Feeling At Home in BC
Case Note No. 17; Mon Sept. 20, 2021
Hello again, it's me, Ms. AAngyl. Since Sept. 11, Margaret and I have been spending a wonderful time in the province of British Columbia (BC), on the west coast of Canada. We have been staying with Margaret's family in Victoria, and visiting a friend with horses in Kelowna, BC. We have been tourists in the area, which is new to us. First we were treated to a tour of the grand city of Victoria. We enjoyed seeing the fine old buildings such as the Empress Hotel, where one can still enjoy an elegant high tea, and we admired the fancy shops and art galleries.
Margaret's son took us on a day trip up the island that included a stop in funky Cowichan Bay, a lively town with a small harbour, colourful shops and a museum filled with historical information and examples of boats made and used by local fishermen. There we stopped at a bakery that posts sage advice on a sidewalk blackboard: "Life is what you bake it." Right on, we agreed. We ordered delicious pastries and coffee to go, and enjoyed an al fresco feast in the warm sunshine.
One of the first things one learns when in BC is that the city of Victoria is on Vancouver Island, whereas the city of Vancouver and most of the rest of the province is on the mainland. In order to get on or off Vancouver Island, one must either fly or take a ferry. We have done both. Margaret has a friend she met years ago who was visiting in Cape Breton. This lady lives in Kelowna, BC, where she runs a large equestrian centre, and invited us to visit her while we were in the province. So we rented a car in Victoria and took the ferry (from Swartz Bay) to Vancouver (Tsawwassen), before driving to Kelowna.
The BC Ferry rides, which we took both ways, were fun. The ferry boats have gift shops with nice clothing and souvenirs, and restaurants that are convenient for having a meal during the sailing. Margaret noted with amusement that some of the fashions featured in the store on the Spirit of British Columbia seemed to be in a time warp. She was tempted by a denim jumpsuit that reminded her of one she had made for herself from a Vogue Pattern from about 1972! She was also pleased to learn that by wearing a hoodie with a prominent Cape Breton logo, it was easy to attract fellow Maritimers who are now living in BC, and have lots of tips to share!
The drive from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to Kelowna takes about four and a half hours, and covers some high, mountainous terrain. It was raining on both trips, so that kept her on her toes. On the way over to Kelowna, we stopped in a place called Hope, BC, and learned a bit about the history of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Our time in Kelowna was delightful. Margaret's friend is a true lover of animals, and takes excellent care of many boarded horses, as well as three dogs, two cats, and many chickens that lay delicious eggs each day for her breakfast. She has a beautiful gray Dutch warmblood as her personal therapy horse. They enjoy their time together riding in a large covered arena on her farm, called Serendipity Farm, which is situated outside the city amidst acres of beautiful land crossed with trails. We were treated like family, and look forward to spending happy times together in the future.
After returning from Kelowna, we spent a few more days in Victoria. On our last night we all went out for dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant in an old part of town that years ago used to be swampy. On the way there, we walked along a street which appears to be cobbled, but is actually made of square wooden poles that are stacked vertically. Ingenious!
So now it is time to say goodbye to our loved ones in BC and take a plane to Ontario, this time to the city of London. It has been a wonderful visit, and we look forward to seeing everyone soon in Cape Breton!
Fri Sep 11, 2021; Case Note No. 16
Well hello again, it’s me, Ms. AAngyl, the blogging, flying, service unicorn. Sorry, I am a little behind in my writing. But it’s for a good reason. As I mentioned in Case Note No. 15, my patient Margaret and I are on a grand journey, spending time with our family members and friends in Canada and the United States. We have spent the past nine days in California, and are writing this blog at 34,000 feet, on a flight to Portland, Oregon. We are en route to Canada, this time on the west coast of that vast country, where Margaret’s son lives with his family.
Our reason for going to California was to meet up with some relatives of mine that I had only known from online photos. We stayed at the ranch where my grandfather was born and raised, and met some wonderful people and horses who are continuing the family traditions. I saw the stall where his brass nameplate is still on the door, and spent time getting to know a handsome stallion who is my first-cousin-once-removed.
Of course, of course, there’s always more than a little magic when unicorns plan a family get-together. Shortly after Margaret learned that I was preparing to cross the Rainbow Bridge, she asked for my help in finding her next therapy horse. Unbeknownst to her, I was already working on that. A few months ago, my cousin the stallion and I had arranged for a lovely Arabian mare from Texas (who is unrelated to us) to be brought to his ranch. (She's a dark bay with a star who looks a lot like me when I was a horse. That's how we got Margaret's attention LOL). My studly cousin really knows how to dance and impress the ladies. So predictably, as soon as she laid eyes on him, the mare fell madly in love. Now she is carrying his foal, who is of course, of course, related to me. I am so excited! I can hardly wait to meet the newest member of our family, who is due to arrive next spring!
While at the ranch, we stayed in the beautiful little guest house, where the walls are decorated with lots of photos of my family members. The back deck overlooks a huge paddock, and in every direction we were surrounded by peacefully grazing Arabian horses. Margaret spent a lot of time talking to the horses, and shadowing an amazing trainer who works with them. He kindly took her under his wing, and shared some of his special ways of communicating with these sensitive animals.
Right from the get-go, we were treated like family. Shortly after we arrived, we were invited to a big family party thrown by the ranch manager, and were warmly welcomed by many people we met who also love Arabian horses. Within minutes of being introduced at the ranch, they seemed like old friends with much in common, and lots to laugh about. So we unicorns were quite pleased at how well the reunion of the family tribe turned out, for all concerned.
While we were busy at the ranch, there was little time for touring the famous central California landscapes. But I found a way. With a pandemic going on, international travellers need to get a "molecular test" no more than 72 hours before leaving on a jet plane for Canada. I knew there was some impressive scenery to the south of where we were staying. So I arranged for the schedules of the nearby rapid testing centres to be fully booked. The only site available on short notice was located at a fairground about an hour’s drive south of where we were staying. That gave us the opportunity to pass by some beautiful vistas along the way, and even take in a local swap market held on Thursdays in the fairground parking lot. At the market, even the horses wore face masks, unless they were safely tucked away inside protective clear plastic containers. On the way home, we stopped to take pictures at a beautiful dam on a lake, with the mountains in the distance.
Naturally, when staying close to Highway 101 in California, one cannot miss the opportunity to visit the charming coastal towns and fishing harbours. Near the end of our visit, we were invited to stay two nights with a wonderful new friend who lives in one of these towns, and was happy to show us around. In the language of the indigenous Chumash people of the area, the name of the town means “hole in the sky.” Needless to say, it was a delightful experience. Her dog is friends with some seals that live by the wharf of an oceanfront restaurant we visited. So we had fun watching as they took turns barking at each other, while we enjoyed our dinner on the outdoor patio.
And then it was time for us to say goodbye to all of our family and new friends in California, with our hearts overflowing with joy and gratitude for their gracious company and hospitality. See you all in Cape Breton!