Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Visit to the Island

If you follow my Twtter feed, you may know that I was in BC for most of last week. First, I attended the 2011 Canadian Cochrane Symposium, then Andrew and I took the ferry across to Vancouver Island to visit family. I will *try* to get around to blogging about both (which mostly likely means I'll blog about the vacation part of my trip and never get around to commenting on the business part), but we'll see. We've got our first ESO concert of the new year coming up this Friday, so I may get distracted.

The ferry ride from North Vancouver to Nanaimo takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. Last Friday afternoon when Andrew and I made the crossing the trip was rather pleasant (albeit a little late to depart). The sky was clear (until the sunset--then it was just dark) and although an announcement was made to alert passengers to the choppy water conditions, neither of us found the ride rough. When we reached Nanaimo we were picked up by my brother-in-law and his wife, and then we drove to Duncan where they live (or close to it--they aren't actually in the city). Being dark by this point I couldn't see much of the landscape we passed, but when we reached Duncan we hit up a local brew pub for dinner. After a pretty decent meal (I had a tasty 'Santa Fa' veggie burger before over-indulging in a rich chocolate brownie) we drove out to the farm where my brother-in-law lives. Again, having arrived at night, we couldn't see much of the farm. Even though it wasn't terribly late upon our return we were all tired and opted to head to bed.

Saturday morning started off with beautiful sunshine (and remained sunny all day). After breakfast we took a short stroll around the area with the farm dog, somewhat unfortunately named, Bobo. The area around Duncan is far more picturesque than Edmonton, what with the mountains and lakes in the background. Plus, we were able to walk along a groomed gravel trail that had once provided a railway connection between Duncan and Victoria (apparently it goes on for ages--I'd love to walk it further sometime). Upon returning to the farm we (eventually) set to work. Before our trip Andrew had been quite keen to help prune the raging grapevines growing along one side of the house (they were quite the mess) and took the job with gusto--although not without reservation (there was some lingering concerns regarding just how much should being cut away). I helped clean up the trimmings for a while until my sister-in-law and another one of the farm roommates went to shovel chicken maneuver--oh the glamorous life of farm work. I didn't really mind as I'd come to help out and I had gloves and rubber boots to wear so it wasn't a big deal.

After lunch I was a little less enthusiastic to work. I hadn't really brought enough warm clothing (I had primarily gone to BC to attend a conference, after all), plus we were expecting Andrew's sister and her husband to drive up from Victoria for dinner, so I wanted to whip together a desert and help get a start on dinner. Before setting to work in the kitchen I assisted in digging up the last remnants of the winter beets and turnips in hopes of finding something suitable for dinner. The beets weren't in great shape, but there were enough to make cake--yup beet cake. Yum! The turnips seemed to have weathered better. There were plenty for dinner plus several more meals to come. Dinner was delicious with a plethora of veggies and a roasted chicken (raised on the farm).

Our last day in BC, Sunday started almost exactly the same as the previous day--glorious sunshine. It's much easier to get out of bed in the morning when it's sunny, rather than still dark or gray and rainy. The plan for the last day was to drive down to Victoria and have brunch with the family. The drive from Duncan to Victoria took an hour, made all the more enjoyable by the abundance of beautiful scenery (I may be living in the wrong province). When we arrived at Andrew's sister's apartment it was decided that we should head out to the beach and pick up some picnic fare on the way. Although the sun was out in full force it was still a trifle cool on the beach. Lots of families seemed to have the same idea as us; however, and we wandered about the nearby playground as our young nephew played on the swings and a octopus slide/climbing structure. Shortly before noon we piled back into the car and were dropped off at the ferry terminal to return to Vancouver, and then to Edmonton.

All in all I had a great week and weekend. Our summer vacation plans for this year are to return to the farm for a week and help out picking fruit/vegetables and doing anything else we can help out with. Suggestions were also made that we should try out 'disk golf' (apparently this is an island, low-key variation on golf that requires players to have a beer in their free hand at all times...) and possibly go sailing.



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