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June 16, 2010

James Bay in Three Days

I was in Victoria for the past couple of days at a workshop on Motivational Interviewing and as I walked around in three days of beautiful weather, I noticed that Victoria really seems to be growing on me. When I drove into the city at 7:00 am on Sunday morning, the streets were pretty empty and the Olympic Mountains in the distance looked as if they were floating with their white tops painted in acrylic on the sky.

I stayed at the James Bay Inn because of its fantastic location but mostly because of its great weekday rate ($69) and its charm. It must be one of the first hotels in Victoria and it's just down the street from Emily Carr's house which I have yet to take a tour of and have wanted to do for some time now after reading a few of her books. I can't recall the name of the woman who wrote the last one but it was a fictional story using Carr's life as the basis and it's a good read and I can't find it online. It's really bugging me now.

I wandered down towards Dallas Road and the wind was whipping up the whitecaps pretty well. There were at least 10 guys getting air and sometimes getting water while they did tricks on their parasailing boards or whatever those things are called. Unfortunately, I left my camera at home. I know, I know. Strange but true. I wanted to just walk around looking with my own eyes, not through a camera lense. Alas, the only photo I took was from my cell phone.

I walked along the seawall back at the inner harbour and went into the Flying Otter in search of a fish and chip place that I heard was down there and really good. I got directed to go farther north and found Red Fish/Blue Fish. Try the traditional halibut or cod fish and chips or get adventurous with all sorts of spicy seafood Tacones.

On one of the mornings I had breakfast (a steal of deal with two eggs, toast, hashbrowns and coffee) at the James Bay Tea Room.

I walked along Toronto street, a one-way street where the James Bay Inn is located and admired all the colourful Victorian-style houses with their tiny yards butted up against the sidewalk and daisies and wildflowers poking through the small, white picket fences keeping the narrow sidewalks in some semblence of a straight line.

It wouldn't be a visit to Victoria without a trip to Munro's books. In addition to the latest Ruth Rendall Mystery, I purchased a book called Eating India; Exploring the Food and Culture of the Land of the Spices and another, A Life Less Ordinary, about a woman who ends up writing a book about her impoverished life in India after she receives encouragement to do so while working as a maid for an educated family in Delhi.

As I continued towards the port where the cruise ships doc, I marveled at the beautiful condos on that side of the downtown. What a great place to live.  There's a small seawall that you can follow all around the harbour that takes you past the Laurel Point Inn and houseboats and fish and chip take-out with the floatplanes taxiing right in front of you after they land heading back to their home berth.

I enjoyed the energy and sounds of Victoria a lot, worryingly so. My mind feels more alert in the city. I like looking at  people I haven't seen and don't know. Strangers are good.

Not that it wasn't nice to return to a view worthy of an Emily Carr painting with 11 Douglas Fir trees no more than 25 feet from my window and the ocean a grey-white ribbon of a background on this overcast morning. But, the wheels are a turning about living on an island. I can use the techniques I learned to resolve my own ambivalence. Yes, I can try that. Where should I move next?

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