Coatless Canadians back in Canada

Victoria, BC was our final port of call.

We Coatless Canadians would have liked more time in Alaska, that being the foreign country to us – so it was with some dismay that I had a conversation with an American passenger who had the same thought as me. But coming from her, the idea of more time in Alaska and less in Victoria was her not being willing to explore a city in another country.

For me, being from the lower mainland of BC and a short ferry ride from Victoria, stopping there wasn’t a big deal to me – but for her, being from the American south – Victoria was an exotic port of call – and it was a let down that she wasn’t as interested in her country neighbour as we were.

Heading down the gangplank, we passed what I thought were two security guards, but who turned out to be Canada customs – and I hadn’t realized because we just breezed passed them without a pause or question.

Instead of being met with people hawking tours and wares, we were met by volunteers in 1800’s period costumes who handed out walking maps and tourist information.

Unlike the small Alaska towns, Victoria is our provincial capitol and isn’t designed to center around tourist cruises – so the dock was not central, but a walking distance from the downtown core.

We would have stayed on the ship, but needed to run an errand (shhhhhhh to James and Rebecca!). I thought it was really interesting that Canada Post mailboxes were on the street in pairs – one designed for Vancouver Island mail and the other for off island mail. It certainly was an easy cost effective step for Canada Post to have the public do the initial rough sorting.

While I did take my camera, we were there in the evening and digital is not as forgiving about dusk and dark as film cameras, although, I did get this nice shot of the Parliament building, which is lit up after dark and looks much nicer when clicked on than this thumbnail:

Parliment building after dark

We headed back to the ship and watched the crew play tug of war with a huge rope on the dock for a while – then it was to the room to pack. Luggage had to be in the hallway by 1 am so it could be placed in the unloading queue and disembarkation schedule.

We packed, doubled checked, left the luggage out in the hallway and headed up for our last night in the Crow’s Nest aka 10-Forward to have final drinks and conversation with Skeptic conference participants.

The bar was strangely empty, but for a few Skeptics, so we compared Victoria town trips, trip highlights – one of the group had done a whale watching tour and had seen an Orca leap from the water and the debate whether anyone had gotten a photo was hot. None of the group had seen the humpback whale on the trip up and we were the only ones in the group who had gone to the Fortress of the Bears but most had gone to the raptor centre in Sitka. It was the orca whale pod we encountered heading to Victoria that was the shared wonderous experience and highlight of the trip.

Other than the conference and getting to mix and meet with so many other skeptics from around the US and a few of us from Canada.

In the morning, we prepared to leave and owing to a packing malfunction, I ended up disembarking the ship and going through Canada Customs bra-less; which my bright pink Juneau hoodie helped to somewhat disguise.




Coatless Canadians and the Inside Passage

With our last Alaska port of call completed, the Coatless Canadians turned southward to watch again the super natural beauty of the Inside Passage.

Canada is a country that is uniquely positioned in the world. Being the northerly neighbour of the USA and having a shared history of European migration makes that relationship different than USA and Mexico. The US war of independence and Canada’s diplomatic path to that same end has loomed large in each country’s self image.

Canada has lived torn between it’s European connection and the natural geographical ties to the USA. So growing up in Canada was a little schizophrenic, being inundated with both British and American TV shows and movies and largely being timid to set about an image of our own and when we did establish an international presence, we are far too humble about it.

These thoughts weighed on my mind as I watched the Inside Passage scenery and thought about the 1970’s British Columbia filmed TV Show, The Beachcombers. A comedy about a motley crew who’s major star was nothing short of the British Columbia coastline – the scenery which ensured European sales of the program that kept it on the air longer than it would have been on it’s own merits.

Far too heavy thoughts for a sunny day and watching dolphins – or they might have been porpoises, we never got too good a look:

Farther down the coast, Orca whales made their appearance.

Then, we encountered a pod of orca whales:

His Noodley Goodness makes his presence known, and we give thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the bounty and beauty of the sea.

You can just make out the whale’s exhale on these above and below images.

And then a dramatic detail from the above:

Then it was onto our final port of call: Victoria, British Columbia.

Parliment building after dark