September 5th, 2007
Well, the long weekend is officially over. Back to regularity. Today is just like any other day. Kids are back in school and people are back to work. Oh yeah, and it’s also my Dad’s Birthday! I think he was feeling a bit left out since I spent my birthday in Wabigoon and Mom had Mother’s Day in Newfoundland. Dad is spoiled to be in a beautiful place like Vancouver Island for his big day. So to make him feel better, I put him back to work as soon as he opened his card. We have work that needs to be done!
Dad got on the phone started arranging Police escorts and media coverage. By the sounds of things, I should have at least a couple of Officers taking me through Victoria tomorrow. We mapped out the route through the city and decided to take a drive to see where I’d be skating. The area around Oak Bay and near the University of Victoria was breath-taking (even with the intense fog that was blanketing over us) with unbelievable mansions and ocean front property. I was driving at this point and pulled over when I saw a family of deer crossing the street. It seemed bizarre for deer to be wandering through this urbanized area. But it was awesome to see them up so close.
The weather network was calling for sunny skies, but all I could see was a sheet of white. And then the rain even began to fall. But we weren’t going to let it get us down. We park near the south end of Victoria and walked into town to look around. I figure that I won’t have time to stop and see all the sites tomorrow when I’m blading through, so I best be looking around now.
I knew Victoria was a small place, but I can’t believe how small the world is. As we headed towards the city, a young couple was walking towards us. My mom took one look at them and said “That’s a Vettorazzo boy.” Sure enough, it was a boy my mom had taught and Beth Caulfield who had also both gone to my old high school. It’s amazing who you run into when you’re skating across Canada.
The Legislative Buildings stand out as a memorable part of the day for me. Sure, the buildings have incredible arcitecture, and the history inside is amazing. But I was most impressed with their rules. While we walked through the halls, I came across an unusual sign. I could understand it they had signs that said No Talking, or No Cell Phones. But to see a picture depicting a person picking their nose was just plain weird. The only way I can interpret it is that they want us all to pick our noses while inside. So of course I had to oblige.
I was still giggling about the sign as we walked towards the Fairmont Empress Hotel. It’s a pretty impressive building, but has more meaning to my Mom. She explained how she has memories of having tea in the exclusive tea room in the hotel with my Grandma, Barb Darnley, Becky and Trish about 27 years ago. I wanted to see what all the hype was about so I walked right into the Tea Room and asked how much afternoon tea would cost. I walked away with my tail between my legs when the hostess explained it would be $55 per person without even batting an eye! Well, I wasn’t prepared to drop that kind of money since I don’t even drink tea, but I wanted to give my Mom a chance to re-live her glory days. So her, Crystal and I headed up an elevator and found ourselves in a private ‘members only’ section of the hotel on the 3rd floor over looking the harbour. Although there was no tea, there were a couple of tea cups which we took the opportunity to pose for a photo so it looks like we had afternoon tea there. Simple things for simple minds, I guess. It doesn’t take much to amuse us.
The sun finally broke through the clouds and burned the fog away. We jumped at the chance to stroll through the Old Town of Victoria with the sun beating down on us. Crystal and I did some window shopping which turned into real shopping and soon found ourselves in Chinatown. There some pretty neat shops and a remarkable area called Tan Tan Alley. This tiny alleyway is not even wide enough for 2 people to walk side by side. And yet when you stroll through it, there are some great shops an stores that you would never normally know existed. It was very unique.
We treated my Dad to dinner at the Cactus Club Cafe on Douglas street for his birthday. I know it’s not quite the same as the truck stop I was at for my birthday in July, but it’ll have to do. As great as Boston Pizza has been, you can imagine that Cactus Club came a refreshing alternative.
The West Bay Marine Village RV Park didn’t even hesitate when we called them looking for a site. It was a very different style of RV park than we’ve ever stayed at, but it was really nice. We were right on the water in the heart of a Marina. We were surrounded by boats and floating homes. And if you haven’t seen a floating home, it’s nothing like a house boat. They literally are gorgeous homes that float in the harbour. Marie, the woman who checked us in, was so warm and welcoming. She eagerly handed me a donation of her own as we chatted for while. Sometimes I don’t realize the importance of what I have no accomplished. Although I set out with a goal in mind, you never really know how it will turn out. And Marie helped by reminding me that I’m living proof that anything is possible if you just believe.