Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Ferry (the Boat)

Yesterday, I picked up my parents at the Bainbridge Island ferry dock. They flew in from California, and walked on the boat in Seattle. They are home for the holidays. We had a nice dinner together at our house.

The ferry is such a familiar part of life for us that I rarely think about how it will sound to someone in the midwest. I've been riding the boat all of my life, literally. That's me, on the right, in the photo, with my brother and sister; the boats (and I) have changed a lot since then! My parents built a cabin on the island before I was born, where we used to spend our summers. They remodeled it about 20 years ago, sold their house in town, and now it's their main home.

This is the original cabin that they built, not the remodeled house.

When we talk about the ferry, we call it "the boat;" not a boat that we own, but the Washington State Ferry. Well, tax-wise, I guess we do own it, but I digress.

We "catch the boat," "run for the boat," "hop on the boat," and occasionally, "miss the boat." Tonight, we are going to catch the boat in our car, which is called "driving on."  "Are you going to walk across, or drive on?," we ask our guests from the city before they come, so we will know how to plan. If they are driving, we will add an hour to the departure time of their boat, in order to calculate their time of arrival; or we will leave our house at the time they get on the boat in the city, in order to be at the terminal to pick up walk-ons when they walk off.

Living with a ferry system means having ferry schedules close at hand - in your car, in your purse, on the refrigerator door, in your wallet - for easy reference, at all times. And to save money, it means buying a commuter pass every month. There are auto passes and passenger passes. Fares are collected both ways for autos, and only one way for walk-on and auto passengers. Are you still with me?

In summer, there is a fare surcharge (a rate hike), and if you are driving on, you can easily miss the boat (this is called "an overload,") and then you must wait in line, sometimes for hours. Missing the boat is not fun, unless you are creative and very patient. If you leave your car on the dock to go and have a latte, a beer or a snack nearby, you must return no later than 20 minutes before the next boat is scheduled to depart, or you may be left behind on the inconvenience and a big embarassment.

You wouldn't want to lock yourself out of your car in this situation. I once made the mistake of locking my car keys in the car on the ferry dock in Seattle. Fortunately, a very kind Washington State Trooper rescued them (and me), and didn't make me feel like any more of an idiot than I already felt.

We are driving on the boat today, to go to dinner with Smileygirl and Tom, before hearing "Handel's Messiah" performed by the Seattle Symphony and Chorale. I'm very excited to dress up, eat a lovely French meal (trout almondine, anyone?) and listen to the music with Gregg and David. This will be my first time hearing the "Messiah" in person.


ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, I'm so jealous!! Please give Smiley and Tom extra hugs and kisses from Stud and me. Have a great night!!

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, and I LOVE that picture of you and your siblings. So cute!

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is so interesting Karen!!! I would hate to 'miss the boat' if I were in a hurry too. I would love to travel this way...and I suppose after many years it is second nature to you. Thanks for sharing this with us!!! So happy you are having a nice weekend..first your Parents getting in and then a nice night out tonight!!!
Enjoy, Suz

Kay said...

Wow... I love this. Such a different way of life, hoping not to miss the boat. ; )

So glad your parents arrived and you have a wonderful weekend to look forward to. Enjoy it all! : )

Gannet Girl said...

What a great description! And what a wonderful way of life.

Enjoy the concert!

Karen said...

Your life is very picturesque--all that water and those trees and sunsets and sunrises to measure your days by. It's such a nice way to live. I know you will enjoy the concert... it is so encouraging.Let us know how it goes.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, the ferry sounds so wonderful and romantic, and I guess that's because it's something so foreign to how I grew up. That part of the world where you are is just so beautiful and you always paint such gorgeous pictures of it with your writing. Have a wonderful time at the Messiah -- I can't wait to hear your "first" impression... (did you read my post about it this week?)

AnnDeO said...

I love that "the boat" is part of your life. I miss the act of crossing a bridge to get to one side of town to another as when we lived in Montana and Northern Idaho. I love the water, but I do like the mountains too and the red rocks and desert of Utah.

Paul said...

Didn't the first ferry boat that you rode have holes in the sides where all of the oars came out? Oh, and was there a giant dragon head on the bow?

Wait a second...that was MY first ferry boat!

Wonderful post Karen. Bon appetite ce soir!

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

Stopping by to say Hello, and admire your photo's. I hope (i am sure) you had a wonderful evening in Seattle. Looking forward to that update. Have a wonderful week and a Merry Christmas!