Day 21: Friday 26th
I woke today needing the toilet again. I guess I should go more often at night, but it probably doesn't matter much... The sun was sort of shining - it was bright anyway and the view of the mountains was very impressive. I got up, went to the toilet and went back to bed, being rather sleepy. We had decided not to get up in a rush today, but to go over to Victoria on Vancouver Island for the day on the 12.45 ferry. Julienne was her usual efficient, early self and had breakfast laid out not long after. It didn't seem very much longer before she was chivvying people to get up, but I resisted for a while.
We got on the road by about 11am, leaving out tents and most of the packs at the site. First stop was the visitor centre for the Olympic National Park in this area. There were a couple of sayings on the wall I liked so much I took photos of them, and a huge tree slice from a 650 year old Douglas Fir. We moved on then down to the wharf to wait for the boat; I simply went back to the coffee shop we'd been to yesterday, bought a coffee and returned to the yard where I took the opportunity to confirm my plane reservation and eat some of the remaining pizza from last night.
On the ferry (the "Coho"), we stayed on deck in a covered area at the back for the most part. I took the chance to have a chat with Dean, and eventually told him a little about my past, which astonished him completely. It was very nice to know that despite no make-up, a cough to wake the dead and my size etc I hadn't been read at all. Dean then told me about his very recent laser electrolysis to remove a lot of hair from his back, which had cost him $2000. He was quite curious about me and we chatted for a while about things.
My first impressions of Victoria were good, and were not disappointed. I really like this town. We got hauled over by customs for one of their security checks, so were a bit later getting out. I elected not to go to the museum, which perhaps was a mistake, but it closed at 5pm and the consensus seemed to be that 2 hours were needed to see it, and I didn't really feel like that sort of visit. Instead I wandered up Government St and explored the shops. I found two computer shops but neither a copy of Photoshop nor a scanner, so gave up that search, although in "a&b sounds" I did get a three CD's and a new tape, radio, which I hope will be good buys. There are some really nice shops here; not only touristy but some good ones like "Totally Diapers", for recent parents, and "The Really Cool Shop". Chinatown is very subdued, but there, and I found Fan Tan Alley. It is incredibly narrow; I could easily touch both sides at once.
I also wandered looking for a new bag; I would be lost at the moment if had to go home as I have more than my bags will hold. I eventually ended up in Jeune Bros, an outdoor store, where I tried on various full size rucksacs before buying an Arc'teryx 70 litre sac for $325 Canadian. The sales guy was really nice, offering advice and help about the different kinds they had, and quite right in saying the Arc'teryx was good - it was the kind he used himself! I hope it will be useful in the future if I go camping "properly"; it certainly fits nicely. On the way back I looked into the Royal National Geographic museum, which is next to the main museum and also into the Thunderbird Park, where there are a dozen or so full size totem poles. They look really impressive, but a little out of context -- kind of sad. They are all replicas made by a Tony Hunt in the last few years, but I would have found it difficult to determine that by eye.
There was a little time left but I was getting tired now and sat by the harbour watching what was going on. The harbour area itself is really nicely kept, with few of the smells and clutter usually associated with such places elsewhere. There seem to be quite a number of flying boats in use here too; I saw at least 2 taxiing around. When the Coho came in, she was initially heading straight for me where I sat, only at the last moment going into reverse and bringing the stern round. The ship is very manouverable!
The crossing was uneventful, other than the lovely views of the mountains at the beginning. We had decided to pile into the van and go in search of quick food it being already well past 9.30pm, ending up at a Burger King. After a quick stop at Safeway for firewood, we drove back to the camp. The fire at camp was poignant, being the last we would have together, and nobody was eager to go to bed, despite having to be up at 7am to clean the kit. We sat around the fire, chatting sporadically and enjoying the company. Pat discovered a bottle of tequila we had been carrying around and dipped into it with a gusto, although she couldn't quite finish the bottle off and Dean gave us a fireworks display by tipping it (about a double measure) into the fire. Eventually I went to bed, and the others weren't far behind.