Visiting Vancouver Island has always
involved, at the very least, a long day
trip, and now with the increased
ferry traffic going to and from the
island, I've come to regard it as
requiring either ferry reservations
or an extra day to come and go.
In January I discovered another way to have a quick get-a-way to the
island, with a minimum of fuss. Unfortunately the Abbotsford route is no longer
available, however flights can still be taken from the heliport on Burrard Inlet
in downtown Vancouver.
An early morning drive brought me to the Abbotsford Airport. I knew there was free parking there, but was surprised to find the lot nearly full at that time of day. (Another much larger lot is in the process of being built right now and will soon be ready.) A few short steps took me into the terminal, which at 6:50 a.m. was nearly deserted. I mused to myself that I could have rolled a bowling ball down the length of the building without hitting anyone at that time of the morning. Mind you; had there been a larger flight due to depart, I am sure there would have been more people around. Approaching the HeliJet counter, I was checked in within moments and told that the flight would be leaving at 7:25 from Gate 1. Security was unhurried and thorough, asking me to take my bulky jacket off and put it on the conveyer belt. While they checked my cameras, I enquired about the safety of placing cameras and unprocessed film into checked on luggage. It is no longer recommended due to the powerful X-ray machines that scan checked baggage. After a short wait our plane arrived from Vancouver, a Beach Craft 1900D. In a few minutes, the plane was loaded and preparing for takeoff. The pilot introduced himself and gave us a brief explanation of the flight and emergency procedures on the craft. He reassured us that we should not be concerned. The plane was quickly airborne. I noted the time. We hardly seemed more than into the air before our pilot came onto the intercom to tell us that our flight would be arriving at Victoria airport in approximately fifteen minutes. Looking down I realized that we were leaving the mainland and beginning to cross Georgia Straights. Sure enough, we were soon approaching Vancouver Island and preparing to land.
Outside of the Victoria Airport terminal building, we were met by a free shuttle bus, there to take HeliJet passengers into the city. After a pleasant drive we were deposited at the Harbour Towers. Their dining room overlooks the inner harbour. I highly recommend their poached eggs on crab cakes with Hollandaise Sauce. It was truly delicious.
Following breakfast we visited the provincial museum. The Beetle's yellow Rolls Royce, with the psychedelic decorations, was the first surprise to greet us as we entered the building. Purchased by Jimmy Pattison, this car was on display at Expo 86, then at the now defunct, Cloverdale Transportation Museum. The car is now part of the permanent display in the Royal B.C. Museum.
The permanent displays there are world class and always worth taking the time to see. Special events pass through periodically, so it pays to note any new attractions when planning to go to Victoria. Currently, the museum is being visited by a collection of Giant Robotic Insects. The insects, ranging in size from 5 metres (17 ft) to 6.8 metres (22 ft), are quite imposing as they go through a range of motions. The animations are controlled by computer driven pneumatic valves. Among them a pair of shiny black Atlas Beetles are engaging in battle. A Praying Mantis awaits your arrival with dramatic movements, making me give a thought to how scary these real life bugs must be to smaller bugs.
The good news there is that the museum is preparing to host a fabulous Egyptian exhibit beginning July 2004. While the British Museum undergoes renovations, their entire Egyptian collection will travel to Canada.
At the conclusion of my visit to the museum I caught one of HeliJet's Sikorsky helicopters from their heliport in downtown Victoria, for a return trip to the mainland, going by choice to the Vancouver Airport. I remained glued to the window for the short hop across the water, as the view from the helicopter is fabulous. After an interesting visit to Victoria, I was home before dinner. Lenora Hayman went directly to downtown Vancouver, taking the picture below just before landing.
Article and pictures by M. Maxine George
Preying Mantis and Vancouver Skyline kindly contributed by Lenora Hayman
Return to Magic Carpet Journals
To sign in as a fellow traveler on Magic Carpet Journals or to contact us just click here to send a message. Last Updated on November 08, 2008 by M. Maxine George editor. © 2003 Magic Carpet Journals. All rights reserved