Monday, August 18th, 2008
What is the longest way from Calgary to Victoria? Certainly not this. One could go up through Edmonton over to Whitehorse and down that way, and maybe bounce off Anchorage for a four-day-minimum side trip. One could follow the Idaho Rockies down toward Vegas, make a U-turn in Baja California, skirt up the coast, live at the top of a giant redwood for two years like Julia Butterfly Hill, and then take the Clipper (if it’s still running in that future time) from Seattle to Victoria. One could circumnavigate the entire globe, via Savannah GA and Alice Springs, Australia, and come to rest in Saanich Inlet. With those possibilities in mind, my route wasn't that weird, or all that long. But in the last two weeks, since I found out about the necessity of a cast change for "Old Growth", it feels like I've been to Abu Dhabi (sp?) and back - tied up in a brown paper package like Garfield's cousin Nurmel (sp?). Yes, I'm writing my entry about Monday the 18th on Thursday the 28th. Jeez. I think that means it's actually been over two weeks since Aura had to drop the show and I decided to continue with both the tour and my trip to Haida Gwaii anyway. Clearly, I got busy when I got to Victoria. Alison and I have performed the show five times (the sixth is tonight, prime time, up against EVERYBODY including a fundraising performance of Charlie Ross's's FAMOUS "One Man Star Wars"), and I've been on a few cool little trips: one to Witty's Lagoon, to walk forest trails and beach (I was visited by a cute and lonely seal, honking out hope that he would find his brethren around somewhere) and to the top of Mt. Douglas, which I climbed without so much as a sherpa or really much of a trail, and then descended to the beach to comb for critters.
Tomorrow, my only other day off (we have been given EIGHT performances here, due to our small venue), I'm thinking of driving toward them mountains and seeing what happens. But back to trees. On Monday the 18th, Andy and I drove from Port Hardy down to Victoria - which is a long way, really, minimum five hours of driving. We mostly just sort of trucked it down, playing Szymanovsky (sp?) and The Dears on his contabulous iPod fabtraption. The gas prices (high $1.30s) were the SAME as they were, I swear to Gord, in 2005, when I drove from Edmonton to Port Hardy for a hiking trip to Cape Scott, and marvelled at how high gas prices in remote British Columbia can be. In fact, they're more expensive in Victoria now than in Port Hardy. But I keep driving, and so does everyone else, proving in my mind that carbon taxes (as opposed to actual capping systems) are based on MADE UP ideas of human behaviour. And just this morning, comedian/my current roommate Nile Seguin and I agreed that economists are the priests of the 21st century - and that when civilizations go to pot, the religious leaders (those who claim to have the answers) are the first to get scuppered. But back to trees.
The one real stop we made on the way down the island was to Cathedral Grove. This is Canada's most accessible grove of real old growth forest. The highway to Tofino goes through it. The amazing thing to me, other than the trees, is how few people stop. The narrow parking lot is dangerous, because cars are constantly whipping down the road that separates the two halves of the park. There have been interests in expanding the parking lot - which would mean cutting down some of the big trees. I won't even say "ironically", because that would be redundant. So far there are stronger interests against parking expansion, but if that one tree that is totally going to fall on the highway one day and kill people actually does, I suppose the tree-kickers (an opposing faction to the tree-huggers, less militant than the people-who-give-trees-the-finger league) will get their way.
Cathedral Grove is amazing. I went last year with Alison and her uncle and cousins from Comox, on an incredible (and long) daytrip to Tofino. But it rained all that day - this time we had sun. Andy was very impressed. Many of the trees are 300 years old, having sprouted after a fire in 17th or 18th centuries, but some are much older. Some of the standing giants are dead, with splintered tops. The ground is littered with enormous trunks, many of whom came down in a freak windstorm in 1997 (a bad year for trees, but celebrated by their sworn enemies in their annual ritualistic orgies of tree-kicking, -slapping, -spitting and -insulting). The interpretive signs urge visitors to LEAVE the moment a storm kicks up - but oddly, the highway (which has as much proximity to the giants as the trails do) stays open. Tourism is pretty heavy there. I was briefly walking behind a bus group from Curmudgeon Tours - we passed a group of 4 downed trunks, all caught between the same two living trees (MAN that would have been fun to watch!) and a man in front of me kept saying "Wastage. Pure wastage..." That depends on who you ask, I suppose. I think the forest might consider nurse logs a reinvestment of capital. And as the be-jacketed tour guide pointed out, "The termites sure like it, though!". Those opportunists! That's right, forest ecology is nothing more than scavenging for lunch.
By then it was five pee emm, so we soared down the rest of the island, stopping at two Timmy's's (the first one lacked vegetarian-friendly soup) so that Andy could have that experience. We got into Victoria about 8:00, I dropped him off at a hostel downtown, checked in at Shiela's house, and collapsed. And the next day, the whirlwind of (re)rehearsals began. Gotta run and meet my new street canvassing friends for lunch. They can relate to my show...!