Ferry Crossing

Last night we had dinner at the amazing Café Brio. It started off as the perfect evening, excellent food and wine in a lovely, romantic place. Unfortunately, on about the second bite of his lamb shank, Lane completely blocked his lower esophagus. He insisted he would be fine shortly and disappeared into the bathroom. I was left to try to finish my meal while nervously watching the bathroom, hoping he wouldn’t die while trying to clear his esophagus. It was an unnerving experience. . . and he never did dislodge the chunk of lamb shank.

I offered to take him to the emergency room right then and there (we’re in Canada, after all, a country that actually provides health care), but he insisted he’d be fine by morning.

After a fitful night’s sleep, it is now morning. Of course, he isn’t fine and I’m not sure we have time to visit the emergency room and still catch the ferry. (Of course, if we missed the ferry to Washington, we could still catch on to Vancouver and then drive back down.) Lane says he can wait now until we get to Seattle. We waste enough time deciding that the decision is made for us – he’ll have to wait to go to the emergency room tonight when we get to Seattle. I joke that I’ll just dump him off at Ballad Swedish along the way to Michele’s house. I wish I had just taken him in last night.

Although we will not now be walking any of the beaches along the way, we still opt to try to follow that illusive scenic coastal route up to the ferry terminal at Sidney.

I should have just taken the main highway. The day is gray and overcast and it is hard to enjoy the scenery when Lane is so obviously miserable. But, with a little help from him, I am mostly able to follow the route this time.

I wasn’t sure how long to allow for customs (the website suggests 90 minutes before the ferry departs), but it takes 10 minutes to pay the balance of our reservation fee and pass through customs. I wish we whould have taken our chances on the emergency room.

Now we face a long wait in a fenced parking lot – we can’t wander away because we are now in the “secure” area. I feel like prisoner. There is no real ferry terminal here either, just some restrooms, a shack selling pre-packaged snacks and souvenirs, and a couple of picnic tables. It is bleak and depressing.

At last the ferry arrives and we roll on. Up a level or two, we search for a window seat. Since the ferry is pretty empty, there are lots of good spots available, so we stake out a big table by the window.

Over time, Sidney recedes into the distance, its string of buildings replaced by more lightly inhabited islands.

Most of the time I write and edit photos while watching the scenery pass by beyond the window. When Lane isn’t in the bathroom he keeps an eye on my computer while I run out to take a few pictures from the stern, where the wind is less forceful. There is no sign of whales, so I don’t feel like I am missing a much sitting inside where it is warm. Since the deck we are on nearly empty, it is a quite, peaceful place to edit photos and work on my journal. For lunch, I eat the delicious remains of the offending lamb shank.

We arrive at cheerful Friday Harbor (a feisty little spot, if their official government website is any indication) under dark skies. I have fond memories of a long-ago day trip here with friends and wish we had been able to arrange our schedule on this trip to allow some time here. Some day.

The ferry fills with rambunctious children – several classes worth of them – heading back to the mainland after a school trip that included a stop at a candy factory/shop. It seems like a bad sign when one child proclaims she should not have been allowed to eat so much candy because now she needs to run all over the ferry to burn off the sugar. It will be a lo-o-o-o-ng trip back to Anacortes.

But it really isn’t that bad. The kids are mostly well-behaved and the ferry staff quickly deal with the ones who get too wild.

Outside, the sky stays dark and gray. No one indicates they have sighted a whale, while a shift in direction brings a strong wind even to the ferry’s stern. It is a good day to stay inside and watch the islands drift past my window.

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