August 26, 2004

I haven't been on a BC ferry in three years... I was most pleased to find myself on one on Tuesday, making my way to the island to visit my friend Shalome for an over-nighter.

There is something I have always enjoyed about the ferry. Not quite sure what it is, but riding in the belly of one of the big boats has always been rather calming. Having only been over as part of a family vacation on perhaps two occasions, I otherwise frequented the ferries while my first girlfriend Kate was living in victoria, and I in vancouver. I also went over on the team bus a few times while playing volleyball in highschool and college, and then there were trips to nanaimo with the kayaking team.

It can be a time consuming venture--take yesterday, for example, on my return back from my island visit. I arrived at the terminal at 5 pm, well in time for the 5:45 sailing, or so I figured. as it was, the boat filled up with just four other cars sitting in front of me, which meant I had to wait for the 8:15 sailing instead. so add that to a 2 hour sailing and a half hour drive home at the other end, and you've got a bit of a long stretch to cover less thatn 50 Km's.

But more often than not, when I get on that ferry, a calm washes over me. I love water, for one thing, and being surrounded by it is fantastic. On more than one occasion, I have seen a fantastic west coast sunset as the island peaks swallow up the sun as the ferry heads back to the mainland. The occasional dolphin or whale sighting happens as well...

...On this particular trip to the island, the weather is a flat gray--giving the day the same appearance from sunup to sundown. The ferry cuts through the waters, inky black, coated with a seemingly molten silver layer. on the sunnier days, i am hard pressed to be found inside the boat, choosing instead to wander the decks, taking in some nice ocean air, sun and wind on my face. Today is not an outside day. I choose a seat at the windows of the bow, in the corner a bit so I can see out the front and the side. I read my book for a time, then opt to buy a nice hot cup of earl grey tea, another little tradition of each and everyone of my crossings. people come and go in the seats nearby, chattering away, but I fail to notice it. Vancouver island slithers out across the horizon, slowly emerging from the blanket of fog that makes it invisible from the mainland. tugboats and barges, sailboats, tankers, and speed boats chug by us as we make our way up island...

being on the ferry, and waiting for one, can perhaps be seen as akin to catching a plane ( I also love to fly), but instead of being restricted to your seat for most of a flight, and even still, restricted by the size of the plane when you are not seated, a ferry gives you the chance to roam about freely and enjoy the sights. My return trip to the mainland was much the same as the initial trip to the island in terms of conditions. clouds socked in, rain drizzling incessantly (it rained for the entire time I was on the island, too. Shalome and I made forays in the old growth forests, visited shawnigan lake and cowichan bay, as well as traisped around her town of Chemainus, picking blackberries and looking at the murals for which the sleepy tourist town is known--all under the presence of drizzle or pouring rain). But my return trip was done mainly in the dark. the sun was setting as we left port at duke point, the clouds hanging low and thick enough to deny the sunset its full glory of colour, save a few shafts of pink light that found their way through the gloom.

and so, for the next two hours, we slip silently through the straight, and then back into vancouverat tswassen's ferry port. I drove away wondering when my next ferry trip might be. sure, I can drink tea anytime I like at home, but how often do you get to drink tea in the presence of schools of salmon, seals, and perhaps the occasional whale or dolphin pod?

tomorrow I am off to whislter for an equal amount of time up in the hills as I was on the island, then I( will drive the canyon route back to kamlooops for a few nights. talk to you soon!