Pacific, Meet Katya

Victoria, British Columbia
Katya's first morning in Victoria consisted of Tim Horton's, lost bus tickets, and an impossibly huge wave that smacked her right on the backside, welcoming her to the west coast.

Following a shell-shocked and jet-lagged three days in southern Ontario, where dreary January skies, unfamiliar restaurant selections and mounted police were the main attractions, Katya and I made our way on a Greyhound bus to from Kitchener to Toronto, where a flight to Victoria, BC was booked.

I had made our travel plans very meticulously, and every bus, shuttle and airline ticket was paid for weeks in advance. The Greyhound pulled in to Toronto's main bus terminal and we just had to walk a block to wait for the airport shuttle. Katya remarked how dreary Toronto looked (to be fair, it was one of the rainiest Januarys on record in Ontario, and had barely any snowfall). The shuttle bus arrived and lo and behold, we had lost our tickets!

To Victoria

All my careful planning and booking was turning out for naught. When we had arrived 3 days before our Aerosvit flight was 8 hours behind schedule and neither the airport shuttle nor Greyhound were working, so those tickets went to the trash (about $60 gone). Now we had misplaced these shuttle tickets, and I had to pay the driver another thirty bucks in cash. Katya, after so much stress and migration, lost it on me and we ended up in our first Canadian argument, which resulted in us giving each other the cold shoulder for the entire trip to the airport.

Once at the airport things smoothed out as we went about our casual business of a domestic flight. First through screening, then to the Tim Horton's in the departure lounge, where Katya brightened up with her first Tim Horton's black steeped tea and a honey crueler donut. Our Air Canada flight was comfortable and modern, with TV's in the back of every seat to watch and free beverages and sun chips. 

The five-hour flight to Vancouver was uneventful. I think we watched Shrek 3 and some movie about Little Red Riding Hood. 

In Vancouver we transferred onto a short little propeller-driven commuter flight, more akin to a flying bus, which Katya absolutely loved. The flight from Vancouver to Victoria is literally 14 minutes. As the plane leaves the end of the runway and gains altitude, you can see Vancouver Island and the outlaying towns of Victoria! It's a beautiful flight over little islands in the Juan De Fuca Straight, with the mountains of British Columbia and Washington State behind us and the hills of Vancouver Island and then the vast expanse of the Pacific in front. No wonder birds spend so much time up in the sky!

Flying over the Gulf Islands, from Vancouver to Victoria.


The Pacific Ocean

After we had landed, my friends Shanana and her ex picked us up in my Dodge Grand Caravan, and we went to their place where we would stay for two days until our apartment was ready (pre-paid and booked). Katya conked out again almost immediately, as the time zone had changed yet again! Her internal clock was almost ruined by this point.

The next morning Katya woke me up around 5 am. She was bored and had been awake for two hours. I was excited to finally show her around, so we hopped out of bed, got dressed and quietly snuck out. I got into my van and welcomed Katya to her first car (a shitty '98 Grand Caravan XL with AWD and no back seats..more of a utility van...which I had bought from some dude for $600). 

We made our way to Tim Horton's, a place Katya now knew and trusted, and got teas and bagels with herb & garlic cream cheese, which Katya also declared was delicious. Then I took her to Ogden Point to meet the ocean personally. And greet her it did.

We pulled up to a parking space as the early-morning sun beamed down. Although the weather in Victoria is mild (it was about +10 C that January morning), crazy winter storms far out at sea was churning the coastal waters into angry, dark waves which crashed ashore violently. The vibrations from the waves hitting the sea wall and cliffs could be felt in the car!

Katya was wowed by the spectacle.
"Oh my god!" She gushed "It's AMAZING!!" 
It was her first time seeing a real ocean, and the combination of the waves, the ocean, the sun and the distant snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains had its usual effect. 

She jumped out of the car and went to look over the railings.

Ogden Point breakwall
View from Ogden Point, with the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

That day in January, the sea was angry.
 "Take my picture!" She shouted, so I got out of the car and took her camera from her. She struck a pose right in front of the railings, with a beautiful view of the ocean, the breakwall and the mountains in the distance. It was to be a photo to send home, a stunning and almost unreal postcard that her mother could gush about.

Except, as my finger began to push the camera button, the back of my mind registered the ocean swelling up behind Katya. She stood there, facing me, with her back to the sea, grinning like an idiot and posing like a Russian woman, as the ocean gathered up strength to offer her a big, wet hug.

SPLOOSH!

The wave crashed right over the sea wall and doused Katya with near-freezing salt water. Her smile turned into an open-mouthed expression of pure shock and surprise. She stood for a moment, her arms outstretched, with water dripping off her brow, frozen in shock. Then, as the sound of another swell roared up behind her, she suddenly darted behind the van. I joined her as this wave smashed into the sea wall and huge pillar of white water and flotsam crashed down over the van and soaked us both.

I grabbed her arm. "Into the van! Quick!" and shoved her towards her door in the brief gap between waves. I jumped into the driver's side and before her door was even closed I had the van in a full reverse. It was just in time, too, as another monster wave crashed into the sea wall.

The salt from the water turned into white powder on my windshield as it dried. The front was okay, as I had wipers, but the side windows were completely whited-out, so once we were a dozen feet or so from the sea wall, I stopped the car and got out to clean off the windows.

When I got back in, we both started laughing. "Welcome to Victoria!" I joked.
"The ocean tried to hug me!" Katya replied, laughing. We ate our Tim Horton's in the van, a safe distance from the waves that were still crashing over the sea wall and onto the road.

Lost & Found

Later that day, after we had returned to Shanana's house, Katya was rooting through her luggage for dry clothes when she came across two pieces of paper she had repacked back in Russia. She unfolded them, read them, and then turned to me.

"Sorry." She said.
"For what?" I replied, busy looking for dry clothes myself.
"I found them." Was her answer.
"What?" I asked, stopping to look at her.
"Those bus tickets." She said sheepishly. "I forgot I had packed them in my bags when I reorganized our luggage...in Moscow."

Waves at Ogden Point





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