Trip Start May 01, 2005
16Trip End Jun 04, 2005
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Where I stayed
As we approached the jetty in Nanaimo our friends Jude and Richard were there waiting and gave us a welcoming wave as soon as they saw us. What excitement as we hadn't seen them since we all left Rhodesia about 25 years before and their welcome made us feel very happy. Once all our greetings were over Jude and Richard took us across the road to the hotel where they had booked a room for us. The Dorchester is an elegant older hotel with lovely furnishings and decor. Our room was just perfect, large bed, settee and a large chest of drawers for our goods and chattels. Judy had stocked the fridge with cereal and dried fruit as well as fresh fruit and a beautiful vase of tulips with a welcoming card stood on the table. Mike and Danielle, to whose wedding we had come, had placed a welcoming pack for us with information that we would need over the coming days. We left our suitcases in the room and went down the passage to meet Danielle and Horst, friends of Jude who we also knew from our Rhodesian days. After the re-introductions were over we went downstairs where Horst had parked his car and we followed Richard to Michael's home where a family get together was taking place. There were plenty of drinks and snacks to keep us occupied until Mike lit his BBQ and cooked chicken and beef burgers for all the guests. Dinner over, a fire was lit in the middle of the lawn and all the guests sat around sipped their drinks and chatted while getting to know each other. Danielle's father got out his guitar and sang to entertain us and around 10pm we returned to our room, unpacked and soon fell asleep.
Thursday 5th May.
Up early and at 7am Mike went with Horst, who had kindly offered to drive him to the local airport, to pick up our hire car as arranged with our travel agent Katherin back home in Perth. When we arrived at the airport there was no one there and we found out that they only opened at eight so we waited around for the lady to arrive. The paper work was completed and we took possession of a Honda Civic for the next five weeks. Danielle and Horst had planned to visit the Butchart Gardens further down the Island near the capital city of British Columbia, Victoria. As we also wanted to visit the gardens they suggested that we all went together so at half past eight we set off. All went well until we reached Victoria and missed the turnoff, getting hopelessly lost. Eventually we decided we should buy a road map and turned into the nearest garage to see what they had to offer. New road map in hand, we were about to head off towards Sidney, where the gardens are actually situated, when we decided it was so close to lunchtime that we should eat first. So we went into Victoria, found a restaurant where for $7.50 we had a good lunch of Bolognese pie and salad and salmon in filo pastry. Sidney here we come and after following the map we eventually found the gardens which, considering its world famous reputation, was not well signposted. The sun was shining and the gardens that were developed by Jenny Ross in 1904 around a disused quarry were magnificent. We split up with Danielle and Horst and arranged to meet them in a couple of hours. We could not believe how many different plants were growing there with species from all parts of the world and the grounds were immaculate. We wondered how many gardeners were employed to keep it in that condition. The water features and Japanese gardens stood out from the rest although all of the displays were extremely well presented. At four o'clock we met up again with Danielle and Horst and started our journey back to Nanaimo stopping at the town of Chemainus to admire the many murals painted on the town's buildings depicting early settlement in the area. Arriving back at the hotel we were tired after the long and fun packed day. Mike went to bed after looking at our photos on the Rooms TV and Margaret tidied up and wrote postcards to our family back home before going to sleep.
Friday 6th May
For breakfast this morning we had some of the cereal that Jude had so thoughtfully placed in our room. Last minute chores had to be done in preparation for the big day tomorrow so there was a lot of running around the rest of the day. We drove down to the local shops to buy a box to put our wedding present in and a wedding card for Mike and Danielle. We then returned to the hotel where Mike proceeded to wrap the present while Margaret waited in the foyer, talking to Horst and Danielle, until Jude arrived. Margaret and Jude then went off to do some shopping to buy some flowers (sunflowers and proteas) for decorations and then to the fishing harbour to pick up urns which were dropped off at their house. Mike met up with Richard who took him up to the college where the views over Nanaimo and the sea were beautiful. We actually came here to pick up trays of snacks prepared for the celebrations. Today was the day for the wedding rehearsal late afternoon so the immediate family and bridal party went off to do their thing. Mike, Margaret and Tammy set up a table with cups and plates ready for when they came back and sat in the sun on the lawned area chatting until the others returned. Many people dropped in for a drink and snacks and lots of chatting took place. Mrs McEwen and Jan arrived and we were very pleased to see them looking so well. Richard put a large salmon wrapped in foil with butter and lemon onto the BBQ and Jude cooked a whole pile of prawns to accompany the wine and add to the feast. Most of the guests had left by 10pm and Judy drove us back to the hotel.
Saturday 7th May.
We got out of bed and at 8.30am, after breakfast, walked the short distance to Judes house where Mike and Richard did a few things for the wedding and the girls Margaret, Jude and Tammy headed off to the hairdresser at Parksville, 32 kilometres down the road. Although it didn't seem that long, they were actually away for four and a half hours! It was then back to the hotel for a quick change to make ourselves to go off to the wedding. Our transport arrived at 2.50pm and we drove off to Lantzville where the lovely little "Reformed Church of Canada" was situated. It was an old church building of wood with lovely, but a bit uncomfortable, wooden pews. The church was decorated with superb flowers which incorporated flowers from the old country. The Pastor displayed a good sense of humour when he spoke and there was no singing but there was a short sermon and some bible readings. As expected the bride was dressed in the most beautiful white gown and the attendants both male and female wore black. After the marriage service ended we all went outside to wish the happy couple on their way. Bubble soap was provided in place of confetti so that there would not be a huge mess to clean up afterwards as is the trend these days.
Next stop was the Pepperpot Band B where a large Marquee had been erected for the reception. Large gas heaters were dotted around in case the weather turned chilly as it was still early in the year and anything could have happened. As it was it was a beautiful night, the speaches went off without a hitch and anybody who wanted to say something had the opportunity. The meal of rare beef, shrimp salad, vegetables and green salads was superb and the 4 tier cake with coconut and delicious strawberries was equally good. The band was great playing music for all tastes. Drinking, laughing and dancing went on until 1130 and it was lots of fun. We went back to the Dorchester at midnight and slept until 8am when we were woken up by a call from Lesley wishing Margaret a happy mothers day.
Sunday 8th May.
We found the name of a local church in a directory and phoned their contact to enquire about their Sunday services, luckily we called early enough to get ready and make it just in time. The building was really nice and the sermon good. After the service we stopped for a cup of tea and spoke to a few members of the congregation. As we were leaving the next day on our trip around the state we decided that we should catch up with our washing so went out to look for a laundromat. We found one that also had internet facilities so while our washing was tumbling around in the washer and driers we caught up with some correspondence and emailed a few friends as well as writing some postcards. By the time this was all done it was afternoon and we went down to Jude and Richards and joined them for afternoon tea. Danielle and Horst and two of Danielle and Mike friends joined us. Danielle and Horst were leaving to return to South Africa so we said our goodbyes and we all took a ride out to look at the small holding that Richard had recently bought and where they were going to build their dream house just out of town. The block was rather overgrown but Richard has the expertise and the equipment to clear it and being an engineer to organise a road etc to make the place more accessible. After an hour or so wandering around we went back to town where Jude had organised a pasta dinner with more of their friends, namely Denis, Toby and Tammy.
Monday 9th May.
We packed our bags and booked out of the Dorchester and went down to say goodbye to Jude and Richard as we were now on our way to Whistler and the start of our trip around British Columbia. After phoning Cecil and Linda in Zimbabwe who were unable to travel to the wedding and packing some waterproof jackets that were loaned to us we said goodbye and drove down to Departure Bay where we found the Ferry Terminal. Tickets for the car and us cost us about $50 dollars and then we joined the queue in row 15 and waited to get the signal to board. We bought a ham and salad roll as we didn't know when next we would eat and waited just over an hour in sunny weather before getting on the ship. The ride to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland took an hour and a half, the boat had lots of passengers and cars aboard, quite a few different decks which Margaret loved to explore. A map was purchased on board ready for when we hit the highway on the other side. Getting off the boat at Horseshoe Bay took awhile because of the number of cars on board but we sat and relaxed while waiting and before too long we were driving up the road towards Whistler. The road was interesting with cuts through the mountains and steep cliffs right down to the roadside. Some roadworks were in progress in preparation for the winter Olympics that were due to take place in a couple of years at Whistler. The pleasant drive in good weather made our first trip easy and we drove into Whistler and found Chalet Louise in Ambassador Crescent on White Gold Estate easily.