VicNotes 12b – 66 Hours
At numerous points throughout Taryn’s visit to me in Victoria, we commented on how action-packed this trip would be. The movie, I figured, would star Samuel L. Jackson as me and Julianna Margulies as Taryn and feature a number of snakes invading an aircraft, in a desperate attempt to kill aboard. That said… in the unlikely event that a movie ever comes of that idea, perhaps we should just star in our own film, and simply ignore plot, trying instead to cram as many different things into as possible. This explains the lengthy post. (By the way, I know that my Snakes on a Plane joke is somewhat dated. Let me quickly point out: I don’t care. SoaP is immortal.)
Taryn arrived from her apparently excellent MSc interview at UBC on Monday, around 5:30, after successfully navigating Vancouver, Tsawassen, the Strait of Georgia, Swartz Bay and Victoria. This is notable for a few reasons, not least of which was that I have trouble navigating my own apartment building’s hallways, preferring as I do to walk into walls and posts. I was waiting for her when she got off the bus, and though we hadn’t seen each other for a few years – neither of us can actually place our finger on the last time – it was easily smooth from the beginning, like there hadn’t been a day between us. The part that was less smooth, of course, was that I had to quickly escort her to another bus stop so she could get to my place, and I could get to work. I was closing down The Restaurant that evening, so I wasn’t able to clear out until just shy of midnight. While I don’t wish to say my service suffered from my anxiousness to get home, there’s a very real chance the last couple of clients were asked to order their desserts “directly to Megan, that woman in the kitchen over there” and were given brief instructions on how to run our coffee maker behind the bar. (*Note: kidding, of course. I give people GREAT service incredibly well regardless of what time of night it is.)
After getting myself back to the apartment, I dragged poor Taryn out of her bed where she was happily trying to ignore the time difference and the epic flight. We then went for a walk up to Mt. Tolmie – arguably my favourite place in Victoria – in order to check out the stars and the night view of the cityscape. The only challenge was avoiding the steamed-up cars parked directly in front of the “No parking between 11pm and 7am” signs. I also learned just how miserable I am at pointing out the various locations in my city when I don’t have the advantage of daylight. Sample conversation:
- Taryn: “What’s that big cluster of lights over there?”
- Chris: “Ummm… lightbulbs, I presume.”
- Taryn: “Oh. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that.”
- Chris: “Aaaaaiiieeeeee” * “falls” off cliff *
The next day was earmarked for whale watching, but since we were on the waitlist to do it for free (I know, ladies, it’s hard to imagine just how generous I am with my money) – we had the bulk of the morning and early afternoon to wander around Victoria and the harbour. There’s a photo album of some of the sights over at Flickr (the link is also at the top-right of my blog), though of course you’ll see a few photos interspersed throughout this post. We first wandered out to Fisherman’s Wharf, a moored collection of houseboats, in order to marvel at people with the best view of the harbour and the least amount of privacy in the world. Following that, we moseyed up to the Victoria Legislature and sat on the lawn, just talking and enjoying the gorgeous weather. (I know, ladies, it’s hard to imagine just how exciting the events I plan are.) While whale watching went off without a hitch, we were sadly orca-free… getting to see only the majestic and rather anti-climactic view of humpback tails flashing in the air for a few seconds before disappearing for 20 minutes. On the plus side, this did give us time to plan the more climactic evening.
There is – at the Empress Hotel – a rather snazzy little lounge called The Bengal Room. This is a nice place to visit, decked out to match British India. So Taryn and I decided to get snazzed out and head there for a pre-dinner drink, before relocating to The Restaurant for dinner. I tried to be all cool and order an ‘off the menu’ martini – basically, just a dry Hendrick’s Martini – but the Empress was plum out of Hendrick’s, so I had to settle for a slightly less manly drink (one that contained a number of rums and fruit juices and only wasn’t served with a bar umbrella, since they apparently didn’t exist in colonial India.) Taryn forbid me from ruining the ambience by letting my slick happy fingers make the camera button sing, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. After our aperitif, we retired to The Restaurant. Since I routinely recommend oysters as a part of my job, I figured it was only fair that I actually try one or two, to see how much I like them. I happy to note that the more flavourless an oyster is, the better the experience, though I really do enjoy the rather sweet taste of the Kumamoto… and I could be easily persuaded to do that again. It was also nice to try the Pecan Salmon, since I’ve been recommending it as “my favourite thing on the menu” for the last 3 months.
With the water still beckoning, though, Taryn and I spent the next day on a private guided kayak trip to Seal Rock to observe the harbour seals. Harbour seals are pure comedy. They lack the necessary musculature in their limbs to be able to amble their way along the rocks, so they wait for high tide to float of the rocks, then swim and eat, to return to settle on the rocks in low tide. They are referred to by the locals as “rock sausages”. They have the energy level of avocados. They are, in short, ranked right up above “house cat” and “Student with Research Grant” for least work done in a month. We got to hang around with the seals, though, and had a blast kayaking our way through the harbour.** At the recommendation of Kayaking Doug – our tour guide – after we got off the water we went to Darcy’s for Caesars and onion rings, adding another stop to our eventually exhaustive list of drinking establishments frequented (the final tally: 7 – Irish Times, The Bengal Room, Nautical Nellie’s, Darcy’s, my house, Smuggler’s Cove Pub and The Airport White Spot (though we avoiding drinking, per se, at the last one)). The Caesars were of excellent quality, and having nothing to do aside from prepare for visitors to my place that evening, we enjoyed one or three over a brief period of time, then bussed it back home.
I still needed to provide snacks for the people coming over, so we went to the local grocery store. Apparently buying groceries after Caesar-ing is a fun experience, since Taryn forced me to put back many of the 17 boxes of frozen snacks I’d attempted to buy. The evening, though, was fun and filled with failed and successful attempts at Poker and an awful lot of beer and vodka. Taryn decided that she loved me based on the fact that I had a bottle of lemon juice she could use to flavour her vodka/waters… thus proving that the easiest way to ANYONE’S heart is through their stomach… or possibly liver, anatomy not being my strong point.
With Taryn taking off soon, Thursday morning necessitated a brief visit to the pool in order to shock us into wakefulness, then a relaxed day of wandering the UVic Campus – apparently Taryn didn’t believe me about how many bunnies there are all over the place, nor that they stalk you in a manner reminiscent of Monty Python – and having lunch at Smuggler’s Cove before enjoying the views over Cadboro Bay. It was a pretty peaceful and contented way to conclude the visit.
Of course, that’s not where the visit concluded. There first needed to be a rules-free game of Scrabble, in which Taryn attempted to use the words “Dover” and “Dylon” and a rather nerve-wracking wait for the bus to the airport to show up, which it decided to do 20 minutes late. All was well and good, though, and Taryn and I headed up the airport at the top of the double decker bus, perched at the very front, watching the mountains in the distance and the sunlight reflecting off the water. The goodbye was hurried and rushed – those at the airport always are – and she was on the plane and off to Ontario. Already, my life seems a little bit quieter and more drab. I think I just miss my friend.
** Note: The only thing more pathetic than a harbour seal is the cormorant. This is a bird that feeds on fish, and thus lives in and around the ocean. However, since God apparently has a twisted sense of humour, these poor birds lack the necessary oils to be able to fly when wet. Thus they’ll dive to be able to eat, then spend the next 20 minutes standing on a rock, waiting for the sun and breeze to dry their feathers. How this creature lives long enough to reproduce remains a mystery that baffles naturalists.