Browsing "GPS"
Feb 2, 2011 -


My GPS has been out of date for years, but after I left the GVR last time, I saw no reason to upgrade it since I didn’t have much need of it up north nor on the Island. But after yesterday’s manic drive around Surrey I decided that it was time I get something more up to date. Majel was actually doing very well, but she doesn’t have the newer points of interests and, of course, isn’t up to speed on all the latest construction developments!

Since a new GPS was cheaper than getting updated maps for my old model, I decided to upgrade to a larger screen unit and I found one for sale at Staples for $179, full price, or I could get the smaller one like I currently had for $129 on sale from $149. I decided to try Best Buy to see if they had a better price on the larger screen unit, otherwise I would go back to Staples and get the deal on the smaller one.

I drove by a Best Buy this morning while doing errands, so I popped in. They were selling the exact same big screen model for $149 ‘full price’! $30 less! But I didn’t buy it because the next model up, which has some extra features, was on sale for $119!

The basic 5″ model was a Garmin 255W and the one I got is the Garmin 265WT. I paid considerably less than the US MSRP, which I do believe is a first!

The bigger screen and qwerty keyboards are really nice upgrades. I miss the soothing voice I dubbed ‘Majel’, finding the ones for the newer model to be a bit snooty. I decided that ‘Jack’ was as close I as I was going to get to something non-obnoxious, so I picked that. Farewell, Majel, and thanks for two and a half years of great service!

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Communications & Electronics, GPS, Technical    4 Comments
Apr 16, 2010 -

A Final Day in Victoria

Being less than 300km from ‘home’ and not having to start work until 2pm tomorrow meant that I could enjoy a third day in Victoria. I dropped Mrs. H off at her friend’s house and then drove downtown to do a few museums. This post will gloss over some of the details of today as some destinations merit their own posts.

I decided to park in Chinatown since the daily rates are cheaper than downtown and planned my day as a loop. My first stop was just a block away and was a store! It was recommended to me by a reader and is called Chintz and Co.

Chintz & Co.

This store comprises 20,000 square feet (!) and is just about a one stop home decorating stop. It was the first time I have walked into a store selling new furniture and found myself liking almost everything. Had I had $2,000 I would have walked out with a handsome wingback chair covered in dark orange leather (*swoons*).  The furniture style was mostly luxe shabby chic, with lots of rich colours abounding. I could have spent hours there, but focused mostly on the remnants section, which was much larger than I would have expected. I found some fabrics I thought would coordinate with ones I have already picked up, but I wasn’t sure enough to buy.

I ambled down Store street and turned into Bastion Square:

alley off of Bastion Square
Bastion Square’s giant tulips

My next stop was The Soda Shoppe, which I had discovered on my first night in Victoria. It is located on Government Street right in front of the Empress Hotel, kitty corner to the visitor’s centre.

The Soda Shoppe

I would normally balk at paying $4.19 for a small ice cream cone (even if it is of the waffle variety), but they have bear claw, a dark chocolately fudgy caramelly cashewy concoction I haven’t seen in about ten years since an Ottawa shop carrying it closed down. It was as good as I remembered!

From there, I walked the length of the Empress Hotel, crossed the street, and landed at the Royal British Columbia Museum:

Royal BC Museum

After a couple of hours, I headed across the street

street separating the RBC museum from the Legislature

and strolled along the length of the BC Legislature:

war memorial
close up showing the addition of the Korean ‘police action’; a nice touch since many forget that Canada was involved in this war
the BC Legislative Building is quite a handsome structure! It’s almost as impressive as Ottawa’s Parliament buildings!

this is all of the Sequoia I was able to get into one shot 🙂

then crossed the street in front of it to go visit the Undersea Gardens:

The Undersea Gardens

After that, I slowly began to stroll back towards the car with a stop for lunch:

Victoria Harbour

there was a whole row of dedication plaques

a magnific mosaic orca
a map of Vancouver Island

I was just going to get a slice of pizza for lunch, but was lured by the siren’s call of Cafe Mexico. I had an excellent meal there of a chicken burrito with ‘fries’ (more like chewy potato chips with a hint of crunch). The highlight of the mean was the ‘mojitea’:


My drink of choice is the mojito, but I didn’t want to drink alcohol before a long drive home so I decided to try their virgin version even though virgin mojitos seem to be missing a little ‘something.’ Well, Cafe Mexico found what that little something is: sweet tea. The tea doesn’t have the same flavour as the rum, of course, but it’s the perfect non-alcoholic addition to turn the club soda and muddled mint into more than just minty soda. Yum! The burrito was fresh and light and the fries were served with a sauce that had me go ‘WHAT?!’ at first taste, but which grew on me with every bite. I asked the server what it was and she said it was a ‘chipolte aioli’ which I think means a smokey garlickly mayonnaise. It was the perfect complement to the fries. This wasn’t the best Mexican food I’ve had in my life, but definitely fits at the top of the list. It was reasonably priced to boot!

I grabbed an ice coffee for the road and returned to the car to plot a route to the Nanaimo Best Buy. My GPS is getting to be ridiculously outdated, so it didn’t have that store in its data base. It felt incredibly luxurious to boot up the laptop, sign on to my Telus connection, and get the necessary info. My life has definitely changed!

My destination mapped out, I headed out of Victoria at 3PM. I’ll write a separate post about the drive back to Campbell River.

Victoria left me with mixed feelings, some negative, most positive.

The negative feelings are towards the cost of museums and attractions: ridiculously high. There was nothing under $10 and most things were $15 and up. I would have loved to do the Maritime Museum, but with the RBC being $15 and the Undersea Gardens being $11, the additional $12 for the MM would have busted my budget. Having been to so many museums in both the Canada and the US I can say with a measure of authority that everything I saw in Victoria was way over priced. Whether or not I enjoyed myself is not relevant.

That said, Victoria is a beautiful and accessible city. If I have to stay in Canada next winter I will do so in the environs of Victoria, even if it means spending another $400 on ferry costs. I have nowhere had my fill of this city and feel that I barely got a taste of it. I’d like to spend more time exploring Beacon Hill Park and exploring the many hiking trails in the area.

Victoria is one of those Canadian cities that feels exquisitely ‘old world’ in its waterfront area, so much so that the cloppety clop of horse hooves is the most natural sound you could hear in the setting. The traditional architecture is Victorian with its emphasis on grand neo-gothic structures like the Empress Hotel. I didn’t get quite as much of a feel for the outlaying parts of town, but Mrs. H had me drive through many a neighbourhood that had streets lined with Victorian cottages, some simple, some dripping with gingerbread.

I had a lovely weekend and feel it is the perfect cap to my Vancouver Island winter.

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British Columbia, Canada, Communications & Electronics, Computer, GPS, Internet, Restaurants, Technical, Travel    5 Comments
Oct 13, 2009 -

Still Shaking

Miranda will be getting her new brakes tomorrow, the process taking all day, so, being 130km from Vancouver and aware that I have at least one more ‘big’ hill ahead, I’m going to do the drive in the toad to see if I need to hire myself a driver.

I’m just not ready to get back on the proverbial horse. Oh, driving on flat, no problem, but I’m not ready to put myself back in a situation where I could find myself careening down a hill. I’ve received mixed opinions about the route ahead; some say that it’s ‘almost as bad’ as the road behind me while others scoff and say the worst is behind me. I want to hit the road feeling more confident than I feel right now.

I do seem to have lucked out with the mechanic; the estimate is fair and I’m being given a substantial discount on parts. The tire will also be replaced at no charge (a 250$ value on its own).

The brakes would have needed to have been rebuilt completely at some point during my ownership of Miranda, so the cost doesn’t hurt nearly as much as if I’d blown the engine or ripped the air conditioner off the roof ( 😉 to Croft) and I intended to give Miranda new shoes before leaving for Dawson in the spring. I’ve now got two bought. 🙂

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about my decision to take the Sea to Sky highway knowing ahead of time about its legendary grades. I think I was over confident because of the ease at which I crossed the Rockies last fall as well as my experience with some of the grades on the Alaska highway. What I can’t decide on is if the scare of my life was worth the breathtaking scenery and the excitement of taking a new route. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.

But I will say that if I’d been stranded on that mountain last night in a car, it would have been a completely different experience than being stranded in my own home with access to a proper dinner, hot shower, heat, and my own bed. I was also grateful that the runaway lane had a small spur into which I was able to tuck Miranda (thank goodness for the emergency brake) so that I was not blocking this vital laneway in case someone else experienced a similar emergency.

I also learned just how easy it is to tow Miranda and was surprised by how small the tow truck was. The driver parked the truck at the top of the runaway lane, backed Miranda down the spur behind the truck, hooked her up, and just backed the whole kit and kaboodle up the highway until he was at the right angle to drive down the hill. *boggled*

Interesting fact: roadside assistance was going to send me a tow truck from Whistler, for which I would have been charge a 150$ premium. Calling someone local on my own saved me 30$. Thank goodness I had cell service on that mountain and that my GPS had the phone number of an auto place. They couldn’t help me, but at least the person understood my predicament and was able to give me the number of someone who could help. So many things went right yesterday for all that went wrong.

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British Columbia, Canada, Cell Phone, Communications & Electronics, Driving, GPS, Maintenance & Repair, Nice Folks, Social, Technical, Travel    7 Comments