So the adventure has begun and is proceeding according to plan. So far, the plan is : go south and do it as soon as possible. Find the sun, dry off and loll around until the novelty wears off. Get out the flip flops and shorts, put out the awning and pour the wine. Ready, set , go.
Sounds good, but in fact, the going is not so easy. The rain continues and the ground is seriously saturated. At times it’s really, REALLY cold and I’m ready to buy those fashion rubber boots and a whole lot more fleece clothing anytime now. And as we board the ferry with our truck and four-wheeled home behind us, we are also doing something else. We’re saying goodbye not only to our family and friends, but also to Canada for awhile. We’re getting good at that, but then, we get lots of practice saying goodbye. Unfortunately, it never gets easier.
Pulling onto the ferry is always an adventure in itself. After two hours in the parking lot (necessary because having fifty-one feet of length behind you always begs the question of whether or not there will be enough room on the boat), there is a sudden loud announcement that everyone should get back to their vehicles. Heaven forbid someone in this huge lineup should be sleeping or absent from the driver’s seat at the crucial moment. The incredibly organized ferry workers begin to give drivers silent arm signals that can’t be missed. Then there’s an emphatic forward wave and vehicles begin to slowly move onto the boarding ramp. The efficiency with which a hundred or so vehicles (buses, trucks, big rigs, rv’s and trailers) and who knows how many people are loaded onto this huge boat is nothing short of amazing. A little voice in my head is screaming, how can this boat be big enough????, but I say nothing. That, I’m sure Jim would tell you, is also amazing.
And then we are on the boat. Again, the silent arm/hand signals from people who (I hope) really know what they’re doing. They guide us into an IMPOSSIBLE space that looks like it would fit a smart car but, in fact, is where they want us to go. Are they crazy? The side wall closes in and the other side has another vehicle within spitting distance. Jim presses the button that retracts the side mirrors and we slowly move forward, all according to the ferry worker’s signals. Finally, after a teeth- gritting few minutes where we’re sure we’ll scrape something on either side of us, we’re told to stop. We both start to breathe again and then begin the movement out of the truck. True to form, the workers have given us about one foot on either side from which to extricate ourselves in order to begin the climb to the upper passenger decks. I gather the stuff we’ll need for the two hour ride and squeeze myself through an opening suitable for three-year olds, all the while frantically trying to keep the truck door from hitting anything. Whew, made it.
After driving off the ferry in an equally efficient manner with more expert guidance, I quickly remember that using the ferry to get off of Vancouver Island is not the only hurdle we will have as we continue this walk to the edge. Now we are approaching the US/Canada border, a formidable place at the best of times. It’s always a bit tense going through the border and being made to feel you might be doing something wrong, illegal or just plain dumb. But try doing it with your whole house behind you! That, believe me, is a challenge.
It starts when they make you stop so they can take pictures from the nine (nine!!!) cameras that are aimed in the direction of the vehicles trying to cross the border. From this position, you can see the face of the agent with whom you will be dealing, and you have a few minutes to imagine what he’s thinking. “Oh no, another RV.” is my favorite imagined scenario, followed by, “Okay, for sure they’ve got lots of stuff in there that breaks a lot of rules”. And thirdly, “Hah. Let’s get em”.
With all that in mind, we inch forward. Finally, we’re at the booth and sure enough, the questions start. “Is this your truck?” “Is this your trailer?” “Any fruits and vegetables? And on and on. We give almost all the right answers because we’ve done this before, but that’s not good enough. “Pull over there and speak to the next agent, please”. And there we are, out of the line and getting ready for a full-scale, right-through-your -house invasion. Into the building with us, in a special lineup (special for people who smuggle onions and fresh tomatoes in their RV’s) and get prepared for an onslaught. A new agent in the “Agriculture” department (huh?) begins to question us and again, our answers are inadequate somehow. This time, it seems the little three- inch potted cactus that I got as a birthday present is a big culprit. Also, I told them that the tomatoes were from BC but in fact we were later told they were from the US (therefore, acceptable) but only packaged in BC. So? Anyway, all this leads to is a search of the Airstream by agents who will not allow you to enter your own home at the same time as them (it’s at about this time that I once again notice – these guys wear guns!), a polite dismissal when we are not found to be big-time smugglers and finally sent on our way. Holy crap, what next?
Well, next on this soggy leg of our journey is the final indignity of arriving hungry, tired and cold at a wet, muddy, very, very wet, totally leaf covered and very crowded KOA campsite. As we look around, we figure out that we are in the middle of two trends. One is that many of the trailers around us are like us, snowbirds escaping the cold and on the way south. The other group that is here must be permanent residents of this trailer park. Surely nobody would be just recreationally camping in this climate? But who knows, these people are also part mallard and do amazing things in the rain, even sitting around campfires and being philosophical about it all. Oh well, we’re off to the sun tomorrow so for now I’ll turn on the heaters and get under the down comforter. Better times coming up, stay tuned.