Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ogden Point

The beacon at Ogden Point...If you were to enter Victoria Harbour from the ocean, you would pass the Ogden Point beacon. It's located at the end of a long breakwater that is a favourite with local and tourists for walking. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Ski season

Skiers on Vancouver Island's Mt Washington
A bright spot in an otherwise dark year...

 Our local mountain has opened for a new season of skiing. It was crowded the day we were there, probably from a combination of holidays and people weary of being housebound by COVID.

The resort had COVID protocols in place that everyone seemed to be respecting. The day was warm with a blanket of recent snow on the slopes... a near-perfect start to the season.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Friday, December 18, 2020

Unseen

Intriguing art hanging in an office hallway...
Interesting lines and elements...

 I'm a visual person -- obviously -- so I tend to be drawn to art derived from photography and painting. However, I'm also a big fan of art with texture which is why I was drawn to this piece of art hanging in the hallway of a local office building. 

It was adorned with 3D elements such as shells inspired by it's theme of the sea. It was a shame that it was tucked away in a hallway where most people probably walked by it without a glance. It was the sort of piece that deserved to be hung in a lobby  There wasn't even a plaque to describe it or provide some insight into the artist or their inspiration for the piece.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The colour of money

Eye catching roadster...
A lot of green went into this hobby...

Green is the colour of money. And I'm guessing a lot of green when into the care and upkeep of this smart looking car seen in the parking lot of our local airport.

Collector's item...
That's some shine...


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Bouquet of Memories

Public art at Victoria's International Airport
No, not a scene from Yellow Submarine...

Today's image is inspired by a towering sculpture at Victoria's International Airport. The artist is Illarion Gallant who has a number of impressive art installations throughout the region. 

The name of the piece is "Bouquet of Memories". Gallant invited students and staff of a neighbourhood school to write a paragraph of their favourite memory. The collection of memories is sealed in a capsule inside the seedpod of one of the colourful poppies in the sculpture.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Kinetic

Art that moves at Oak Bay's Willows Beach...
But what does it MEAN?

The COVID crisis has led to many events being cancelled around greater Victoria, including nearby Oak Bay's annual art show. It typically featured whimsical public art installations around the municipality.

This particular piece is a leftover from a previous year that they decided to keep in place permanently. The rings rotate in the breeze. I'm not sure what the frog is all about.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Thunderbirds are Go!

Victoria's new bridge lifts itself skyward.
Poised for take-off...

When I was a kid, one of my favourite TV shows was Thunderbirds, an action series that featured puppets marionettes instead of live actors. The coolest part of the show was the sleek air- and spacecraft that were the actual Thunderbirds.

Last summer, I watch Victoria's relatively new bridge as it was raised to allow a barge pass through from the upper to the lower harbour. In the upright position, the bridge resembled some high tech spacecraft about to launch. It would have looked right at home among the Thunderbirds.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Eye of the beholder

Wood and stone converge in spontaneous beach art.
Does it encourage contemplation?

 I'm not sure of the artistic merits of this particular bit of random beach art. 

It is a collection of rounded rocks stuffed in among the roots of a large tree that washed ashore during recent storms.

Thumbs up? Thumbs down? You decide...

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The colour of fall

A fall tree in Victoria...
A fall tree glows in the sun...
Here on the West Coast we don't get the colourful fall foilage that the rest of the country back east does. We have to make do with the odd tree here and there... mostly everything here is just shades of brown and dull yellow.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Wayback Mexico: Huatulco Dreams (2017)

Dreams Resort in Huatulco Mexico...
Laid back Huatulco...

After the Barcelo, Huatulco remains our second favourite Mexican vacation. It's located very far south in Mexico and hasn't yet been tainted by the heavily commercialization seen in places like Puerto Vallarta or Cancun/ Playa del Carmen.

The resort itself faced a picturesque bay. I spent a lot of time out on the water SUP paddling. Separately, we had fun puttering around on scooters and surfing some local beaches.

Cruise ship in the main harbour...
View of the main harbour


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wayback Mexico: The Marival (2016)

The Marival at Nuevo Vallarta...
Poolside at the Marival...

The Marival was our first stay on Mexico's west coast at Nuevo Vallarta. The beach was a ten-minute walk away, but the view of the sunsets from the rooftop bars was fantastic.

I enjoyed some surfing while I was there, but often the beaches were closed because of the plentiful stingrays in the water. I would see them swimming alongside me on the board which was a good incentive not to fall off.

Surfing at Neuvo Vallarta...
Surfing with stingrays!


Monday, November 23, 2020

Wayback Mexico: Royal Playa del Carmen (2015)

Whimsical sculptures at the Royal Playa del Carmen.
Cute sculptures on display throughout the grounds...

In 2015, we stayed at the Royal Playa del Carmen on the east coast. Google tells me that the resort has since re-branded as a Hilton resort. It was a beautiful resort, somewhat diminished by the beach which wasn't conducive to swimming or any sort of water sports.

You can read my tripsadvisor review of the resort here.

Playa del Carmen's main beach...
A busy day at Playa del Carmen's public beach...

Friday, November 20, 2020

Wayback Mexico: The Barcelo Maya Colonial (2012)

The bright colours of the Barcelo...
The Barcelo... all pools and colour...

For the first time in nearly a decade, my wife and I were unable to take our annual pilgrimage to Mexico (thanks COVID!). So, I thought I would re-visit our various vacations with the occasional photo that didn't make the cut the first time.

The Barcelo was the first time we visited Mexico in 2012. It's located outside Playa del Carmen on a bay with fantastic white sand and turquoise water. We had fun just snorkeling off the jetty playing among the schools of colourful fish.

The resort offers access to all sorts of activities on the bay, including jet skiing. We also took in a tour of the ruins at nearby Tulum.

Activities around Playa del Carmen...
Getting into the tourist lifestyle...


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Avanti II

An Avanti II
A striking car...

 Coming out of our favourite weekend breakfast cafe recently my attention was captured by this unusual looking car. It was branded Avanti II. 

According to Wikipedia:

The Avanti (including the Avanti II) is an American performance sports coupe based on the Studebaker Avanti and marketed through a succession of five different ownership arrangements between 1965 and 2006.

Apparently, the big selling point of Avanti's is that they were manufactured to the buyer's specifications. 

From another source:

Colors? The rainbow was the limit. Fabrics? Just about anything that could be sewn into seats might be ordered -- with stitchwork performed by a former Studebaker craftsman.
Front end of an Avanti II..
Curious looking bar under the front bumper for ???

 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Untold story

Cigarettes and a well worn hat left behind...
Owner gone missing...

Recently I passed a bench in an empty bus stop. Perched on top was a hat and a pack of cigarettes. It's hard to imagine the circumstances that would cause a man -- I'm assuming it's a man -- to abandon these.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Race Rocks

Pinniped heaven...

 Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is an ecological reserve located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

Because of its location in a high tidal current area, there is an exceptional variety of marine life that inhabit the island on a periodic basis. It is a haulout area for California and Northern sealions and a birthing rookery for Harbour seals. It is also the most northerly birthing colony on the Pacific Coast of North America for the elephant seal.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

River runnin'

Eyes on the prize...
Whitewater paddling on the Cowichan River...

Standup paddling is an ideal sport for social distancing. One person per board. Your fellow paddlers are yards and yards away from you. You are all outside.

The arrival of fall means local river levels and flow increase which means river paddling season is here again.

A side benefit is getting to see wildlife and fall colours along the way.

Social distancing on the river...
A funner way to social distance...



Friday, November 6, 2020

Blue

 

Blue motorcycle seen at Oceanside...
Colourful chopper seen near Oceanside...

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Indiana Jones and the Lost Gods of Rapa Nui

An imposing statue peers out from a lagoon.
Easter Island relic at Central Saanich's Butterfly World...
 
For awhile it seemed that Harrison Ford was going to reprise his signature character, Indiana Jones, in one last screen adventure.

I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen. Ford is now 78. COVID has effectively shut down the movie industry for a year or two. It would then take two years for such a movie to be made which means that Ford would be into his early 80s at that point. 

And who really wants to see a decrepit Indy shuffling about? We want to remember him as the whip-cracking, fedora wearing two-fisted adventurer of our youth.

Plus the recent death of Sean Connery -- who plays Indiana Jone's father -- must surely be giving Ford food for thought as to how he wants to spend his remaining years.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Petrified

Walking through a forest recently, this black-and-white tree stump stood out in the otherwise colourful foilage. I examined it closer. On the surface it appeared to be turning to stone of some sort. I'm not an any sort of authority on biology though so I couldn't even guess at the cause of this unusual process.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Haunted

Every day she waves at me
That small girl that only I can see
I wish she would stay over there
I don't like her hungry stare

This alley in Bastion Square is next to Victoria's now defunct Maritime Museum. The building once served as Victoria's old courthouse/jail, and is generally considered a centre of supernatural activity.




Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The boats of Todd Inlet

Boater enjoy the sun and shade of Todd Inlet...
Boats in the bay...

Tod Inlet is a long and sheltered strip of water off Saanich Inlet. It's popular with boaters in the summer months as it is sheltered, the water is relatively warm, and there is a nearby beach that is perfect for sun worshipping. 

Boats at anchor in Todd Inlet...
A bevy of boats...


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Secret identity is secret

Raybans... for when the day is bright and the Knight is Dark...

So, you're a superhero and you decide you just wanna chill with the crowds at the outdoor market. But how to mingle without being recognized and mobbed by your adoring public?

Put on a pair of slick Raybans, of course!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Red Tractor

A tractor on display...
A colourful farm vehicle at rest among the flowers...

 Seen during the summer on a Central Saanich farm...

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Haunted Victoria

Craigdarroch Castle looking sinister...
There's a light over at the Frankenstein place...

Victoria has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places on earth. Maybe it's for that reason that it has been tapped by Hollywood as a filming location for horror movies over the years. Two popular filming locations are Craigdarroch Castle seen above, and Hatley Castle seen at the bottom of this post.

Craigdarroch Castle -- more of a large manor really -- is often used by local theatre groups to stage Halloween productions. It shows up prominently in The Boy, a horror/suspense movie filmed here in 2016. You can watch it right now on Netflix.

Some of the exterior shots for The Boy were filmed at nearby Hatley Castle. Hatley Castle has also stood in for the Mutant Academy in the X-Men and Deadpool movies, and Lex Luthor's manor in the TV series Smallville.  It was also a film location for The Changeling, another very creepy ghost story, back in the early 80s.

Victoria's Hatley Castle has ghosts to spare...
Victoria's Hatley Castle....



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Metal arachnid

Welded wall crawler...

The local artist who produced the 10-foot high dragon in his front yard recently added this new creation to his front gate to catch the attention of passing pedestrians.

With their multiple eyes and legs spiders tend to freak a lot of people out... such as my wife. She would cheerfully crush every spider she finds in our house, if I didn't intervene to scoop them up and deposit them outside in a garden plant.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Fearless... not always a good thing

Sometimes it's a fine line
between fearless and naive...

Walking around the nearby nature sanctuary, I came across this young guy/gal contentedly munching on grass beside the trail. There was no sign of a mom around. S/he seemed pretty calm as I approached and took a photo.

When I got within grabbing distance s/he reluctantly abandoned the grass and slowly loped off into the brush. By the time you read this post, this bunny probably ended up being dinner for the many hawks and eagles that circle high over the sanctuary.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Scary Monsters

Victoria... here be monsters!
Victoria, BC... Here be Monsters!
You'll find all sorts of strange beasts stalking and walking downtown Victoria...

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The visitor

Hummingbirds visit the feeder in our garden.
Tiny guests at our feeder...

We live near a nature sanctuary and get a large number of birds visiting our feeders.

The hummingbirds are frequent visitors. During the late summer and fall they will duke it out with the wasps for drinking rights at our feeders.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Rat rod

It ain't pretty but you can't look away.

What is a rat rod? It's the opposite of a hot rod.

Hot rods are older muscle cars that have been lovingly restored -- with the dollars to match! -- by their owners. At car shows, the chrome gleams, the body is waxed to perfection, the leather interior is buffed to a sheen... Everything is impeccable.

Rat rods are the opposite. Their owners deliberately go for a beaten up grungy look. Frequently they are adorned with elements that would seem more suited to a horror movie than a show room floor. 

While they probably don't spend as much money trying to source original parts, they invest a lot of time in producing DIY parts, welding, painting, etc. And they also take pride in showing off their creations at local car shows.

Seen on the Highway to Hell...


Monday, September 28, 2020

The Banana Boat

It's very yellow!

The Banana Boat is the name that my wife and I have given to our inflatable kayak. We don't bust it out very often, but it's always a fun day when we do.

It's unique for the transparent floor which lets us peek into the water below us as we paddle along.

Heading out into Brentwood Bay...


Friday, September 25, 2020

All quiet on the western front

Victoria's Empress Hotel lit up by the setting sun...

Recently my wife and I went out for dinner where we were treated to a glorious sunset illuminating the front of the iconic Empress Hotel.

Normally our summer waterfront would be bustling with tourists from around the world. 

Not in 2020... the year of COVID. 

Instead there's an unsettling quiet downtown. No buskers, no crowds of excited pedestrians, no pedicabs, no outdoor music or festivals, no harbour traffic... This lack of energy and vibrance that hangs over everything is eerie.

Will we still be here a year from now I wonder?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Smoke gets in your eyes

Unrelenting smoke over Oregon...

Five years ago when we traveled through our favourite state of Oregon, the skies overhead were filled with the smoke of the numerous wildfires throughtout the state. At mid-day the sun was reduced to an orange orb in the dark skies.

Here we are again...

Thanks to COVID and a closed border we weren't able to travel south this summer as we planned. Which is just as well, since much of Oregon has been reduced to a fiery inferno. The news has been filled with images of landscapes and cityscapes barely visible through the omnipresent orange haze.

The smoke has drifted up to BC and Alberta. Up here in Victoria BC we are now four days into a greyish smoky haze that makes it seems like the middle of winter. The sun is barely visible. The only clue that we are still in the late days of summer is the warm temperatures.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Not up to code

Sketchy sun shelter... (say it fast five times!)

I'm not sure I would trust the integrity of this death trap DIY structure of beach logs standing on an Oak Bay beach.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

... now you don't.

Parkville's "empty" waterpark...

The fastest way to make children disappear in public is to pull out a camera and start taking pictures. Parents leap into action, grabbing their kids and dragging them away from the weird guy snapping photos.

So this is the popular water park at Parksville's Community Park. There are lots of kids just out of sight at the edges wondering why Mommy is clutching them so tightly.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Come On Eileen

Karaoke couple
Eileen and Trevor sing the hits...

Come On Eileen is one of my go-to karaoke songs. Karaoke is also what brought Eileen and Trevor to my attention walking Parksville's boardwalk one early evening with my wife.

The pair were entertaining pedestrians and beach goers with their brand of 80s vintage karaoke on the beach. Their karaoke sounds way better than mine which is why you should be grateful that I will never serenade readers with my whiny voice.

As a karaoke enthusiast though I stopped to talk with them for awhile. They've been singing together since 1962. Apparently they loved their partnership so much they decided to make it permanent with marriage in 1967. Thanks to them both for their fun stories about life and radio rock in Britain in the 1960s 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

War of the Worlds

The aliens are here...
When worlds collide...
"Across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."
-- War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells

Monday, September 7, 2020

The answer: Big, noisy and smelly.

 

Sea lions at rest...

The question is: What three words that accurately describe pinnipeds, the class of animals that includes seals, sea lions and elephant seals?

We have two local varieties of sea lions -- California sea lions (seen above) and stellar sea lions. One way to distinguish between them is through their vocals. California sea lions bark whereas stellar sea lions snort and grunt. Also, stellar sea lions grow much bigger than California sea lions... about three times as heavy.

Elephant seals (seen below) grow bigger yet, typically up to twice as heavy as a stellar sea lion. We saw this big guy/gal on a nearby island during our recent whale watching expedition.

An elephant seal takes a break...