In the spirit of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all the other ways to share the minutia of one’s life with the general public, I have decided to write a post about going for groceries.
Grocery shopping. Yawn.
It was a beautiful morning. September 7 was unseasonably warm and I left the house shortly after 8:30 to drive across Cortes Island and get in line for the 9:50 ferry. As soon as I pulled my little Honda Fit onto the end of the long line-up, I knew I might be in trouble. I sat on the picturesque rock bluff overlooking the bay and read my novel. After almost an hour, the 9:50 pulled away full, leaving several cars behind, including my Fit. I moved into the car to continue reading for the two hour wait until the next ferry.
With approximately five minutes to go, the truck ahead of me inexplicably pulled out of line and headed up the hill. This left me at the head of the line, the first to load, with a back-of-the-boat, unobstructed view of the humpback that decided to do a little dance about fifty meters away from the ferry.
He breached two or three times, then lay on his side waving his fin back and forth.
In hindsight, I’m pretty sure he was waving me off. Go back. This is not your day.
As we arrived on Quadra Island, I heard a muffled announcement from the bridge but couldn’t quite make it out. I raced across Quadra for the 1:00 boat, only to see it sailing away as I arrived at the terminal. Oh, that’s what the Captain was saying . . . Overload at Quathiaski Bay – the ferry is leaving without waiting for the Cortes Island boat.
I turned around and whipped back up the hill to get one item off my chore list. I completed my task and hurried back to the terminal to get in line. I found myself out of the parking lot and up the overflow hill. How did that happen in ten minutes? I might make it, I reasoned. My Fit could fit.
The 2:00 sailing was overloaded and I waited another hour for the 3:00.
Arriving in Campbell River just before 3:30, I dropped a watch off at a jewelry store for a battery replacement and charged out to Willow Point to pick up the dog’s medicine at the Vet clinic. Then, I sped back to the jeweler to pick up the watch, and ran across the street to the bank to get some cash, since we no longer have a bank on our island. I stopped at the sea food store, got gas, picked up dog food, and headed for the grocery store. I was hoping to make the 5:30 boat, but I would have to be in top form at Thrifty's. Fortunately, my shopping list was organized according to aisles.
I was smooth. I was efficient. I made decisions with cutting precision. I packed my grocery bags and ran my buggy to the car. Approaching the terminal at 5:15, I let out a sight of relief. I was going to make it!
I rounded the corner by the terminal and my heart sank. The line-up said it all. I inched my way forward, bought my ticket and watched the boat sail away.
*Let me add a footnote here for my prairie friends. Pre-ticket booth is the really dangerous part of ferry life. Likely, you are in a rush. Should you take the time to pee before flying to the ferry? If you are the only driver in the vehicle, YES, YOU SHOULD. If you get caught in a pre-ticket booth line, you must stay with your vehicle to inch forward. One. Foot. Per. Minute. I know someone who got caught in a two hour pre-ticket booth line up with a full bladder. They still can't talk about it.
Being experienced (and mildly scarred), I had taken care of business at the grocery store.
I sat in my car and read for another hour, rifling through grocery bags for those nice nectarines I'd bought. In the rush of getting my chores done, I'd forgotten to refill my water bottle. Desperate, I searched the car for loose change, went to the waiting room for walk-on traffic, and bought some orange juice. (Did you know juice is cheaper than water in those machines? Don't get me started.)
The 6:15 is the last possible boat from Campbell River for cars heading all the way to Cortes, but making the 6:15 does not guarantee that you will make the 6:45 from Quadra to Cortes. I drove across Quadra chanting my ferry mantra. I pulled into line and checked the signal at the entrance to the ramp. Red light. Was that because they had finished loading or because they hadn’t started yet? I began making mental plans for an overnight stay on Quadra. I would be fine, but what would I do with $350 worth of groceries? Why did I pick this month to buy that expensive steak?
The light turned green and my hoot of joy was echoed in the cars behind me. The line moved very slowly. Unusually so. We were being waved around something big parked at the bottom of the hill; an 18 wheeler sat at the ramp entrance with two flat deck trailers carrying huge culverts.
The crew loaded all the cars tight against the outside edges of the ferry and saved the middle space for the truck.
I will spare you the exciting details of watching the crew help the driver inch the rig onto the ramp. Eventually, the front wheels of the rig came onto the ferry, pushing the boat lower in the water, and essentially high centering the truck on the ramp and trapping everybody on board.
While the passengers ate cookies for dinner, the crew tried everything they could think of to move the truck one way or the other. They told us maybe when the tide was high, the truck would be free.
Around 9:00, a tow truck pulled the rig backwards off the ramp and I thought we were homeward bound.
It took the driver (with lots of help) until 10:50 pm to back off the ramp.
We sailed home (and the Captain had the pedal to the metal; fastest sailing I was ever on) and I managed to get home by midnight.
I unloaded the car, had a bowl of soup, and went to bed just after 1:00.
I got up in the morning and cancelled my dentist appointment that was still two and a half weeks away. Wouldn't I be ready to face the ferries again in two and a half weeks, you ask.
Grocery shopping. Yawn.
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