Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Graduate School Tour Day 9 - Trapped at U. Vic

        On Tuesday I got up at 4:45 from Erins to hit the road towards Canada.  I made great time and crossed the boarder into Canada with ease.  I briefly lost my way and was heading towards Vancouver before turning around and finding the road to the ferry on time.  I had reserved a spot for myself the night before and for my return ferrry that day at 7pm.  The ferry took about an hour and a half to cross the sound to Swartz Bay from Tsawassen on the mainland - I slept the entire way in the car.  Once on land again I drove 20 minutes to the Main Campus of Victoria and ran into my first appointmets at about 11:15am. 
        The night before I had sent attachments of all my background because I had waited to apply to U.Vic until after I returned home.  Right from the start I was told by the geophysicists that my background in geology as well as in math and physics was not specialized enough for the Canadian school system.  They told me about about a student from Bowdoin who had applied last year and he would have had to take a full year of courses at U.Vic to just be qualified to enter the school.  This was a downer but I had not realized how remote the island of Victoria is from the mainland and B.C.  either so I wasn't too dissapointed and I was guessing that the geologists wouldn't be as picky as the geophysisicts which they weren't.  Professor Laurance Coogan bought me a slice of pizza and a frappacino to wake up and I had a wonderful talk with him and Professor Kathy Gillis about opportunities for me there which seemed a little slim due to funding.  The campus at U.Vic was veryDay_9_university_of_victoria_131_01 beautiful.  It was basically a giant circular road with buidlings on the inside and outside of the road.  And there were rabbits everywhere... yup.. rabbits.... apparently somebody must have bred some rabbits and released them nearby only to multiply and multiply.  Professor Coogan said the campus has become a dumping ground for extra bunnies by the local community.  They were everwhere on the campus - like squirrels and they weren't scared of the students at all. 
        After meeting with Professor Gillis I once again drove towards the ferry and airport to go to PGC (Pacific Geoscience Center) where the other half of the U.Vic researches and professors spent their time.  I found it odd that the group was actually separated by miles from each other.  It would be a long drive everyday from the city of Victoria to PGC and would be expensive with gas.  The PGC complex was amazing and was designed for public tours with many geological displays of the coast and live seismic monitors from around the world.  I met with some very prestigous Canadian seismologists such as Roy Hyndman and Gary Rogers along with some of their graduate students.
        When I walked out of PGC I walked into a freakin' hurricane.  It was raining hard - sideways - and the wind was so strong I barely could make it back to my car.  I drove to the Ferries and heard on the radio that one ferry was taking on water on the way to the Island from the mainland and that they would probably be shut down soon.  I went into the town of Sydney and picked up some candy and heard from the clerk that winds over 95mph were being reported across the sound.  The winds came very close to being categorized as hurricane winds.  I drove to the ferry and parked the car in line.  Everyone had left their cars and gone to the the nearby Lands End Cafe to watch the news and wait for the ferries to run.  After about 2 hours of waiting they redeemed our money and sent all of us packing from the docks.   So... I was stuck with no way off the island and the news was saying that it would be just as windy on Wednesday and thursday... great... I'm trapped on an island in Canada!
        I decided to drive back to Victoria and explore the city and perhaps some bars but before I left the area I drove to downtown Sydney again to check out the waves on the shore.   I parked my car near a cement seawall against the crashing waves.  The wind was so strong it was rocking the car and everytime a wave slammed into the wall it sent a barrage of seaweed up over the wall onto the top of my car.  A couple dumb kids in a van stopped to check it out also and got out to test their luck with the waves and almost got taken out!  After I felt my rental car was sufficientlyDay_9_university_of_victoria_131_29 draped with seaweed I proceeded out of town towards Victoria.  The sea was angry that day my friends.  I stopped at McDonalds for some cheap food and then headed downtown.  As I should have guessed the city was pretty dead in hurricane winds and a bleak tuesday night so I just decided to watch "Underworld 2: Evolution" at the city cinema - which was awful... After the movie I found my way back to the main highway and drove back up to Sydney where I found a car dealership.  I drove in, parked amongst the vehicles, quickly turned my lights off and spent the night there in my car, setting my alarm for 4:30am so I could be one of the first in line at the ferries the next morning.   So much for the possibility of visiting Vancouver a bit on Wednesday or getting to ski the Cascades in epic snow... Nope.. I was trapped... hoping that I would be able to get off the island by thursday to make my flight to miami from Seattle!


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