- A Calm Ferry Ride
- Everyone was up early the next morning, too full from dinner the night before to eat breakfast right away, so they took some wrapped bagel and cream cheese sandwiches to eat on the ferry. Rufus seemed to know that they were going on a new adventure, but he wasn’t at all happy when he was confined to the car as the ferry carried passengers and cars over to Washington Island.
- “Better than losing your dog to Death's Door,” said the ticket seller to the twins, when they protested that Rufus was a really obedient dog and would never jump out of the ferry. “They tend to like catching the spray of the waves, just as they like sticking their heads out of car windows. Before you know it, SLURP! They’re gone. Never to return. Not in this life, anyway.”
- The adults were relieved, remembering Rufus’s reaction to the bats. Obedient? Uh, uh.
- There wasn’t room left for even one more car on the ferry. The passengers slowly made their way around the ferry, finding a place to stand and watch the water slip by.
- It was a relatively still morning, so the twins were a bit disappointed at the lack of excitement during the crossing to Washington Island. They learned that the narrow passage creates strong currents beneath the tranquil surface of the water, fooling more than 60 captains of sailing vessels until ferries replaced the sailing ships. Their bones and their boats remain with the fish at the bottom of the lake. It is said that strong winds and a sudden storm caught a group of Native Americans by surprise as they attempted crossing over to Washington Island in the 1600s, drowning them all.
- In less than an hour, the ferry landed at Washington Island. The family decided to take the first ferry out to the even smaller Rock Island for their first exploration. They had some time to pick up some bottled water from the nearby hotel and enjoy their cream cheese and bagel sandwiches outdoors while waiting for the ferry.
- Inherited Allergies?
- “I haven’t heard either of you sneezing,” Mike said, addressing the twins.
- Mal and Mel both shook their heads. They hadn’t even given their allergies a moment’s thought until Grandpa Mike mentioned it.
- “It’s interesting, isn’t it, how some things like hay fever tend to skip a generation,” Mike observed.
- “What do you mean, Grandpa?” Mal wanted to know.
- "That means your allergies were passed down from me, but skipped your dad, who is a carrier but doesn’t have allergic symptoms like sneezing or a runny nose,” Mike explained.
- “What’s a carrier?” Mal asked.
- It means your dad carries a genetic tendency for allergies from me and he passed it on to you. With me and with both of you, we sneeze when we’re around allergens, but in your dad’s case, it’s a hidden trait.”
- “What’s an allergy, Grandpa?”
- Mike was at a loss for words with Mel’s question, so Agnes came to his rescue.
- “I read someplace that allergies are a body’s ‘inappropriate response to a benign substance.’ And before you ask, benign means ‘not harmful.’”
- It was time to leave for the ferry, rescuing the adults from more questions, at least for the moment.
- No cars are allowed on the ferry or on Rock Island, so they parked the car near the ticket stand at Jackson Harbor, where Mike went to buy the ferry tickets. He gave everyone a ticket. Even Rufus, who wanted to hold it in his mouth but had to settle for it stuck in his collar. “First time I ever bought a ticket for a dog,” Mike said shaking his head in mock disbelief.
- A Less-calm Ferry Ride
- The wind had picked up somewhat by the time the human passengers and one dog boarded the ferry. Small waves seemed to appear from nowhere once the little ferry left the safety of the harbor. As the calm water turned choppier, the adults began to think that perhaps they should have saved the bagels and cream cheese for an early picnic lunch once they reached Rock Island.
- Rufus and the children seemed to have “cast iron stomachs,” as Mike put it. Mal and Mel considered the benches to be places of confinement, not safety or convenience. Not that their pouting made any difference to Mort and Agnes, who positioned each child between two adults. And Rufus? Well, he would have lunged right into the water if Mike hadn’t positioned him between his legs and held a tight grip on his leash.
- Fortunately, the trip was short and everyone arrived at Rock Island a little damp, but otherwise fine. Agnes brought out the trail maps and everyone decided that the trail to Potawatomi Lighthouse would be the most interesting. The twins were excited to see both Green Bay and Lake Michigan as they stood at the edge of the bluff that reminded them of the Mississippi Palisades.
- A Quick Visit to Rock Island
- “Just think about it,” said Agnes. You could stand in the same place and see sunrise over water in the morning by looking to the right and the sun sinking into the water on the left in the evening.”
- “Wow. Neat! Is there any other place in the whole world like this?” The thought of standing in one place and being able to see the sun rise and set over water was absolutely fascinating.
- It was well past lunchtime by the time they reached the lighthouse, and the hollow feeling of not having eaten in awhile began to make itself apparent as various rumblings could be heard from each of the five stomachs.
- "I'm hungry, mom," Mal announced. "Me too," Mel added.
- "I guess we're all hungry," Agnes replied.
- "I sure am, said Mort.
- "If nothing else, this is certainly helping my diet," said Mike. "Although I'd prefer to have a choice in the matter. Next time..."
- "Speaking of time, we'd better get a move on if we're going to catch the next ferry back to Washington Island where we can get some food. Otherwise, it'll be another two hours and there's no place to buy food on this Island...or even water," Agnes said urgently. She retrieved the three energy bars she tucked in her fanny pack "just in case" and gave half to everyone. Even Rufus got his share. Fortunately, everyone had some water left in the bottles they bought at Washington Island.
- The mini-snack was enough to get everyone perked up enough to make their way quickly down to the place where the ferry had dropped them off. Agnes led the way, or rather Rufus did, with Agnes and the twins close behind.
- Mort and Mike struggled to keep up, but both were motivated by the hollow feeling in their stomachs. "Quite a little lady you've got there," Mike teased Mort. "Not so little," Mort teased back. "She's only an inch and a half shorter than I am. And as to lady, the clunky hiking shoes and raggedy fanny pack don't exactly fit that image, do they now?"
- They saw the little ferry bobbing on the water as they reached the landing area. The waves had gotten bigger since the morning, worrying the adults and thrilling the children. Panting excitedly, Rufus seemed to catch their enthusiasm.
- Agnes glanced at her watch again. "We won't have time to explore Washington Island once we get some lunch there and catch the ferry back to the mainland. Suppose I try to phone the restaurant and change our reservation for the fish boil to tomorrow night. Eating lunch so late, we won't have a good appetite anyway."
- Mort thought a moment and wondered aloud, "You may not get any cell reception here. I don't see any bars on your phone. Let's see if the ferry boat captain can use his radio to send a message."
- "Good idea, although looking at those waves, he'll probably have his hands full just keeping the ferry above water," Agnes said.
- "Hmm," was all Mike chose to say.
- As the family climbed onto the ferry, Mort talked to the captain. "Sure," he said. "My wife here will be happy to radio in for you. Just let her know which restaurant and she'll take care of it."
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iNTRODUCTION TO BOOK 2
INTRODUCTION TO THE BIOFABLES SERIES