When Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrived in what is now San Diego Bay back in 1542 he called the place "A Very Good Enclosed Port."  Glad that name didn't stick, what a mouthful that would be! His ship continued up the coast somewhere into Oregon but Cabrillo died along the way.... As the first European (Spanish) explorer to the coast of California he was a pretty big deal and the tip of Point Loma became the Cabrillo National Monument. 

Unaware of the historical significance of the point, I was drawn by the promise of beautiful views of city and ocean, as well as the nearby tidal pools.    

Now I had read on Yelp that these Tidal pools had recieved a 4.5 out of 5 stars so I had pretty high expectations.... bright colors, sea stars, anemones  maybe even some fish??  Hmmm no, not quite... more like different shades of gravel.  But the holes were nicely eroded away. See this is the problem when you have expectations - it becomes so easy for things to fall short.  Much better to have no expectations and always be pleasantly surprised.   

After spending a couple hours exploring the limestone cliffs and enjoying the views, I headed to Mission Beach.  This is the type of beach I love - with sand stretching as far as you can see (or according to wikipedia - about 2 miles).  And the nice type of sand - not the Vancouver kind that is really very small rocks waiting to lodge themselves into your sole.  

A good spot to sit, create sand sculptures, listen to random people play the guitar and people watch - why are kids always digging holes? 

A couple of other highlights of the day... and by highlights, I mean food of course: 
- Delicious cappuccino and mocha chocolate muffin at Reds 
- Tried a California Burrito: french fries, steak and cheddar cheese, as well as a Carne Asada burrito: steak, guac and... salsa fresca
- And was made yummy tacos for dinner by James at the hostel - great place to stay by the way:  R K Hostel 

For those die hard grouse grinders who cannot go a winter without swiping their pass, starting the timer and heading up a hill in hopefully record-breaking speed - there is a winter version of the infamous Grouse Grind.  Now I have heard of people (my uncle...) who wear crampons and use ice picks to scale the normal grind in the winter, but for the more .... sane.... folk (not a dig here, I think I fall into the not sane category too), there is another, completely different trail from the top of the gondola.  Sorry it's feeling like a run-on-sentence kind of night! :) 

Unlike the regular Grouse Grind, which is a 2.9km trail of pure torture (that feels wonderful) straight up to the top of Grouse Mountain and the gondola down - you have to use your own body power for the return portion of the Snowshoe grind.  However, gravity, and a pair of slippery snow pants, often helps out.  

The Snowshoe Grind is a 4.3km out-and-back trail to the top of Dam Mountain (yes, that is really what it is called).  The route is not as intense as the regular Grind but still has some steep sections - with an overall gain of 705ft (215m). The view from the top is absolutely spectacular and totally worth the effort!  

Click here for the Website
A beautiful stretch of Vancouver Island waterfront follows Dallas Road from Clover Point Park to The Breakwater at Ogden Point.  This a fantastic place to run, or walk, not only for the spectacular views of the Olympic mountain range in the distance, but also for the little pieces of history peppered along the way. 

First you meet Miss Marilyn Bell - the first woman and first Canadian to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Two years before this feat, she swam across Lake Ontario.  Three swimmers began at the same time - all wanting to be the first person to cross.

Bell had been offered $10,000 to undertake the task to increase publicity for the Canadian National Exhibition.  She declined because she thought this offer snubbed other swimmers.  So what happened in this race to cross the lake - well the American, Florence Chadwick, had to forfeit due to stomach pains and vomitting, and the other woman - well not much info about her, just that she failed..... so Bell became the first person to swim this distance as well.   Apparently there were crazy winds, incredibly high waves, and lampreys trying to take bites out of her...... sounds fun!!  I'm serious. 

The following year she became the youngest person to swim the English Channel, and the next year was her epic swim from Port Angeles to Victoria - 18.3 miles in 11 hours 35 minutes.  

Along Dallas road, there is another commemorative plaque for a great Canadian - Terry Fox.   

I am sure you all know the story of Terry Fox - my all-time biggest hero.... I won't go into the details of it now - perhaps a whole blog entry devoted to his inspiring life in the future. 

Terry's statue if located at Mile "0" - the unofficial beginning to the Trans Canada Trail  Also the end point of two other amazing runner's Al Howie and Stephen Fonyo, who both ran across Canada.  

Everytime I see the Mile "0" sign, I dream about riding my bike down here from my house, and beginning my ride to Newfoundland... then down to visit Emily in Hanover, and across the states..... dreaming.  No matter what I do, I will for always and ever be dreaming! 

Two other interesting sites along the way are glaciar-marked rocks from about 10,000 years ago... I didn't actually find these markings...... and a memorial or sorts to a ship that sank, but no casualties.  Although all this history is inspiring, interesting, educational, etc... the highlight of the run was seeing two pelicans!!!  

Seemed so out of place here..... I don't know for sure, but shouldn't they be somewhere warmer than the frigid Pacific Northwest waters???!

Find more Run in Victoria, Canada
Something you should know about me before I start talking about the Butchart Gardens, is that although I love nature, I am not really a fan of gardens.  Perhaps if they were growing carrots I would be... there is nothing tastier than a carrot fresh pulled from the ground.  But... walking through rows and rows of roses and tulips, and whatever other flowers exist, oohing and aahing over their beauty... is not my cup of tea.  So when my sister-in-law suggested a trip to the Butchart Gardens and proceeded to get to the level of excitement normally only reserved for Christmas morning, I was hesitant at best.  

But everything is what you make of it right?  It was a beautiful day, and I was with a group of amazing... and rather silly... women.  We took pictures among the roses, in the Japanese gardens with cool trees, on the rocks through a pond as frogs, in the majestic lawns pretending to be fancy statues.... I was surprised when I realized I was having fun.  

What is really cool about the Butchart Gardens is the fact that the whole area used to be a limestone quarry.  Robert Pim Butchart and his wife Jennie moved to the Victoria area in the early 1900s specifically for the limestone deposits - limestone was (or is? I don't know much about this) used to make cement.  When all the limestone had been removed, Jennie had the idea of making the ugly pit into a "Sunken Garden."  The rest of the gardens came later reflecting the couple's world travels - A Japenese garden, an Italian garden and a rose garden.  Now the question is, what country is the Rose garden reflecting?  England?  My knowledge of flowers and the like is startlingly low.  Anyways, Mr. Butchart also had an interest in collecting birds and had an interesting array of ducks, peacocks, pigeons and parrots.    People started hearing about these gardens and by the 1920s over 50,000 people would come visit each year.  This number today approaches 1 million.

And now I feel complete, I am one of those million for the year.  Living in Victoria and not having been to the Butchart Gardens is like living in Vancouver and not having been to Stanley Park - just not acceptable.   

History thanks to the Butchart Gardens website