The Air Tastes Better Here

August 14, 2022: 6:00am. That is the time I see when I check my clock. As someone who does not consider themselves a morning person, 6:00am is not exactly my favourite time of day. But today is different – it is travel day (kind of). My flight actually leaves tomorrow at 6:30am but between the 3-hour drive to the airport and my need to be several hours early for my flight, we are leaving the house at 11:30pm. That leaves me a good 17 and a half hours to get ready – seems doable. I spend a portion of the day packing my suitcases, followed by a little too much time basking in my own excitement about the trip. Can you blame me? It has been 2 years since I last set foot in an airport. 11:30pm finally rolls around and we pack ourselves and the suitcases into the truck and begin our journey to Toronto. We arrive at the airport around 2:30am and I realize I may have got us there just a little too early considering we aren’t able to check our bags until 2 hours prior to our departure time. After some waiting, we check our bags, go through security, head to our gate, and finally board the plane. At this point, I have been awake for a full 24 hours, but that is the last thing that is on my mind.

Adventure is out there

August 15, 2022: I think the air tastes better here. That is the first thing I remember thinking after we stepped off the plane. Two flights and 6.5 hours later, we finally arrived in Victoria. We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel to drop off our baggage. Unfortunately, we could not check in until 4pm and it was barely past 10am, which left us plenty of time to explore the city. Our first stop was Frankie’s Modern Diner to grab an early lunch (which was fantastic). After we finished eating, we left the diner and explored Victoria until our check in time. Remember earlier when I said I was awake for 24 consecutive hours? Well, it has now been 32 hours and I am more than overdue for a nap. When I wake up, we decide to head down to Clover Point Park and Finlayson Point to catch the sunset and relax before work the following day.

Sunset overlooking Finlayson Point

August 16, 2022: Oh, the joys of jetlag. It is once again 6am, I am well rested and ready to get to work. The only problem is my first interview does not start for 6 hours. To make good use of all this time, we decided to grab breakfast and go for a walk. This walk led us to the iconic Beacon Hill Park, where we saw beautiful landscapes and some unexpected wildlife.   

After a few more hours of exploring, we made our way back to the hotel so I could prepare for my first interview. Any nerves I might have had were outweighed by my excitement to get out and talk to people again. The interviews scheduled for that day went even better than I could have imagined. Finally having the opportunity to talk to people and discuss their perspectives on the project made everything feel so much more real. I left each interview with a brand-new perspective and fresh set of ideas to incorporate into our research. After each interview finished, I found myself already looking forward to the next.

Unexpected (but welcome!) wildlife in Beacon Hill Park

August 17 & 18, 2022: For the two remaining days, I continued to start my day at 6am, grabbing breakfast and setting out on a morning walk around Victoria. We averaged about 10 kilometres every morning, so we were able to see a large amount of the city in the short time we were there. Some highlights of our daily adventures included going to the Breakwater Lighthouse, seeing the vibrant houseboats in Fisherman’s Wharf, and spotting some very energetic seals (sea lions? Maxx thinks they might be otters? If you are reading this and know the answer, please email us to set the record straight!) swimming close to the shore.

Seals? Sea lions? Otters? Something adorable!

Before I knew it, it was time for my last interview. We met around noon in a coffee shop and had an exceptional conversation. As I made my way through the questions, I found myself wishing the interview did not have to end. The final moments of the interview were bittersweet and once we said goodbye, I stayed in the coffee shop and reflected on my experience over the past couple of days. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to travel across the country and talk to people with such diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. I felt excited to revisit our research with a new perspective, inspired by each and every person I met with in Victoria. But before I do that, it was time for a little vacation. We took advantage of already being on the west coast and decided to travel to Tofino, Squamish, Whistler, and Vancouver. We spent our time exploring beaches, camping, and hiking in the mountains. It was the perfect opportunity to reset before coming back to Ontario, getting back to work, and preparing for my final year of my graduate degree.  I could not have asked for a better trip, and I cannot wait to see where this project takes us next.

Houseboats in Fisherman’s Wharf

A few extra photos from my post-research trip