A Visit to Butchart Gardens, and a Secret…

My Sweetie and I went to Butchart Gardens and what do you know, we both ended up taking a bunch of photos of flowers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericri/tags/butchartgardens/ – I really like my Sweetie’s close-ups that she was able to get with the Elph in macro mode.

For all the books and flyers you read as a tourist in Victoria, the one thing that I guess all the locals know and no one thinks of to share ad-hoc is that during the summer (at least this summer), Butchart puts on a large fireworks show at the end of day every Saturday.

We discovered this chatting with our charter bus driver after we already arrived, talking about taking a later bus back to Victoria. He went through the afternoon options, and then asked if we were staying really late, for the fireworks show. Fireworks? He said the show, according to some folks from the USA, is better than most 4th of July shows.

Unfortunately, we learned this at 2pm and the show didn’t start until 9pm. Butchart’s a great place to hang out, but not for eight hours during a quick holiday weekend. Anyway, something to remember for next time.

Butchart Gardens 2008-08-23 088

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The Unexpected Alley Encounter

So my Sweetie and I enjoyed a two night stay in Victoria, B.C., this past weekend. It was a wonderful get-away. We roamed the streets quite a bit at night given that we walked and walked and walked everywhere as much as possible.

Since the drinking age is 19 and since there seems to be a lot of young folks working the tourist season in Victoria, the bars are crammed full of the young and beautiful at night, with lots of lines spilling onto the streets.

Ah, spilling onto the streets. Remember that.

So we’re walking along and come along Bastion Square and it seems like a pretty popular, well-lit alley and we walk along it, down towards the harbor. We pass a museum’s outside exhibit of a lighthouse bulb (big). Then we pass by another outside contraption that I could not quite figure out. Was it art? It was far taller than me, chained to a nearby post, and looked to have four outcropping – like receptacles – at various heights.

We talked momentarily, and my Sweetie said what it was.

“No!” That couldn’t be.

“Look at the ‘Men’ symbol on the side.”

“So you mean…” Yes. It was a stand-alone outside urinal in the free and open air. A classier name being: pissoire. See, that makes it seem elegant.

We walked back to our hotel and came across another one near the multi-bar complex The Sticky Wicket. Given the sound coming out of the dark alley nearby, it was not in a preferred location.

The next night we again found ourselves walking down Bastion Square. Armed with my camera, I was ready to take a dark, shaky late night picture. We walked pass the lighthouse bulb and I looked around and around.

No pissoire. Was it a dream? A really icky, awkward dream?

We stumbled across Camille’s at that point and walked in to check it out. Truly, you should ask to be seated in their second dining further back. Very romantic.

We walked back out and a government utility truck was making its way along the square. And what was tucked in the back but pissoire #3! I was going to get my picture!

The guys quickly had it out and chained up to the neighboring post and I walked around the corner to set up the shot and – what the heck! They hadn’t even left and it was already being put to use!

I waited. The truck left. During a spare, lonely moment for the pissore I snapped a shaky picture. I later learned that the bigger plan is to have under-ground pissoire’s that rise up at night. For now, they get trucked away during the day and then come back at night, as all the young party goers are spilling out onto the streets. Keeping the streets dry.

An older article: Victoria goes for pop-up urinals

A snapshot: Victoria B.C. Pissoire.

The Hot Air Balloons of Woodinville

I uploaded some of the pictures I’ve taken this year of the hot air balloons passing by. I’ll continue uploading them under this tag query on flickr as time goes by (though balloon season is just about over): http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericri/tags/balloons/ .

At the end of this post is a flickr slideshow. But first, my balloon story, because I’m not sure I’ve told it before.

We moved into our Tree House back on Halloween 2004. Late that next spring, I was outside getting ready to fire up the leaf blower and blow fir needles off of our driveway when a huge, furious sound erupted, seemingly from the open garage.

I stopped and stared intently at the garage. What in the world could have made such a loud, rushing, furious sound? I stared and decided that, ehm, nothing could have made that sound so, ergo, I didn’t hear anything. Back to laying out electrical cable for the leaf blower.

Of course, as soon as I convinced myself I didn’t hear anything, another loud rushing furious burst of sound ripped through the air. It’s times like those you wished you had a picture of your own face.

Then I heard voices.

Above my head.

Way above my head.

I took a peep upwards, and not too far above our tallest fir tree floated a eye-poppingly colorful hot air balloon, practically filling the sky. It was silent, except for the conversation of those in the basket and the occasional loud and furious burst of flame required to keep the hot part of the hot air balloon going.

Since then, not only have we enjoyed the balloons passing over many times, we’ve even taken a ride (unfortunately not passing over our own house). There’s one time I wish I had taken a photo when the balloon was traveling so low that I swore I was looking down on it from our deck halfway up the hill.

Flickr slideshow: