Archive for April, 2011

This is the story of my trip to Seattle for the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings (and various oyster encounters with friends Theodora, Jennifer, Sheli, Paul, Nita and Bill).

Oysters at Elliotts


In Seattle, I also met up with my friend Gabriel Esparza-Romero, from Oaxaca, who works at Microsoft. Theodora and I went out for dinner with him and Jorge—delicious food and a hilarious time. We had so much fun.

Also in Seattle, I met with lots of colleagues from Mexico, from Cincinnati, and from Colorado—great keeping in touch. Did a little light geocaching, too.

After the meetings, I went on to Victoria, British Colombia to see my friends Jamie Lawson and Feng Xu, political scientists at the University of Victoria (and rainforests and …. more oysters).

At a grey 7am, I walked down to Dock 69 from the lovely, small Hotel Max, where I stayed with my friend Theodora Tsongas while attending the meetings.

Seattle in the gray morning


I got there about 7.15, checked in and boarded the Victoria Clipper—got one of the last window seats. My seat partner was a delightful school teacher. Because we were warned about rough swell in the straits, I decided to take a mezckini (?, sounds like mescaline) in addition to the ginger drinks Teddy had given me.

We pushed off in the Victoria Clipper–a double hulled job, north through Puget sound toward Victoria, it was cold and gray with some drizzle. But it was great. Probably about where we hit the Juan de Fuca straits, I sent outside to the upper deck. It was cold and bracing.

Our wake, Victoria Clipper


By the time I headed back in, it was rougher, and I actually had to get down the stairs on my rear, in order to hang on. I got back to my seat just as they asked everyone to take their seats. I don’t know how high the swells were, but the clipper was rocking hard, slamming up and down the swells. I discreetly lost my breakfast. Just then they asked if anyone with medical training could report back to the back. Then we got an announcement that we were turning back to Port Townsend to get a hurt passenger to medical attention.

We turned back, and the swells calmed down, and everyone was very quiet as the medics came in with a spinal team and took the man off, followed by his family. I think he walked out to the stretcher after receiving medical attention, so I hope he’s ok.

Then the captain announced that, after consultation with the owner of the clipper, we were going to turn back south and go up north via the inside passage, which is calmer, and cross desperation pass. Not that it was never unsafe, she said, but she didn’t want to bang any more passengers around. It was so calm, and the nausea medication and the excitement made me sleepy, so I slept part of the way. She announced swift waters, then the rough waters that would hit just under Desperation Pass.

Desperation Pass. Notice how calm it is? Just under the pass, that all changes!


It was pretty nifty, to see the swirling waters around us. She said she’d peak out into the straits to see if we could make it. She did, and we could, and although the swells were stiff, they were actually ok, and kind of fun.

We slunk into Victoria harbor about 2.30–over 3 hours late!!

Jamie and Feng picked me up after I went through customs and we went to mile 0 of the Transcanada highway  (figuratively speaking anyway) and up to an Observatory that overlooks the straits.

It was beautiful especially cover by madron trees with beautiful smooth red bark and Garry oaks with wonderful twisted branches.

Mile 0, Transcanada Highway (Jamie, Feng and me)

Garry Oak on Observation Hill


From we headed to Butchart gardens – must see for anyone visiting Victoria. Even though it was raining, the layout, the colors and the design of the place was peaceful and beautiful.

Burchart Gardens


Because we’d gotten a bit damp, we took some tea in the restaurant in front of a warm fire. That was so great–warm after the damp, the tea and friendship space following the beauty of the flowers.

Tea in front of the fire with Jamie and Feng


We had some thin pizza and a local wine for dinner, and I crashed in their fabulous H shaped modern house.

Sunday, we got up and muddled around for a while before heading out to the minus 0 end of the Transcanada highway, up through small parcels of First Nations land to …. Park. Here there are 1000 year old cedars, temperate rain forest, where brilliant mosses cover the trees in the winter rainy season, but go brown in summer. We hiked up to a fabulous fall, then up and around it, passing people on the way up to a railroad trestle.

Ferns on trees in rain forest


All the way it was fabulous. People out here are amazing, we passed a young woman with her two year old daughter on her back and her 3 year old son in a superman cape just going on up…..



Fabulous skunk cabbages like orchids, but stinky!!

Skunk Cabbage


It was a fabulous day, so we tried some geocaching, even though Feng was willing to get wet, Jamie and I weren’t.

We went to lunch at an overlook that reminds me of what fjords must look like. Here, I switched on my iPhone to find a geocache right in the parking lot, which indicated a geocache under the sign at the north end of the parking lot. So while Feng and I looked around, Jamie followed the instructions and found it!!

So, the next part is really good. We went and bought some local cheeses (and Le 1609 from Quebec), then to buy locally ground, milled and back bread. Our dinner that night. Just as we were heading back to the car, Feng suggested we look in the fish shop. There were live Dungeness crabs trying to make a break for freedom, but we asked about oysters and orders 6, shucked, with salt. They were so plump, sweet and delicious that we ordered more. Still make my mouth water.  From Cortes island.

Cortes Island Oysters, Cowichan Bay Seafood


On the way back we stopped off at UVic, deer wandered around campus, among their Leeds certified buildings and First Nations house…..

Welcome to the First Nations House, University of Victoria


Back at Feng and Jamie’s we chowed down on chowder from the fish store, fresh bread, cheeses, olives and a pinot noir. Fabulous. And fabulous conversation picking their brains for sources, learning about first nations, and gender development.

Monday we got up and down to the KENMORE air seaplane terminal at the harbour. 10 passengers in and we chugged out to outside of the harbor on the one propeller (beaver plane). Then picked up speed and took off…. This an amazing experience, flying low, smooth, and just watching the ground, until we banked and gently landed in Seattle.

Kenmore Air takes me back to seattle


This trip made many wonderful memories of old friendships and new places. I learned so much, did so much, saw so much. And I want to go back!!!

FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES. This rich environment was the home to many indigenous peoples, whose elaborate cultural representations have been endlessly reproduced, sometimes not so well. Which of the following is down in contemporary Salish style; which is an imitation?

Contemporary Salish style? or crude imitation?

Contemporary Salish style? or crude imitation?


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