QV2018: Day 8: Museum of Anthropology, UBC

31 10 2018

Today was a free day for each of us to do as we wanted. Some went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Skywalk, but that’s not my thing, so I decided to tick off a bucket list item that I’ve had for 30+ years ever since I first heard about the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

No-one else was interested in going, so I jumped in a cab (side note — Uber or Lyft aren’t allowed in BC as yet!) and got dropped at the door around 10:30. The admissions person said that there was a free guided tour by a docent at 11am, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. However, I was in the vicinity when she started the tour and stayed until the end, nearly two hours later (the tour normally goes for just over an hour). It was fascinating, especially the information about the potlatch ceremonies, the many uses of the cedar tree (the ‘tree of life’), the various tribes, and how they used what Europeans labelled ‘totem’ poles, but weren’t actually totems because they weren’t worshipped. She also showed us how to identify which animal was which on a pole or in a drawing. I loved it and I’m so glad I went!

This afternoon I need to pack ready to leave first thing tomorrow morning — I’m going out for drinks and dinner with some friends this evening, so I know I’d better pack before I head out!

Bill Reid's 4-tonne yellow cedar creation story sculpture -- after the great flood, raven finds a clam shell containing children. The sand is from Rose Spit in the Haida islands where this story comes from.

Bill Reid’s 4-tonne yellow cedar creation story sculpture — after the great flood, raven finds a clam shell containing children. The sand is from Rose Spit in the Haida islands where this story comes from.



QV2018: Day 7: Butchart Gardens and Victoria, BC

31 10 2018

We were up early and grabbed our bagged breakfasts from the hotel ready for our 7:15am bus ride to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. We were on the 9am sailing, and our bus was the first one on Deck 2 with all the trucks and other large vehicles — that meant we were the first off! Some of us braved the cold, wind, and rain on Deck 7 (the open deck, with some sheltered areas fore and aft), while others hunkered down inside on the lounge chairs on the much-more-comfortable Decks 5 and 6. Deck 7 was brisk and bracing — just perfect for waking up! We landed at Schwartz Bay, some 90 mins later, and were soon on our way to Butchart Gardens.

It’s been 30+ years since I was last at Butchart Gardens. I think I was there in summer, with all the summer crowds. Coming in autumn was so much better — not many people, the gardens had been washed with the overnight rain (which continued for the first 15 mins or so after we arrived), and it was in full autumn colour. Just stunning. We had nearly 4 hours there, and I walked for close to 3 hours, before having lunch and visiting the gift shop (I didn’t buy anything). One thing that was an excellent touch was the provision of see-through umbrellas for guests — you could pick up a brolly at the entrance, and there were several stations around where you could drop your brolly if you no longer needed it, or pick up one if you did. No extra charge. (NOTE: Many hotels and tour buses also provide umbrellas for their guests — in a city that gets a lot of rain, like Vancouver, that’s an added bonus.)

After Butchart Gardens, we headed towards Victoria, stopping off at a quilt store along the way. Well, what an eye opener that was! This was a random stop, not reconnoitered earlier by our fearless leaders, so they were as surprised as us as to how long it took the person behind the counter to calculate our purchases. Eventually, Michelle stepped in behind the counter and did the cutting while the shop assistant did the money. But it was all so antiquated in these days of point-of-sale/inventory systems! First, she wrote down on a paper spreadsheet each item purchased (one item per line…) — customer number for the day (I was 16), code number of the item purchased, quantity, and price. Then she entered each of those prices into a till from the 80s that was basically an adding machine with a drawer. Mine was easy — just a couple of fat quarters, But for those who bought yardage, she had to calculate the price, then deduct the 20% discount for the sale price, then add the tax etc. all on a handheld calculator and when that failed, on her phone. Then sometimes the till wouldn’t give her the correct change price, so she got all flustered and had to calculate that by hand. One other strange thing — Michelle had phoned ahead at least an hour before to see if they would take a busload of eager shoppers. But when we got there, the other shop assistant held open the door for us, then left, leaving the one person to manage sales for 20 women. Why she left, I have no idea.

After more than an hour waiting for everyone to get served, we were finally on our way to Victoria. We drove through Beacon Hill, and saw the Mile 0 marker for the Trans Canada Highway, and the Terry Fox statue there. Then down to the waterfront, stopping outside the Empress Hotel (now without her coating of ivy!). Back on the bus and through Chinatown, then back to the ferry terminal for the 7pm sailing back to Tsawwassen and on to the hotel, arriving around 9:30pm.

Capt James Cook

Capt James Cook, Victoria, BC


QV2018: Day 6: Vancouver

29 10 2018

This morning we had a tour of Vancouver, hitting the highlights. The day was cool and cloudy, and as it wore on, the skies got more and more ominous, but fortunately the rain started just as we were finishing the tour, so we were able to get out at each place and have a look around.

Some of the places we went were Chinatown (and the tranquil Sun Yat-Sen gardens), Gastown, Stanley Park, and the Vancouver Lookout (at Harbour Center). (See if you can spot the seaplane in one of the photos!)

After we got back, we went our own ways for the rest of the afternoon. I walked across the road to the Vancouver Art Gallery and spent an hour or so there. Unlike other art galleries I’m familiar with, this one has 4 floors, each of which is dedicated to a special exhibition — there are no general works from the collection on display. The collection that amazed me the most was Guo Pei’s couture collection — these are totally unwearable garments, but have the most amazing embroidery, exotic fabrics, and sheer artistry embodied in them. And in one of the other collections was a 10-print selection of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe series.

Tonight we have another group dinner, and tomorrow we’re up bright and early for the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Update: Dinner at Boulevard

What a wonderful meal! Healthy ingredients and portions and sized perfectly so that we didn’t feel stuffed. I had the beets and burrata for appetiser, lingcod for my main, and fromage blanc for dessert. Plus two cocktails — el diablo and gerard. The el diablo had a strange looking piece of fruit on top — in fact it was a dried lime!


QV2018: Day 5: Seattle to Vancouver

28 10 2018

Travel day today. On the bus by 9:30 and heading north through the Seattle fog to Vancouver, British Columbia. The fog eventually lifted, exposing lots of lush farmland. The border crossing was painless and quick — we had to go into a separate area for buses, where we had to get out and get stamped through by a Canadian border officer. I think at most each of us (all on Australian passports bar two) was with the border person for no more than 30 seconds. We were the only bus going through at the time, so there was no line either.

Our hotel couldn’t guarantee all our rooms would be ready until 4pm, so we spent three hours at the Granville Island markets. What a big place, full of arty crafty stores, fruit and vege (and other food) markets, food halls and other eating places. It was too much choice! Eventually I decided to have a smokey beef German/Polish style sausage on a bun with onions and sauerkraut (Kaisereck Deli inside the big Public Market). I took it outside to enjoy the fine weather (cloudy and cool, but no rain). While I was having my lunch I saw a young woman walk past in what appeared to be workclothes for someone working in construction. She had a leather glove in one hand, which looked a bit odd as it had a long part for the lower arm. And then I realised what it was — a falconry glove! She stood near me, put on the glove, and next thing I knew a magnificent bird swooped down and landed on her arm! She gave it a food reward, then sent it on its way again. She moved around the outside area to a couple of different locations, every so often getting the bird to come down from a roof to land on her arm. Very cool!

One other thing that was cool were the painted silos next to the markets, which are part of a working concrete plant. And even cooler? The concrete trucks with their bulbous containers painted as a strawberry or a bunch of asparagus.

After we got into our rooms (mine is WAY down the very end of a LONG hall — at least there’s no foot traffic going past, or elevator noise!), we met in the lobby to go to dinner, which was at DIVA at the Met. It was a superb meal (pork belly for appetiser, petite filet for main), topped off by an absolutely delicious Stilton cheesecake — yep, you heard that right — Stilton! the horribly smelly cheese! I was fairly skeptical about having it, but hey, why not. It was light and fluffy and slightly sweet, with just a HINT of blue cheese at the back of the throat. I don’t know who first thought of putting Stilton into a dessert, but they’re a genius — it just worked.


QV2018: Day 4: North West Trek

27 10 2018

Off to Eatonville, Washington on the bus this morning. Why? To go to North West Trek, an animal park about an hour or so’s drive south of Seattle. I was last there about 20 years’ ago, and I was pleased that it had hardly changed.

We started with the two grizzly bear cubs (less than 12 months old), which are only on display twice a day for about 2 hours each time) Next was the 3-carriage trolley safari bus thing to see the large prey animals on the 435 acres of open land — bison, elk, black-tailed deer, wild sheep, moose, etc. Awesome stuff, but as it rained quite a bit today, most of my photos didn’t turn out very well.

After the trolley tour, we were on our own until lunch. I walked to the wolf and fox exhibits, but saw nothing (if they had any sense, they were sheltered out of the rain). Next were the cats — I saw the back of a bobcat sleeping in the humpy, no cougars, and a lynx. The owls on display were the snowy owl (his photo came out looking like a bright white blob!), barn owl, golden eagle, and turkey vulture. Others also saw the otters and raccoons, but I didn’t get there,

After we got back to the hotel, a few of us went to the top of the Columbia Center (73rd floor) for some amazing views over Seattle. We had a few drinks up there as the sun set, then made out way back to the hotel to pack. The drink in the photos below was sort of like a margarita, but with red wine poured over a spoon on the top, and an ‘eyeball’ for Halloween (it was really a bubble gum encased in a hard sugar coating). It was as nice as it looked!

Roosevelt elk (male with antlers)

Bison bison

There’s a grizzly bear cub in there!

Bison bison

Seattle at sunset from the 73rd floor


QV2018: Day 3 Seattle

26 10 2018

In case you’re wondering why there’s no Day 1 and Day 2, that’s because I didn’t join the QuiltVenture 2018 (QV2018) tour group until their Day 3 in Seattle. I’d gone on earlier to New Orleans for a conference, and didn’t get into Seattle until very late on their Day 2.

Day 3, which is where I start my journey with them, was a workshop day. We did a workshop with Sherry Rogers-Harrison, learning her technique for painting quilts. She provided us with a kit with two different colourways — I chose to do the aqua/purple colours, not the copper/fall colours. She also did a trunk show of her amazing work (just a few photos below). Some were miniatures, others full size art quilts.


We had a lot of fun, interspersed with long moments of concentrated silence as we focused on painting between the stitched lines.

This evening some of us are going to the ‘Come From Away’ musical, based on the true story of the people of Gander in Canada, who took in thousands of stranded passengers whose planes were grounded immediately after 9/11. I expect it to be rather emotional, so am making sure I take some tissues. (see the update below)

Tomorrow we go to an animal park, where I’ve heard there are bear cubs to be seen! (though at this time of the year, I’d expect them to be several months old by now).

Update: ‘Come From Away’:

OK, so here’s the thing. I’m not a fan of Broadway-style musicals, or even much of a fan of live theatre. But tonight in Seattle I saw probably the BEST show I’ve ever seen or heard on stage. It was full of humour, sadness, compassion, emotion, more humour, great music, excellent singing, and sheer brilliance. It finished with a 10-minute standing ovation from a full theatre (5th Avenue Theatre) on a Thursday night — and I was right there standing and clapping too. What was this brilliant show? ‘Come From Away’. Yes, you’ve probably never heard of it, and yes, over time you will. If you get the opportunity to see it, do.

When I first heard that some of my tour group might go, it was touted as a musical about 9/11. My first reaction? No way on Earth would I go to that. But I looked it up and saw that it was actually about the town of Gander in Newfoundland that ended up with 38 grounded planes when all air traffic into and in the US was stopped as a result of 9/11. 38 planes and 7000 passengers, in a sleepy little town about the same size. A town that fed and clothed them, took them into their homes, and said goodbye when they finally left. A town that those passengers have never forgotten.

If ‘Come From Away’ comes to your town, see it. You won’t regret it.