Sunday, October 28, 2007

Butchart Gardens

I sensed we were approaching a special place when our car entered the parking lot of Butchart Gardens. This was no ordinary lot of gravel or asphalt; it was a smooth surface of red brick laid in a zig-zag pattern. It was obvious no expense had been spared to make a positive first impression on visitors.

The "wow-factor" had only begun as we walked from the car to the garden entrance. The four pictures above were selected from over one-hundred snapshots we captured of flowers and shrubs in the former cement quarry. This place is another example of God's majestic creation and how one person started this display. A century ago one lady initiated this attraction by starting a flower garden in an abandoned cement quarry pit.

This gift shop inside the garden must be 5,000 square feet with a flow of customers entering the doorways at a rate that would impress Sears and Walmart.

If you're in the area of Victoria, don't miss seeing this garden.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Victoria, B. C.

Victoria is a city with appeal to tourists from Asia and North America. When we were there in August 2007 the sky was clear or partly cloudy, the temperature range was 65 to 75 degrees, and the climate ideal for human comfort. In contrast, our home in North Carolina was experiencing daily temperatures from 79 to the 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

We vacationed there for three days and two nights. Afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel was a special experience and expensive beyond my imagination. The entertainment of artists, musicians, and magicians along the downtown sidewalks and street intersections were eye catching and caused us to linger. Dining in restaurants was an exercise in making hard decisions from among many choices.

The most special activity, however, was our visit to The Butchart Gardens in the suburbs of Victoria. There, a lady one hundred years ago had the vision of transforming a closed cement quarry into a garden of flowers, shrubs, and trees. A century of nurturing this garden brings a constant flow of visitors at a fee of $25.00 per person. I'll show you a snippet of that place next time.

The below picture shows us standing in front of the capital building of Vancouver which is located in Victoria. We toured that building and saw many murals depicting the settlement and history of the British in that part of Canada. Very interesting. The second picture below shows the Empress.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ferry Ride

Cars, buses, recreational vehicles and tractor-trailer rigs lined up after the fee was paid at Port Angeles on Bainbridge Island. We arrived too late for the ship leaving within that hour to sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, B. C. That ferry was full and departed with a dozen or more cars parked on shore which included ours. We waited over two hours for the next ship which is shown in the first photo below as it maneuvered into position at the dock.

Motor vehicles small and large drove into the ship's belly and parked bumper-to-bumper so close that passengers sucked-in their stomachs and turned heads sideways to exit the car doors. The vehicles were parked six abreast. Passengers were required to exit the vehicles, lock the doors, and move onto upper decks for safety and vehicle security reasons. Comfortable and spacious lounges above allowed for 360 degree viewing of the 20 mile ride across the strait.

The two bottom pictures show us in the lounge and the view as we departed the port area. The top picture shows us standing among Italian sports cars. These Ferrari cars belonged to club members waiting to board the same ferry for a weekend outing in Victoria. There must have been twenty-five new or vintage Ferraris painted bright red or brilliant yellow.

You might think vehicles need to back-up to unload the ship at the destination port. Not so. The ship eases it way to the dock and along starboard a huge door opens . The motor traffic on board moves forward and turns right to exit the ship. It was amazing to see large buses and eighteen-wheelers execute right turns inside the belly of this ship. The cavernous space had a high ceiling, electric lights, plumbing pipes, steel beams and echos from revved motorcycle motors as they eagerly awaited their exit.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Red Shield Inn

The above picture is an early photo of the Red Shield Inn at Fort Lewis, Washington. As indicated in last week's blog post, this building is restored and now serves as a museum.

The first picture below is a view of the lobby where visitors sign in and get suggestions from a military docent about how to best move through the facility. Admission is free. While we were there, fewer than a dozen people were on the self-directed tour. I encountered two young men in one room and spoke to them with a friendly hello. As we talked, I learned that one man was an Army recruiter and the other a college student from California who was waiting for the date to start his military training. I asked him about his plans for MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). He told me he plans to receive training to fly drones by remote control. I thanked him for his impending service and assured him about the wisdom of his decision to serve in the military.

The second picture below is a soldier in a barracks setting. The uniform, bunk, locker, laundry bag, and web gear are exactly the way it looked when I was in basic training in 1965. Except for the hair, the mannequin is the likeness of me in that era. It's astonishing to realize enough time has passed and change has occurred to warrant placement in a museum. Think about that. Have you seen yourself in a museum display?

The third picture below shows the typical outfitting of the enemy we faced in Vietnam.

The bottom picture is a wall with portraits of soldiers recently killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were two walls displaying these portraits.

You may click on any picture to enlarge them for a better view.

Have a good week!