As a result, it gets cold. Very. Very. Cold. Vancouver in June is not New York in June. Add a waterwhipping boat and some choppy water in the Strait of Georgia and this person gets numb fingers and the shakes. This person was told to dress warmly and thought she had accomplished it with two layers of cashmere and a goosedown fleece. Nope. Into the oversize orange coat I went, on the top deck, bending in time to the boat's bucking over the swells. That was good for a while. Out came the woolly hat. Hm. Add Vince's black inner jacket under the orange one. Br. Later I escaped to the front which was protected, and wussed-out near a girl who had just swallowed one of my anti seasick pills. She never reappeared for the return trip so I don't think it took...
Eventually we reached the Gulf Islands on the far side of the Strait and entered calm water edged by steeply wooded hills and lots of a broomlike shrub in full flower.
We saw two bald eagles, so similar to our African fishing eagle, and later I saw one dip into the water for a fish.
Vince: where are the bloody whales?
There! One of many triangles. My first killer whales ever. We saw several groups, with outriders about a mile off...our guides said that the older whales possibly keep the harder, edge-fishing for themselves, leaving the easy pickins to the mothers and young. They are eating salmon heading for the Fraser River. 200 lbs are eaten per whale a day. We saw a smaller whale breach, jumping right out of the water and landing smack! sideways in the water again. It was beautiful, especially since it was not a movie. Sure looked like a movie. Oh urban child.
The water really amazed me. There were so many different currents at work, often with two distinct colours on either side of a fluid line where they met; strange upwellings, swift smoothnesses, roilings.
Post beer and sandwich break, racing to the bus taking us to Butchart Gardens, I stopped in midflight to photograph this wisteria outside the Empress Hotel.
The gardens were first started in the empty pit of a limestone quarry, affording this perpsective from the sides.
Here, and elsewhere, I found myself really rattled by the number of annuals. Like, thousands and thousands of them. In beds. What exactly bugged me about them I can't say. But I can hazard a guess?! The uniformity? The rows? The 70's-ness. Disney again? The quick-fix fertilizer I imagine they need for instant oomph? The mass production? I don't know. They are not very interesting to me like this. They give me the creeps. I don't mind them tucked in here and there as a nice frothy or softening filler. But like this? It's drone-like. I can hear their mass-marching little green feet doing the approaching soft shuffle. AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
But. On the winding way down to the lower garden was a most wonderful rocky wall with very interesting things growing in it. Cotoneaster in bloom, and crawling with big, happy bees.
At the bottom, hummocks of shrubbed plantings were hugged (suffocated?) by the beds of annuals, and here, plunging me back to 1979 at least, nemesias! Not only South African but they used to be planted under my parents' window. I loved them. I still do. But this? It hurts!
Lots of irises. I am very fond of them. Essence of iris root (OK, tuber, fine) goes into Chanel No. 19...And if my duty-free bottle was anything to go by it takes a lot of irises to yield that essence.
I told you I liked them...
We had to head back to our boat, which had come cleverly around from Victoria to the inlet below the Japanese Garden, to pick us up. We left too little time for this sloped series of lovely gardens within gardens, and I am sorry for it. It was very well done. No annuals.
And home again, home again. The convention center nearing completion with a great greenroof about to be planted on its head.