Josh and I just got back last night from an amazing 2-day trip to Victoria up in Canada. His grandmother (an amazing, nurturing, kind and classically classy broad by the name of Janice) surprised us with the trip on Christmas day. She truly is a remarkable woman. Her husband passed away this past year, and Josh took it really hard as the man was a very important father-figure in his life and present right from the start. You couldn't tell much that it's effected how she lives, though. She's active in her church, in her neighborhood, and she walks everywhere. She has an amazing perspective on life that's contagious when you're around her. It was so nice to just not worry about schedules, or fitting in life with work, or pace when she was with on this trip with us.
We took the ferry from Port Angeles, WA up to Victoria at 7am in the bitter cold, but just the ferry ride alone was spectacular. Having never been on any sort of water craft other than a little speedboat on a lake, I was blown away by the experience. I've always been fascinated and petrified of the ocean in equal parts; looking out at the gray vastness between WA and the city of Victoria I was struck by how small one could easily feel. I do think that experiences like that are needed to gain perspective. It's very easy to be very "me" focused in today's update-my-current-status culture, so being pitted against nature if only for the briefest of times does wonders for the mind and soul. I found myself very calm on that boat, holding on to Josh and staring out at the churning waters.
Victoria as a city reminds me a lot of San Francisco; they know that tourists drive their economy. The architecture is beautiful and is well maintained, the streets are clean, and there is little evidence of crime or major city-centric issues even when you walk a dozen blocks from all the major tourist attractions. We stayed at a hotel on Johnson just a few blocks walking distance from the major shopping districts and were a 5 minute drive from the water front, the famous Empress Hotel, and that bitchin' looking Parliament building.
Side-Bar: What is it with Canadians and their shoes?! We must've seen fifty shoe stores in the area right around the hotel. The "mall" was mostly shoe stores as well. It became a joke for our little group that maybe there is a massive, nation-wide shoe fetish? I've also noticed that when Cnaadians come down here to stay at the hotel it's always to shop no matter what time of the year it is and it's almost always for shoes. WTFrak? Anybody have any insight into this?
On Day One we walked around the downtown parts of the city, relaxed, and then went up to Buchart Gardens for a few hours. That place was incredible. I'm now at the age where I can appreciate walking around for long hours looking at trees and flowers, despite the fact that the ten year old whom lives deep inside my psyche was mocking me the whole time and wanting to watch re-runs of the 90s X-Men cartoon instead. Janice treated us to dinner at their amazing restaurant where I had salmon that didn't suck, which is hard to do when not cooking it myself. The service was great and the wine was awesome. We took several-thousand pictures there so when she gets them off her camera and on to the internets I may post some here.
Day Two was spent at the BC Museum of Natural History and wandering around the Empress pretending we were guests and going in places we weren't supposed to (why yes, the tea room does look quite nice and I do feel under-dressed for it with my 4-day unshaven look and my ratty-ass Cons...). The Museum was neat; they had a really great display that was sort of a "behind the scenes into science" thing but I'll describe mostly as dead shit in jars--Which is amazing and a little Lovecraftian.
Weird shit I noticed about Canada that fits the stereotype(s):
1)They apologize. A LOT.
I don't think I've ever heard that many parents apologizing to their kids as they discipline them before. "No, Hannah, it's too cold and I already told you you can't take your coat off. Sorry." I personally think adding on that little "sorry" all the time would sound so condescending that I'd want to murder everyone in Canada after about a week...
"No, I'M soh-ry."
2)Bryan Adams is a big fucking deal.
So are Alanis and Michael Buble. Seriously, I heard Alanis three separate times on various radio/shopping mall areas. And not new Alanis; classic Alanis. I was also convinced that if I herd Michael Buble's new single again I could successfully karaoke it.
3)Canadian men are either very outdoorsy/masculine or very foppish and waxed.
Thus my slender, tight jeans yet quite bearded look drew looks of confusion (amusement?) from the various ladies working at coffee shops and gay dudes hanging out around the gay bar down the street. "Who is this amalgamation of twink and straight-acting guy?! My SENSES ARE SHATTERED!!!!!"
All in all it was a silly, fun trip and a got to go on a boat. Great success! Now it's back to America so I can work my ass off and eat cheese and watch Sarah Palin be a dummy on television. God love this country.
"You'll make me work; so we can work to work it out.
And I promise you, kid, I give so much more than I get.
I just haven't met you, yet!"