Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ferry for Sale

I happened to notice a ferry for sale on ebay. The sale ends today, actually - M.V. Chinook Ferry on Ebay (large file). Only $4.5 million. Geez, spare change.

Anyway, it made me think of how things must have been before the bridge connected Astoria to Washington, and about the ferry that ran from Astoria across the river. I've never been on that particular ferry, more's the pity. But I'm a big fan of ferries in general. I love the ferry from Westport to Cathlamet. And the ferries from Seattle to the outlying islands are grand, too. Tourist's Seattle Ferry Ride

But I think the grandma of all ferries is The Staten Island Ferry in New York. Where else can you get a view of lower Manhattan, cruise by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and get a ferry ride that lasts 25 minutes each way to Staten Island and back, all for free.

When I was a kid, the ride cost a nickel, and I used to go back and forth just for the hell of it every time I went to New York. The last time I was on it was back in the early 1970s, and it cost a quarter. The World Trade Center was under construction, and cranes were sitting 75 stories above Manhattan. I wish I could have seen the completed buildings before they were destroyed.

I also recall a memorable ferry ride to Block Island, Rhode Island, when I was about 6 years old, during which I managed to embarrass my entire family by walking up to a man with a huge beer-belly and asking him if he was pregnant.

The only other thing I remember about that day was a lady taxi driver who smoked cigars and drove us all over Block Island while telling us the local history. My father was delighted. Back then, there was actually a lot of empty space on Block Island, and it hadn't been ruined yet. New York and Boston hadn't discovered it, and it was still a nice, quiet place to go.

There's also the funny little Hadlyme Ferry in Connecticut that crosses the Connecticut River near Gillette's Castle. Gillette was a stage and film actor who specialized in playing Sherlock Holmes.

And of course, there's the Catalina Ferry from San Pedro, California, out to Catalina Island. Not the express service, the good old-fashioned pokey ferry that takes a while to get there - long enough to relax and have a couple of beers. That's one of my all-time favorite ferry rides.

Anyway, back to Astoria. When I saw the ad for the ferry on ebay, I thought how cool it would be to have a ferry here again. I know, it's expensive and impractical, but I'd sure love it. And I bet those tourists everyone's busting ass to attract would love it, too.

Click here to see Elleda's photography at the Astoria Photografpix web site


Rich said...

I'm a ferry fan, too. I've been known to go the long way around just to take a ride on one.

I've been fascinated with the tale of the Kalakala

Elleda said...

Wow, what a saga - just read the history section of the site. What a classic ferry!