Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ferry Boat Ride -- Bainbridge Island - Seattle Route

The day we arrived in the United States back in Sep 1974 (36 years ago to the day), we rode a ferry boat similar to the one in the attached photos from Seattle to Bainbridge Island to my sister's home in Bainbridge Island. I still remember that day because my sister bought me a Hershey chocolate bar from one of the vending machines in the ferry boat. To a wide-eyed boy who barely knew what chocolates tasted like, but was sure it was good, and who was suddenly given what seemed like a giant-sized chocolate bar, this day would be memorable. The boy was fascinated by the fact that not only can vehicle enter the boat but also a great number of them can.

I lived in Bainbridge Island at my sister's house during my first two years in the US, before moving to Seattle. Even after moving to Seattle, I spent many trips back to the island during weekends as well as extended stays during summer time. So, I have taken this ferry boat trip hundreds and hundreds of time. Each boat ride was always different. During the weekday early mornings and late afternoons, it was crammed full of regular commuter Islanders going to and from work in Seattle. On the summer weekends, it was full of travellers and day trippers crossing Puget Sound braving the long wait when travelling by car. On a hot summer day, it was obligatory to go up the top sundeck and enjoy the wind and the sun, or go at the front of the boat to face the blustery breeze head on. You made sure that the return trip from a Fourth of July spent on the island coincided with the start of Seattle's fireworks show to enjoy the display of lights from the Seattle waterfront. On the weekends of cold wintertime, it was ghostly empty of passengers; memories of waiting to disembark from the boat while the marine wind whipped past your face still make me shudder and give me chills.

I played my share of video games in these boats from the earliest arcade video game such as Pong to PacMan to Galaga. I studied the giant relief map of Western Washington, located in the middle of the boat, which depicts the mountain ranges highlighted by a snow-capped Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound dotted with countless islands. I have anxiously waited for the baritone horn warning passengers to go back to their car, lest I miss hearing it and possibly hold up traffic of exiting cars below.

No matter if it was the orange hued seats of the older MV Spokane and Walla Walla or the more modern interior of the newer MV Tacoma and Wenatchee, the trip between Seattle and Bainbridge Island was always an experience. During the 30 minute ride, it was always a treat to get a bowl of white clam chowder topped with crushed crackers and an order of thin and long strips of french fries, lightly salted and smothered in ketchup from the push top dispensers.

The pictures are from the last time I rode the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry boat last June 2009 coming back from a visit of my brother's place in Poulsbo and the yearly Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction.

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