Ferrying to Nanaimo

The Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay ferry crossing is long at nearly 3 hours and 43.5 miles (70 km). We readied to leave the mainland and I stood at the bow, alone until an elderly couple appeared beside me, all of us interested in the sweeping views at hand. I offered to take their photo; they took mine in return. We began to chat.

Sean and Sarah hailed from Scotland and were traveling the USA as many retirees do. It turned out the three of us had been on the same road all summer, mostly national parks and destination cities in the American West. Somehow our trio had ended up here, together, on board a Canadian ferry now slowly pulling away from its dock.

I remember these two so clearly because Sean shared a resonating truth: the more you travel, the more it takes for the next place to stand out. Instead of inspiring awe, new cities and landscapes begin to feel redundant.  What would appear beautiful in fresh eyes instead produces an “oh, that’s nice” humdrum response.

I imagine others have shared in this experience. A flight attendant friend once alluded to feeling similar dismay as she flew between (the world’s most exciting) international cities. To fight boredom she began creating missions in each destination, carrying out tasks prompted by friends. During her stay in London I sent her to Harrod’s to purchase strawberry black tea; it gave meaning to her trip.

But, on occasion a particular landscape can stun even the most weathered traveler, and this has more to do with coming home than venturing abroad. Sean had been right – but he had not made note of the enduring appreciation a person can carry for their native region. An appreciation that leaves us seeing our home region with the same fresh eyes we used when we were first traveling.

That day on the ferry I did not tire of the Pacific Northwest views but instead spent the trip’s three hours topside, cold winds tangling my hair and pushing aggravated tears from my eyes, full of life and reverence as I breathed the biting Northern ocean air once again.

(originally written in 2015; excerpt revised for ColetteKay.com)

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