There are several lakes around and in Seattle. Rain, that has become a hallmark of this place. And even more water from the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Ocean seeps into the lands of Northwestern America through deep inlets making Seattle a busy port. These waterways were formed by the glaciers receding from the lands thousands of years ago leaving behind valleys where the ocean could flood in.
I always thought the Puget Sound was a phenomenon exclusive to Washington. Wikipedia tells me otherwise. Almost all continents have their own sounds.
Scattered across this water body, flanking Seattle to the West, are islands that are surprisingly accessible. All thanks to the ferry system that is the largest in the United States of America.
It isn’t as exotic as it sounds actually. Everyday people living on the nearby islands use the ferry to reach their place of work in Seattle and go back home. Some even claim that using the ferry is faster than facing the crawling cars on the freeways. And cheaper; the ferry ride is free for pedestrians.
For me it is simply a joy ride. Derek Shepherd ( Mc Dreamy from Grey’s Anatomy, a show I have just started watching) , likes ferry boats. So do I.
So, July saw us drive up to the dock, and wait behind the line of cars. Ahead of us we could see the passengers on foot trudge forward. For them the ride is free. There were cyclists and bike riders lined alongside the rows of cars. A number of dogs, a common site in Seattle, enjoyed the cool breeze as they hung out of the car windows.
Smoothly and with practiced ease, the attendants directed us to the right driveway up the ferry. An identical stream of cars went up the left side. Around 200 cars had piled up, the horn blew and off we went.
The Seattle downtown skyline, complete with a ferris wheel, got smaller as the ferry picked speed. Many people don’t even bother stepping out of their vehicles. They have been on this 40 min journey too often.
I got down, partly because the people with me wanted to click pictures and also because the inertia wasn’t strong enough to beat the craving to feel the wind blow my hair. Up a deck of stairs we went to the lounge area. Wide seats facing each other lines both sides. Further ahead is a waiting place and tables with seats.
We argued amongst ourselves whether we should get window seats or head out to the open deck. I was voted down and I humbly admit it to be a good decision. It was stormy outside. The ferry rocked a little. A lot of good natured jostling continued as the tourists tried to get the best angles for their photographs.
A young medusa like figure posed as the wind blew her hair all over the place. I itched to read the book I had with me (Jane Eyre). Strange, that instead of watching the glistening blue water, I wanted to get lost in the pages of a book. In my defense, the beauty was what made me want to read. Okay, actually, everything makes me want to read, but won’t bore you with that just yet.
As soon as I reached inside it was announced that a school of whales could be viewed on the starboard side. Maybe I should have brought the Moby Dick to read instead. Anyway, I didn’t actually get a glimpse, but there was some water rippling so that was the excitement of the day. My friend recently went to San Diego whale watching and loved it, so after being told that most of these islands have guided whale watching tours you can take, I’m even more tempted. So, maybe someday…
It is summer in Seattle which meant a lot of sailing boats made their way across the bay. The stretch of water the ferry crosses is called the Elliot bay. Close to 9 Miles in width. I learnt all this eavesdropping on a father and his little baby girl’s conversation. The girl was more interested in the fish that leapt out of the water close to the sailing boats.
The island was coming close. At this point of the ride on a ferry to Bainbridge island the houses overlooking the puget sound start to feel like a more attainable dream. A sultry oppressive heat had set in. the rocky beach was empty, the glass from the wide french windows of the cottages were refulgent in the sunlight. I had long since kept my book aside.
A voice brought me back from my fanciful musing. We were reaching our destination and it was time to get back to our cars. Again it was all orderly and calm. More than a 1000 passengers, more than 200 cars, quite a few dogs and wailing children and still all of us knew exactly whose directions to follow and disembark.
We had reached Bainbridge island, but that story is for another time. For now let me linger a few more minutes on the deck and let the wind tousle my hair and take in the sight of the Pacific Ocean ripple under the summer sun. Sometimes the journey itself is more than half the fun.
Another ride I went on – Roadtrip to Leavenworth : Suspended in time.
Pic credits me and my phone camera