April 14, 2011
The main goal of this trip was to see the flowers, so this morning it was get up early and catch the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. If you have never caught a ferry then this can be a little stressful. First there is reading the schedule so you know what time they leave. Sounds easy, doesn’t it, but then you open the schedule.
After about thirty minutes of trying to decipher the pages of fine print, I gave up and decided it would easier just call them on the phone. That didn’t work either because I didn’t know the length of my car within one foot and I wasn’t talking to a person but a machine and the machine couldn’t understand that I didn’t know the length of my car within one foot and if I got it wrong there were no refunds. I hung up and went back to the Greek schedule.
Let’s see, the fine print in light print is for AM ferries and the dark print in bold print is for PM ferries. It doesn’t say that anywhere, it is kind of like an IQ test. Next, which ferry do you want to take? Yes, there is more than one. We can leave from Horseshoe Bay or Vancouver. Well, not really Vancouver but Tsawwassen, which doesn’t really go to Victoria but goes to Swartz Bay and the one that leaves Horseshoe Bay doesn’t really go to Victoria either but goes to Nanaimo. Horseshoe Bay is closer to where we are staying but Swartz Bay is closer to Victoria where we are going. Remember, that Canadian Dollar coin I got at the Supermarket for the shopping cart, out of my pocket it came. Heads it is Horseshoe Bay, tails it is Tsawwassen. Horseshoe Bay it is. Now, wasn’t that easy.
Remember the boarder-crossing incident where I decided our big rig bus RV was more like a bus than a car so I chose the bus lane and got punished. Well, I had to chuckle as we approached the ferry in our car there was this big sign. “RVs use bus lane.” Okay, I am getting this now. On the highway an RV is a truck, on the border it’s a car and on the ferry we it’s a bus and for taxes it is a second home.
The hour and forty minute ferry ride was uneventful, a time to catch some Zs, read a magazine or just kick back and watch the scenery go by to the low rhythmic base vibration sounds of the powerful diesel engines as the boat rocks ever so gently.
As we drove off the ferry I was shocked to see that it was 77 miles to Victoria. Oh well, it will be a scenic drive. We arrived at Butchart Gardens just in time for lunch. They have a wonderful fine dining restaurant with a view of the garden, a treat for the pallet and for the eyes.
Of all the places we have been, if I could just recommend one, it would be Butchart Gardens. It is a place of beauty that touches all the senses as you stroll the manicured gardens. Close your eyes for moment, breath in slowly, a hint of sweetness fills your lungs and sends a wonderful sensation over your body, do it again slowly. Now open your eyes and see the variety of flowers, bushes and trees mixed and swirled together like eye candy in a crystal jelly bean jar. Reds, greens, purples, yellows and pinks, large and small, long and skinny, or short and squatty, you are surround in the sunken garden by a rainbow of colors in perfect order. Butchart Gardens is a landscape where every brushstroke has been planted and changes with the weather and the seasons; never the same twice but always magnificent and beautiful. A place not created by nature but a place where nature’s pallet of colors and shapes were used to paint the landscape. A garden like no other you will see in the world. Donna said, “If I were granted one wish, it would be that everyone would have the opportunity to visit this garden in his or her lifetime.”
After the garden we had time to visit James Bay Tea House in Victoria. A little place where we had had high tea 25 years ago. It was still there and they were still serving tea and scones. We even got to sit at the same table. What a fun experience for us, kind of a trip down memory lane and then it was time to catch the ferry back. The lady that served us said she doubted it would still be there if we returned in another 25 years because it was scheduled to be sold in 2012. Oh heck, said Donna, we had planned to return, I mean we would only be a young 95 years old.
We decided to catch the ferry at Swartz Bay back to Vancouver (Tsawassen), which turned out to be about 50 miles closer to where we are staying. Of course, we did not know that when we started out this morning. All in all it was another wonderful day in Canada.
After Butchart Gardens you would have thought we had seen enough flowers but no, it was off to Minter Gardens in Chilliwack. Their fine dining was closed and the smoked salmon on ciabiotta bread I had for lunch wasn’t exactly what I expected but we enjoyed the garden just the same. Donna said her Santa Fe Burger was delicious. We could not have timed our trip more perfectly to catch the flowers and trees in perfect bloom. As for the weather, it has been cool but no rain for our trips to the gardens. It is like we have had an umbrella over us; rain all around but not on use while visiting the gardens. As we started to leave, I discovered the real reason for the trip to Chilliwack, it wasn’t the garden, it was a yarn store down town that Donna had read about. So it was off to the yarn shop. To our surprise and delight Main Street was lined with purple-leaf plum trees in full bloom making the street look like it was lined with pink cotton candy like you find at the County Fair. The yarn shop was just what Donna had been looking for and she loaded up. I joked that Canada might not let us export that much wool to the United States as we headed back to Vancouver. It is hard to believe we have been in Canada for a week already, the time is flying bye. Time to do laundry again tomorrow.