I once entertained the thought of moving to Bremerton. It was a fleeting thought, but a thought nonetheless.
The reason the notion crossed my mind wasn’t so much my love for Bremerton, but rather, the idea of commuting by boat. I figured that if I lived in Bremerton, I would have to take the ferry almost every day, and that thought appealed to me.
Think about it … as millions of Western Washington commuters piled into automobiles to sit on Interstate 5, I would kick back, relax, and wave to the sea lions as I made my way from one side of the Puget Sound to the other.
It wasn’t meant to be, though. When I realized that the ferry stopped running at 1am, I knew that it was a fantasy better kept as just that … a fantasy. Kind of like running through the Plymouth Pillars Dog Park wearing nothing more than a thick layer of peanut butter and a smile.
Just because I couldn’t commute by ferry, however, didn’t mean that I couldn’t ride it for leisure.
About once a month, instead of paying $40/each to hop on an Argosy Cruise, the family and I paid $7/each to hop on the ferry. It was a mini-vacation for us. Once we got on board, we plunked $1.50 into the automated beverage machine, and we sipped hot chocolate while making our way across the water.
When we got to the other side, we turned around, came back, and this time, we each got a cup of Ivar’s chowder.
Overall, it cost us about $15/each for the round-trip, and since we were technically using public transit for our day trips, we affectionately called these excursions “ghetto cruises”.
I took quite a few ghetto cruises over the years, and I never get tired of them. Every time I got on the ferry, and I heard the motors start up, I got excited like a kid on Christmas.
Don’t believe me?
Why, just last week, as I was riding the ferry from Seattle over to Bainbridge, I was caught on camera, unbeknownst to me at the time. My excitement was captured for all the world to see, and the video was uploaded to YouTube. Check it out:
See, I told you that I got excited.
Don’t ask me how they got the footage from my breakfast table, as I thought that was a bit stalker-ish, but the rest is a completely accurate representation of what happens each and every time I get on the ferry.
While other passengers bury their noses in newspapers or sit quietly during crossings … I get so excited that I can’t help but launch into an expletive-laden rap song.
Now, even though I’d like to ride the ferry more than once per month, the fact of the matter is that I can’t, and the reason is that I just don’t have a legitimate reason to go to the Kitsap Peninsula very often. Ferry crossings are time consuming — about 3 hours round-trip to Bremerton when you count the time spent standing in line, and I don’t have three spare hours per day.
I tried to justify my addiction by picking up BBQ in Bremerton, but after the fourth time walking through my front door with ice-cold barbecue, even I realized that my ferry habit had gotten out of hand. I had hit rock bottom, and I knew what needed to be done. I needed to quit, cold turkey.
Now, I won’t lie … abstinence wasn’t easy. I relapsed a couple of times. A few weeks ago, in a moment of weakness, I jumped on the West Seattle Water Taxi for a 15 minute ride across Elliott Bay.
Since the water taxi was a much smaller vessel, I tried to tell myself that it was okay. I told myself that since I had only crossed the bay, and not the sound, that I had done nothing wrong.
Deep down, I knew better, though, and ashamed of my transgression, I tried to hide what I had done.
When I got home that night, my wife asked “Is that salt water on your shirt?”.
“No, no”, I lied, “it’s not salt water, it’s Evian, I swear. I got a bottle of Evian for lunch and I must have spilled some on my shirt. I’m so clumsy.”
She knew, though. She didn’t say anything, but the look in her eyes told me that she knew that I was back on the ferry.
Finally, sometime in March, I stopped altogether. I stopped blowing the rent, our savings, and the kid’s college funds on illegitimate, gratuitous ferry crossings, and for the past couple of months, I’ve tried to fill the void by living vicariously.
On many afternoons, I stood at the waterfront, watching the ferries cross, remembering what it was like when I was actually on one myself.
Last month, I switched from showers to baths, and I began sitting in the tub for hours with a little plastic toy boat, pushing it back and forth, from one side of the tub to the other. “Next stop Bainbridge Island!”, I would exclaim as I pushed it toward the drain, “Next stop, Seattle!”, I would yell when I pushed it toward the back of the tub. I continued this little exercise until the tears came, and come they always did.
God, what a pathetic mess I was.
Fortunately, those days are behind me.
No longer do I feel the need to fight my nautical proclivities, and gone are the days in which I must resist the lure of completely pointless sound traversals.
Because, I have a new commute.
A commute that demands that I take the ferry.
Each and every day.
That’s right, finally, I’m taking the ferry because I’m supposed to take the ferry, not because I want to take the ferry. Now, in the morning, I get up, ride my scooter onto a boat, cross, then ride my scooter off of the boat. It’s another one of those “only in Seattle” things, and out of 300 million people in the USA, I’m probably one of only ten that commutes in this combined manner.
Now look, I know that the novelty will wear off, and I am fully aware that it’s just a matter of time before I’m shaking my fist because the ferry is late, the fare has gone up yet again, or some seasick tourist kid threw up on me.
That being said, at the end of a long day, while most everyone else is sitting in traffic, staring at “My Kid is an Honor Student at Bumbletwat Elementary School” bumper stickers, I’ll be standing on the deck, waiting to get home, looking at this:
At that point, I’ll turn to T-Pain, and say “you know, maybe we don’t have it so bad after all …”