I woke up just before 7:00am this morning and pulled out my phone to check the webcam at the ferry dock here on Orcas. All 8 rows of the sizeable parking lot were full for the first boat, leaving at 7:15. Not all of those rows were going to fit on that boat. Except for in the dark, chill depths of winter, Sundays are busy for the Orcas-Anacortes ferry route. If you're a mere tourist, unaccustomed to the process, expect to miss the first boat you try for. And on summer Sundays, especially when there's been a 3-day music festival in Doe Bay, expect to miss the first several boats you try for. Five-hour waits are common; ten-hour waits are known to happen. Islanders rarely ever attempt to leave Orcas on a summer Sunday.
Mom and Marsh needed to get back home today, however, and they were taking Spackle with them, so we were as invested as them in their successful departure. Not wanting to still be on the road to Maple Valley in the wee smas, they hoped to get on the 12:05pm departure, which is a little like saying they hoped to win the Powerball jackpot.
On these few Superdeparture Sundays each summer, Washington State Ferries schedules virtually all its employees for overtime, most of whom are put to work not just Tetrising the boats, but Tetrising the islands as well. As previously mentioned, the 8 rows of cars that fit in the parking lot do not all fit on one ferry. The lucky waiters who DO fit into the lot can leave their cars and, if they are SUPER lucky and were visiting Islanders instead of just touring, after parking in line they can get in their children's car and go off to spend their waiting hours having a meal and taking a walk.
The unlucky ones who don't get packed into the lot are packed, an inch apart, into a couple lanes outside the toll booth, and then single file along the sides of the "highway" (Orcas's main road). Those folks have to stay with their cars, because as soon as the lot clears, they have to inch their way up the hill and into the holding pen. Not only do they not get breakfast and walks with kids; the ones on the road don't even get access to the cafes and gift shops clustered around Orcas Village, until several hours into their wait.
Mom and Marsh were SUPER lucky this morning. They won the Powerball jackpot.
Ian woke up around the same time I did today and pulled our top sleeping bag over us, as we had been very slightly too cold for much of the night, and we snuggled into the warmth and discussed our plan of attack for getting M, M, and S to the boat on time. I showed Ian the webcam picture. He immediately recognized the gravity of the image. We agreed to look at it again around 7:30, when the current boat would've loaded and the parking lot refilled with any off-screen waiters for the 8:50.
At 7:30, six of the eight lanes were full. There was the 8:50; the last two lanes, already at 7:30, were not going to make the boat. The next boat after 8:50 was the coveted 12:05. We called the parents and told them it was time to move their car--stop packing, don't drink any water, forget brushing your hair; just grab what you can and DRIVE.
In the event, because this is how life works out these days (regardless of any anxiety I may be feeling), Mom and Marsh arrived at the perfect time to get their car in line for the 12:05, and park it, and leave it. We picked them up in our car (it is a huge boon that we're only 4 miles from the dock) and brought them back to their inn for their 8:30 breakfast, to which Ian and I had kindly been invited. Afterwards, we had enough time back on the land for a leisurely trip to Erik's Nuts (all five of which, 3 chestnuts and 2 walnuts, are lush and healthy), a visit to the Copse, and a bit of a morning weed-whack (thanks, Marsh).
At 11:30 we drove back to the ferry landing, where the crowds, beginning more than a mile down the road, were like the crowds arriving at the Gorge for a Dave Matthews concert, except that the aura of breathless anticipation was replaced by hysterical disbelief.
I have to wait here HOW LONG?!?
one-fingered on my phone