We woke up at about 8 and got going by 10 or so. It was showering lightly on and off but it was the wind that really got us. I was glad I took my hat with me, because by the time we’d parked the car downtown and walked a block towards the Royal BC Museum, I was really cold. (Turns out it was an island-wide windstorm, and knocked power out for 10,000 people.)
The museum was $14 for each of us, and halfway through I was pretty sure it wasn’t worth that much. There was a temporary exhibit about mating and the kinds of things animals do to attract their mates, but it was mostly just taxidermied animals and interactive games and things that weren’t all that fun for grownups. The natural history part of it was fun – I like tableaus of foresty places with animals and such.
It got better when we went to the next floor – the native peoples exhibit. There were interesting displays there about weaving and making fabric out of skins and wool and bark, and there were all kinds of tools and masks and things. There was an example of a bucket made from one piece of bark, and a box that was made really ingeniously – one long rectangle of wood with a gouged-out line where corners would be, and then the wood was soaked until it was flexible and the box was folded into a square and pegged together.
Next was Century Hall, which began with displays of clothing and artifacts from the last several decades, and then tableaus of different historical industries such as mining and logging, and a few displays of living rooms and offices and storefronts from a hundred years ago. Century Hall was our favorite part, and definitely made the whole visit worth the admission price.
We were starving once we left the museum, so we stopped at the Sticky Wicket for lunch. Cory has a pint glass from this pub that his ex’s parents gave him years ago, so I was familiar with the name though I didn’t know it was in Victoria. I had a steak and mushroom pie and he had a bison burger. I wanted his burger.
After lunch we braved the wind gusts and found the car after a bit of searching. We drove up to Craigdarroch Castle and took a couple of pictures of the exterior, which was very pretty. It reminded me of Pittock Mansion, but pointier.
Then we drove to the other side of downtown, and walked through Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown and I tried some bubble tea in one of the shops. We got some chocolate amaretto fudge (and maple fudge too). We’d seen Christmas Village on the map and thought maybe it was interesting, but it was only a shop of ornaments, and we weren’t interested.
We ran back to the car, as it was getting wetter and the wind wasn’t letting up. We decided to try Tim Horton’s, as I’d heard about it via Canadian LJ-ers, but we ended up getting there half an hour after they closed. So we kept going north towards Butchart Gardens.
It was still light when we found the gardens, and we paid our $19 each and found a parking spot and grabbed the umbrella. The wind had thankfully let up but it was raining harder now. We walked through slowly once, looking at the signs that told about various parts of the park, and the 12 Days of Christmas display that was oddly missing 12 Drummers Drumming. The park was once a quarry, and Mrs. Butchart transformed it into a huge garden, with ivy hanging on the rough stone walls of the sunken area and a pond with trout and bridges and benches and lots of native plants.
After we got through the looped path, we stopped in the gift shop to kill some time, and then went to the little café to have cranberry muffins and a coffee and a peppermint hot chocolate to warm us up. We were soaked up to our knees and our jackets were pretty wet too from moving the umbrellas out of the way to take pictures. Once it had gotten pretty dark, we set off on another walk through to see it in a different light, so to speak. The garden is completely covered in Christmas lights. Some of them simulated raindrops, and some of them were cascading down the hillsides like waterfalls and streams. Many of the trees were lit from beneath with red and green and blue spotlights, and the fountains had moving lights instead of water.
When our second loop was done, we raced back to the car in worsening weather, and driving out of the park we found the 12 Drummers Drumming, drumming us goodbye, down the path out of the park. We white-knuckled it through very wet and slippery roads to Sav-On-Foods to find some Christmas dinner, as we had no idea what was going to be open the next day. We were greeted at the door by a man, who told us we had two minutes to shop, as the store was closing. Good thing we knew exactly what we wanted. We grabbed a few TV dinners out of the freezer, and a few rolls from the bakery, and a bottle of soda; and we ran back out to the car in the now-pouring rain.
Once home we peeled off our wet clothes and turned the heat up and snacked a bit while flipping through channels. I saw four different Miracle on 34th Streets and two different It’s a Wonderful Lifes and a couple of other Christmas-themed sitcoms. We settled on The Wonder Years for a few minutes, as I hadn’t seen it in years and I adored it when I was younger; but it wasn’t very good. Maybe it was just the episode that wasn’t very good. I hope so. Anyway, Cory got sleepy pretty quickly after that, and we found ourselves in bed with the beginning of The Nutcracker on PBS (or whatever the station is called up here). He was out by the time the party at the beginning was finished; way before the Nutcracker came to life to take Clara away to his kingdom. I watched a few more minutes of it and then tried to sleep but came to write about the day for awhile, hoping that would put me out. I missed the internet – I was sure someone would be up to chat with if I were somewhere with a wifi connection.