as she has made some beautiful things and it's so much fun for her!  So, tomorrow we'll pull out of Victoria and take this drive around the bottom of the island that the woman we met on the ferry recommended to us, as there are a number of places to stop and see along the way to where we'll spend tomorrow night, moving up the coast.  There are several labyrinths to see, along with some more interesting towns.  We normally don't make reservations in advance, but the woman at the visitor center told us yesterday that this has been a holiday week, so the island is more crowded than usual, so we decided to go ahead and get places to stay for the rest of our week here nailed down; feels good to know that's taken care of so we won't have to worry about finding a place for the weekend.  Looking forward to seeing some more of the island, and then we'll return to this RV park Tuesday night, since we'll catch the ferry back to Washington just across the bay.

Here are some pics from today; at the museum, they only allowed photos in some of the exhibits, but not all of them, so they're a bit limited below:

Couple more views of some of the interesting float houses, as we started our walk into town

 Seaplane heading off for another adventure!
 This kelp looks like a sea monster!
 Couple of Canada geese in the morning sun
 Not sure, but I think this may be the same great blue heron we saw yesterday, near the same spot--just lovely creatures
Loved this beautiful tree along the walkway!
 Maybe a bent tree, eh Mickey?
 These Canada geese are really beautiful, especially in this blue water
 Two geese, with the snow capped mountains in the distance

 Someone enjoying the picnic table I posted last night
Walking into downtown this morning, passed this tshirt shop and couldn't resist taking this picture from one of the shirts displayed in the window;  even with the reflections of the street from the window, I think you can make it out, especially if you enlarge the picture a little. Apologies for any offense, but though it was hilarious!
 A beautiful old building that used to be the Bank of Montreal, but now is an Irish pub;   I just loved the architecture
 Looking down a pedestrian mall of shops
 Beautiful Belgian draft horse pulling this carriage
 The Netherlands Carillon, shot out of a window in the museum.  The carillon is right in front of the museum entrance
Shot of the side of the Empress Hotel, taken from the museum window
 Huge Welcome carved wooden statue, at the entrance to the First Peoples exhibit in the museum
 Love this spiral
 A reproduction of a pit house of one of the ancestral aboriginal tribes--the entrance through the hole in the roof, down the steps, was very reminiscent of the kivas we saw in New Mexico
 Beautiful display of totems

 Some weavings and intricate beaded clothes

 Some intricate masks

 Stone carvings

Some shots from Century Hall, the display of 100 years of British Columbian history; here is a hotel in a mockup of a frontier town
 Very sad story--told by a member of one of the First Peoples about how the Christian missionaries told them they should have no idols or images if they wanted to be faithful so the father took all their masks to the shore and burned them including this mask that had been used in tribal ceremonies.  The church once again decided what was best for the native peoples and used force to suppress their customs, traditions and religious practices
 This mask was displayed in front of this blow up of a photo of the church--quite a powerful contrast
Walking back from the museum, passed all these lovely flowers
  Along the wharf, there were a number of these buskers, posing so still you thought they were statues at first, then they would move suddenly and you realized it was a person, completely covered in paint/makeup--here is Plaster Man!  Elsewhere was Copper Cowgirl--can't imagine how uncomfortable their costumes must be!

Just can't get enough of these gorgeous flowers, these along the wharf
 A beautiful topiary of wale and dolphin

 Amidst all of these stunningly beautiful flowers, one in particular just stands out!!
 Never seen an accordian playing mermaid before!
 Trisha found this cuddly mounty in front of a store!
When I first saw this, from this view, I thought it was a fish, then the artist showed me where to stand, and where Trisha was to stand for the second shot, below

 Just fascinated by these seaplanes

 Beautiful red bark on this tree
 In addition to lots of kayakers, we saw several of these outrigger canoes in the bay


  1. Another great post............


  2. Wow! I'm really envious now...I must plan to go back there.

    Mary Lou