Friday, September 19, 2008

From the Atlantic to the Pacific

My plan was to go straight from D'Arcy to Brentwood Bay to visit my brother Peter. Brentwood Bay is just north of Victoria, about half way between the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay and the city of Victoria.

September 15: Best laid plans, changed on the fly

I left D'Arcy around 10:00am, after saying goodbye to Sam and a brief Hello-Goodbye to the fellows at Island Expeditions. If it had only taken three hours to get back to Vancouver I think I might have made it to Tsawwassen for the 3:00pm Victoria ferry as I told my brother I was going to. However, driving on the Sea to Sky Highway was again quite slow, so I opted for the Nanaimo ferry from Horseshoe Bay at 3:10pm and then a drive down the Island Highway.

In one of the line-ups waiting to get through some road construction on the Sea to Sky Highway I met a man who travels the ferries a lot and he recommended that, even though Brentwood Bay (my destination) is much closer to the Victoria ferry terminal, I should take the Nanaimo ferry from Horseshoe Bay instead of the 76 km "drive through hell" that is the route through Vancouver to the Tsawwassen fery terminal. As it was, I just barely made it onto the Nanaimo ferry. Unfortunately I had to pay the oversize fee of an extra $30. I met the same guy again on the ferry and he said I should complain, that my truck and kayak sure didn't look overheight. Even though they (the BC Ferries guys on the ferry) counted my vehicle as underheight once on the ferry, they couldn't do anything and recommended that I stop by the ferry terminal in Nanaimo. So that is what I did.

At the Nanaimo ferry terminal, the manager measured my truck height and showed me that it was actually 2 inches overheight. So, they wouldn't give me my money back but now I knew how much I needed to somehow get rid of in order to avoid the overheight fee the next time.

I arrived at Peter and Pat's home in Brentwood Bay just as they were setting dinner on the table. How fortuitous! We ate at the table on their backyard patio, it was very pleasant. They have a very nice house surrounded by big trees, and the gardens that Pat has been working hard on for the past year. They just moved in about a year ago and are still meeting their neighbours, getting to know the place, and making changes to make their home more comfortable and beautiful.

September 16: Foiling BC Ferries

Peter took on the project of getting my roof rack down by at least 2 inches. In the end he was successful but it was quite a job. First we moved the roof rack mounts forward so that they could be attached lower on the truck canopy (the cap on the bed of the truck). Then Peter tried reducing the size of the extra spacers in the forward rack mounts, but when we put the kayak on after he had done that it turned out to be not sufficient. It was better to removed the spacers altogether.

By suppertime we were satisfied that it was well under the seven foot limit for overheight vehicles on BC Ferries. However, the rear rack was now mounted so far forward that I had to change my kayak mounting technique to get it up there. A little more awkward but still doable.

September 17: From sea to sea

Today Peter and I went kayaking in Brentwood Bay.

Peter rented a kayak and I took mine.

We paddled down a long narrow inlet that was at first very quiet and peaceful but when we got near the end of the inlet it was full of noisy high school kids out paddling canoes. Ah well!

We passed through a great underwater cloud of white jellyfish, ranging in size from a couple of inches to maybe eight inches in diameter. They were very beautiful. We also saw starfish and spiderfish (they look like starfish but have many many legs) on the rocky bottom. At one point we thought we saw a river otter swimming across the inlet, but it turned out to be a harbour seal. It dove, and then later I saw it under my kayak slowly spiralling up to the surface. It broke the water just behind me, sat there for a few moments blinking its eyes and looking around, before diving below again. We also saw a couple of kingfishers and turkey buzzards, and some Canada geese.

A number of Brentwood Bay residents have homes right on the waterfront, each with their own little dock and boats. At the tip of the bay is a marina full of pleasure craft and rows of condos that Peter refers to as The Chicken Coop.

So now I have officially gone a mari usque ad mare in my kayak, dipped it in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, as well as one freshwater lake, Anderson. The only thing 'missing' is Lake Ontario, but I probably won't be able to do that this year.

After our paddle we went for lunch at a local pub and had quite a good chat about our respective plans for the future, family, and various other topics. Later I went for a walk with Pat around the neighbourhood, she showed me some of her favourite gardens and spots to view the ocean. Gardening is big, very big, in the Victoria area, you can grow so many things that just don't grow anywhere else in Canada. The gardens are lush and varied with many beautiful shrubs and trees as well as flowers.

September 18: Friends and family

Today was very social day, Peter and Pat invited their friends John and Debby for a pancake breakfast and later in the afternoon we went to visit Aunt Sidney and Uncle David.

Earlier I had asked Peter what his opinion was on how much longer I could expect to keep my truck running, whether I was better off to keep it going or look for another one. He suggested that his friend John could give me a better idea than he could, so after breakfast John took a good look at my truck and made his recommendations. Basically, he thought that I could probably get another 50,000 km out of my truck if I did a few crucial repairs, and that rather than try to keep it going any longer than that or embarking on major repairs, I should start looking now for a replacement. He recommended that I look for a good used Mazda B2200. More importantly, he told me my fan belt needed to be replaced immediately, like before I left Brentwood Bay, and there were a couple of other things he thought my truck needed. He could get me a deal on parts if I wanted to return to Brentwood Bay in a week or so. I was extremely grateful for his opinion and careful examination of my truck.

In the afternoon we went over to Sid and David's place for tea. Sid is my mother's sister, the last of the three sisters still alive. She and David are in their 80s, and they have lived in the same house just about since they were married. In fact, it is the house that David grew up in, it was bought by his father when David was eight. It is a lovely old house on a beautiful lot overlooking Oak Bay in Victoria.

Among other things it is filled with examples of Sid's fine needlework, which unfortunately she no longer does. They also have many fine old paintings and a lovely garden. Sid's favourite pastimes are golf and gardening.

Sid told us the story of the AY Jackson painting they had that has now ended up in the Ontario Art Gallery. They sold it a few years ago and apparently it got the highest price of any AY Jackson painting ever. It was little known, since Jackson's work was mostly in Ontario and Quebec, few knew that he had come out to BC and done some painting here as well. This painting is a view of trees and mountains rising from a waterfront, perhaps somewhere along the coast. She said they were glad that it ended up in Ontario, Jackson's home province.

Sitting with Sid and David was almost like having my mother back, Sid looks a little like my mother and shares some of her mannerisms and way of talking. It was kind of poignant, flipping between seeing her as Mum and Sid, and being aware of how frail she is and how one day she will be gone too. Not that she is unhealthily frail, she does after all continue to golf every week. But they have largely given up sailing even though they still have their boat.

Sid urged Pat to take some of her plants, but Pat feels she already has enough for now. Sid and Pat enjoy each other's company very much as they share the gardening in common. Mossom, their son, was there for awhile. I did not talk to him much although Peter and Moss went out for a chat probably about cars.

Peter is very much into cars, especially his two Mustangs, a Cobra and a Shelby. I understand that the Shelby is very valuable and powerful, Peter keeps both vehicles in immaculate condition. The Shelby is not for everyday driving, he uses the Cobra for that.

September 19: Back to the mainland

Peter changed the fanbelt and the oil on my truck, I will be returning in another week or so for new shocks, a new gasket in the engine (twice I asked the name of it, twice he told me, and twice I forgot it; I just know that it is not the head gasket), and a transmission servicing. I am kind of annoyed that the last two shock absorber changes made no difference to how the truck ran and John said the reason is because the shocks are inadequate for my truck. The new shocks put on this summer should still be good but they are not. John will order some heavy duty shocks for me. John also recommended a heavier oil in my truck, so that is what Peter put in.

So that's it, I am on the ferry heading back to the mainland after my week of travelling and visiting, I did not have to pay the overheight fee this time. I hope to get back to Sam's place and I am committed to going back to Peter's, in another week or so. Then I will probably start thinking about heading east.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, Anne,

Your life is rich in family, friends, and experiences because you do say YES! to life. Good for you!

I'm glad you have so many helpful folks, too, so you can safely carry on adventuring until it's wise to be home for the winter - or will you head south?!