Vacation time. Last year we took a trip to Mount St. Helens and it was a success. It was our first family vacation in a while, and we were looking forward to building on that. This year, instead of being gone for 2 days, we would expand it to 3. Complicating matters was the fact we have a 2 month old. This, however, winds up working rather well as there aren’t a lot of requirements an infant has.
I won’t go into what it took to find an affordable hotel room. Camping with four small children was out, particularly the 3 year old who would be dumb enough to take on a bear if the opportunity presented itself. Well, maybe not dumb, but foolhardy for sure.
So we found a room in Port Angeles, and we planned to use that as a base of operation. The plan was to start out in the morning, maybe take in Fort Worden (part of the old “Triangle of Fire” guarding Puget Sound from potential maritime threats) then on to Port Angeles for the evening, and that would be day 1.
Laura and I have learned the key to successful travel vacations with children is to be flexible and plan only one or two activities or sights a day. Actually, we’ve learned a heck of a lot more than that and are actually considering writing a book on the subject.
There are several ferries across Puget Sound, one approximately 10 miles or so north of us. This was going to be our route. Laura had hoped to be able to catch the 9:30am sailing, but I informed her the night before that I didn’t think we would be out of the house before 9 and as a result wouldn’t make it (not with traffic and wait times at the loading dock). We needed to plan on catching the 10:30am sailing. Despite trying to get out early, we left the house just after 9am.
Because we were so preoccupied with packing up our van with clothes, snacks, lunch material, kid occupiers (backpacks with toys, crayons, etc), baby needs, finding enough CDs that would amuse the kids but not drive the parents into a saccharine overload, my computers because even though this was a vacation I was planning on getting some work done, and well, you get the idea, we didn’t have nearly enough coffee in the morning before departure. Fortunately, this being Seattle, there’s at least one espresso stand at every ferry terminal.
We get out of the house, patting ourselves on the back for having remembered everything we need to take, and hit the road. We arrive at the Edmonds ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare. We are directed to pull into lane 2 which is just about full, but that’s fine. We’re assured a place on the next sailing. I get out of the car and begin walking to the espresso stand to obtain the remainder of our caffeine intake for the morning.
As I’m walking down the sidewalk, I’m struck by how much longer this is than I remember. These are some long holding lines. I finally arrive at the espresso stand, but it’s closed. Wait, there’s another one down at the far end, towards the other end (or beginning) of the ferry holding line. I walk down there, and as I’m doing so the incoming ferry has arrived and begun offloading.
I’m thinking I have a little bit of time, as it takes maybe 5 minutes or so for a ferry to fully offload. I get to the second (and open) espresso stand and there’s one other person in front of me. Great. This shouldn’t take long. Except that it does. I don’t know what this person’s problem is, but she apparently has the most complicated drink order. And it’s just one item. And her and the barista are being chit-chatty, dragging the process out longer than necessary. I’d like to get my drinks and not miss the ferry please, especially since my wife and children are in the line already.
Finally the person in front of me gets her drink and moves on, so I get to place my order. Single tall almond latte and triple tall mocha – both soy. I mention this in case you’re ever in Seattle and want to bring us some coffee.
As I’m waiting for my drink order, the ferry finishes offloading. Foot traffic is the first to go. Then the busses and motorcycles. My drinks are still not up. I’m thinking I might have to walk on myself if the vehicles all get loaded on before my drinks are up. Then I remember that Laura has the receipt in the car with her, which would show my fare, so I wouldn’t necessarily be able to get on the ferry by walking on since I have no proof of payment.
Thankfully my drinks are finished, I pay, and start heading back to our van. Then the cars are directed to start their engines in preparation for boarding. We’re in lane 2, which means ours will be one of the first to board (ferries here board two lanes at a time). I make it into the van just in time, literally, and buckle up just as we are to begin driving onto the ferry.
I’m sure we would have figured out what to do had we been separated, but it’s better to start off a vacation without having to.