20 April 2010
Part Seven: Two Employees For The Continent of Europe, Obviously
Our packed Citroen C4 screeches to a halt just outside the Calais Ferry Terminal building. Adam and Charlie dart inside, as we’re frantically attempting to book tickets as foot passengers to save Charlie’s Mom and stepdad the hassle of ferrying over from Dover just to go back 15 minutes later. We pull the doors open to reveal literally hundreds of people snaking around the building in a line that stretches for what seems like miles. Some are standing, some are sitting, and some are bundled in a sleeping bag attempting to catch up on days of missed rest. We follow the zig-zag all the way to the front, where just two people are behind the counter selling tickets. Once again, Europe has really risen to the challenge of this now global crisis.
Realizing there was no hope of getting walk-on tickets, we made the call and had Gillian and Malcolm (and Knights in Shining Armour) board the dog gone ferry. Now with nearly two hours of free time on our hands (free time you say? CRAZY!) we decided it would be a good idea to do a dry run of their route to make sure we could give very accurate instructions so as to make the 4:45am ferry instead of waiting until 6:15am. Let it be known that 3am dry-runs of a highly confusing route overseen by five rather vocal people after 15 hours in a car together is not recommended.
The ferry exit led directly to a highway that had only one exit 5 miles down the road. That exit had both a left and right turn option with led to a roundabout that swoops under the highway and back onto the ferry return lane, shooting vehicles back into the boarding zone to go back to England. Confusing? Try putting all of that into a text message, which took us 15 minutes to agree on wording. It was the first and only moment where we got testy with each other. Indeed, the Ferocious Five neared a state of meltdown.
Because it was a highway, we had to lug our bags out into the middle then flap our arms to flag down the cars, dump in our bags, and zoom into the customs line. This was, of course, after we parked the car at the end of the lot, ran the key to the drop box in the ferry terminal half a mile away, then darted back to our makeshift pick-up zone. Magically, the entire operation went off without a hitch. As their cars crested over the horizon and our salvation become visible, the excitement exploded. “I have never actually jumped for joy like I did just now,” David said.
Cars and bags safely stowed below, we toasted to our success with ferry-quality champagne, watching the sun rise over the White Cliffs of Dover as we approached good old England. We had done it. We had pulled off the greatest escape in travel history. Bring it volcano. Bring it.
As our train pulled into London and we each headed in our own direction, the reality of reality slowly started to settle. Why, again, had we decided to come back to all this? Why, again, did we want the adventure to end? For the life of me, I can’t remember. All I know is that I’ve got an excellent pair of plumen-goggle-strassen to check out the mean cloud of volcanic ash!
Long live the Ferocious Five.