By Beacon Staff

At first light I pulled into the parking lot and left my car so that I could walk onto the ferry from my home on the island, to Anacortes.

Another day of lurching from one near disaster to the next had begun. When what I thought was the 7:20 a.m. ferry arrived, I walked on board, went upstairs and promptly fell sound asleep. Instead of waking up in Anacortes to meet my stepson, who was to take me to Bellingham, I woke up in Friday Harbor another island to the west of us, instead Anacortes, to the east of us. For the first time in 20 years, I had gotten on the wrong ferry. The night before, I had read an expired ferry schedule, and the Anacortes ferry had left at 6:20, not 7:20.

I had a “can’t miss” laser eye surgery appointment in Bellingham two hours later. It was an appointment I had waited almost three months for. Hurrying off the ferry, I walked around Friday Harbor for a few minutes until I could find a place where my cell phone worked. I called my wife Laurie and got her to charter an airplane for me from Friday Harbor. It was the only way I could make the appointment, which would finally improve my vision in my left eye.

Laurie called me back in a few minutes and said, “Get to the San Juan airport right away and a charter plane will pick you up.” That meant I had to find some place that had a phone book so I could call the local cab company. The cashier in the restaurant was very nice and she gave me the numbers. I called one and woke up the owner and was picked up within 10 minutes and driven to the airport.

The cab was 12 years old with more than 200,000 miles on it and ran as though it was brand new. The owner did all of his own maintenance and was very proud of that fact. He delivered me to the San Juan Island International Airport where I promptly fell sound asleep on four chairs I had pulled together.

An hour later I woke up when someone was shaking my shoulder and asking, “Are you the guy going to Bellingham?” About $175 dollars and fifteen minutes later I climbed out of the small plane.

Meanwhile, Laurie had rerouted Colin, my stepson, and he met me in Bellingham and drove me to the Pacific Cataract surgery building. We arrived three minutes before my appointment.

I was greeted there by the receptionist, who commented, “My husband used to really like your movies. He had almost every one of them.”

“What made him change his mind about the films?” I replied.

“He died.”

He had been riding a small four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle without wearing a helmet. He made a sharp left turn, the ATV flipped over and he was dead before the wheels stopped spinning. They had two children, now 10 and 13 years old.

I filled out pages of forms and then we went into the laser surgery room, where what was going to happen to me was explained in detail.

Then I sat down in front of the machine, rested my chin on a shelf, leaned my head forward and the doctor did his job. There were a few pops each time he fired the laser beams and then I got up and walked out to head back to the island with Colin.

We stopped for lunch with the editor of “The Ski Journal” and then a quick stop at Costco. Unfortunately, we spent too much time eating hot dogs and drinking Cokes at Costco (my favorite fast food!), so it was a race back to the ferry. We were one car too late, and instead of getting on the 3:30 p.m. ferry we got on the 6:30, which was almost an hour late. That put me back home at about 8 p.m..

Let’s see: I left for the ferry at 6:30 in the morning for an eye appointment at 10:45 that only lasted an hour. I got home after 14 hours of traveling to a place less than 15 airline miles away from my island. Is it worth it to live in this remote location, given the inconvenience just to live on an island? Of course it is.

And now that I can see better, stay tuned for my next near disaster…

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.