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Coho

Started: 2022-08-29 20:30:35

Submitted: 2022-08-29 21:43:25

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Taking the ferry to Victoria

The morning after my last day working at Apple, I drove to the airport in San Jose to catch a flight to Seattle.

Apple Park from the air
Apple Park from the air

As my plane executed a full helix to gain altitude over San Jose before flying over the busy airspace around SFO and Oakland, I spotted the distinctive outline of Apple Park from my window seat, the office building that Apple built to put everyone together in the same campus (but then grew too big for the building so my team sat in another office across the freeway).

I flew to Seattle as part of a complicated, multi-part summer travel scheme. Two days after I returned from New York City with my children, Kiesa bundled the kids up in the car and spent two days driving north along I-5 to visit her mother in Burlington, Washington. She spent several days there, then drove diagonally across the state to drop the kids off at my parents' house in Walla Walla; then drove back across the state to pick me up at the airport in Seattle when I arrived.

(Our overall goal was for Kiesa and I to go somewhere on vacation while the kids were staying with my parents in Walla Walla, and we considered a variant of the plan in which the kids flew to Walla Walla as unaccompanied minors, but Calvin did not feel comfortable with that proposal, so we scrapped it in favor of the road-trip option.)

I landed in Seattle while Kiesa was still driving down I-90 through Issaquah, but we arrived a bit earlier than the timetable expected so our arrival gate was still occupied. It took 37 minutes to taxi from the runway to the gate, which was more than enough time for Kiesa to drive around Lake Washington and wait at the cell phone lot.

I arrived in the middle of an epic heat wave that pushed Seattle's temperature up into the 90s. We ate lunch at Chipotle in Tukwila, then drove south on I-5 to Tacoma, drove across the Tacoma Narrows (where I was pleased to see that the bridges were still standing, with their robust deck trusses to resist the twisting forces of the winds through the narrows. We drove north on a series of state highways along the west side of Puget Sound, and it was only by the time we drove through Sequim on US 101 that we began to feel cooler air coming from the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We arrived in Port Angeles with plenty of time to spare ahead of our late afternoon ferry reservation. We parked at the ferry dock and went on a short walk through the town, including a book store with an extensive sci-fi collection.

MV Coho cruises into Port Angeles
MV Coho cruises into Port Angeles

On our way back to the ferry dock we saw a mural of MV Kalakala, an earlier ferry operating on the Port Angeles/Victoria route. The interpretive panel told me that, after the ferry was retired, there was a proposal to retrofit it into a restaurant in Seattle (which seemed like an interesting reuse for a visually-interesting streamlined mid-century ship design), but the plans fell through and the ship was scrapped in 2015.

MV Kalakala mural in Port Angeles
MV Kalakala mural in Port Angeles

Compared to its predecessor, the current incumbent ferry MV Coho looks conventional and almost boring.

Cars wait to board MV Coho in Port Angeles
Cars wait to board MV Coho in Port Angeles

We watched the vehicles and passengers disembark when the ferry arrived; then we drove on board and parked in the cavernous vehicle deck. We climbed the stairs to the passenger deck, then made our way to the open-air aft deck to get a view of the last vehicles to board the ferry.

The last vehicles to board Coho
The last vehicles to board Coho

The route from Port Angeles to Victoria is only about 20 nautical miles, but the Coho cruises at a sedate 12 knots, so the time en route is about 90 minutes. Once the ship pulled away from the dock and cruised toward the open water of the strait, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped further; I eventually pulled out my long sleeves, though after driving through Seattle earlier in the day it was nice to be cold again.

Jaeger and Kiesa on board MV Coho
Jaeger and Kiesa on board MV Coho

The major inspiration for our trip was that we were celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary — and we visited Victoria on our honeymoon twenty years ago (also via the car ferry from Port Angeles). It also helped that, after two-and-a-half years of a certain global pandemic in which I haven't left the country, I was anxious to travel anywhere outside my own borders (and we had Nexus cards, enrolling us in the trusted traveler programs for both the US and Canada, which ought to expedite our border crossings).

MV Coho cruises away from Port Angeles
MV Coho cruises away from Port Angeles

We stepped out onto the fore deck as the ferry entered Victoria Harbour and watched the ferry cruise into the international ferry docks in the middle of the harbour. Then I realized that I ought to head down to the vehicle deck so I could drive off the ferry at the right time.

MV Coho enters Victoria Harbour
MV Coho enters Victoria Harbour

We entered Canada without incident (we had filled out the ArriveCAN forms before leaving, complete with our COVID-19 vaccine cards) and drove a couple of blocks to the Parkside Hotel & Spa. The hotel had a large atrium in the middle, between the two low-rise towers of the hotel with a large koi pond bisected by a foot bridge. We ate at Rebar in downtown Victoria, then retired to the hotel for the night.

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