Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why We Stay in Victoria

In my last post, we were spending the night in the parking lot of a casino in Toppenish, Washington.  As far as casinos go, I would describe this as 'the bottom of the barrel'.  Not nice at all.  In fact, downright yucky.  However, it was a convenient place for us to park the motorhome for the night.

We were up and on the road the next morning, but facing a howling wind.  It was so bad that Terry was concerned that the wind gusts could actually flip us over.  We debated pulling over and waiting till the wind subsided, but decided to keep going.  It was white-knuckle driving (and passengering) for quite some time.

This was our first trip to Port Angeles, so we relied heavily on the GPS to guide us.  This was especially true as we drove into the busy city of Seattle.  We followed 'her' instructions blindly, trusting that she would not run us into trouble.  Things were going fine until suddenly, and without warning, she was instructing us to 'board the Kingston ferry'.

What ferry????  We don't know 'nutt'n 'bout no Kingston ferry!!!

Panicking (of course), we wheeled the rig out of the path the GPS had us following, and drove into a nearby parking lot to regroup and determine exactly where she had taken us, and why. 

Luckily, a good Samaritan happened by.  A very nice gentleman, realizing that we probably weren't where we should be, stopped to see if we needed assistance.  Turns out there was indeed a ferry that we needed to take to get us over to Kingston, Washington, where we would then continue on the road to Port Angeles and the ferry across to Victoria.

He reassured us that the ferry could accommodate a rig of our size, but suggested that we may want to wait until the next day, as the gale-force winds that travelled with us were resulting in large waves that could make the ferry ride rough.  The rough seas might also result in a cancellation of the sailings.

Terry contacted the ferry office to see whether we could make the next sailing.  After some reassurance that the trip would not be disastrous for the motorhome and its contents, we carried on and boarded the ferry.  Turns out the ride was smooth and uneventful.  Thank god!

Off we headed towards Port Angeles.  Terry had tentatively booked an RV park where we could spend the night before boarding the ferry to Victoria the next day.  However, we happened upon the 7-Cedars Casino just outside of Port Angeles.  Owned by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, this casino was a sharp contrast to the casino we had spent the previous night at - obviously a very affluent tribe.  We had a fabulous meal in their restaurant.

We boarded the Black Ball Ferry at 10:30 a.m. the next day.  It was a smooth crossing.

We crossed customs at Victoria, just after we disembarked.  We had to declare our over-limit U.S. purchases, and our liquor overages(part bottles).  They also did a walk-through inspection of the motorhome.  No problems, but we did have to pay some duty.  All-in-all it was a very easy border crossing.  The staff were extremely professional and very courteous.

We made our way to Fort Victoria RV Park, where we stayed last year.  I was surprised to see how busy it was - there appeared to be many more RVs on site compared to last year.  It soon became apparent that a significant number of these RVers are permanent residents.  This makes for some very interesting characters, most of whom we prefer not to mingle with.

Okay, maybe there are a few exceptions ....

This could be me in a few years.  However, I'll be toting along three cats .....

Terry has once again set up our portable hot tub in the trailer.  This is strictly 'verboten', so we are forced to sneak down the road to the trailer (it's parked in the storage area) with our towels and drinks hidden.  The 'full-timers' here appear to be unusually curious, so we have to make sure no one gets too suspicious. 

It's worth the risk, however.  Terry has even set up a portable DVD player, so we watch movies while we enjoy our soak in the tub!

We've been in Victoria for two weeks now, and really enjoying it.  We're spending lots of time with sister Tammy and her hubby Tom, and have linked up again with Rob and Judy Turner.  We celebrated Mother's Day with my lovely stepmom Lois and stepsisters Melita and Mara-Lee at Lois' place on the shores of Lake Cowichan.

Life is good on the island.  Here's a few of the reasons why we spend time here before returning to Alberta .....

It's unbelievably green.  And the golfing is excellent!  Today we golfed 9-holes at the Pacific Highlands Golf Course, and then another 9-holes at Prospect Lake Golf Course.  Very different courses.

Prospect Lake looks really nice.  Where is that boat when you need it!!

The flowers!!  It is unbelievable how many varieties and colors you see in full bloom.

Even the rocks support flowering bushes.

The beaches!  Tammy, Tom, Terry and I went for dim sum in Chinatown on Sunday, and took a leisurely stroll along the waterfront in Victoria. 

It was a beautiful day, and we took advantage of the great weather and the scenic beaches that we came upon.

Look - palm trees!!!  Makes me feel like home ....

 This is a picture of a very, very large otter that we came across while on our walk.  He was sunning himself on the rocks, but hit the water as soon as Terry got too close with the camera.

New water sport!  Terry and I borrowed Rob and Judy's kayaks, and paddled around the Sidney Harbour.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time paddling by the unbelievable homes along the waterfront.  We even had a seal pop up right beside us.

 And my personal favorite thing about Vancouver Island?  The Pubs!!!  They have the best English-style pubs ever, and there is an abundance of them.  In fact, there are two great pubs (the Four Mile Pub and the Six Mile Pub - the oldest pub in B.C.) within walking distance of us.  How convenient...

These pubs have interesting histories.  Their original purpose was to serve as a dropping point for the mail, which was delivered via coach.  A number of the pubs are reputed to be haunted.  Even more fun ...

We are scheduled for a 7-day sailing trip through the Gulf Islands June 2-8th.  We'll be sailing in a traditional monohull sailboat with two other couples.  It should be a very different experience from the BVIs - there will be no jumping into the water (intentionally at least).  I'm sure it will be amazing, and the scenery wonderful.

 Now if we can manage to avoid the 'liquid sunshine' they keep forecasting for the next few days ....

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