Monday, January 19, 2009

The Malahat Summit, and I shanghai the group into Colonial Life!

On Saturday, having a sunny day WITHOUT snow, Linda and Cheryl bundled me up (frostbite in fingers, overheating in torso), and we headed to the top of the Malahat, the local mountain summit. Many people commute over it every day. Basically Vancouver Island and the surrounding Islands are the tops of mountains sticking out of the ocean. Sometimes we forget that.

The sun was going down (It WAS 3:30 pm after all!), so it was casting interesting lighting one direction, the various islands were full of fog in the valleys, snow where we were, but warm as well. It was a vivid blue sky. But of course, in order to take a picture of US, all of that is missed (the sun whites it out). BUT, I wanted to show you I am still alive! Of course, I was in agony that night and the next day and today, but hey, have to do something while you can, right?

I took a picture of Linda with the blue sky and the Islands of the Juan de Fuca strait behind her. Sadly Mount Baker is just out of view behind those trees. But don’t worry, once they clear cut the area for condo you still won’t be able to see it! Haha.

After that, I had frostbite in four finger so we were trying to think of someplace to go for a pub drink. Linda was thinking of work and I was thinking of, well, the past. Because I can’t remember much of the last several years, I tend to remember 10 or 15 years ago. I remembered going down to the Empress Hotel (the old Empress Cruise Line Hotel) to call Linda on the payphone as I was living in a unheated basement. If I had a bit of money I had a drink in the Bengal room, which was quiet and sort of like an club from the Colonial days (That’s actually how they advertise it, ‘Enjoy the colonial setting”). There is NO TV, though the head server told me they get asked EVERY day by people wanting to know where they can watch hockey. AHEM. We don’t do that HERE. You can see in the picture the old fans up above which turn (to cool off that heat of India, here in Jan.), there were no street urchins pulling a rope so I guess they are automated now. Ironically since cougars come sometimes into the city and around the Empress it is a joke that old Colonial types will hang out in the Bengal room with an elephant gun waiting for a ‘good shot!’

First, I had to show Cheryl the little secret history room of the Empress (which actually turned away the first black heavy weight champion in the world, who came straight from his win to the Empress. The reason? He was with a WHITE woman. 1908. Not in THIS establishment please!). To get to it you have to go down a flight of stairs which you face a giant hand coloured steel plate picture in heavy frame of "The Charge of the Light Bridgade" (I kid you not! I, however got the elevator). So here is all the tea parties and the Xmas menus.

There is a case which shows both the caps of the bellboys, and the various attractions that the Empress put on. Remember, Victoria was the western terminus for the Rail Line and the start of the Empress Ship Line. People came from the UK, across Canada and then took the Empress of India, the Empress of Australia, the Empress of New Zealand and the Empress of South Africa Cruise ships in order to start a NEW life in the ‘the colonies’.

We headed back up to the Bengal Room (after a small side trip to one of the great Inuit Art Galleries in Canada). Actually, if I don’t write this now, I won’t be able to remember this at all. That is the curse of my mind. My body hurts. Linda and Cheryl tells me I had a great time. I have pictures but most of it is already gone from my memory. I’m sorry, but at least two of them (Linda, Cheryl) have the memories, and I have the pictures.

Upstairs, I wheeled over and shamelessly used my “I was here 10 years ago and they used to know how to do a layered Sling, much like the Singapore Sling I had at the Raffles in Singapore (I did!).” The head Bartender told us he was up to the challenge and we took our places by the fire, and on a carefully carried tray arrived a true sling which you turn into a sunset by stirring (the colors then mix! As the alcohol and other drinks have different weights! It turned out to the be the least expensive drink on the menu: so use the crip card, available at most fine restaurants!)

We sat by the fireplace deciding what to eat and YES that is a REAL tiger skin mounted above the fireplace and Victorian style glass, along with oak finish everywhere. Ahhhh….now this was how to live. Particularly as we had Onion Rings and they used Samosa batter on them which made them the best tasting onion rings I had ever eaten. It was a great time, and we talked (I assume) and one of the servers took a picture of us, in our Victorian Resturant, in my Victoria Secret! Oh wait, that’s a Hot Topic/Tripp top! Then it was take Beth home and roll her into bed.

So as you see, when the sun comes out, Linda and Cheryl try to take the poor, poor cripple out, who then shanghais them into a Colonial Experience (seriously, for a beer, and a $8 mixed drink, this is the best ride in town!). I hope you had a great weekend, I am still at work on postcards, just wanted you to know why I keep going, “OW!”


Neil said...

How did that Carly Simon song go? Three hot girls on a cold winter's day? No, but it's close enough. Looks like you had a good time; and getting photos to prove it is a bonus.

The way you wrote about your memory makes it sound a bit like Alzheimers. No, I'm not trying to diagnose anything, dear; just an observation. Different cause, similar symptoms being reported is all.

The photo of Linda is truly lovely. The treeline and mountains in the background look almost like an anime picture. All Linda needs is a kimono and a sword. :)

It's a bummer that you pay for outings with such pain. I'm sending you all the positive energy and pain-free thoughts that I can.

Love and hugs,

Lene Andersen said...

(I had to take a moment to recover from the tiger skin. My god... my totem animal... so... splayed)

Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. And the Sling looks beautiful.

Kate J said...

I well remember the view from the Malahat, from my various visits to Canada, driving up from Victoria to visit my cousin at Lake Cowichan. I think everyone stops there to take photos... lovely view. Very glad you had what sounds like a good day out! And as for the Empress! Well, I've never been in there, but I think I might just try it next time. I bet they do a proper afternoon tea, with scones and all, don't they?

cheryl g said...

I had such fun and made more great memories on this trek. The view from the top of the Malahat is beautiful.

I am glad you shanghaid us to the Bengal Lounge. The Empress is a really beautiful grand dame. I enjoyed listening to you and the gallery lady discuss Inuit and Coastal First Nations art. Once again I find your knowledge impressive and learned a lot. Now I am all set for when I become filthy rich and want to start collecting.

I enjoyed listening to you recount your memories of visiting the Empress when you were younger.

As for The Bengal... the atmosphere was incredible. I kept expecting to see some white haired gentleman with a walrus moustache going on about the time he was tiger hunting in the Punjab or writing a memoir entitled "Down The Ganges In A Hatbox. The Adventures of a Colonial Gentleman."

Thank you so much for my colonial victorian Victoria experience! More memories to cherish.

FridaWrites said...

What a beautiful place to visit!

Laura said...

Thanks for taking me on that little adventure Beth. I really enjoy Victorian buildings. You never know what you are going to find in them.

I am glad that you got out and about. I am just sad that you have to pay such a high price for doing it.

Wonderful post though and great pics.

You have another package coming in the mail from me. I have already asked both Linda and Cheryl to make sure that you get a cup of that coffee that I sent. Enjoy!

Anna said...

GREAT more enjoy, less pain. I think it was you who took them out.

Anonymous said...

Don't you get cold dressed the way you are? Especially if you are prone to frostbite. I was cold just looking at you...buuurrr.

Abi said...

I was hoping that you would not be so hot in the torso (if you see what I mean ;-) with the colder weather. Frostbite and overheating simultaneously is no fun at all.

It sounds as though you had a good time, though, doesn't it?

Victorian Canada is not something I ever thought about before. It does look interesting!

I am glad that you are getting to do some living, but I wish that it didn't cost so much. It is good to create these memories, but you should be allowed to keep them. Humph.

yanub said...

What a lovely destination! I'm glad you found the inner reserves to go, though you do look just as you describe yourself feeling.

It must be weird to see pictures of yourself doing things, knowing that you did them, and yet not remember the event at all. That happens a little bit to everyone (well, I assume from my own experience), but happening all the time must be surreal and disorienting. It's amazing how you can put together a coherent narrative in spite of it all.

Stephanie said...

The view from the Malahat summit is absolutely wonderful, particularly from the viewpoint behind the big rock. Just below is the Saanich Inlet, on the other side is the Saanich Peninsula and you can see clear across the peninsula to the water on the far side, then the Gulf/San Juan Islands, past them the Strait of Georgia and finally the mainland in the distance and, if a clear day, topped by Mt. Baker.

I just love this rhythm of land, sea, land, sea, land, sea, land.

I haven't yet been inside the Empress Hotel despite the fact that I have going past it 3 times a week for the past 5 1/2 years on the way to my volunteer job.

By the way, I woke up this morning from a dream I was having where you were hosting a dinner party. There were hundreds of people there. After the meal, you were zipping around in your wheelchair handing out prizes to the guests. Everyone got something.

I know the dream was just in my head, but I think it really shows your generosity of spirit.

I received your beautiful postcard the other week. I love yuri! I put this one on the wall by my computer so I can look at it often.

I have now received 3 or 4 postcards from you since last summer and they have all been boosts to my spirit, but I am painfully aware that I have yet to return the favour. I receive my disability payment this week, so after my doctor's appointment on Wednesday, I am going post card shopping.

Watch your mailbox.

Lotus said...

It certainly looks very beautiful up there :) And the bar is interesting too, I always love bars with character like that.

Tammy said...

WOW, beautiful pictures. It looks like a great time was had by all. I have never even heard of that drink, but it interest me. I may just have to try one if I can find someone to make it.
Great post!

Raccoon said...

it's almost amusing, the contrast between how Linda & Cheryl are dressed versus how you are dressed. Long sleeves, winter coats on them, tank top/corset and (basically) a windbreaker on you.

I've always enjoyed the view of the fog in the valleys, although I don't much go for the damp or for driving through. And I love watching the fog rolling over the top...

rachelcreative said...

You truly do live in the moment Beth. You certainly seized the day and wow what a beautiful day it was.

It's good to know you had a good time at the Bengal which looks very impressive. Frustrating that your memories of it have gone.

Hoping the payback is kind to you.

I'm sending you mail every 2 weeks. In 1 or 2 days I'll be sitting down to write you a letter.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Neil: One thing I am good at is shamelessly looking pitiful while asking someone to take our picture together - who would slap the kitten?

Well, sometimes I can't remember more than a few minutes, sometimes a day, sometimes a few hours, if I am lucky I remember 40-50 hours. Things that are very emotional (sadly usually negative or painful), I remember, strong stimulus the same, I remember longer but no my condition and alzheimers is about the same, but then it is related to parkinson's which has a similar deterioration.

Yes, I thought that came out well, as we had literally about 6 minutes before the sun went behind the trees and mountain, so the colors were very vivid.

Lene: Yes, sorry about the tiger, it is so horrid and tacky but also so VERY colonial, at least they don't have the elephants feet anymore, we debated if they had a permit for it and decided, they were EMPRESS, of course they did.

It was a very good sling, cherry brandy, gin, lime vermouth, orange juice, grenadine and soda, all poured on the back of the spoon to seperate by weights, in order to give it the colored layers, of which there are five I think, if you look at the bottom closely.

Kate J: Horaay, something we share, though now far apart. Stephanie corrected me and it is the Georgia Strait, the Juan de Fuca is off to the right! But you can see the bit of water and land and water and land, it is sort of cool!

They have and still do both an afternoon tea with full clotted cream, scones, as well as triple tiered trays of delicacies served from carts by people with white gloves and they used to and I think still do a Sunday Brunch with Eggs Benadict and the lot. It IS wheelchair accessible, fully as it remodeled for a convention center and added all needed lifts.

I am really chuffed we saw the same view and we took Cheryl to see it so now we ALL share that.

Cheryl: I am glad that in this case my old memories came to the rescue and instead of shouting over some hockey or football game we were in leather chairs being given "looks" by the men reading papers which said, "When did they take out the ladies lounge; this is EXACTLY why I was against integrating the peace and quiet!" - Oh, was the Man Gallery no longer there? It has a fabulous Inuit art collection; the only one like it I have seen is in Canada house in London (Free), just three blocks up from the British museum, go right, then right again, cut through china town and right again and there you are, a great walk through collection of inuit art - over 70 pieces (and free internet service for travellers!).

Frida: Thanks, I guess I used my energy wisely!

Laura: True enough, that is why I like this old little rooms full of old menus and Xmas dances and Victoria Day parties on the lawn.

Oh good, Thanks! I will forget in a day or two so it will be a surprise when it arrives!

Anna: Well, Linda got us in the Van, I was the one who shameless exploited the staff everywhere I go!

Anon: I can't really feel my torso and since most of my body heat goes there as part of my condition, I have to have it exposed (as I can't sweat or get rid of heat another way), my lap, feet and hands are covered however, lap and feet in my skull fleece blanket and hands in lined gloves! So yes, it is pretty odd, and would be if I could feel it, I just hope when summer comes I don't have to sleep in the ice vest (see THAT I remember).

Abi: Actually the weather for the torso was fine for me, but the hands got frostbite even with the gloves on, bummer that!

Victoria takes great pride in being the Victorian aspect of Canada (though Halifax is just as if not MORE beautiful) we do have some nice castles built by Victorian eccentrics. Ironically, the Japanese art I collect of different artist, one was created and released last month based on......The mile around where I live, the Empress and the surrounding area - this is a favorite spot for Japanese tourists, I literally cannot wait to find out how Victoria and where I LIVE looks in Anime Art world!

Michelle said...

You've brought so many memories back for me! I visited Victoria a couple of years ago (I have friends who live there) and they took us to the Empress for a look-see. The carpet was the thing that stood out most for me - I think I still have photos somewhere of it! Amazing designs. And yes, so extravagant.

We also had a beer and fish and chips at Spinnakers pub - that was absolutely amazing. The beer really spun me out, so next time you want to get "rolling", I'd try there!

Donna Lee said...

What an interesting place to find. I didn't think places like that still existed. Looks like you had a good day. I'm sorry you pay such a steep price for it.

JaneB said...

looks like a very wise spending of energy - I wish you didn't have to be in pain, but at least you GOT something for the pain - a lovely photo of Linda too.

Lisa Moon said...

Thanks for the photos, Beth. Even though I've lived in Victoria for over 30 years (born on Vancouver Island, but moved here as a small child) there are things which we take for granted, leave as 'tourist' attractions, but it's neat to remind ourselves of these pieces of local history.

Yes, we have our annual Tourist in Your Own Home Town event, but years ago, the last time I went, it was mayhem - crowded, and often unpleasant weather... but I always thought might do well to offer 2 different off-season times to better serve the locals so that we might appreciate things like this.

Then again, with the Empress, you can check it out any ol' time for free... but as a kid, it was the Wax Museum that fascinated me. To go through the Chamber of Horrors or the (now) Disney-riffic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, G-rated area? (might be different again, haven't been in some time).

I hope you enjoyed your drink and are resting up from the outing.

Dawn Allenbach said...

I would love to go there, despite the tiger skin. That Sling looks delicious!

Devi said...

Glad you got to do that, and have that Sling.

Thanks for sharing the pictures with us!

Neil said...

Sadly, there are people who would slap kittens, and some who would harass innocent bloggers...

But most people don't mind taking photos of a group of people/tourists when said group is obviously having a great time, and there's a polite request. Taking pity on the poor cripple is not a requirement.

My only problem when I do that for people is that I'm in the top 1 percentile for height; if I don't get down to most people's eye level for the shot, they'll wonder what the hell they look like THAT for. The perspective really does look wrong from up high if you're not used to it. And it looks wrong in photos even though I AM used to it.

So f you ever want me on my knees for you, Beth, just ask me to take your photo. :)

Love and hugs!

Anonymous said...

This is kathz, quaker fencer.

It sounds like a wonderful day.

(hasty post because of computer problems)