I was working on marine transportation reservations for The Coach the other day while Suzanne was connecting with Sanaya. When she came out of the bedroom where she meditates, she asked what I had been doing. I told her that I had been making reservations for the leg across the Strait of Georgia from Nanaimo to Vancouver, British Columbia. She smiled and said, “Well that’s perfectly appropriate. While I was talking to angels and spirit guides, you were talking to ferries.”
We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on Saturday, and had a very nice dinner at a (where else?) waterside restaurant in Nanaimo. Suzanne and I would like to thank everyone who commented on her Facebook page and by email with congratulations (and amazement) on her putting up with me for more than a year. Like they say, “Everyone has a cross to bear… and I’m hers.”
Speaking of the lovely city of Nanaimo, BC, Suzanne was invited to give the Message at Unity of Nanaimo on Sunday, thanks to Bev Garlipp’s very active support. (Thank you again, Bev!) It was a long holiday weekend here, celebrating Canada Day, that country’s equivalent of the Fourth of July. We were a bit concerned that the entire congregation would be out of town or on the seashore, enjoying the first sunny weekend in a long time. But Rev. Polly Dozier had gotten the word out, and the Sanctuary was full for the service and for the Messages of Hope documentary viewing after lunch. It was a wonderfully friendly and supportive group, and Suzanne was able to sign many books and answer questions after the events. Rev. Polly also graciously took us to a fabulous Greek restaurant for dinner and enthralled us with stories of being the first American woman to visit the Russian city of Kirov after the collapse of Communism, and the first woman minister to visit Russia. (We were able to provide some vinous enlightenment for Polly; she had never tasted either of two Greek delights, retsina or ouzo. I’m not certain she was visibly impressed with either, but hey, it’s part of the Greek dining experience, eh?)
Nanaimo is on the coast of Vancouver Island just across from the city of Vancouver on the mainland. It is a beautiful retirement and resort city of about 87,000 built on wooded hillsides with views of snow-capped peaks and forests in every direction. We are parked behind the church, and have enjoyed the deer and rabbits that wander through the yard. We took Rudy and Gretchen for a w-a-l-k on a nearby bike path where we knew there were lots of rabbits, especially black ones.
When we parked the car, the dogs’ noses were twitching, and as soon as we set them down, they saw five or six cottontails within 50 feet. With joyous squeals, they launched themselves into attack mode, and only tightly-held leashes saved this band of bunnies from certain extinction. (No rabbits were caught, bitten, maimed, hurt or killed during this event, but our little hunters were happily worn out by its conclusion.)
British Columbia, and Vancouver Island in particular, is known for its flowers. We had visited Butchart Gardens on our last visit, but just driving around gives you the distinct impression that Canadians here are flower-crazy. And that is a Good Thing! Not only do people take great care in dressing up their gardens, but many restaurants go the extra mile in making their outdoor seating areas flower-friendly.
Vancouver Island, being an island, by definition is surrounded by water. That is patently obvious. But the water (sea and sound, rivers and streams) is also part of the culture here. There is a strong maritime tradition dating back to its founding, and deep fiord-like bays and inlets ringed by steep mountains make road passage problematic and ferries the more expedient mode of travel. We learned that many Canadians of retirement age are moving from places like Toronto and Winnipeg to the shore to enjoy milder winters and the many outdoor activities here.
Our arrival on the ferry in Victoria, the largest city on “The Island”, was in the same vicinity we had visited on our sailboat 13 years ago. Now we saw lots of changes just in the port area, such as new condos and hotels where before there had been just scattered houses.
Victoria is (what else?) a Victorian city, almost more English than England itself. It is also the location of The Empress Hotel, where you can enjoy Afternoon High Tea in a pleasant, Victorian atmosphere, for only $60/person. Eight varieties of tea are available (coffee is not even listed on the menu). Cucumber sandwiches, salmon pinwheels, scones with strawberry jam, and lemon curd tartlets… you can also find Champagne, Mimosas and Prosecco, with a bottle of Dom Perignon only setting you back $378 Canadian. (But no coffee? “Starbucks will never cast its shadow on The Empress…”)