Victoria

On Saturday I headed up to Victoria, BC for a day trip to visit some good friends. The weather forecast was good, but as the Victoria Clipper IV pulled away from Seattle’s Pier 69 all we could see was fog. Thick, thick, fog. We made our way up Puget Sound and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca at a very reduced speed, sounding our siren as we went. At we approached Trail Island the weather began to clear, and we entered Victoria Harbour in bright sunshine with a mild breeze. But obviously we were quite late: it was well after 11, and I was going to have to check in for the return trip by 5.
I met my friends, and after an early lunch we drove out of town to their house. They’ve been there 5 years, during which time they’ve turned it from a “fixer-upper” into a really nice place with lots of character. Mind you, it’s the kind of place that has enough interesting quirks and possibilities that it seems likely to be an unending source of “projects”. ((Assuming that they can find reliable contractors to do the work. This seems to be an omnipresent problem.))
As they showed me over the house, we talked about more immediate plans, and it became clear that 3½ hours would not be sufficient. I decided to see if I could extend my visit, so I called Victoria Clipper to ask them to rebook me on one of the Sunday sailings. Incredibly, every sailing was sold out. Oh, well: I’ll just have to plan a longer visit in the spring.
By now it was after 2, so we went on a scenic tour, starting with Government House and Gonzalez Hill Park. From the top of the hill, I took a series of pictures to be stitched into a panorama. (Warning: file is 5.5MB.) ((It’s not a complete panorama: the view to the south was obscured by trees and bright sunlight. Towards the right (east) end of the picture, you can just make out the snowy peak of Mount Baker, the most northerly of the US Cascades.))
Victoria Panorama
Then we drove along the south coast, from Uplands to downtown Victoria. It felt rather like a cross between the English Devon coast and Carmel in California, and the house prices seemed to match! We prowled around the extraordinary Shoal Point building, one of the most advanced “green” projects in the worlds, covered in playful gargoyles and stone carvings. One final stop for espresso and pastries, and it was time for me to check in for my return trip. Fortunately the fog had completely burned off, and the Clipper made good time back to Seattle.

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