Summer vacation family roadtrip: Victoria, British Columbia
We took the car ferry from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria on Vancouver Island, B.C. to show the kids (particularly my daughter, who did not remember our previous forays into Canada) another country. The experience was expensive (and the hefty Canadian taxes were a shock), but we had a good time. Once again, I find being in a city stimulating (for a change, and briefly), while some in our party have a much lower tolerance for crowds and the hassles of traffic. So our visit was purposely short, but we made the most of it.
My personal highlight was visiting the Butchart Gardens not far north of Victoria. What can I say? I took many, many photos. Almost everywhere you look is a perfectly designed and composed picture. We were told that at this season the roses were only blooming about 20-30 percent--I couldn't believe it as we strolled the Rose Garden. I can't imagine seeing them blooming at 100% (nor would I want to be shuffling through with the unimaginably increased crowds then). The Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, and Sunken Garden were even more delightful and astonishingly beautiful. And there were plenty of opportunities for good people-watching. It began to sprinkle as we reached the carousel (it was a gloomy day all day) and we caught up a few of the clear plastic umbrellas offered all over the park. But we remained fortunate--the sprinkles came, and then they went.
The other highlight was having found our desired "low tea" at Murchie's on Government Street in Victoria. We ordered sandwiches, pasta salad, and sweets a la carte along with our pots of tea. I had two(!) currant scones with cream and jam--remarkably delicious. So my daughter, at the moment a raving Anglophile, found her "British" tea.
We also wandered along Government Street and into the The Bay and the mall to window shop. We saw "Darth Vadar" playing the violin on a street corner, and saw a screever chalking the Mona Lisa on the sidewalk. We were turned away from peeking into the famed Empress Hotel by flunkies guarding the front entrance. My son bought a hat. My daughter bought a Chinese solar-powered bobble-head cat in Chinatown the night before, where we had dinner. That, and a utilitarian stay at the Ramada was the extent of our foreign adventure. We didn't even have to change our currency, and thankfully we didn't have to drive on the "wrong" side of the road.
We returned to Port Angeles via the same ferry, the Coho. It was a lot of fun to ride the ferry and watch the whole operation. Passing through the customs inspection was fortunately non-eventful. The Canadian officer who interviewed us just wanted to be sure we had no guns. The U.S. officer who interrogated us and looked into our car was friendly and joked with us. The beagle (led by a plain-clothes U.S. officer) who sniffed everyone's tires was diligent and cute.
I really liked the ferry experience; I sat comfortably at a table near the big windows and ate, read, and wrote to friends, while my family wandered the ship. I also liked it when we four were all reading together at the table while the sun set over the placid Strait of Juan de Fuca and big cruise and container ships passed by. After a 90-minute water passage, it's good to be back home in the United States. My flag, my people, my rights. My heritage.
What we're reading:
My husband: Bayesian Econometric Methods
My son: No Country for Old Men
My daughter: The Joy Luck Club (she doesn't care for it, but she has to read it for school)
Me: 1939: The Lost World of the Fair (a most excellent book!)