When I took the ferry out to Block Island, Rhode Island was in the middle of a crazy snowstorm. The wind was fierce. I wondered if the ferry would be canceled (they were reporting that the winds would get to 60 mph around Cape Cod). It’s a hearty boat, but with winds like that, and waves like that, it was conceivable that they would say “no ferry today”. My sister Jean, when she taught out there, was stranded on the mainland for a night with all of her fellow teachers, who had come back for the weekend, and then – act of God – couldn’t get back and had to all crash at my parents’ house. The Islanders are used to such situations. I drove down to the ferry dock, and it was bleak and so cold, but there the ferry was, waiting to be loaded up. I drove my car on (you have to BACK onto the ferry, which is, conceivably, a nervewracking experience – backing up that ramp, with cars in front of you and behind you – and you have to line up your car, going backwards, just as they tell you to … etc. But I did fine. No biggie.) I left my car (and Hope) in the lower level and went up to the upper level, which is enclosed. They have TVs on, there are booths, and a little food counter is there as well, where you can get coffee, bagels, cereal, hell, you can get a scotch and soda if that’s your pleasure. I got a cup of coffee, sat at one of the booths, and vibrated with excitement about my upcoming journey. I had thought the ferry would be packed, since everyone would be returning from Christmas and New Year’s, etc., but it wasn’t. There were only about 15 passengers on the boat. It was 11 in the morning. The day outside was bleak.
The ride was rough, the ocean swirling around us. You could see literal HOLES in the ocean, in between waves, and the whole landscape seemed alive to me. Crashing converging forces, rising, falling, and the boat just plows through it all, climbing up the waves, crashing down, with towers of spray at the front of the boat. It was awesome.
The ferry ride is 55 minutes long. When I saw, through the driving snow, that we were approaching the harbor, I went back down to the lower level to sit in my car and wait. It’s an interesting perspective down there. The reason they have you back onto the boat, is that when it pulls up against the dock (on either side), it leads with the stern side. The back of the ferry is flat, a platform, and so when you arrive at your destination, because the cars have BACKED on, you are ready to just drive off the ramp and go, in a forward direction. So you sit in your car down there (there were only two of us that day, me and a big truck), and you watch the boat maneuver itself up to the dock, and then you wait for the signal from the ferry worker, who waves to you that now it’s time.
I had zero idea where I was going, I just knew I had to drive off the ferry and take a right onto the main road and … I’d see the real estate office there … somewhere.
Snow drove through the air. The main drag of the island looked deserted and beautiful. It was an auspicious beginning to my wintry sabbatical.
Inside the ferry.
Two ferry workers out on the bow of the ship, during our journey. It had to be bitter bitter bitter out there.
Two other ferry passengers, a mother and son, sitting up ahead of me.
The ocean out my window.
There was a father holding a baby. The baby was laughing – the best gurgly laughing sound – for the entire trip.
Sitting in my car, down below, as we approach the dock on the Block Island side.