This past weekend, I took a trip with my family up to Williamsburg, VA, to enrich my cultural and historical knowledge, or something like that. Either way, it was pretty great. I rode a ferry for the first time in my life across the James River, and that was definitely an experience. The whole ordeal has led to what will undoubtedly go down as the most memorable moment from the whole trip.

Let me paint a picture for you here. It’s evening, about 7:00 PM or so, and the sun has long since set. I’m crammed in the backseat of a full-to-bursting SUV, rattling down a very bumpy and windy road somewhere in the Virginia wilderness. There are thick, dark woods all around, and we haven’t seen another car or turn for miles. My father is dutifully following his Garmin GPS, keeping on the current road (but it’s not like he has any other options).

For some reason, I decide to check the map on my phone and see how far away we are. There wasn’t much else to do, and honestly, I was pretty lucky given the spotty cell service we’d been through up to that point. Judging from the arrival time listed on the GPS display, I can tell we aren’t too far away… but something doesn’t add up. On the map, I can see that the road we’re rocketing down just sort of…ends. Right at the river bank. Then there’s a faint blue line running from there to another road on the opposite shore. I’ve seen this once before…

So I perk up. “Hey, Dad…”

“Yeah?” he replies.

“You know this road ends in a ferry, right?”

Silence for a moment, then, “A what?”

“A ferry. A boat,” I repeat for him.

More silence.

“Huh,” he says, after a while, then checks the GPS. Sure enough, the corner that usually displays the turn arrow has changed to display a small picture of a boat. When we finally get close enough, it chimes in with a, “In 0.4 miles, take the ferry.”

Uproarious laughter from the whole vehicle. Here I am, concerned that the ferry can only take one car at a time across the river… Then we approach. The boat’s massive, and so is the line of cars waiting to board. We appear to have arrived just in time to board the next ferry across the river. To our surprise, there’s no toll or fee, and we’re able to drive right on.

Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of sightseeing to do, given the darkness. Only a few momentary blinks of green light from buoys stationed along the ferry route. The whole thing lasts a grand total of about 15 minutes, from start to finish, while my mother tries in vain to take pictures of the ordeal with her trusty point-and-shoot. She succeeds in taking several burst pictures of her cupholder instead.

I know it’s really not much, but ferries are not exactly commonplace where I’m from. We’ve got the benefit of roads just about everywhere, even if a fair number of them are unpaved. But this moment right here will stand out in our stories regarding the trip. Forever.

Might even overtake the references to the time mom tripped in a theme park parking lot and broke her arm. But that’s a tale for another time.

At any rate, I can trust that whenever I go on field trips with the family, I’ll come home with plenty of stories and inside jokes that won’t make sense to anyone who didn’t come with us. And that’s perfectly fine by me. Much better than any $20 knick-knack I could’ve picked up at any of the hundreds of gift shops we passed by during our stay.