Tag Archives: Vancouver Island

Tips for commuting by float plane

When you live on an island you have to get off it sometime. Some of us more than others, because of the nature of our jobs. I travel by float plane a lot; 2-4 times per month actually, between Victoria and Vancouver. I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way.

  • They’re loud. Wear the ear plugs. You’ll need them.
  • Better yet, get yourself a pair of good in-ear noise-cancelling headphones. That way you can listen to music or podcasts without cranking the volume to dangerous levels.
  • Fraser River Delta from the air

    Fraser River Delta from the air

    The smell of fuel gets to me, but here’s a trick: single engine, sit near the back; twin engine, sit near the front. Or is that the other way around. Anyway. Works for me. I might just be used to it by now.

  • Ladies, the pilot with your life in his hands will ask you to put your oversized purse in the back of the plane, especially if you’re sitting near an emergency exit. Be a dear, swallow your bitchiness and don’t give him any sass about it. Your shit will be all right. I promise. I don’t want to have to trip over your shit getting out if the plane ever hits the drink.
  • Get yourself an account, sign up for loyalty points and book your flights online. It’s cheaper and you get points toward free flights.
  • Don’t ever miss your flight, stay over in Vancouver, party, then catch a flight in the morning hung over. Just. Don’t. (Ahem, this one was told to me by a friend. I swear.)
  • During the flight, you can look all you want for whales in the ocean below. I’ve never seen any though. 🙁
  • Look up instead. You never, ever get tired of the view, especially in summer.

    songhees from sea plane

    The Songhees from the seaplane (Victoria BC)

  • In winter or during peak periods when it’s busy, don’t be late for check in. They will sell your seat to a standby passenger. I’ve seen it happen a couple of times.
  • About flying in winter: sure we don’t get snow, but we do get wind and fog and low clouds. And wind. If you love rollercoasters, you’ll love flying float planes in winter. Did I say wind?
  • Better yet, if you fly a lot in winter and get air sick easily, and you’re made of money or have time, you could always take a helicopter or the ferry.




Beginning the ascent

Mystic BeachSeveral times in the past three weeks my mouse has hovered over the “submit” button for another fall marathon.

Each time, a little voice in my head says: “Wait until after your Half Marathon in May. Don’t you want to start climbing again? Remember – you don’t want to climb and train for a marathon at the same time…”

Climbing, hiking, trail running – getting out of the city and off the beaten path. It’s what I long to do, but it means a different level of commitment than training for a road race.

It’s a lifestyle change, is what it is.

Road races are – well – urban, and therefore populated. One of the things I really like about the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon is the sheer number of participants and spectators. There is always someone cheering you on, always someone to pass going up to Prospect Point (even for a slow runner like me), always someone holding a sign that says “Run like a Kenyan!” There are entertainment stations with music and dance, and usually the Hash House Harriers with a beer table somewhere along the way.

Climbing/hiking/trail running is more isolated. Wild. A little bit risky. A little – on the edge. It brings you into closer contact with your climbing partner(s). It’s more intimate. There’s no crowd cheering you to the finish line, announcing your name. At best there’s a notation in a guidebook, or a scribble in a summit register, and some scrapes and bruises for bragging rights.

This hit home to me as I scrambled around gearing up this morning for a little 5k hike from China Beach to Mystic Beach and back this afternoon. I located my little Adventure first aid kit, an extra layer, emergency rain gear, fuel, water, map (not that I needed one).

As I rummaged through my gear stowed in my locker downstairs, I heard my physiotherapist’s voice in my head saying: “Your toe joint is healing well, you should be able to start climbing again this spring.”

I want that thrill of going into the back country again. I want to be at a campsite, climbing gear spread out, consulting the guidebook, deciding with my partner what to take (one rope or two? Full rack or save weight and leave a few pieces?). I want to share a beer at the end of the day with friends who have literally held my life in their hands at the end the rope.

It’s time again to begin the ascent.

Photo: Mystic Beach, April 5, 2010, taken by Tori Klassen with iPhone using the Best Camera app.