The line at the car ferry was well organized and not too long that Sunday morning. Our black SUV was driven by a nervous mother who had never done this before, accompanied by her 14-year-old son, an expert in the GPS navigation which had got us this far on time. He was beyond excited, he was breathless.
How many car ferries does the average kid have a chance to ride on? We were in Seattle taking a day trip to Bainbridge Island across the Puget Sound, which none of us had ever done before. I had taken car ferries in Europe and knew the drill, so was the quintessential backseat driver. Ferry assistants waved the cars on the ferry according to lanes, knowing exactly how many cars fitted in each lane inside the boat. Once loaded, we set the car brake, turned off the motor, heaved a sigh of relief and climbed the stairs to the observation deck. Many passengers had come on foot or on bicycles. Seattle waterfront is pedestrian friendly as well as towards bicycles.
As we climbed to the front of the boat in the strong wind, the 14-year-old steadied himself by holding my hand. That was when I realized he’d never been on board a boat before, and although he’s brave in many respects, heights, and rocky surfaces intimidate him. He soon found his sea legs and by the time we got to the island he was a veteran sailor.
For each of us the experience was wonderful, different and the capstone of a trip up the coast. Our boy ended up paddling in the cold waters of the sound, and on our way back to the car ferry we came across a family of raccoons, four of them crossing the road. Mama Raccoon stopped and stared at the car, trying to face us down, trying to decide if we would just let her cross – finally deciding discretion was the better part of valor. Even semi-tame raccoons have their standards after all, the babies were too small and short legged to make it across in time, so she didn’t take the risk. Caution is often justified.
An exciting day in paradise.
Here’s how many scenic car ferries Google shows are in the continental US
Alaska Marine Highway from Juneau across Inside Passage to Sitka
Seattle to Bainbridge Island across Puget Sound
Staten Island Ferry NYC (no cars)
Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor Maine (no cars)
San Francisco to Sausalito (no cars)