It was our first venture into international flight but after reviewing the AOPA and VAF resources, it went very well. A VAF source in Victoria recommended we tie up at the Victoria Flying Club and we did. I was impressed with the level of activity at this club. They must have 10-15 rental planes and seem to really be doing a lot of flight training, plus they have a nice restaurant and helpful staff.
I rented a car online but if I did it again I would call VFC and ask them to line up a rental for you and have it waiting.
The Canadian ATC was very helpful and the flight club had folks around who helped me with the local procedures, which are slightly different than the US.
Base to final into Victoria:
It's a short drive to Butchart Gardens, a bucket list item for the Missus. I gotta admit that I was even impressed with the incredible gardens, and I'm not your average flower guy.
Not only were the colors so incredible that they hurt my eyes, the smells of the flowers were so strong they hurt my nose. However, I couldn't help but notice that with all the growing things, I couldn't find a single plant that was....edible. Seems kind of a shame and my only criticism because I would really be in favor of a raspberry, blueberry garden at that place.
Apparently...I took a break to read the guide book and she thought I was actually taking a nap amidst all that beauty. This is her getting even with me for taking a picture of her putting her makeup on at the...VANity. If I was taking a nap, I'm sure it was just required crew rest.
We got a nice hotel in Victoria and spent the rest of the day walking around, eating, and sampling the local products of zymurgy. It was gorgeous and the weather was perfect, and we saw turbine Otters landing and taking off all day, which along with the beer took a little sting out of the walking and shopping for me.
After a nice evening in the hotel, we had breakfast at the Blue Crab on the water, with Otters landing and taking off in front of us.
Victoria was beautiful, but I could just have easily (and less expensively) flown in to CYYJ in the morning from ORS, gotten a ride to downtown and/or Butchart, spent the day, then returned to ORS via Bellingham (for customs). One thing about the San Juans and area, everything is so close that all these airports we saw were within 8-10 minutes flight, so you can do so much in a short period of time with an RV. When I called to file a flight plan to Bellingham, the Canadian briefer asked for my true airspeed. "Oooh," he said, "that's fast." Yup. It sure is.
This was an exploration trip for us and we learned a lot. We will definitely go back, hopefully with RV friends along...anybody interested? ORS has a fly in August 1-3 (http://dev.portoforcas.com/?page_id=251
Evening from our front porch at the ORS airport campground. Stunning.
Perhaps the best part of the trip was on the flight home, when the Missus (who up until now has expressed a strong negative desire to learn to fly) asked me to quiz her about the instrument panel and see how many things she could get right. I also noticed that she was checking my work (my squawk code was wrong) and in general getting more interested in the aspects of flying rather than riding. She has also gotten MUCH more comfortable with the mild bumps and up/down drafts you get on a normal afternoon flight in the Rockies. It's probably just that I'm getting older and she has self preservation in mind, but I'd like to think that if I'm careful and don't rush her, she might be my right seater some day - or I might be hers.
Living the dream...keep pounding rivets!