Today I write to remember.
Something pretty awesome happened to the Howk family last week and the best way I know to memorialize it is by blogging about it. So this is for me, my family, you readers and mostly BC Ferries.
To begin: a tiny bit of history. For the past 12 years, we have loved visiting my dad and stepmom at their home on beautiful Mayne Island, British Columbia. In order to get to Mayne, one must take a ferry (or be a world class swimmer with no fear of sea life.) Noah became very fond of BC Ferries and over the years took such an interest that he spent quite a lot of time studying them and even doing a class presentation on them. Just last year my folks sold their Mayne home and relocated to the impressive city of Victoria. In order to get there, one must also take a ferry, being that Victoria is on Vancouver Island. But here’s the thing: there is a much closer ferry for us to take and therefore it eliminated our need for BC Ferries specifically. And so, Noah was sad. I decided to write a letter to tell them how much Noah loves them and also request information about when Noah’s favorite ferry, Queen of Nanaimo, is retiring, which we knew would be this year but not much else. I didn’t expect anything in return, other than to perhaps be put on a mailing list.
The day before we left for our trip, the most lovely lady phoned from BC Ferries. She was exceedingly kind and pleased to have received the letter. She invited Noah to come to the headquarters office in downtown Victoria to tour the Operations and Security Centre. We were thrilled for the invitation. So our first day in Victoria we hopped on the Harbour Ferry (water taxi) from the condo at Fisherman’s Wharf, walked a few metro blocks, and arrived for the tour. This is where the blogging ends and the thanking begins….
To Deborah, Captain Jamie, Jasmine and the Operations/Security Team: My goodness! We knew that Canadians were polite, but you were incredible. You welcomed Noah into your work space as if he were your own. You played off of his enthusiasm and offered information mixed with encouragement. You tipped his professional-aspirations scale from NFL to (I’d say, the equally challenging) maritime captain. You showered him in branded loot, made phone calls on his behalf, and advised us of the world’s best chocolate dipped granola bars. Thank you for being so great. What we thought was awesome and more than enough turned out to be the beginning of quite the journey, completely thanks to you.
To Captain Knoblauch, afternoon Captain, morning/evening Crews of the Skeena Queen:You know how to make a boy feel like a celebrity. When we completed our time a the headquarters, we were honored to be gifted with a pass to take Skeena Queen to Salt Spring Island where Noah’s favorite Queen of Nanaimo would be docked for a short bit. The folks at the main office arranged for us to come onto the bridge of Skeena for a tour, but you made it so much more. You were knowledgable and gracious hosts. Thank you for the insights into what it takes to maneuver your vessel, how to successfully blow Skenna’s whistle, and for demonstrating that even ferry boat captains like english muffins and preserves.
To Superintendant/Captain McKay, Captain Lam, and Nanaimo Crew: Once we arrived at the Queen of Nanaimo it felt like home. We have taken this ferry for so many years that it feels like visiting an elderly relative. (Sorry Nanaimo, we love you but you are getting up there in age.) Your crew offered a tour deluxe! We saw all sorts of things that we never even knew were on a ferry; thanks for taking the time to show us all around. It was fun for Noah to use the (tele???) machine to communicate with the engine room. And oh! The engine room. Where the nitty-gritty takes place, where one may choose to hang out if they want long term hearing loss, where shafts turn and pistons pump. It was a spectacle and we felt privileged to see it. Thank you to all of you on the Nanaimo, this very well could be Noah’s last visit before she’s sold at auction and you made his time memorable. You also showed that when a car breaks down on the deck, it can require quite the orchestra of personnel to get it cleared out. Noah watched you pull away and spoke a quiet “goodbye Nanaimo” as you took your departure. You are a good ship and you’ve served us well.
To Gramps and to Gracie:
Gramps, thanks for coming along on this whole journey. I was so happy for Noah to have this opportunity and you reminded me of that when I said that I was somewhat bummed about only having one full day to check out Victoria before we returned home after spending the better part of two days on BC Ferries. You are right, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lad who will never forget how a single letter turned into such an adventure. To Gracie Girl, I know you wanted to shop and sightsee and maybe even ride one of those horse drawn carriages near the parliament building, but instead you were a sweet sister who kindly came along for the journey. You’re a champ.
BC Ferries. My blog isn’t big enough to express my gratitude. What is a company to you is a passion to my son and you greeted that perfectly. Many thanks and much appreciation.
One last thing: Captain Jamie was absolutely correct. Embe Bakery on Salt Spring Island has the best chocolate granola bars in the world. Great recommendation!