Lost and found

We were on a mission…but easily distracted. We’d checked out the Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria’s Harbor a few days ago and decided to return to try the oysters (him) and chowder (her) at a less crowded time. A few days later, we left our apartment and headed for the path running along the water’s edge. How did we get slowed down with one distraction after another?

DSC02152

We looked over the seawall and far below a lovely lost sun hat floated in the shallow water.

 

DSC02153

We found a violet balloon resting on the pebbly beach nearby.

Time to move on to the wharf, but one more stop for the flowers.

Time to move on to the wharf, but one more stop for the flowers.

Now our pace picked up. We rounded a bend and glanced down. STOP! See the otters sleeping on the rocks?

Now our pace picked up. We rounded a bend and glanced down. STOP! See the otters sleeping on the rocks?

 

Finally we made it to Fisherman’s Wharf! We hoped our timing would work, and it did. (From our limited experience, 3pm seems to be least crowded.)

While we waited for our order, we studied the menu and decided what to get on our next visit.

While we waited for our order, we studied the menu and decided what to get on our next visit.

Fried oysters and salmon chowder garnished with smoked salmon. $18.90 Canadian ($15.20 US).

Fried oysters and salmon chowder garnished with smoked salmon. $18.90 Canadian ($15.20 US).

The day started with lost items in the surf and ended with a nice find, The Fish Store – worth a return trip.

 

 

July 2015

Posted in Canada - Vancouver Island | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A statement. No words needed.

The houseboats at the Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria make a bold statement.

DSC02180

Some houseboat owners treated the exterior as their canvas – adding to their CHARM.

DSC02179

The bold COLOR combinations worked beautifully.

We’ve never seen a framed work of art on the exterior of a building. The pink frame on the pink exterior wall presented a unique ART piece.

We’ve never seen a framed work of art on the exterior of a building –  a unique piece of ART.

DSC02168 - Version 2

In STYLE with the houseboat setting, a fisherman kept vigilance on his deck over the bay.

Gardening skills are mostly confined to lush window boxes, and these provided a way to add more eye-catching colors on a small SCALE.

Gardening skills are mostly confined to lush window boxes, and these provided a way to add more eye-catching colors on a small SCALE.

Some may say that this kind of architectural and design statement only suits a few dozen houseboats sitting in an isolated area of Victoria’s harbor. Yes, it’s a bold statement, but the positive – really joyous – response from visitors to the houseboats at Fisherman’s Wharf got us thinking about how people reacted to these houses.

We noticed the reaction was the same at other architectural gems we’ve visited, like the Guggenheim Bilbao  and Paulo Soleri’s Costanti. Design, style, well-used color, and scale – with a bit of charm, too – is enough to excite everyone.

 

July 2015

 

Posted in Canada - Vancouver Island | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Qualifications: outgoing, love colors, desire waterfront property

If the description fits you, we found the place!

Our discovery started with our quest for good, fresh fish. Studying the Victoria map, we found a Fisherman’s Wharf. Why not stroll over to see the fish markets?

For most of the walk along the shore, we looked down at the waves breaking against the rocks or to the flowering plants lining the path. As we rounded a bend, we literally stopped in our tracks at the unexpected sight of the brightly painted houseboats bobbing together along the docks.

DSC02162

Fisherman’s Wharf is home to several businesses and a few dozen houseboats.

The sizes were modest and the colors bright.

The sizes were modest and the colors bright.

One was for sale. Interested?

One was for sale. Interested?

Were the sliding glass doors for a quick swim?

Were the sliding glass doors for a quick swim?

The high-rise apartment dwellers have a great view of the houseboats; but sadly, the houseboats’ view of the apartment building isn’t quite so nice.

The high-rise apartment dwellers have a great view of the houseboats; but sadly, the houseboats’ view of the apartment building isn’t quite so nice.

The algae looked a bit like a side lawn.

The algae looked a bit like a side lawn.

We, and the other tourists, had a grand time checking out all the details on the houseboats: bikes hanging on exterior walls, driftwood art, nautical-themed kitsch, and always – great, vibrant colors. We wondered what it would be like to live in the harbor with seals for neighbors and pesky tourists craning for a view?   We agreed that, although we think that we’re outgoing and know we love colors, this waterfront is sadly not for us. As they say, “It’s great fun to visit, but we wouldn’t want to live here.”

 

July 2015

Posted in Canada - Vancouver Island | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Seize the opportunity (while you still can)

 

We ticked off the places that we wanted to see some years ago, and, with each place named, wonderful images came to mind: “New Zealand …Venice and the Dolomite Mountains … Vietnam … Costa Rica … Arches National Park…” How did we choose our next destination from so many places? Money and time limited us, for sure. At some point we realized that we should move the more physically challenging trips to the top of the list and save the less active vacations for our later years. Only recently did we add another factor to our considerations: TIMELINESS.

We know poachers seriously endanger elephants and rhinoceros. Tourism is down in Africa now resulting in better opportunities for poachers. More tourists may reduce their opportunities. For anyone considering a safari, maybe the timing should be sooner, rather than later.

Huntington Gardens

One of our most memorable and rewarding trips was a safari with friends in Tanzania.

Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, floods about 100 days a year. Rising sea levels may threaten the city. We chose a dry month for our visit.

Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, floods about 100 days a year. Rising sea levels may threaten the city. We chose a dry month for our visit.

We visited Everglades National Park and were astounded with the ease of seeing so many birds and animals. It’s one of many national parks facing a crisis due to global warming and other environmental issues.

We visited Everglades National Park and were astounded with the ease of seeing so many birds and animals. It’s one of many national parks facing a crisis due to global warming and other environmental issues.

Worldwide, glaciers and snow caps are shrinking, and New Zealand is not exempt.  (Photo: Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand)

Worldwide, glaciers and snow caps are shrinking, and New Zealand is not exempt.  (Photo: Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand)

We lived to regret travel opportunities that passed us by, or rather, that we took a pass on. Friends generously offered us their home in the Caribbean, but we already had another trip in mind. “Thanks, but not now,” we said. What were we thinking?! Even after that, another friend suggested we stay at his cottage on the coast of England. We didn’t. Another blunder!

Over the years, we hope we’ve learned from our mistakes and experience. We still dream of places to go and still add to our list, but, when it comes time to choose, we now consider places to go that are threatened and may be a diminished experience in the years ahead. We’ll try to go with a light footprint.

DSC00263

We’ve planned a timely trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2016, another place to see endangered and threatened species. (Photo is not from the Galapagos, but is an African spurred tortoise we saw at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo.)

 

July 2015

Posted in Trip Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Nobody’s raining on this parade

The sky glowed a strange shade of pink-tinged grey from the many distant forest fires on Vancouver Island, but the parade went on as scheduled. When was the last time you were with thousands of people where everyone smiled and cheered – really having a fine time? If there was a good recipe for a parade this one had all the ingredients:

Groups strutting down the parade route in the most wonderfully conceived outfits

Groups strutting down the parade route in the most wonderfully conceived outfits

Spectators from near and far

Spectators from near and far

Recognizable icons

Recognizable icons

Performers with daring feats

Performers with daring feats

Unexpected marchers

Unexpected marchers

Performers who vamp for the crowd

Performers who vamp for the crowd

Boldly colored banners and flags

Boldly colored banners and flags

We had arrived in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island just in time for its annual Pride Parade. The mayor skateboarded and the City had its own official float this year. Banks, health organizations, farmers, the police, firefighters, and many others paraded through the city to celebrate inclusiveness and diversity.

We had left the US the day before the 4th of July festivities, so sadly we missed the holiday there.   What could have been better than joining the happy Canadian crowds here for their super July 5th Pride Parade?

 

July 2015

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

A family invasion at the US Border Protection office

We never know what a day will bring, but, if we are observant, rewards of memorable moments often come our way. We won’t soon forget what we saw on our walk in Port Townsend one morning — definitely unforgettable!

The day started at Addie Mae’s Southern Kitchen with cheesy grits, sautéed mushrooms, and shrimp topped with a fried egg.

The day started at Addie Mae’s Southern Kitchen with cheesy grits, sautéed mushrooms, and shrimp topped with a fried egg.

We followed Addie Mae’s breakfast with a long walk on the beach.

We followed Addie Mae’s breakfast with a long walk on the beach.

The beach path ended near the busy harbor where we watched all the activity: boats cleaned, crew and passengers hauled supplies on board and prepared to depart.

But wait! What was that? Two sleek furry creatures pop up from the rocky hillside. Soaking wet sea otters!

But wait! What was that? Two sleek furry creatures pop up from the rocky hillside. Soaking wet sea otters!

A third otter appeared and stopped to look at us. It hesitated, and then….

A third otter appeared and stopped to look at us. It hesitated, and then….

 

…the otter raced off across the road.

…the otter raced off across the road.

By now we’d seen 6 otters heading inland from the rocky shore. Where did they all go? Outbuildings obscured our initial view. We walked around the building just in time to see the last otter dive under a building into the crawl space below.

A boater happened to walk by and filled us in. A large family of sea otters (and many more than we saw) had made their home below the building for some time, that is, for years.

What was the building the otters called home? The left side is the office of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the right is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What was the building the otters called home? The left side is the office of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the right is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What an interesting arrangement! We continued our walk and discussed the otters’ dilemma. Did the U.S. Border Protection give the otter family asylum? Or do the otters play it safe and stay on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife underside of the building claiming US citizenship? Whichever, we’re glad the authorities respect family unity.

 

June 2015

Posted in US - miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

There are more of them than us

We drove into the brightly painted, spruced up seaport town filled with Victorian architecture. The main street ran along the bay that sparkled on the sunny, warm day. Mountains provided the ideal backdrop. Our excitement at spending a night here rose when we saw our little inn, not far from the water. We went into the office to check in. On the counter, a ceramic dish held little cellophane wrapped candies. As we studied the dish (“Ah! Which one to choose?”), we discovered that it wasn’t candy – but courtesy ear plugs for hotel guests in case the noisy seagulls threatened to disturb their sleep during the night.

DSC01937

There are more of them than us! Gulls at the harbor in Port Townsend, Washington.

We walked in a meadow by the water near the inn and noticed that gulls weren’t the only birds in town.

We walked in a meadow by the water near the inn and noticed that gulls weren’t the only birds in town.

We’d never seen so many white-crowned sparrows in one place.

We’d never seen so many white-crowned sparrows in one place.

The time had come to see what else we might discover in Port Townsend.

We were quite taken with the many small cottages. On our walk, we passed the Pilots Cottage, across from the harbor and available to rent. Maybe someday….

We were quite taken with the many small cottages. On our walk, we passed The Pilots Cottage, across from the harbor and available to rent. Maybe someday….

Carved wooden signs hung next to one of the arts & crafts shops, Abracadabra. This was our favorite.

Carved wooden signs hung next to one of the arts & crafts shops, Abracadabra. This was our favorite.

We photographed the downtown Victorian building in the early evening and hadn’t noticed the glowing top until we uploaded the image.

We photographed the downtown Victorian building in the early evening and hadn’t noticed the glowing top until we uploaded the image.

We enjoyed our (too brief) stay in Port Townsend and found its many birds added an interesting touch, but that may be because birds didn’t interrupt our sleep with their singing (or squawking).

 

 

June 2015

Posted in US - miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments