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Adventures in (Washington State) Ferryland

In case some of you have been wondering how come Quilly hasn’t been by to visit you yet today …

It’s not her fault.

She went shopping, and she ain’t back yet.

No, it’s not ’cause she can’t pry herself away from the sales and the glitter and the endless canned ho-ho-ho. As I said, it’s not her fault.

Y’see, when you live on an island, as we do, shopping is a tad more of an adventure than it is for most of you – at least, for those of you who don’t live within cooee of the Metrodome. The people who run the major retailers haven’t yet reached the state of nirvana that allows them to place any of their stores on a rock in the middle of the ocean that’s only got 2,000 people on it. No, they insist that, if you insist on living on one of those rocks, either you spend twice what the item’s worth to buy it online and have it shipped to you, or you save the shipping costs on the item and ship yourself to the store.


Because driving to the store’s not an option. Unless you’re driving a duck or something. Neither is swimming. Even if you survived the 20 miles of 45 degree F water (each way), you’d have a heck of a time carrying your purchases. And if you think those shipping costs are pricey, don’t look at how much it would cost to fly to the stores.

That leaves the boat. Specifically, the ferry boat. Which Quilly, like dozens of her fellow islanders, boarded at 10 this morning, fully expecting to get her shopping done in time to catch the return sailing at 4:30.

Yep. You got it in one. There was no 4:30 sailing today. The boat broke down, and won’t get fixed until tomorrow at the earliest. She had to wait for another boat, one that sailed at 8:30.

Now, for those of us who live on these islands, this kind of thing is expected. Boats break down, or get stuck in fog banks. Planes don’t fly, ’cause the weather’s lousy and the people who make the fancy instruments at airports that allow planes to take off and land in lousy weather are no more likely to spend time and money installing them at tiny airports on rocks in the middle of the ocean than those major retailers are likely to plant one of their stores here. As noted, driving and swimming aren’t options. If you’re the kind of person, or have the kind of job, where you have to be somewhere now, living here is not going to be good for your blood pressure.

Somebody, in a car just ahead of Quilly, didn’t get the memo.

This individual learned from the ferry staff that the 4:30 sailing was cancelled due to a breakdown, and proceeded to ionize the atmosphere in the staffer’s direction. “You people can’t keep anything running!” was about the only thing he said that wasn’t in Orkish. He then proceeded to leave the parking lot and scream down the road. Perhaps he was going to try to jump his car to the islands, and needed a long running start.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this fellow were one of those who approved the initiative in last month’s ballot insisting that no taxes be passed in Washington State without either a two-thirds legislative majority or a referendum – thereby ensuring that no taxes will be passed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this fellow were one of those who approved the initiative repealing the soda-pop tax, thus knocking a $7 million hole in the state budget on the say-so of a single special interest (the soda-pop retailers).

I wouldn’t be surprised if this fellow were one of those who would insist, in the name of his parroting the “no taxes” mantra of big businesses and their dupes, that Washington State Ferries ignore both safety and work rules to run their boats (all but three of which are more than 25 years old) at all hours of the day and night, and curse unions to the skies for demanding money and denying convenience. “Dammit, if I told my boss that I wasn’t working ’til 2 AM on this project …!”

Failing to realize that, without the safety and work rules, and the unions to see that they are applied, we would all be working at all hours of the day and night. For whatever pittances our bosses would choose to pay us, lest worse befall. Get that boat out there, whatever its condition! It’s not like it’s going to sink!

Yeah. Just like Wall Street was never going to crash.


  1. I just figured she was busy getting ready for the big shindig this weekend. Hope she made it back safely to the island. I’m sure yesterday was a long and tiring day for her, especially having to do all that shopping. Go easy on her today.

    1. CL — thank you! I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to find all of the shoppers in a pleasant, friendly and “Christmassy” mood! Things could have been much worse. And since ferry delays are not unheard o9f, I had two novels with me. I managed to finish one and read half of another.

  2. That story is as funny as the one about the old lady in line counting her money. Speaking Orkish? Hmm….I guess then I can speak three languages too. I’m still laughing.

    1. Gary — you did note that this story was from my other half? He posted it while I was stranded. He also enjoyed your comment and read it to me over breakfast.

    1. SN — no. What stunk was the 4.5 hours sitting in the parking lot waiting for the ferry. One has to wait or one looses his/her place in line, and with one ship out of commission, there were plenty of folks not making it back to the island at all. I had no wish to be one of them.

  3. LOL at the story. Sorry to hear Quilly that you were stuck on the mainland. I bet you were tired after shopping and ready to get home. Hope you had fun shopping though šŸ™‚

    1. Stacie — I had $200.00 worth of groceries in my trunk — which is the only thing that kept me from griping too much about sitting for 4.5 hours in 42F weather.

  4. Sorry you had such a long wait, Quilly. I think if I lived out on that “rock” I would make some good friends in the town on the mainland, just in case I had to hunker down for the night (and take care of those groceries, too).

    1. Also, my husband has noted that he doesn’t want to drive more than 30 minutes to a grocery store when he retires, so I guess we won’t be retiring out into the sticks as we once thought.

      1. Karen — there are two grocery stores on this rock one can get to in less than 30 minutes from anywhere on the island. On a day-to-day basis, shopping at them is cheaper than going off island for groceries, but when one has mega-shopping to do, one can actually save money visiting the mainland despite paying for the ferry trip. I bought all my party supplies at the dollar store, which more than made up for the ferry fee, then I did my grocery shopping as well. And then I bought gas — I figure I saved a couple hundred dollars off island prices.

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