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Monday, October 12, 2009

38 Days Later

By special request from Tom, here I am with my first post in a few months. Tom’s blog has really turned into a great source of entertainment and interest. It’s been a great way to keep up with Tom and follow his witty and varied observations on everything from 10 cent fish to his philosophy on self-identity, society and values (how to enjoy the cottage). It turned into so much more than a blog about the pond. I kind of left it to Tom to keep going, because a blog takes on the personality of the writer, and having two contributors would disrupt the flow and meaning of the page. Nevertheless, Tom asked me to create a post on my impressions of Victoria and how I’ve adapted. I’ll gladly fill everyone in on how it’s been living on the west coast for the past 38 days.

Victoria has a lot to offer for those who can break in. By this, I mean that Victoria can reject you, preventing you from establishing yourself. And I say this not just from the perspective of someone who has had a tough time getting a job during this recession. I think Victoria is generally harder to break into. The economy runs off a large proportion of retirement money and public service employment. So, if you don’t find a profession in government, education or health care, and have no plans to retire in the near future, your options are severely limited. Sure, there are entrepreneurs and some private industry, but the proportion is severely less than most Canadian cities of its size. That said, even if you do break in, Victoria’s real estate is radically more expensive than the average. I think the median price for a house here is 450,000$. It takes a huge normative shift to want to commit to real estate here. But, let’s say you get the job you wanted and you decide to bite the bullet and purchase a house or condo here. You’ve made it over the biggest hurdles and you’re here. If you like getting out and exploring or enjoying what your tax dollars pay for, then it’s really amazing. It’s a really great city that values its green space and is very well taken care of. There is rarely any traffic congestion, and it’s easy to find your way once you know a couple major roads.

I’ve done some driving here, but the majority of my exploring has been on bike. There’s a major trail system called the Galloping Goose that takes you nearly anywhere in Victoria. I’ve been galloping a lot. And so do a lot of people in Victoria. It’s really a great place if you want to keep the car in the driveway (or not buy a car!) and bike to work. If you’re not on the Galloping Goose, the roads often have bike lanes and are increasingly being retrofitted to include them.

Here are a couple pics of some bike art and graffiti at Recyclistas, a Bike Co-op along the Galloping Goose.

They’re really great people there. The shop is at a fork in the trail, so it’s a great meeting place. They make art out of some their worn out bike parts. I ‘m going to start thinking of some things I can make with some of my old stuff. I’d like to make a mosaic out of old chains. There’s also a pic of me with a Monkey Tree. They’re cool. Some day I’m going to buy a monkey tree.

When I rode on Sunday the Victoria marathon was taking place, making downtown more hustly and bustly than usual. Here’s a statue guy painted in yellow and purple. He wanted money for his theatrics.

I then headed down to the beach. There are beaches like this everywhere. Just one of the benefits of being on an island. The giant tree trunk next to me has probably been there for years. There’s washed up wood everywhere. Maybe I can compete with Relic in the beachcomber biz.

There’s a lot of cool architecture here. Modern condos and houses have huge windows. If situated in the right direction, the windows can provide a lot light and have a heating effect on the house as well.

I wanted to get more pics of some cool houses in James Bay, but my camera died. I went to the dollar store and picked up an eight pack of Chateau AAs for 1.40$. They’re such crap that they couldn’t even turn on the cam. I’ll put up more pics of houses another time.

Here’s a pic of an old ship being torn down for scrap metal. Ironically, this metal yard is in one of the more expensive parts of town. It will probably be removed in the next few years, with trendy condos coming in to take its place. The area is called Selkirk. Jessie’s friend’s family business develops a lot of the residential and commercial property in the area.

Here’s the biggest tree I’ve yet to find. It’s a big Redwood in a park in the city.

Here's a picture of Jessie. "Look, a duck!"

Finally, what’s a life update without including Dr. Freeman's latest exploits! He’s been growing like a true scholar, and has had some adventures along the way. Here he is on the roof of Jessie’s parents’ house. Little rascal just can’t help but follow the big cats around. He’ll learn though that he’s not destined to be a feral crazy thing.

Victoria’s been great, but it’s not a place where your credentials or hard work necessarily allow you to break in. Nothing's a given, especially during the present. Once you’re established, it has a lot to offer, especially if you enjoy milder weather and the outdoors. As the guy who took my photo next to the beached tree stump stated, “Victoria has three seasons, spring and summer.”


  1. This Jessie commenting. I found an article that discusses the most current information regarding real estate in Victoria. As of October 2009, the average price for single family homes sold in Greater Victoria was $619,936, up from $596,498 in August. The number Adam was referring to was a suburb outside of Victoria (where everyone drives big monster trucks). Basically, everything here is about $200,000 more than out East. Boo!!!!

  2. Wow, thanks for the post you two. Awesome and great pictures as well.

    This is exactly what I needed, thanks again.

  3. Great post, Adam, and nice pics! Tom, you're right, I need to make this blog a daily destination. I'm going to work it into my sit-down-at-the-computer-and-look-through-standard-four-sites-twice-over routine. You'll be the glarious fifth that completes the hand.