Friday, April 11, 2008

More Adventures

Just the other day, Heather and I were invited by our friends Christian and Sarah to come with them "up-island" to a place called Parksville. It's almost a third of the way up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, and as we hadn't been really outside the "peninsula" of the Greater Victoria Area, we jumped at the chance.

First, let me show you the very southern end of Vancouver Island, so you can see the part we live and mostly travel in. On this map, everything along Hwy 17 (the straight line) from Sidney to Victoria is the area we routinely move through. Think of it like the greater metropolitan area of your own town, though from stem to stern you can drive the whole of Hwy 17 in about 30-40 minutes:

So as you can see, there's a lot more to Vancouver Island than just the Greater Victoria Area.

Here's a larger-scale map that shows our route from Victoria to the village of Parksville, which is between the city of Nanaimo and the small resort town of Qualicum Beach:

So as you can see we hadn't really seen much of this island we live on.

Our mission was to do a Macintosh demonstration (a program called "Pages" if anyone cares) to the friendly folks of the Mac club up there (about 50-60 people by our count). Parksville is only 146km (91 miles) away from Victoria, or "a run to Tampa" for those of you in Orlando, but living now in a more concentrated area, such trips feel like big excursions and there was some talk about getting a room nearby for the night, but we decided against it. Our route took us through a number of notable but mostly small towns such as Duncan, Chemainus, Ladysmith and Nanaimo.

Duncan reminded everyone in the car of Cheyenne Wyoming; Chemainus and Ladysmith had lovely coastal views but were so small there wasn't much to them, and while Nanaimo (the second largest city on the island) had all the trappings of a large port town -- reminding us strongly of Clearwater, which is about the same size -- its population is much smaller (78,000 versus 107,000). A commenter pointed out that Ladysmith is the birthplace of Pamela Anderson (!) and that her parents still live there. I wonder if they will rename the place "the twin cities" in her honour? ;)

Even more amazing -- Nanaimo is apparently the present home of Elvis Costello and Diana Krall (!!!!). Oh I feel a stalking coming on ...

One of the "highlights" of the trip was a stop at one of Vancouver Island's very few Taco Bells for dinner (there are none in Victoria at all). Now, not many people in our circle of friends would consider Taco Bell a treat -- but it's funny how you miss something when it's completely inaccessible to you, and so we gobbled our Cheesy Beefy Melts and Gorditos with great aplomb, like kids eating chocolate eggs at Easter.

The Mac club meeting in Parksville was held in the City Council's room, so we got an awesome screen and decent sound system for a change. The demo went very well and the folks were quite enthusiastic about our presentation. Christian and I seem to be very compatible as presenters and work very well together. Normally I like to do all the talking (oh really?) but when he's speaking I'm usually nodding my head, and he seems to know just when to call on me. Heather and I were really lucky to find such good friends so quickly.

The terrain outside Victoria is what I would call "hilly" with lots of granite outcroppings, which is quite a change from the city itself. We had to drive "the Malahat," a mild inclining mountain road reaching a summit of 350 metres (~1,150 feet) before coming back down at an eight-degree grade, which is laughable to us after conquering the Rockies a while back but which local drivers are (rightfully) cautious of, particularly in the snowy winter (this portion of the island, and particularly this elevation, get a lot more snow and wind than the sea-level valley of Victoria).

All in all, a fun trip that took us about six hours altogether (about two hours each way, plus the meeting itself) and we felt like we did a lot of good (and were eagerly invited to come back again). Mission accomplished all round.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning from Salt Spring

Its nice to start getting out and around, eh? Several years ago we started driving around British Columbia for our annual vacation, instead of heading for the usual holiday spots.

At some point, make sure you drive the Crow's Nest Highway (Hwy #3). It follows the very bottom of province from Hope to the Alberta border. Best time is in the fall, when the fruit is out. Take the time to pop into some wineries for tastings. Some of the best wines (in the world - but I'm biased - yet BC wines do win some big international awards) can only be had at the best restaurants, and at the wineries. You can the do the trip in day, if you had to and didn't stop. But take 2 to 3 days (each way).

Ooooh, I feel a road trip coming on.

By the way, you went through Chemainus ( not that other town you mentioned.....

ps Have you noticed a difference between Americans and Canadians, when asked how far away someplace is?

heddo said...

It should be noted that in addition to Hwy 17, we also travel Hwy 1, the Trans-Canada, out to Langford, which is about where it meets with Hwy 14 on the map. We'd never been past there before Tuesday.

I'd actually like to go back to Chemainus and explore more. In my sickness, I thought it was Chemainus that had lots of wood buildings that reminded me of Wyoming. Oh well, I was doped up on Tussin. Still am. :P

chas_m said...

Thanks for the correction on Chemainus. I'll adjust that. :)

jason9945 said...

The taco bell comments made me laugh!

I just moved back to ottawa from toronto and seem to be craving taco bell simply because I cant have it.I dont think I had taco bell more than 4 times in 2 years in Toronto, but Now I want it.