Vancouver Island

September 6-7, 2010

While most of our trip was planned all the way back in March (in order to obtain the camping reservations at Crater Lake and Mt. Rainier), the decision to come to Vancouver Island was made in the last couple of days before we left. We had intended to spend three days in Vancouver, but whenever I told anyone we were going to Vancouver, they would ask me if we were going to see the Island. This added about US$150 in ferry fares, but the Island just sounded terrific.

Diving Saanich Inlet

I had been told that the shore diving in Victoria was so amazing that there would be no need to hire a boat, as we had planned in Vancouver. The woman at the dive shop recommended that we hire a guide, unless we were very familiar with shore diving. Of course we shore dive a lot, although we wouldn't necessarily recommend this lifestyle to other people -- it's just a way to go diving without spending a lot of money, by enduring a great deal of inconvenience instead. I was ready to go for it by ourselves, but when I asked the woman an extremely critical question -- "Where should we park?" -- she said issues like that were exactly the reason why someone unfamiliar with the area should hire a guide. It was still cheaper than boat diving, so I agreed.

We met Adam at the dive shop in the morning. We had to be outfitted with some gear, because we couldn't fit all of our own equipment in the car. We drove out to Henderson Point on the Saanich Inlet.

We dove from this little spot. I'm sure it would be pretty in the sun. Photo by Eric.

Photo by Adam.

I was able to accomplish my primary goal of seeing another Pacific Giant Octopus. This one didn't seem as big as the one we saw in Tacoma a few years ago, but we (especially Eric) got to see more of it. I was unable to enjoy the dive very much because I forgot that Eric had told me that when he changed the battery in my computer, it changed itself to metric units. Now, I'm much better equipped to deal with metric units than most Americans, but only if I know I'm dealing with metric units! The computer has a little teeny decimal point that I couldn't see underwater, so I was looking at decimeters and thinking I was looking at feet. I couldn't believe how fast I was descending. How did we possibly get down to 60 feet already? We were going down so fast! Adam had said we were going to 70 or 80 feet, which is perfectly within the limits of my experience, but then he took us past that. I just couldn't believe how quickly each ten feet would go by. It was obvious that, even though the visibility was reasonably good, visual clues were no help at all in determining the rate of my descent, and that I would have to rely on my instrumentation. This meant that I had to keep my eyes glued much more on my console than on my surroundings, which of course significantly diminished my enjoyment. When we went past what I thought was 100 feet, and then past 150! I thought we were down at 174 feet! I was scared, because we are taught that depth in diving is like speed in driving -- it's more dangerous. I was also thinking that it was going to take nearly forever to ascend to the surface (a diver should not ascend faster than 2 ft/sec), and that I was going to expire of hypothermia before we returned. But it all just didn't add up. It seemed that we couldn't possibly have gone so deep so fast without breaking our eardrums. There seemed to be too much light around me for that depth. I couldn't figure out why Eric was not objecting to the fact that we had gone beyond the limits that were covered by our certifications, especially after we'd discussed those limits at the dive shop. So I just kept going, although I did signal that I was cold. I enjoyed seeing a little sunken sailboat -- some creative diver had tied a chiropractor's skeleton model to it. And I very much enjoyed the octopus. But we didn't see the incredible density of life that we had seen in the Puget Sound, and I was cold.

Only when we ascended to the surface and started talking with Adam about our depth did I remember that Eric had told me about the change in units. We had gone to 17.4 meters, or a mere 57 feet, well within my comfort level. Oh, boy. I could have enjoyed that quite a bit more. Stupid computer.

Eric photographed a purple sea star on the surface.

Back at the car, we stood in the rain eating sandwiches we had purchased from Tim Horton's, a Canadian fast food chain. This was our first "Timmy's" experience. Adam had told us that the sandwiches were OK, but that the doughnuts were great. He was right. Tim's doughnuts were even better than my favorite, Dunkin' Donuts. The sandwiches, well, I don't want to make Canadians feel bad, but Subway is better. All the same, we were glad to try something different.

On a boat dive in cold water, there would be a hose coming from a tank of water heated by the boat's engines. You would put the hose inside your wetsuit and fill it with hot water to warm you up. Adam had a large thermos full of hot water, which was fantastic but not enough for me. I still hadn't stopped shivering by the time I finished my sandwich, and Adam recommended that I not get back in the water in that condition. Well, I had already seen the octopus. I sat in the car and read a book while Eric went back in and got a better look at the octopus that I now wish I had shared. Maybe we should have taken a boat after all.

We returned to our motel, the Red Lion Inn Victoria, to do laundry. We had some calzones from a nearby supermarket for dinner, and resupplied some groceries.

We just had to share this picture from an electrical box at the motel. It's the tongue that really makes it. Photo by Eric.


The way things have worked for us on this trip, if the weather people have predicted even a small chance of rain, say, 20%, it will most definitely rain. Eric has interpreted this as meaning that the chance of rain is 80% more than the weather people predict, such that if they predict 60%, the chance of rain is 140%. I have interpreted this to mean that any probability of rain at all means 100% chance, such that > 0% = 100%.

The rain was scheduled to stop by evening, but overnight temperatures at our next destination, Anacortes, WA, were predicted to be around 50F (10C). I had made a reservation at a campground in beautiful Deception Pass State Park, but did not feel like camping at those sorts of temperatures, especially since my wetsuit was still wet from diving. We made another reluctant decision to skip camping and booked a room at a motel in Anacortes.

We had planned to spend the day visiting a park called East Sooke, which had been recommended to us by any number of people. However, it was a bit difficult to muster enthusiasm for visiting a park in the rain. We had packed for much warmer weather than we got, and did not have enough long pants with us. We were feeling a creeping desire for water-resistant, convertible cargo pants. I Googled sporting goods stores in the area and found a co-op in downtown Victoria. Some touring cyclists climbing Mt. Rainier had recommended to us a restaurant in downtown Victoria called Red Fish, Blue Fish, and how could we resist a name like that? We decided to make a trip into downtown Victoria for shopping and lunch.

Not only was the town unexpectedly cute, it was full of civic art.

Photo by Eric.

This guy even has an orb.

They even decorate those power boxes on the street. Surely, if Americans figured out how easy it was to lithograph these things, they'd be covered with ads.

After purchasing our convertible pants and taking too much time photographing the town, we spent too much time looking for the restaurant. Finally, we had to ask a clothing dealer where to find it. She described it precisely, adding, "They only have outdoor seating, but they have the best fish 'n' chips in town."

Red Fish, Blue Fish did indeed have fantastic fish 'n' chips. Unfortunately, I was trying to be good and avoiding fried food, so I had a chipotle shrimp tacone instead. It wasn't bad, but it was nothing like Eric's food. All the fish is harvested sustainably according to rules promulgated by the local aquarium, and, unlike virtually every other place we've been, they had composting.

Even the building was recycled. Photo by Eric. See me there in my Seattle Sombrero and my new water-resistant cargo pants.

The seating was covered, and had a view out over the water. If you visit Victoria, you must try this place.

East Sooke

By the time we arrived at East Sooke, we only had time for an approximately half-hour hike, out to Creyke Point, before needing to get in line for the overly expensive ferry back to the US.

Even in the rain, the trail was pretty.

The end of it was steep.

We had a decent view from the top, although we could not see Washington and the Olympics because of the weather. Stupid weather.

Me at Creyke Point. Photo by Eric.

We saw moss that looked like Spanish Moss hanging from what looked like Manzanita but probably isn't. Photo by Eric.

Photo by Eric, whose camera was easier to manage in the rain.

Pretty rocks along the shore. Photo also by Eric.

Eric spotted and photographed this black slug. We've never seen the likes of it before.

Sidney-Anacortes Ferry

The Chelan.

Ironically, the international ferry was much smaller than the Vancouver-Victoria ferry. No wi-fi, either. I've never before been on a ferry where they explained on the PA the horn signals for "abandon ship" and "man overboard."

A beautiful sky.

On the 2.5-hr ferry ride, we traveled through the many San Juan Islands. Some are American and some are Canadian.

Sailboats at Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, the largest of the San Juans.

Pretty Friday Harbor.

The sun setting over the island.

Yesterday and today:

Distance driven: 119 mi (192 km)

Caches found: Eric 1, Beth 0


Distance driven: 1,788 mi (2878 km)

Caches found: Eric, 23, Beth 22

On to Lopez Island.

Last updated: 09/23/2010 by Eric and Beth Zuckerman