DIARY OF A MAD SEA MONKEY LADY

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Last updated on 8 June 2008

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Thursday, August 26th, 2004

I’m off for a promotional trip, sharing my book with the residents of Vancouver Island. Let’s be honest…there’s no money to be made in these trips. If you aren’t going to have some fun, then you might as well stay home. But this was a great chance to see the Island, enjoy the Egyptian exhibit at the Royal Museum, and visit Buchart Gardens. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing presentations and interviews and book signings, but it’s the travel I love the most. My mom loves Victoria — I think she’d sell up and move there if she had a chance — so I decided to take her along for some fun and excitement!

See, steep!

We decided to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay instead of Tsawwassen because it was a shorter drive, a shorter trip, and the name was easier to spell for this blog. The ferry terminal at the Bay is very poorly planned, in my opinion. One parks somewhere along a huge slopy hill which is quite foreboding and steep. In Tsawwassen (I had to spell it after all!!), people mill around, buying food and gifts they don’t need at the little cafe or shops in the mini mall area in the centre of the parking lot. At Horseshoe Bay, the 45 minute wait is spent in the care because no one — even the crazy outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Island to do the West Coast trail — wants to hike back up that damned hill!



The majestic BC Ferry docks and we go a’sailin’!

We boarded the 10:30 am ferry and left on time. My mom and I avoided the line ups in the cafeteria by walking up to the sun deck to enjoy a little window-house shopping of the mansions lining the water in West Vancouver. (Tell me again why I don’t have big wads of cash to spend on huge houses on the water???) The ferry is a lovely way to travel. Sure I’m not big on the idea of spending $43.00 for anything, but considering how much gas costs right now, we did probably save some money. (My mom rides free Monday through Thursday as she is a senior…lovely!)



Can I have that island? Please?

Georgia Straight is simply beautiful, full of small islands populated with tiny cabins. The route to Nanaimo avoids most of the Gulf Islands, but one can still see the beauty of untouched forests and mountains. And there is nothing as nice as the smell of brine!We arrived with plenty of time to spare — 12:10 and my presentation was at 1:00 — so I decided to find my own route to the Boys & Girls Club. (I have a really great sense of direction, and need only visit somewhere once to find my way back…) Yep, my arrogance and failure to believe in the directions of someone else led us to the other end of town, and we had to ask a nice passerby for help. Hey, at least we had a chance to see the town!

We finally arrived at the small clubhouse in a residential area of town around 12:45, and after meeting with the leaders of the group, I set up in the kitchen. Some enthusiastic kids were already milling around and waiting, but the leaders asked them to leave me alone for a bit. Around 1:00 the children entered — all 35 of them from ages 6 to 9 — and sat at the tables in the kitchen. It was noisy and chaotic and I did worry about presenting to such a large group. Turns out my fears were valid!

I don’t tend to prepare for these type of things. I have so many topics I can discuss, I generally wait to see what the group is like and wing it from there. This group’s mood? Chaos!!! But what can you expect from kids???

A kingdom of tanks!

In every group there are three, maybe four, kids who want to dominate the question and answer period. Is it enthusiasm? Is it a need for attention? I’m not sure, but I do know that I was one of them when I was in school. (I liked to ask questions and always felt there was more information I could have on the topic…Yep, I was a school geek!) My questioners were front and centre, so I tried to include them as best I could without ignoring the others…that was so hard! The Sea Monkey people were kind enough to send FORTY-FIVE TANKS (pictured here…) to the kids for this presentation two weeks ago. I had hoped each child would be seat with a tank in front of them, so they could observe the Sea Monkeys and ask questions about their behaviours and biology. Unfortunately, this group was larger and so hyper, I feared water would be everywhere, so I left that idea alone. I did a little question and answer period, a failed experiment with light — far too bright in there — and some Sea Monkey racing. The kids were great — asking questions and showing great interest — but it was too large a group for hands-on fun!

Harbour Light motel! It was great!

We left to find lodging, and completely missed the motel strip near the ferry terminal. Oh well, we enjoyed our room at the Harbour Light motel in the south of town on the Trans Canada Highway. We deposited our stuff, then left to do a little grocery shopping. Thrifty Foods near the waterfront just rocked! The prices are at least 5 to 10% lower than Safeway at home. We picked up some essentials, then realized we didn’t have tea cups or a knife (or cutlery, but we’d discover that later!) A quick hop to London Drugs — I love that store!! — and time for a little lie down at the motel.

Dinner time. What to have? We went next door to the 24 hour breakfast place and enjoyed eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast and returned to the motel around 7:30. I barely made it through Big Brother, and fell asleep just after, around 9:15 or so.

I’m actually writing this at 4:00 am Friday morning, and I have to be at the New VI television station in Nanaimo for 6:30. There’s no point in going to sleep now. I can’t believe there’s a tv station in a town of this size, and a decent one too! It used to be my station for the Tuesday night Buffy/Angel fix! But how do they fill two hours per morning? In Chilliwack, I think we’d be hard pressed to fill half an hour!

It’s very early in downtown Nanaimo!

Nanaimo is a lot prettier than I expected. It has three downtown type locations — the arts district, the old quarter, and the actual downtown shopping and business area. Add this to the mall area north of town, and you’ve got yourself a vibrant town. With 77,000 citizens, it’s comparable to Chilliwack, so my question is this — why so vibrant? Like Chilliwack, it’s a mere hour from a larger town (in this case, Victoria, our province’s capital), but perhaps there is less commuting into that town? Is it the water front? Or the sea faring life? Strange though the idea may seem, I find those who are dependent upon the ferry system tend to be an independent lot. Or is it because Chilliwack sees itself as just a bedroom community of Vancouver, a place to live until the house gains enough equity to be traded in for a larger place in town? People who feel that way don’t tend to get very involved in the local community. Or is it the whole religious thing — Chilliwack is a very Christian community, and I wonder if this leads to more involvement in church activities, and less in the actual town. I’m really not sure.

So I’m awake. I laid for half an hour in bed and hoped to fall asleep, to no avail. So I’m up. Darn. Check out is noon, so there is a chance of a nap, but I suspect the Ritalin and the high I always get from television interviews will keep me hyper all day!

Plus there’s fun to be had! Exciting touristy fun! We leave for Victoria after the interview — then a weekend of shopping, eating out, and being in Victoria! I love the Island. I like being near the water. The smell of brine is so — what’s the word? — lovely? No, that’s lame. Refreshing? Inviting? Calming? Hmm, good adjectives all, but there’s something more than that. I love the smell of sea water. It’s almost primal, much like being around a campfire. (Although I didn’t appreciate tasting it earlier today when I spilled Sea Monkey water all over myself!)

Time to get ready! Fun awaits!!!

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