Yep, it’s true. I’ve done it. I’ve bought those boots – all rubber – that I’ve been avoiding for the three years we’ve been travelling to British Columbia. Finally. Everybody else here walks around with high boots and dry feet, but no, I’ve clung to my runners (soaking wet with the first step) and my Sorels (what the heck, I might wake up to forty below, who knows?). But yesterday, I did it. I’m officially a west coast born- again hippie. I actually own rubber boots and not the kind you went plodding around in through puddles when you were a kid. These are a fashion accessory. They’re funky (I like to think). They’re cool. And their purchase is not a moment too soon. The forecast is four days of rain, two of which will be torrential downpours. And that’s just the beginning of the rainy season. The Flood, she’s a comin’. Maybe I can ditch the snowshovel too?
And that leads to our recent activities, all of which you will find fascinating. We have been looking at real estate here in Sooke and yes, we’ve bought something – a pretty little lot in a really nice development with a view of the hills behind us and a sliver of ocean in front. Apparently around here if you can just see an eighth of an inch of water from your laundry room window or from the very end of your driveway, you have “ocean view”. That may sound goofy, but it’s here it’s the way to go. Therefore, we have “ocean view”. Until someone builds a very large, very high house beside us. Oh well, can’t have everything.
And so, in line with becoming residents, we’ve decided that we should do some of the local activities just for fun. Accordingly, we’ve been taking daily walks along the spectacular Sooke River. It seems that along this river you can see the most amazing things:
This incredibly beautiful swan that actually eats out of your hand if you let it:
Bears – three times last week!!
This heron who struts along the riverbank as if he owns it ( or does he?).
And the ever-amazing, unbelievable salmon run with fish jumping ALL OVER THE PLACE everywhere you look:
And, as if this isn’t enough, as I’m watching the jumping fish, there’s even bigger splashes right in front of me. Really big ones. Among the splashes is a dark patch which writhes and tosses around like a frantic lunatic, moving so fast you can hardly figure out what it is. Then, it disappears. Suddenly, there it is again, huge water movement, lots of noise and a dark shape in the middle. Wow. Well, it seems that not only do I get to see salmon leaping right out of the water, but now I’m watching a seal eating, no, make that gobbling, a poor fish that was grabbed as it began it’s upward trajectory.
Wow, what next?
Well, the what next made itself apparent the next day. Jim and I had a great idea – they’ve got these neat tour buses that go from Sooke to Victoria and, in fact, will take you anywhere in the city that you want to go. Beautiful double deckers with plush seats, reading lights and air conditioning. And all for $2.50 each. Hey, what more could a Ukrainian and a money – conscious numbers guy want? So we pack some snacks, grab the backpack (minus the bear spray), and get ourselves to the nearest bus stop. This is going to be fun!
Well, it really is fun. Before we know it, we are in downtown Victoria doing the scenic tour. We watch all the sights and decide to get off at the same time as three preteen girls who look like they’re in the know. Surely they are going to some funky mall or interesting shopping district or at least the public library? We get off, look around and oops, the girls are gone. Okay, now we’re on our own in the middle of a strange city and don’t even know where the nearest bathroom is. Hmm, is this still fun?
After walking around aimlessly for a couple of hours, we separate. Jim hits the Mountain Equipment store and I wander down a street filled with boutiques and coffee shops. An hour later, I find him sitting on a bus stop bench, reading his book and avoiding the looks of the homeless people hanging out in the shelter. This is really fun!
Next, in an unusual mood, Jim suggests that we jump back on the bus (the homeless types are moving closer) and go back towards a mall that we had passed earlier. So off we go, the result being my spending way too much money. Back on the bus, quick.
And then the rest of the story. The Victoria bus takes you to a transfer station. Done. The Sooke bus picks you up at this station. No problem. Whoops! An hour and a half wait? Who read the schedule? Neither of us? Oh oh.
So, it’s a long wait on a very hard bench in the middle of an industrial park area. Yep, lots of fun. But finally, bus 61 shows up and his sign says ” Sooke”. On we get and off we go. This is ok. We’re good. Its been a great day.
The bus heads out and covers a few kilometers of territory that is now getting familiar. It’s all good. I’m gazing out the window in a trance when Jim suddenly says, “Hey, he turned the wrong way! This is the way to downtown!” Sure enough, we’re going back to the mall again.
To make a long story short, there we were, to coin a phrase, “lost and destitute in Victoria”. Off the bus again, back to the transfer station and another hour to wait. By now it’s getting cold, we have no water or food left, not a restaurant to be seen and hmm, not so much fun anymore. The bottom of the backpack yields a really old, really crumbly granola bar which we split. Oh my god, these benches are hard. Ahh, here comes the Sooke bus, finally. On we get, with Jim asking the driver if he’s going to Sooke and then me asking him again right after. We finally get home four hours after we had planned, tired, hungry and cold. But at least my new boots still look shiny and my feet are dry. Quite the walk on the edge this time.