What a day this has been! I took the "Victoria Express II" from Port Angeles, Washington across the Juan de Fuca Strait to Victoria, British Columbia. It took right at an hour for the passenger-only ferry to make the crossing. I met a lady, Pat Simmons, who was on the same tour schedule and who is traveling with her husband in a motorhome. We hit it off and became ohh-and-ahh buddies for the day. We exchanged e-mail addresses so we could stay in touch.
A double-decker bus met the ferry and took us to The Butchart Gardens about 13 miles north of Victoria on Tod Inlet on the Saanich Peninsula. They cover about 55 acres. Robert and Jennie Butchart had bought the limestone quarry and built their home next to it. As the quarry was worked out, they began to create the gardens with a mixture of rare and exotic shrubs, trees and flowers. By the 1920s more than fifty thousand people came each year. In 2004 the gardens were designated a National Historic Site of Canada. There are 50 full-time gardeners and others are hired during the peak season.
One of the totem poles in the garden represents a raven, beaver with grouse, otter with pups and clam and frog. It was carved in classic Coast Salish style by master carver Charles Elliott of the Tsartlip First Nation. It was dedicated on September 9, 2004 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of The Butchart Gardens.
We strolled the gardens for a couple of hours and then the bus took us back to Victoria, where we had four more hours to explore before catching the last ferry back to Port Angeles at 6:15. Pat and I went to Chinatown for lunch and then checked out a few stores on the way back toward the ferry. We went into the Empress Hotel, which was very nice. Then we walked over to the Parliament Buildings to take a closer look. As you might imagine, they look very much like those in England.
The trip this morning was smooth but was a bit rough on the way home. I was wearing my "Sea Bands" so it didn't bother me, but Pat started feeling ill and was relieved when we finally docked. It was quite chilly by the time we got back -- almost like winter in Austin! Her husband met her there and they took me home.
My new digital camera functioned well today. There are things I need to learn about it before I am totally comfortable with it, though. It is quite different from my old Olympus.