Recently, John and I took a little trip to Victoria, Canada. It’s a pretty easy jaunt from here: an hour’s drive to Port Angeles followed by a ninety-minute ferry ride and voila, you’re on foreign soil. We both like the city a lot, yet Victoria itself wasn’t the reason for our visit. This time, we traveled across the pond in order to ride the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
A few months ago, we bought ourselves new electric-assist bicycles. While John was always a strong bicycle rider who could handle nearly any terrain, I, on the other hand, turned into a quivering, panting, wheezing crybaby at the mere hint of an approaching hill. Despite John’s encouragement — “Put it in a low gear and keep pedaling, KEEP PEDALING!” — I would almost immediately jump off the bike and trudge the damn thing to the top, grimacing all the way.
So as a retirement present to myself (and indirectly to John, who would no longer have to listen to me gripe about inclines), I started shopping online for an e-bike. The step-through (girl’s) bike I chose also came in a step-over (boy’s) model and when I showed it to John, I could see the longing in his eyes. It didn’t take much to convince him to order an e-bike for himself, too.
We’ve ridden a few trails in Washington and kind of last minute decided to take the bikes to Vancouver Island to ride the 55-kilometer (which sounds so much more impressive than 34-mile) Galloping Goose. I rented an Airbnb about fifteen minutes from downtown Victoria, booked the ferry and off we went.
I love Canada. Throughout the years, John and I have visited several parts of the country and are always impressed. For one thing, Canadians seem to have their act together more than we do. As an example:
And dang, the people are so nice. I realize it’s a stereotype but from our experiences there, it’s very true. Like on our first day in Victoria this time. We stopped at a grocery store for sandwiches to take with us on our bike ride and as we were stepping out of the car, a woman walking by asked, “Are you visiting from Washington?”
“Yes, we are,” John replied.
“Hang on a second, I have something for your wife,” she said, and rushed back to her parked truck. Uh-oh, I thought, it’s probably a sales scheme or maybe a political flyer of some sort. Instead, she handed me a blue faceted piece of glass.
While I hesitated, anticipating what was sure to be some spiel about the magic of crystals or maybe an offer to see my future in that hunk of glass [for a nominal fee], she said, “A gift for you, just to show how nice we Canadians are.”
Before I could spit out that I already know how nice Canadians are, she turned and sauntered away towards the store.
And yes, being an American suspicious of seemingly random acts of kindness, I’ve been waiting for that blue piece of glass to blow up or maybe ooze toxic goo. It’s been well over two weeks now, though, and nothing has happened.
As it is with all Airbnb rentals, the owners of our place, Gary and Denise, had a page on their site explaining why they decided to become Airbnb hosts. It was a charming little story about how they visited Europe for their 20th anniversary and found they enjoyed staying in someone’s home much more than a hotel, so they wanted to come back and do the same for travelers to their neck of the woods. The story included a photo of the couple holding hands, smiling sweetly.
Gary greeted us when we arrived and was as friendly and helpful as we’d expected. We knew Gary and Denise had gardens on their property, as well as bee hives, and during our four-night stay we saw Gary several times tending to both. We often chatted with him and each time was as pleasant as the last. He talked about bike rides he and Denise have taken, suggested nearby restaurants he and Denise enjoy, explained how he built the cottage we were renting after Denise designed it, things like that.
However, during the entire four days, we never once saw Denise.
Oh we saw her car, but although Gary’s truck would come and go — he was a Snap-On Tools salesman — Denise’s vehicle stayed put. And the front blinds of the house were always closed. Always. We started thinking about Norman Bates (who wouldn’t?) and decided Gary had killed Denise and her body was inside the house positioned in a rocking chair a la Mother Bates, perhaps, or on the couch where Gary could sit and watch television with it.
There was one window in the back of their house towards which we could crane our necks at night and peer inside from our cottage yet, alas, never once did we see anything more than a bit of furniture. Could it be Denise was buried in the back yard, maybe under the bee hives? Shades of “Rear Window” abounded but unlike Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, we weren’t able to crack the case before it was time for us to leave.
The morning of our departure, we chatted it up with Gary again as we were packing the car. It was a Saturday, and he said he was thinking about mowing the yard that afternoon. I had to bite my tongue not to ask what Denise had planned for her day. Instead, I decided to cast my suspicions aside and be nice. Like the blue faceted glass lady was nice. Heck, like all Canadians are nice.
Even the wife murderers.