Seven Quick Takes of Victoria, BC (Vol. 7)

One of the things I’ve noticed with moving out to Victoria is the stores that are different here than in Alberta (or even mainland BC).  For example, if we go grocery shopping, we can pick from Safeway, Thrifty’s, Fairway Markets, Country Grocer, or Pepper’s.  To fill up the Jeep with gas, we could stop at Shell or Esso—or go to Chevron.  Coffee drinkers can choose between Starbucks or Serious Coffee (no, I haven’t tried it yet).  There’s one huge Chapters here, one Coles, and one Smithbooks, and a whole lot of other bookstores.  The only Joey’s Only is an hour or two up island.  The closest Superstore is out in the suburbs.

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There’s a big focus here on “locally owned and operated” (Peppers and Serious Coffee are both such), which I think is cool.  However, when I can choose between the $2/dozen imported white eggs or the $7/dozen local brown organic eggs… well, I’m a student with a budget.  I’ve also noticed a larger selection of organic produce out here, as well as alternative foods (like gluten-free pastas and mixes).

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I haven’t been able to find a good country radio station here in Victoria; there’s one I can pick up from Seattle, but then I have to put up with a lot of American commercials (and commercials are bad enough to begin with, much less when they’re about stores I’ve never heard of and can’t get to).  When we used to drive around northern Alberta, my husband would flip through radio stations trying to find one that wasn’t country.

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Roads out here have much slower speed limits than in Alberta.  For example, Highway 2 through Calgary has a speed limit of 110 km/hr; drivers on Highway 16 through Edmonton can do 70-80; and Highway 1 through Victoria goes at 50.  Driving up island, the speed limit goes from 70 to 90 to 80 to 60 to 90 to 70… so you can never set the cruise control.  I commented on that to a friend of mine in Comox and she said, “Isn’t it 110?”  Only for about the last half hour before Comox, where the road gets straight and I actually whooped because that’s the fastest I’ve driven since we got here.

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I must mention the rubber boots here.  In Alberta, you can find rubber boots at any Canadian Tire or UFA; they come in basic black, with red soles.  If you are under ten, you might be able to find pink or green boots.  Out here, the sky is the limit with rubber boots and people wear them every day (not just in the mud or on the farm).  I’ve seen black and white checked boots, purple boots, striped boots, flowered boots, plaid boots, polka-dot boots… you name it, you can probably find it out here.  Sometime before we go back to Alberta, I’ll have to buy myself a pair of nice Hunters.

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Oh, the weather.  It’s been a pretty nice winter so far, I think, though one lady who’s lived here for seven years commented that this was the coldest winter she’s seen.  We had two weeks of snow (one in November, one in February) and a few weeks of rain and more days of sun.  Even the days when it rains are cold, though.  I still wear my big down jacket and bundle the girls up in their winter coats.  Last week, we had one day that felt like spring—almost didn’t need a jacket on.  It was so nice to take the girls outside to play for longer than a few minutes without getting chilly.

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One time when my cousin (from here) visited me in Alberta, she commented that it seemed strange to her to think that there wasn’t water anywhere close.  Being here, I can say the opposite: it seems strange to me to think that if I drive more than a few kilometers in any direction (other than up island), I’ll hit a beach.  On a nice day, we can see the mountains in Washington.  But unlike the mountains in Alberta, I couldn’t just drive straight there if I wanted to go.  We’re stuck here, subject the whims of the ferries.

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  1. Pinx JL March 1, 2014
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