Note: The Royal Museum in on the right (recommended)
Victoria, British Columbia, floating on Juan de Fuca Strait, looks a bit dated, but refurbished. A long way off, past the harbor entrance into tremendous cloud banks, occasionally the Olympic Peninsula, guarded by Port Angeles, Washington, appear like a mirage. The channel of Juan de Fuca itself is not always so inviting given the unpredictability of the sometimes harsh north Pacific weather fits. Still, this very densely populated place -- the Garden City -- is rated as one of the cities with the best quality of life in the world. Hmm.
Victoria itself harbors ghosts. Or that is the impression given on one of the most popular evening pastimes, a ghost walk sponsored by a local family over many years. Snooping around town, dodging traffic, slipping down alleys, and seated in abandoned rooms can help anyone's imagination that the thumping noise is sinister calls for help from beyond. More likely, it's a carpenter working overtime to restore the old structure and rooms above. But, maybe not? Listening to the gory details of past murders was too much for one lassie before the tour had even gotten started. Her mother and she abruptly left our group of bloodthirsty scoundrels.
An apparent cliche for this town, which draws many retirees, refers to city as for "the newly dead and nearly dead".
I and fellow old traveller Richard soldiered on though, with only a little sweat (caused by the distance walked and the pace, not fear). A pizza shared in a friendly late night bar, with frolicking teens nearby, was just the ticket to bring my thoughts back from the grave.
Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and southernmost major city in Western Canada. It is located about 60 miles from Vancouver on the mainland. The city is about 60 mi. from Seattle by airplane, ferry, or the Victoria Clipper passenger-only ferry, and 25 miles from Port Angeles, Washington, by the Coho ferry (owned by Black Ball) across the Juan de Fuca.
In the latter half of the 19th century, the Port of Victoria became one of North America's largest importers of opium, serving the unregulated opium trade from Hong Kong until about 1865, when the legislature issued licences and levied duties. This trade was banned in 1908.
The Salish Sea's outlet to the Pacific Ocean is the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The international boundary between Canada and the US runs down the center of the strait. And yet, to this day, as all good neighboring friends do from time to time, the two nations are disputing the boundary. Since 2009, the Juan de Fuca Channel and Puget Sound as well as the Strait of Georgia and related waters are combined under a general name Salish Sea. This latter definition was approved by geographic boards of Canada and the US.
My hotel in Victoria was at the harbor's edge across the street from the ferry embarkation, US customs, station; an afternoon launch was fairly uncomplicated, since the vehicle could be left in line all day.
The sea was calm, but the spectacular cloud array that burst over the Olympic Peninsula not far to the south defied what was below. The Coho sailed directly into the Port of Port Angeles, Washington State, as twilight began to sneak between the air streams and vapor pillows and the threat of rain and storms subsided.
Note: a small pall of smoke (left) marks Port Angeles along the dark peninsula in the distance.
Perhaps I did cross over to the "other side" in Victoria. The cloud display above Juan de Fuca, with the legendary peninsula unveiling its mountain interior for brief moments, offered travellers on the Coho in mid-October a possible introduction to the lands of St. Peter.
The Olympic Peninsula Mountains behind Port Angeles
Entrance to Port Angeles Harbor
Port Angeles Under a Blanket