Saturday, March 22, 2014

ZZ Top Adventure

Leaving the Olympic Peninsula behind for Canada...
Arriving in Victoria, BC, about 10 a.m.
Awhile ago, about the time the tickets came on sale, a friend asked me if I would like to go and hear the hard rock and blues band, ZZ Top, in concert in Victoria, B.C.

This 70's band was never on my top-must-see lists, but I thought if I'm ever going to see them live, this is probably the time to go. (Amazingly, the original band is still just the same three guys, lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, co-lead vocalist Dusty Hill, and drummer, Frank Beard, 40 years later!)

The plan was to leave early on Friday morning, take the Black Ball ferry to Victoria, spend the day roaming about, find some good restaurants, enjoy the concert and then come back on Saturday morning.

M/V Coho, in operation since 1958, is the passenger auto and freight transport ferry, taking folks and goods back and forth four times a day. It's 341 feet long and you'll doubtless be as impressed as I was in the way the captain(s) maneuver in and out of ports. If you are planning a trip, it's an hour and a half either way; be on time because they leave on schedule. Reservations suggested during peak times.

We started out from Port Angeles under cloudy skies, but by the time we arrived in Canada, the sunshine was waiting for us, and we had an absolutely divine day of walking all over the city.

Victoria is clean, safe (using common sense, of course) and for walkers has only moderate hills. It's also very bike-friendly, so the next time I go, I am taking my bike to experience it that way.

The Chinese population is significant, so you can easily find a small or large eatery to meet your needs, close to the Gates of Harmonious Interest (Chinatown). The myriad ethnic shops have enormous varieties of gifts, trinkets, household materials and furniture.
Gates of Harmonious Interest, Victoria, BC.

I found a little metaphysical shop off an alley in this district where I bought a pendulum. My adventuring partner found an Eddie Bauer brown leather jacket which was a perfect fit, practically new, for $30 at a thrift shop.

What I liked about having a friend to share this with was that we talked to people along the way, commented and observed the world and enjoyed the sunshine. It was richer for sharing it with someone.

My traveling companion and I each took some time alone mid-afternoon to read, meditate or nap, as a re-charge of our batteries after a lot of walking and shopping and eating.

Just as it was beginning to get dark we started walking toward the arena, and found ourselves in the midst of many others doing the same thing… so we had to wait in line.

There was a copper at the door asking me if I'd packed in any tobacco products and matches, and I replied "No," quite simply.
As the sun was setting and we were standing in line to go in
to the concert, this guy and his dog were just hanging about.
I wonder if he was hoping for a ticket or handout?

I think the blue streak in my hair, left over from the Seahawks championship game, stirred further inquiry and he asked me again if I was quite sure I didn't have any tobacco products. I again said "No, I don't have any tobacco products," and this time was firmer about it.

I also didn't have any herbs for smoking, although it seems plenty of other folks did. To me, that was what the real question should have been, "Do you have any kind of dried materials for igniting and breathing into your lungs?"

All around us were people puffing whacky tobacky, drinking beer, and standing up so I couldn't see.

Fortunately the fellow who asked me to accompany him is about 6'4" tall, so he was able to take a few photos to memorialize this adventure. I took some, too, but I don't know who took what. We were at least 150 feet from the stage and if the seating was for hockey, we would have been near the goalie. So I'm impressed with my little camera capturing this much.
Z Z Top, that little band from Texas, playing the NW.
They sang a few songs I remembered and enjoyed all those many years ago, and the audience, surprisingly, was not just people from the early era of this group. I would guess that better than a third of the Canadians there were just over 21 to about 35, a whole new audience to court.

I really did enjoy much of the concert, and was truly grateful for the $1 ear plugs since I'd like to preserve my hearing to last as long as I do.

After the performance, barely an hour in length, we adjourned to a favorite watering hole of the Victoria crowd, Big Bad John's. (You can read about it on the link.) It's a bar in close proximity to the fabled Fairmont Empress Hotel on Government St., a beer and peanuts-on-the-floor kind of place, where everyone around you is quickly becoming a pal. It was a nice way to let down from the artificial and nearly literal high of the concert.
It was clean, affordable and the staff were helpful. I just
cannot think I'd want to repeat this economy again.
Then we walked back up to the Ocean Island Inn, a popular hostel, stay-over place on Pandora Street.  (I am giving you the link so you can reserve a space if you want… they were all booked up until June when we got our bunks.) Since this was definitely not a romantic date of any sort, I kind of thought having a dormitory room would be an affordable solution to staying in the city.

I ended up on a third floor unit (walk-up, folks) on an upper bunk, with a rubberized pad that would not keep the sheets in place and a rock-hard pillow in a room with five snoring folks. Can't wait to climb into my therapeutic bed tonight!!!

So, the good things from this adventure were having a fabulous Dim Sum lunch at the Chinese sector's Golden City on Fisgard St., with a stir-fried sticky rice with peanuts that was delicious and a spring roll that melted in the mouth. Then we had another amazing traditional evening meal at Ithaka, a family-owned Greek restaurant on Yates that deserves all of its five stars; service, food, and service! We were told that Mama makes the baklava… sigh… can she come and visit me?
Magnolia blossoms and all variety of annuals
were blooming on the sunny streets.

We ended the dining portion of this adventure with a breakfast on Saturday morning, before catching the ferry, at John's Place (I don't think it's the same John who owns the bar, but I could be wrong.) a couple of blocks away from the hostel.

We each enjoyed a huge breakfast that was served by an extraordinarily cheery lady who didn't offend when she called us "Honey," because it felt real. Massive strips of bacon, crispy 'taters, real butter for the breads, and great water for the tea (it didn't turn muddy when added to the bag) and affordable.
M/V Coho waits for its passengers going to the U.S.

The Olympics loom ahead near Port Angeles, WA. This was
taken about 40 minutes from arrival in the U.S.
Friday was the day to be in Victoria, it turns out. Once home again, I heard from a neighbor that it had been chilly and even on the verge of snowing again in Sequim. He said he had been up on a roof and could see over the Straits of Juan de Fuca that the sun was shining where we were.

It was a nice break, a tiny voyage, with some sun, great foods and experiences… I needed that.

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