Tuesday, June 02, 2009

ASLE Conference Review : Day 0

Terrain.org editor Simmons Buntin blogs the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment biennial conference:


Leaving Seattle aboard the Victoria Clipper hydrofoil ferry.

Technically, the ASLE conference hasn't yet started, so this first post includes my trip from Tucson, Arizona, up to Victoria, British Columbia.

Summary

I'm spending eight full days traveling to and from Victoria for the ASLE conference, which affords a bit of time on either side of the conference to explore. Today (Monday), I had enough time in Seattle to check out the Olympic Sculpture Park before settling into the three-hour ferry ride up to Victoria.

Once I arrived in Victoria, my priorities were to check my bag and stroll around the Inner Harbour area until finding a brewpub; in this case Canoe Marina, Brewpub, and Restaurant (more on that below). In my travels I've found that the best food tends to align itself with the best, locally-brewed beer, and I'm all about local foods (even if I did have lunch at Subway in Seattle, on the fly).

The evening ended with a taxi ride to the University of Victoria, where the conference is being held, and a solid two hours of grappling with the sporadic wireless internet connection in the dorm room in which I'm staying. Just this morning (Tuesday) I figured out the ethernet connection, so problem finally solved!

Environmental Note

The concierge at the Inner Harbour hotel where I checked my bag noted how, from what he'd heard, America isn't as environmentally progressive as Canada. And when it comes to Arizona, anyway, he's spot on. Victoria's full of hybrids -- passenger cars, taxis, and buses -- and recycling centers can be found, seemingly, on every other corner.

Yet when I went to breakfast at the campus cafeteria, this morning, the only juice I could buy was in a plastic bottle; ditto for water. So I sit here with three plastic bottles already gathered from my trip: two waters and one soda.

The solution? I visited the Student Union pharmacy where steel water bottles happen to be on sale, and picked one up. That should hold me well through this and many other trips. (I didn't bring one up because our plastic BPA-free bottles at home are beginning to leak; this is my first stainless steel variety).

Best Event/Activity

While strolling around the Port of Seattle and the Olympic Sculpture Park was good fun, the highlight has definitely been wandering Victoria's Inner Harbour. What a gorgeous city! I may not get to further explore the downtown area until Friday and Saturday (Friday promises a sea kayaking trip, Saturday a long hike through a nearby rainforest), but I can't wait to get back to such urban vibrancy.

Worst Event/Activity

Canoe forgot to bring me my halibut fish and chips (I waited an hour), but they comped the meal, so I can't complain too much about that. Plus the beer was outstanding (see below). Nope, I'll go with being checked into the wrong room here at UVic and then being asked -- after unpacking everything -- to move next door. Which I did, without complaint, even though there are no hangers in this closet, much to my chagrin. And then of course the whole internet connection battle.

Beer Note

This section may change, depending on what tasty local beverage I can find, but for today I give a hearty endorsement to Canoe's Beaver Brown Ale: delicious! The Red Canoe Ale was good, too, and that's saying something for me since I'm not much of a Pilsner fan generally.

Take Away

Now that I'm settled in, I look forward to the conference beginning (for me, with an Ecomedia pre-conference seminar) this afternoon. It will be interesting to see how the exhibit area looks -- Terrain.org has a table, but will I be too tempted by the many enticing concurrent sessions to stick around?!

Photos

Some photos from Monday. I'll post some photos each day if possible, and then a large gallery at the end of the trip.


Victoria's iconic Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour.



Just as American cities often have painted sculptures placed around the city (in Denver, it was horses), Victoria has both eagle and whale sculptures.



An eagle sculpture along the Inner Harbour walkway, with the provincial capitol in the background.



British Columbia capitol.

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