This time, we got a reservation for the Coho Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. But we just got it a couple days ago, and all the early sailing reservations were booked. So, we're taking the 7:30 p.m. ferry from Victoria, and we have to be in line at the terminal by 6:00. We decided to go ahead and leave today, Monday, because it was a provincial holiday - BC Day - and we thought that might help getting through construction.
It's only a 150-mile drive from Kitty Coleman Provincial Park to the Black Ball Ferry Terminal. However, based on our experience the day we arrived on Vancouver Island, we're allowing a lot of extra time.
We left Kitty Coleman at 11:00 a.m. giving us seven full hours for what should be a three-hour drive. We'll have a leisurely lunch somewhere and spend the few dollars of Canadian money we have left.
The trip went fine until we tried to find a place to pull off for lunch. The places with large parking lots were on the left side of the road, and we noticed them too late. Eventually, we turned off the main highway based on roadside signs indicating food. Again, no luck. Either the parking lots weren't big enough, the places weren't open for lunch, or they were closed due to the holiday. Of course, had we been in the fifth wheel, we never even would have attempted to just randomly try to find a place to stop for fear of getting in somewhere we couldn't get out. Linda has no fear in the little motorhome.
We saw some RVs at an A&W, so Linda wriggled her way into that madhouse and found a safe spot to park. It seemed everyone in the province stopped there for lunch. Linda remarked It's been a long time since we've had fast food", and I responded "Your not getting it here either" because it certainly wasn't fast today. Everyone was waiting a half an hour to get their order. Fortunately, we had time to kill, but there were a lot of frustrated, angry customers.
Once we finished lunch, we were back on the road, but my Google Maps indicated there was a 50-minute delay ahead. Yep, this is why we gave ourselves a lot of extra time.
There were no construction workers today in the construction zone, but they have this section of the road that funnels down into one lane for a little ways, and then it opens back up into two lanes and then it goes back to one. So the hold up is created by everyone having to merge down into one lane multiple times rather than just having one lane open through the construction area keeping the traffic flowing - slowly, but moving.
A sign on the roadside said "Expect up to 90-minute delays". Luckily, it wasn't quite that bad, but over half of our last hour and a half on the road was spent in a stretch that was only about three miles (5k) long.
At least the construction right on the edge of Victoria wasn't nearly as bad is it was several days ago when we went through it in the opposite direction. Perhaps traveling on this holiday did help a little.
With our long lunch, the extended sit in the main construction zone, and other traffic, it took us six hours, to get to the ferry terminal and we arrived around 5:00. Having the reservations took away the stress of the uncertainty of being on stand-by for a spot, and we didn't have to arrive four hours ahead of time.
We again unhitched the Jeep because it saved about $50, and they put Linda in the far right lane (looking from behind) ....
while I went into one of the other lanes with the other cars. There is a sharp left turn to get on the ferry, so they put the larger vehicles in the right lanes to make the swing easier.
When you make reservations on this ferry, you only pay the ridiculous reservation fee, and then you buy your tickets when you arrive at the terminal.
We got our tickets and then we just waited. I took a few pics of the Victoria harbor just to pass some time.
Border Security starts doing their checks going from vehicle to vehicle at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:30 departure, and that is when everyone is supposed to be in their vehicle ready to show your passports or other travel documents (90 minutes before sailing when on the Victoria side, 60 minutes on the Port Angeles side).
Once the foot officers "interviewed" us, checked our passports and license plates, they sent us up to the passport processing building, where they scanned our passports and gave us a red ticket with the number of people in the vehicle to put on under our windshield wipers. That's some sort of pre-check, to make things go quicker when we dock at the terminal in Port Angeles.
Once you are "processed" you can wander around, but you can't leave the terminal area. It took a little over an hour for them to check everyone, and Linda was one of the last vehicles checked.
She got cursory, limited questions, while I got a few more probing questions from the friendly officer. Surprisingly, this check was less intense than when we arrived in Canada, but neither caused any anxiety.
Linda and the other large vehicles boarded first, even before the ferry was finished unloading. Then the rest of us squeezed in.
Again, we found a spot in the interior lounge. Not long after leaving Victoria, the fog rolled in, so there was nothing to see during the trip. We just read on our Kindles.
Once docked, we exited the ferry and had a brief conversation with the border officer at the terminal exit. Very easy and efficient.
We had decided previously that we were going to stay in the Walmart parking lot in East Port Angeles tonight about four miles away. And since we were disembarking at different times, we just decided to meet there.
It seemed all the RVs on the ferry had the same idea, as we recognized some of them among the fifteen or so RVs at Walmart.
Oh, by the way, being tucked in the trees at Kitty Coleman Provincial Park campground, we didn't get much sun on our solar panels, and we declined to use our generator, so we discharged our batteries more than we have been, down about 40%. As a side-note, the park had fairly limited generator hours of 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Anyway, our solar panels charged our batteries back to 100% on today's drive to Victoria. We're really pleased with how well our solar panels keep our batteries charged. We haven't used the generator to charge batteries since we got the system at the end of April.
We were parked by 9:30, and called it a night around 11:00.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, we intend to go to the Evergreen Coho SKP RV Park in Chimacum just south of Port Townsend. We've been Escapees members for thirteen years, but we haven't been to this park yet. We don't have reservations, but we know they have dry camping spots for $5/night we can slide into for a couple nights.
Until next time.