Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent and Snowboarding!

Today we lit our first candle for Advent:

Yay for Christmas!!  Tack så mycket Lena och Lennart för de vackra ljusstake.

And.... we went snowboarding for the first time!  What was even more amazing was our instructor Harold  was 73 years old!  He didn't buy my excuse that I was too old to learn how to snowboard.  Sorry, no pics of the snowboarding.  I don't trust myself to carry my camera with me, it would probably end up smashed to tiny bits--kind of like what my knees and tail bone feel like right now.


We took a trip to Victoria a few weeks ago as a kind of post-wedding break/honeymoon.  It wasn't exotic or new, but it was relaxing and fun.  We did some shopping--Roger bought a brain puzzle that took him and his dad about 10 minutes to do (I have to admit, I still haven't figured it out).

I bought an eyeball:

 I was hoping to use it for work, but unfortunately it 's actually a puzzle and comes apart into 35 pieces so it's not too easy to use for explaining things but I think it looks cool.
We pampered ourselves by staying at the Prior House B&B again with it's beautiful garden, delicious breakfasts, and pretty purple door knobs.

We did A LOT of eating.

My favorite Tom Yum soup

We also ate at a place recommended by the B&B called Zambris.  This place is an Italian restaurant and I had a delicious pasta with mussels.  It tasted really good but I couldn't suck up my noodles because they had little holes in them and therefore acted like straws.  We stood in a line up to get into Brasserie L'ecole one night.  You don't have to worry about lining up too early on a week day night, we ended up arriving about 5-10 minutes before they opened and got in ok.  Just remember they aren't open on Monday's.  The highlight of that meal for me was the Sticky Date Pudding.  Yum!  We found a little place called The Dutch Bakery which made our taste buds sing!  We took stuffed buns from Sally Bun on our hike which travelled really well:

Mine was stuffed with ham and cheese.  Roger's was stuffed with pepperoni:

And of course we can't forget visiting the best A&W ever with Hans and Dianne in Sooke.  What a drive.  What else did we do besides eat?  Well.. we did some hiking.

We went out to Goldstream park to try and catch the Salmon spawning.  It was dark and wet when we went so we didn't see too much, except for this sppppooooookkkky orb that showed up in a photograph I took of Roger!  See how sppppooooookkky!!!

 Ha ha... didn't mean to scare you.  You can probably tell anyway that it's just light reflecting off a rain drop but it doesn't make as interesting a story... :(

We drove out on a long windy road up to Port Renfrew to explore some of the tidal pools at Botanical Beach.  On the hike down to the beach we saw a long LONG piece of bull kelp:

and saw some pretty coastal views:


Unfortunately, November isn't the best time to view tidal pools.  Low tide occurs a little too late, but we saw some cool stuff anyway.



We went out to do the Coastal Trail in East Sooke Park one day as well.  We were a little nervous about this hike.  We had heard tales of hikers getting lost, the rugged conditions of the trails and also numerous false trails that can lead you astray.  It's about a 10-11.5 km hike and we were told to allow 6-8 hours for this hike.  This isn't an exaggeration either.  For someone who's experienced, they could probably do it in about 6 or less hours, but for mediocre hikes like ourselves, 8 hours is good--it allows you to take your time on the trail and stop for photos.  Hiking in November is probably not the best time to hike this trail as the days are shorter, and if the chef at the B&B your staying at promises you Scottish oat pancakes with maple syrup and buttermilk biscuits and honey for breakfast, it's probably wisest to resist the temptation to stay, and instead get an early start on the trail UNLIKE what we did.  We started hiking at about 10:15am and were immediately slowed down with things like this (can you spot the mouse?):

and this cool mushroom:

and this gross slug:

and this rugged trail:


The ruggedness of the trail isn't too bad.  It's definately rugged and rocky and there's areas that require some scrambling, and I was reduced to my hands and knees at some spots, but nothing where you feel like you're in any imminent danger.  We're scaredy cat hikers, and we were able to do this.  Just try not to get caught in the dark on the cliffs--we almost did and that would have been bad. 


The structure I'm standing in front of is a "Pioneer's Cabin" which is where fisherman used to catch lots of salmon.  You can also see in the last photo that the sun is setting and we had to hike out in the dark which was very sppppooooookkkky but this time we didn't see any orbs.  Boy, the sun sure sets fast... here's the very sturdy and "pristine" bathroom that Roger and I hid out in while waiting for our ride in the dark.  I told you we were scaredy hikers.

and here's our ride!!! Dianne and Hans to the rescue.  I was SURE happy to see them!

All in all, this hike was fun with some scary bits.  With some better planning it could have been fun minus the scary bits.  It's definately best to start this hike early, and if possible to have a vehicle at the beginning and the end of the hike.  Poor Dianne and Hans had to drive around on deserted roads in the dark trying to find us.  The trail is fairly well marked:

with yellow reflective blazes nailed into rocks along the trail.  However, even with careful observing of these blazes, we followed false trails 3 times.  If the trail starts to look remotely overgrown, turn around and head back to the last blaze instead of bushwacking on.  It will save you lots of time and frustration.  If you happen to be waiting for a ride at Aylard farm in the dark, just remember that the bathrooms are very sturdy and clean (even by Roger's standards), which makes them perfect for hiding out in especially when you hear weird noises coming from the forest.  

The last hike we did was on the Friday before leaving Victoria.  We went up Mount Finlayson which was a bit scary for both Roger and I.  First, you have to deal with dead fish:

Then you have to scramble up and around rock which we didn't photograph because we were too busy clinging to the side of the mountain for our dear lives.  But at the top it's...nice.

It's much easier going down the other side of the mountain--heck, it's much easier if you go up AND down the other side of the mountain but whatever.  Sheri, you have renewed respect from both Roger and I--we can't believe you did this 3 months pregnant!

Anyways, besides shopping, eating and hiking... we also witnessed a wind storm that brought out some brave windsurfers, and had the pigeons hunkering down.


We visited Craigdarroch Castle and learned all about a very dysfunctional but wealthy family.


Here's some fascinated tourists!

and saw a cool owl...VERY up close, and VERY big.

That's our  Victoria trip in a nutshell!