“Ferry” Tales

Waze. A blessing and a curse. Better than GPS no doubt. But sometimes it gets it really, really wrong. Yesterday was one of those wrong times.

After bouncing between meetings from Danbury to Albany I set Waze for my next destination; Burlington, Vermont. I’ve done this drive in reverse a few times, so no big deal, right? But Waze conditions you to drive in autopilot, and I was well into my drive when I double-checked the route it was sending me. Bad news: It had me taking the ferry. Worse news: That ferry stopped running for the night an hour before. I could either try to make the last Port Kent ferry or go all the way around the lake. Damn.

Cursing myself did no good. Cursing Waze did less. Instead I did a re-set of both Waze and my own brain. It was raining hydroplane hard if I were to push the speed. Instead I checked the time, realized I’d get there with plenty of time to spare and drove to the tiny ferry terminal in Keeseville, New York. When I arrived the booth attendant ignored me for whatever was on television, not jumping to attention until I pulled behind the only other car in line. Grabbing my tiny umbrella I walked back to the booth and paid my $30 for the ride across. It was worth three times that for me as the buckets of rain made short work of the umbrella and soaked my dress shirt sleeves and my favorite off-roading leather sole shoes.

30 minutes later we were boarding the ferry for the ride across Lake Champlain. I knew the view we were missing in the rain and fog, and described it to a retired couple from Wisconsin taking the long, scenic (usually) route to Cape Cod. I described the strategic importance of Lake Champlain and the story of when Benedict Arnold was a hero before it all went wrong for him. The blank, polite stares told me to swing the conversation back to their trip. They were traveling the old school way, with a road atlas and no smart phone or GPS. I recalled days when I’d have plotted my own trip, noted bridges and little things like ferry schedules. I told them they might just be on to something.

The crew joined in on the conversation. This was the last run of the night and all the chores were done. As we cruised into Burlington I looked over the shoulder of the couple from Wisconsin and pointed out the sun setting as the clouds lifted just in time. We were just slipping into port with the lighthouse to Starboard. The trip was full of twists and turns, but it all aligned for this moment. Three passengers and as many crew, sharing it before we all hustled to our respective positions. Things have a way of working out if you just trust… but verify.

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