Greetings from Victoria, B.C.

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, December 1, 2007

First we want to thank you all for your comments of encouragement and support, on our blog and privately. It really does feel like we are walking with all of you, some physically and some in spirit. We couldn't be making this pilgrimage without the support of so many. Ruah is reading a book, Mary Called Magdelene, by Margaret George. Although this is historical fiction, George does very extensive research for her novels and tries to be authentic to the times.  A few sentences popped out at Ruah as so very relevant to our sojourn. George's idea of what Jesus might have said to his early disciples was:

"Follow me. That is what I say. It will all become clear as we walk along. It is in walking a path that we come to understanding. God says, I desire obedience, not sacrifice. Obedience means walking as he directs our steps, one step at a time. Only then will we see where we are going." 

We do feel the presence of the Spirit when we walk together. We have time to share deeply and to consider how we are called.

Our night of winter camping was a cold one. We slept fully clothed, on found foam rubber mats that Louis liberated temporarily from a dumpster to keep the cold from creeping up to us from the ground. We also laid a tarp over our sleeping bags. With polar fleece hats and mittens on as well, we did make it through the night and actually slept a bit. We woke up to frost on our pillows and all around the campsite. The next morning after breakfast, when it was still dark and the campground was still sleeping, we dragged all our gear into the heated camp laundry room to pack everything away in our packs and the rolling cart for the coming day.

Now we have even more confidence that we will make it to San Diego on April 23. Plan that party for us, San Diego and La Jolla Meetings! We are now carrying an Earth flag, which was donated by someone in Bellingham and cut down to make it easier to carry. This brings more attention to our little "band" of pilgrims.

Our walk the next day took us through farm country. There were many great blue herons fishing in the irrigation ditch and plenty of bald eagles, red tailed hawks, and even a marsh wren and a peregrin falcon for us to gawk at. While we were stopped for a break, a car approached and the driver and his passenger asked about our walk and purpose. They were quite enthused and asked if we accepted donations, to which Ruah promptly replied yes! They opened their wallets and handed us the contents. Again we were so amazed by the kindness of those we had never met before.

For the next night, we were all snuggly in a heated cabin at Bayview State Park on Padilla Bay. What a contrast to our frigid night just 24 hours before. We didn't have the same drive to jump into our sleeping bags at 7 p.m., but felt inclined to rest, read, and relax. The next morning, after watching some bald eagles in a tree near our cabin, we eagerly set off on a trail that hugged Padilla Bay. During the hour's walk, we saw herons all around and some ducks and beautiful scenery. We then braved a large four-lane highway until our directions took us off onto a side road and then onto another trail which included a trestle that crossed Fidalgo Bay.

We were quite pooped by the time we reached the home of Ivar and Phyllis Dolph, isolated Friends in Anacortes. We had thought we would be spending the night in a hotel, but Don Goldstein of Bellingham Friends Meeting connected us with this engaging and interesting couple. They were great hosts and we had much to talk about, including Ivar and Ruah's Swedish backgrounds. They are very involved in helping Anacortes move towards sustainability. We left them with feelings of hope that they are an example of the good work that people are engaged in around the world.

The next morning we took a three-hour ferry ride through the San Juan Islands on our way to Vancouver Island. Although it was an overcast day, we thoroughly enjoyed the views of distant mountains and small islands during the whole trip. We let our minds imagine what life was like for the people who live on these enchanted islands. We also gave thought to the native people who once  flourished and fished here (some First Nations people still live and work here today). Many places still bear the native names.

We were greeted in Sidney by Arnold and Margaret Ranneris of Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting-Victoria Worship Group. Ruah had met them about 11 years ago, when she visited Victoria on behalf of Quaker Earthcare Witness. Arnold has been a strong supporter of QEW and has advocated among Canadian Friends to maintain a steady relationship with U.S. Friends who care about spirituality and ecology issues. Arnold gave us our walking directions to the place where we were to meet our first night's host on the island, by way of the Lochside Trail, which meanders all the way into Victoria. We only had to walk about 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) until our meeting place with Dana Griffith. Although the threat of rain was present throughout the walk, it didn't begin to rain until about an hour before our rendezvous spot. We got there early and relaxed with hot chocolates until Dana arrived. Then the three of us set out back on the trail in the rain for another 5 miles, or about 8 kilometers. While walking, we enjoyed getting to know Dana, another kindred spirit along the journey. We learned that our rain gear would be sufficient for this walk.

When we finally arrived in the dark, we were warmly welcomed by Dana's husband, Phil
Argue, and their two spirited dogs. Phil and Louis had much to share, being tool guys and builders and men who like to collect miscellaneous stuff for later use. Phil also likes to restore boats. After a good meal and great conversation we were really ready for bed.

The next morning we headed into the city center to catch a bus to Duncan, about 40 miles away, to meet with the Duncan Worship Group. Linda Hill met us at the bus stop and gave us a tour of the lovely downtown, including lunch in a small, local sandwich shop. Again we found so much to talk about with Linda, and after an hour we felt like old friends. She took us to a repair-it-yourself bike shop, the purpose of which is to engage young people in constructive and fun work. They learn how to build bikes from assorted parts. Another part of the project is to teach basic sewing and other crafts to the children. It's a very successful progam and we were much impressed.

Linda then took us to her home where her husband, John Scull, greeted us. We had met John before at the FGC Gathering in Tacoma in 2005. John has been active on the Quaker Ecology Action Network (QEAN) e-mail list, and we've seen his entries through that list, so we felt we already  knew him fairly well. (Arnold is also active on that list.) The evening's plan was a potluck at the home of Betty Polster, followed by our presentation. The follow-up discussion was very moving and inspirational. We came away with new ideas to implement when we return home. The next morning we enjoyed a rich conversation with John and Linda before returning to Victoria.

We got a ride back with Dave Polster, Betty's son, who works as a environmental restoration consultant. His main focus is on reclaiming eroded lands. He was so informative that we felt we had taken a mini course in land reclamation, learning many new concepts.

We returned that night to Dana and Phil's house, where it felt like coming home. We stayed with them the remaining nights while on Vancouver Island. We'd like to give great thanks to them for their generous care of us, with good meals and good sharing. Some of our entertainment was trying to get their shy dog, Ledoux, to make friends with us, but he never got too close, unlike their other dog, Patrick, who was super-friendly.

On Thursday we met up with Fran Grady, another QEW supporter, who led us on a walking tour of interesting places in Victoria. We may begin to sound like a broken record, but she was another kindred spirit and we found we had lots to talk about. Our ultimate destination was the home of Bob and Betty McInnes, where a small group of Quakers gathered for lunch and discussion. Following that, we took the bus across town to visit with and have dinner with Lynne and Michael Phillips and their daughter Holly. We felt buoyed by the richness of the day's conversations and warm fellowship.

On Friday Arnold picked us up to take us to the Royal BC Museum, where we explored the fascinating First Nations exhibit. Then we were swept off to Jim and Alison Prentice's beautiful waterfront home for more great conversations and some birdwatching. We appreciated their interest in our mission and their apparent understanding of the issues. The day was complete with a potluck dinner at Victoria Friends Meetinghouse, followed by our presentation and engaging discussion.

We have included some of the video interviews with Canadian Friends in this day's blog. More will come over the coming couple of days. It takes a long time to upload them and when we get a good land line we'll do the uploading. Again, they are answering the questions, "What have you changed to make the world better and what do you still need to change?" We appreciate their willingness to share their thoughts with you all.

We've found many new Friends and deepened our relationships with those we already knew here on Vancouver Island. We give thanks for all the good graces of our time here. Tomorrow morning we leave by ferry for the Olympic Peninsula. We close now with a bit of BC trivia: We were told that Vancouver Island alone is larger than the country of Ireland and contains about one fourth of the population of British Columbia. We give it a fond farewell.
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