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Archive for the ‘Victoria, BC’ Category

Christmas !!  And I absolutely love Christmas.  No not just love it — I daydream about it and plan for it all year. My Pinterest boards are full of holiday cards and craft ideas.  I’m a little later than usual but today my dear husband will drag the 10 foot tree and the many, many totes upstairs from storage.  It will take a few days but every flat surface will be decorated.  There will however be a few minor adjustments this year for our curious 18-month-old grandson.  The Nativity scenes will be placed much higher and Megan has suggested that ornaments on the lower limbs of the tree be replaced with bells.

Last week we made our way down island for a three-day island staycation.  Glorious snow-capped mountains and sunshine made us smile.  Sadly the sun didn’t last long and we spent most of the first leg of the journey dealing with torrential rain and high winds.  Thanks to the staff at Java Shack in Campbell River for keeping the kitchen open a few extra minutes to make us a late lunch.  I call it salad on bread but it’s definitely the best tuna sandwich EVER.  Tuna with smoked cheddar, cucumber, tomato, red pepper, red onion, sunflower sprouts all on rye bread.  We spent one night at the Comfort Inn near the Quadra Ferry terminal in Campbell River.  A bright, spacious room and very comfortable.  Chris donned his tuxedo and headed off to a Masonic Lodge meeting.  I stayed behind with a big bag of cheezies and binge watched HGTV while assembling homemade Christmas cards.

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From snow capped mountains of the North Island to the Legislature building in Victoria

It is a long drive from one end of the island to the other !!  But then we arrive at our favourite home away from home.  The suite at Hotel Grand Pacific was lovely. Two balconies both overlooking the harbour with many downtown buildings dressed in their holiday finery. Arriving late in the afternoon we headed downstairs for pub grub instead of venturing out in the rain. I had the Romaine Salad with prosciutto, black pepper brioche, oh so garlicky lemon dressing and showered with shavings of fresh Parmesan. Chris had salt & pepper chicken wings and the potato skins with sweet & sour chili sauce, sour cream, bacon & onion. I’m so glad Chris doesn’t mind when my fork wanders 😉

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The ducks in the front pond of the Hotel Grand Pacific kindly pose for pictures.  The lobby is sparkling with windows, tables and trees all beautifully decorated.

The next morning with absolutely no plans we started off at Belleville’s Diner at the Day’s Inn for brunch.  The whimsical menu is fun to read and the walls are covered with movie memorabilia.  I finally decided on the Dr. Suess which is basil, pesto, goat cheese scrambled eggs with in-house smoked ham, rainbow potatoes & grilled tomatoes.  It was a huge plate of delicious.  Eating out is one of my favourite parts of being away from home — but I’m sure you gathered that by now lol.  Or is it just because I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and really hungry.

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The concierge at our hotel gave us a “Downtown Victoria Holiday Guide”  I didn’t get past the suggestion to Snap a Selfie at the Bay Centre’s Giant Christmas Wreath

The Bay Centre is hosting a festival of trees and there are dozens of trees on each level sponsored by nearby stores and companies.  A few of our favourites were the LEGO tree and one that had an elf’s bum sticking out the front.  Sorry five year old humour.  We sauntered through all three levels of the mall and then made our way back out onto Government Street for a browse through Monroe’s Books and Roger’s Chocolates.

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This chocolate giant is on display at Roger’s Chocolates.   It weighs 25 pounds and costs $449.  I entered the contest to win one – but they haven’t called me yet !!

The main reason for the trip to Victoria was to attend The Tenors concert at the Royal Theatre last Wednesday night.  Clifton Murray who grew up in Port McNeill joined the Tenors 8 years ago and we’ve attended six of their concerts and have all their CD’s.  Sitting in the Port McNeill cheering section we were surrounded by Clifton’s parents Craig & Deborah, his siblings and their families.  One of the teary moments I had that night was Clifton’s adorable 3-year-old niece Fauna who walked up to the stage stairs to sing a verse of “You are my Sunshine” to her uncle.  Oh that got me right in the feels !!  And my big goosebump moment was the whole theatre singing the last encore “Auld Lang Syne.”  Magic 💕

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My annual photo with Santa – he’s a lovely fellow !!

And now the Christmas chaos begins.  Today Chris is supervising the arrival of Christmas trees for our church’s annual sale at the grocery store.  Hurry because  they won’t last long !!  The Salvation Army Kettle is in Port McNeill for the first time this year so Chris and I will be ringing the bells along with other Rotarians & their families.  I’m still crafting to get ready for “The Last Minute Christmas Shopping” craft fair at the Lion’s Hall on the 13th from 10am-2pm and sure I’m hoping to sell a few craft but really I’m looking forward to the homemade peroghies, cabbage rolls and borscht for lunch !!  Throw in two concerts and a play and yes my dears it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Hugs from the beach…

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Ideas for this post have been swirling around in my head since we got home from our most recent motorcycle trip to Victoria.  Originally I planned on writing every day.  Ever so much easier to remember adventures one day at a time.  But last Friday morning cruising my Social Media sites over a quick cup of coffee this article got my attention.

https://onbeing.org/blog/the-disease-of-being-busy/

Hmmm “The Disease of Being Busy.”  At first glance I can tell it’s written by a mother of young kids and I was going to carry on to the next article.  Until I reach this sentence:

“How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?”

I instantly vowed on Facebook (because really how else can I hold myself accountable) to enjoy fresh air, have real conversations and live in the moment.  An hour later we were wheels up and heading down the highway.

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Traveling from one end of Vancouver Island to the other took us all day.  Stopping for coffee at the Sayward gas station we ran into father & daughter team Al & Rebecca (also from Port McNeill) who decided it was a perfect day to ride to Campbell River for donuts.  Stopping for a seaside lunch in Qualicum Beach we met up with a couple of bikers enjoying the amazing weather.  One of them was Rick from Weaver’s motorcycle apparel store in Courtenay.  Funny thing about that is we had just stopped at Weaver’s and asked about him.  Next stop was Ladysmith to reconnect with Marty & Sharon who we hadn’t seen in 8 years.  Marty & Chris were both members of the RCMP and stationed together in Port Hardy.  Now they are two retired guys with tattoos and much longer hair.  Awesome to see them and hear about their winter home in Costa Rica.  The last picture was taken from the front porch of dear friends Robyn and Brian who live across from Ogden Point in Victoria.  So much activity including this para-glider coming in for a landing.  Over dinner and drinks we got all caught up with each other’s families before launching into serious talk about retirement.  What makes up happy?  What activities feel worthwhile?  Definitely a topic for future posts.

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Our final destination was Oak Bay Resort.  A perfect trifecta of beautiful property, beautiful room and incredible weather.  We’ve never stayed there before and quickly decided we would love to go back.  Not a huge hotel but with all the amenities.  Pub, restaurant, cafe, spa and awesome outdoor mineral pool & hot-tub overlooking the ocean.  Excellent customer service.  And unlike the downtown hotels where we normally stay no extra charge for parking or wifi or bottles of water in the fridge 😀

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So much happening in Oak Bay

Saturday afternoon while out for a bike ride we stopped at Mayfair Mall to browse through ToyRUs.  Just as I was wondering why the lady walking past us looked so familiar Chris said, “hey that’s Karen from Big Brother.”  Okay now I have to admit that we’re big fans of the reality show Big Brother Canada. Karen came in second place just a few weeks ago.  Hey that was cool.  The next morning as we’re sitting on the patio of the hotel with morning coffee, watching the Oak Bay Half Marathon pass by, who walks past us…again…Karen.  Two days in a row in two different places. Bizarre.  This time I had my camera out with full intentions of asking her if I could take a selfie.  Chris gently dissuaded me.  Definitely preventing me from gushing and sounding like a groupie. Instead I nonchalantly kept glancing in her direction until she left.

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Happy 40th Anniversary Craig & Deborah

The main reason for our trip to Victoria was to celebrate our friends Craig & Deborah 40th anniversary.  Kudos to the party organizers because it was a heckuva bash !!  Formal dinner for 100+ guests in the David Foster Theatre at our hotel.  We were entertained by Paper Street Improv theatre group, an amazing a Capella group, the Murray’s son Clifton (one of the Tenors) and their daughter Georgia sang a beautiful rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”  And then oldest sibling Fraser had us all in stitches when he came out on stage wearing his Mom’s wedding dress and his father’s wedding suit jacket.  Fraser — you really need to take that talent on the road.  When you retire from running Nimmo Bay Resort you’ve got a future in stand-up comedy.  Craig got up on stage to thank everyone for coming and before singing “A Daisy A Day Dear” to Deborah he told the crowd, “the most important thing you can do for your kids is to love their mother.”  And he has for 40 years.  Isn’t that beautiful.  Apparently the party continued on into the wee hours…without us….of course you’re saying to yourself !!  This retired couple got an awesome night’s sleep.  Sunday afternoon we spent most of the day poolside taking a time out for champagne and cake and opening of anniversary presents.  To top it all off 22 of us cabbed over to Siam Thai Restaurant for three hours of food.  Plate after plate of fresh, hot and delicious Thai food.

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Finding our way back home

The gorgeous weather followed us back the island on Sunday.  We stopped in to Lake Cowichan to see friend’s Jim & Laurie’s new summer home.  Lake & mountain views, a clubhouse with in-ground pool, steps to the beach and they’ve got a guest room.  Heck yes we’ll be back again when we can stay longer.  Another retired couple who have found their Shangri-La.

Home sweet home.  No matter how many miles we travel, adventures we experience, fun we have, we are always grateful to turn into the driveway.  Stay tuned.  The escapades continue !!

Blessings from the beach…

 

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