Friday, April 2, 2010

Taking a No Boat from Seattle

Perhaps I spoke to soon about things that could happen on this trip. I didn’t sleep particularly well. It wasn’t helped by the fact that when I set the alarm on my iPod to wake me up, I forgot unlike cell phones, iPods don’t adjust to local time automatically. The alarm went off and thought wow I really fell asleep for a long time. Then when I got up and saw the clock in the room it said 3:10 am. Then I realized what I had done. Instead of changing the time on the iPod I just reset the alarm for 9:10 am.

Not a ferry nice day.

I got down to the Victoria Clipper terminal only to find out that the ferry had been canceled due to 7 to 12 foot waves and high winds. It seems like the rainy windy weather of the east coast followed me westward. They’ve loaded us onto buses, and are driving us to Tsawassen, BC where we’ll take the BC ferry from there to Swartz Bay. Then our bus takes us to Victoria. They gave us breakfast on the bus, and I have voucher for 50% of on my next Victoria Clipper ticket.

I was kind of wondering what happens if it’s too rough to sail from there. However I was told the ferries from there are much bigger, and can handle the rough water better. In fact the bus itself goes on the boat. I was keeping my fingers crossed that I will make it in time for the first round.

This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s actually a very pretty ride heading north on I-5 towards Vancouver. We’ve gone through mountains and forests. I’m seeing better scenery then I would see on the boat. I am writing this portion on the bus. There is no Internet on the bus. I ‘m doing it offline, and then by the time you are reading this I will be at the hotel with an Internet connection.

We’ve just reached the Canadian border. I still don’t know how this is going to work. Hopefully they won’t make us unload all our stuff from the bus. It’s been a bit challenging getting around with my stuff. My ankle is still a little achy this morning after my long trek from Sea-Tac airport to the light rail train into downtown Seattle. We had to take everything off the bus, but fortunately it was pretty simple. “How long are you here for?’ How did you get here?” How are you getting back?” "Do you have a return ticket?" “What do you do?" “Are you on holiday?”

Long wait to go to United States, eh?

The bus driver had an all news station on, and they were doing traffic reports.They’re announcing how long the wait is at the border.Coming into Canada is not bad. Leaving? Forget about it! Three and half hour wait.The announcer says “If you don’t need to go to the US, don’t bother going , it’s pointless."

The light was red? What light?

Some tractor-trailer blocked the intersection. Our bus driver is very funny. He said “I can’t use any hand gestures to show how I feel, but feel free to let him know how you feel. That got some laughs. The next big question is “What ferry will we make?” We have a reservation on the 12:00 ferry. I said they should have ferry reports. He said that’s coming.Sure enough the ferry report comes on and they tell which ones are 100% full, and what percentage full others are. The announcer says the noon ferry is 100% full. No problem.We have a reservation, right? There’s a problem. If you’re not there a half hour early you lose your spot.

Now we’re making the 1:00 pm ferry. Except, we’re seeing the ferry version of airport delays. It’s so windy they only have one ferry slip open. A ferry coming from another place has to come in first, disembark the incoming people, embark the outgoing people, and depart. Then our ferry can come in and do the same thing. It was more like 2:20 by the time we pushed off.

I am so thankful that I don’t get motion sick. Though many hours later as I’m writing I feel like I’m still on the boat rocking in the waves. They were making announcements about the availability of bags just in case. I loved this one announcement “Please use the bags if you have an urge to purge.” I was eating lunch in one of the dining areas. Two young woman were sitting next to me. One of them was not feeling so good. As we hit one rough spot plates went sliding across the table. It was impressive as everyone simultaneously reached for the plates and managed not to let anything fall. It helps that there are little ridges around the edge of the tables.

One of the other funny announcements I heard was “To the kids who are running around the boat. Don't. Running is bad. Walking is good.” Walking was challenging. Since it was a buffet I kept going up by course for my food. Holding a plate in one hand, cane in the other and trying walk with the boat rolling was quite a trick. I found myself using my cane as a third leg to keep myself from falling flat on my face. On one those trips back from the buffet table I thought I was going to land in someone's lap. Fortunately the balance exercises I've been doing in physical therapy seem to be helping. Since I had been having a good week not having to use the cane much, I almost didn’t bring it with me. However I didn't want to go have to buy one in case I found myself needing it. Better to be safe then sorry.

I wanted to go outside and take pictures, but they were not letting anyone go out on the decks because they were concerned that someone might actually get blown off. The pictures I took are through the windows, but one gets the idea of how rough it was.

Rough water!

This You Tube video pretty much sums up what the weather was like. Mill Bay is across the Saanich Inlet. Victoria is on the Saanich Peninsula.

Eventually we get into calmer waters as we go through the various islands. It's very windy, but at least I can walk around the boat without feeling as though I'm going to get tossed around. As I was wondering around I came across a lady with a golden retriever. I have a real weakness for dogs. I would love to have one, but with my crazy schedule it just wouldn't work. So I find myself photographing and playing with other people's dogs. I could could see that she was a service dog, so I asked before petting her, or taking pictures. There are certain etiquette rules for dealing with a working dog. This particular dog was not working at the moment. She was on her way to "work". A commuting dog so to speak.

Meet Poppy

I can't resist dogs, and this one is a beauty. She's a therapy dog provided by PADS (Pacific Assistance Dog Society). I met her handler on the boat. She takes the dog to visit children with cancer, hospices, and hospitals. As the photo below shows Poppy is a child magnet. She loves all the attention. She certainly brightened up my rainy day.

Poppy loving all the attention.

Eventually it was time to head back down to the bus as we got close to Swartz Bay. Below is a picture of the lower deck where buses and trucks are parked, along with numerous cars.

Finally the ferry arrives and then our bus continues to Victoria harbor where we were dropped off at the Victoria Clipper terminal. Fortunately the hotel is just across the street about a block away.

Here at last!

I was walking towards the hotel with my suitcase in tow. Some nice woman comes up to me and says "May I ask where you're going?" I told her the Grand Pacific Hotel. She asked me if she could help me with the suitcase. I declined her offer since it wasn't all the far, but I did thank her.

I arrived at 5:15. 45 minutes until round 1. That gave me enough time to shower and change.

Despite the crazy trip to get here, it was actually quite fun. Hats off to Victoria Clipper for getting us here safely. Thanks to Lee the Gray Line bus driver for all his insights and humor, and to Jessica our Victoria Clipper representative for pulling this all together. I did find out later that at one point the BC Ferries weren't running. Fortunately they were when I needed them.

Stay tuned for tournament reports in upcoming posts.


tassie said...

We are glad you made it safely and in time for your first round. Hope your stay was enjoyable!

Tassie for Clipper Vacations

Polly said...

Yes it was. Much smoother sailing returning this evening.

Rolling Pawns said...

Your report looks like "National Geographic" material. I hope I will ever get there, though I am in Canada.

Polly said...

RP: It's a very well run tournament. I highly recommend playing in it.