Friday, March 7, 2014

Going To America

We don't go off-Island a lot. In the past year, Charlie and I have gone off together exactly four times, one of which was just for him to pick me up from the airport. I've gone off seven or eight times, he six. The last time we went to Seattle together was more than a year ago
Most islanders call it going "off-island", "to the mainland", or even "to America". To leave, you set your schedule to the 6-8 ferries that go to and fro between us and another island that's connected to the rest of Washington state by a bridge. You try to pile up errands, because each trip costs between $40 and $60. You try to mix fun and practical matters. Some folks go off almost weekly, figuring that the cheaper groceries and gasoline practically pay for the trips. These folks seem to often refer to it as "going to town". 
Sometimes going off is a grand time. We get up early to catch the red-eye, giddy with the thought of all the food we're going to eat, planning our meals in the car: "Breakfast, Mexican, Thai, pizza, sushi, Indian, macarons, pho…" 

On our way we dream of the fun things to do, the antique stores,thrift stores, strange folk, book shops, the music, unfamiliar bars... 

Once there we marvel at everything. No, really. Once we gave a ride to a friend of a friend from Oakland, who after the first half-hour, proclaimed "You guys are so excited about every thing!". And we are. We laugh at the weird vanity plates, the funny names of taco shops, crane our necks to see the signs of the funeral parlor, discuss the symbolism of the changing displays in the local casino's fountains, we marvel at the old man carrying a metal lunchbox, smoking his pipe, looking every bit like a time-traveler...  

I guess we really see things, not being numbed to the them the way one is when you live surrounded by strangers and strip malls and pho-shops. 
The ferry itself is a transitional place. Its forty-minute journey is an acclimatization process. We need it to brace ourselves against the world we've mostly forgotten about and again on the way home to slip back into a slower pace.

Our ferry ride has got to be among the most beautiful in the world. Cascades to the East, the Olympics to the West, a pack of furry-backed islands riding on the waves, the landscape all greens and blues, mysterious and dark and dotted with the white shadows of seagulls. The first time I ever rode on one of these ferries,  I knew right away that this was a special place, and I still feel that way most every time I get on the boat.
I always try to go outside the warm, well-lit cabin, especially in the winter and in foul weather, partly because it makes me feel more connected to my surroundings and also, I'm realizing more and more, because I miss extreme, wild weather. Rain, wind, or shine. Standing in the bow, or stern of the ferry, you feel this exhilaration of moving almost as fast as the seals and porpoises, the seagulls that follow the ferry. 
Observing seagulls close up, is actually one of the main perks of the ride.

They circle the stern on their fast wings, catch a ride in the air current that the boat cuts through, hitch a ride for a moment, then disappear again in search of fish and more interesting things. 

They can visit the mainland anytime. Comfortable in air and water, they are not bound to a speck of  the way we are. 

I wonder if they ever come back tired of the hubbub, the junk food, overstimulation? 
We don't go off often partly because we chose to be here, we don't feel like we need those things that make the mainland so appealing: swimming pools and movies and music and variety. The ferry isn't an inconvenience, but a luxury. It allows us to visit this exotic world and then come home, roll off the ferry and up the hill and breathe a big sigh of relief to be home.

43 comments:

  1. I agree...a truly spectacular ride. I feel so relaxed and at peace as soon as the ferry pulls away from the dock. Already planning our August trip ... sort of the reverse of what you experience - leaving the madness of the stillness. I do hope it never grows old...

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    1. One of the more special forms of transportation. We're lucky, eh? Happy Spring!

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  2. Oh milla you take an experience already so romantic to me, the ferry ride, and make it even more rich with meaning and enchanting! I have ridden the ferry from port Townsend a few times and I totally agree that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Darin and I daydream of a trip up there all the time. Even though it will be challenging with tiny ones, how fun it will be to see them on the ferry! It's the perfect gateway between worlds.

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    1. I really hope you and your family make it up here some time. Dreaming...

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  3. Kaunis matka, kauniit usvat puiden yllä.
    Lokkikuvauksesi hetkeen pysäyttävä kuten kuva untuvaisesta. Monesti olen lauttamatkoillani jäänyt samalla tavalla lokkien liitoa ja leikkiä seuraamaan :)

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    1. Tama oli kylla erikoisen hieno, usvainen matka. Ja niin, veneet ja lokit ovat kylla hypnotisoivia. Halaus.

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  4. You live in such an a-m-a-z-i-n-g landscape! I guess, I would´t go often to a city if I would live there, too. :)
    Antje

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    1. I miss the city often tho. It's a complex thing, eh? ;)

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  5. i love the way you live and see the world.

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  6. It is really an amazingly beautiful ferry ride. Yesterday we went out to the country (eastside) and, even after getting out of the city for only a few hours, I always feel such a hurried, shock when I get back. Your island is so lovely and chill, city life is so crowded and harsh. The food options here are pretty nice tho... xo m

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  7. I have aways felt the same about ridding at the bow of the ferry. I used to clime as high as I could get on the playground to recreate the feeling while on the mainland. Love you blog.

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    1. Thanks so much. That's a lovely image.

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  8. Enchanting, that misty island of yours...

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  9. A friend of mine lived on an island in Lake Ontario for a few years and it was only reached by ferry too. You're almost guaranteed that the people who live out there choose to be there purposefully so the community winds up extra tight knit. That ferry right does look gorgeous, I really need to get out to the West Coast someday!

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    1. Oh an island on a lake. Reminds me of home. I hope you can come visit sometime.

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  10. Another great trip, I haven't taken a ride on the water for far too long, I miss it! That sure is quite an island!
    Katie

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  11. Ooh, magical. I've always loved traveling across the water. I always tell people that given the means I'd sooner buy myself a boat than a plane. These pictures are enchanting, what time of day did you take them?

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    1. Hi hon. This is the red-eye. I believe it was around 7 before the time change. The magic hour.

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  12. I love travel when it's between day and night. It feels secretive and naughty....like I'm up past bedtime. But MAN what a long trip for you guys - 6 - 8 ferries? Whoah mama. When we visited America, I think our reactions were similar to yours about everything - we felt like we were children seeing everything for the first time most definitely. x

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  13. My friend's sister runs a dive bar in Seattle, the Streamline. I've never actually met her but that's where I'd go if I was in Seattle!

    There's actually a (free) ferry here in London, it crosses the river where there's no bridge. I haven't been on since I was a kid though. I should go on it this year! And I'm actually watching seagulls flying past my window as I type this -- we get lots of them inland in the winter... They stand on the roofs shouting across at each other. Noisy buggers, but so beautiful to watch when they fly....

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    1. Oooh, come to Seattle. I'll have to check out this dive bar. I love dive bars.

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  14. so pretty! i hope to take that ferry ride one day :)

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  15. Having never lived outside a city, let alone an island, I'm continually amazed by the breadth of life unknown to me, as well

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    1. I feel the same way about, well, everything…
      ;)

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  16. Ah Milla... this reminds me of my ferry ride with Pierre from Vancouver Island to Galiano Island, two summers ago. It was the very same kind of views all around (though less cloudy :o) - Boy, were we happy on these islands.

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    1. Oh man, I hope you two love birds make it back someday soon. You have a fold out couch with your name on it here.

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    2. This is so kind of you Milla - I truly have no idea when we can manage another trip to the West coast, but when we do, we'll definitely find a way to come and say hello... Visiting you and Charlie would be a dream :o)

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  17. I used to live in Vancouver, BC, and Bellingham, WA, and the ferry rides were amongst my favourite experiences. So magical. The whole are is magical, really, and you've captured it beautifully. We hope to retire in the PNW and looking at your photos and reading your words makes me want to return there sooner. Maybe. Thank you.

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    1. Hi there! There's a lot of PNW lovers out there. It's a special, magical place among many special magical places.

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  18. I have to tell you, Milla, that every time I visit your space here, I actually feel myself physically relaxing! I know it's your photos, but also your descriptions of how you view life. You carry a sense of wonder and beauty that I so appreciate. And YES! You do live in a very special place indeed!

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    1. You are so so kind, m'dear. I love how different our lives are, how we get these little peeks into each others wonderful, wonky, wild lives <3

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  19. this post reminded me of this "Jack" tale I just read

    http://books.google.com/books?id=M3eQaNWvVVEC&pg=PA209&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

    there's a link to a little bit of it….the whole book is awesome, probably you're kind of thing….

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    1. Long time no see! Thanks for the recommendation and the reminder to visit your lovely log in my downtime.

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  20. A gorgeous post. It makes me miss Washington. Well done x

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