Monday, June 16, 2014

Jolly Jumper takes the Ferry

Roy Rogers  would have loved the comics horse named Jolly Jumper. For all we know, Morris, creator of the Belgian comic series Lucky Luke might have been inspired by Trigger, Roger's smart Hollywood Western horse that debued several years before the first Lucky Luke comic appeared.

Read just one Lucky Luke volume and you'll see why we point out a possible link between Trigger and Jolly Jumper. On the other hand, smart animals have featured in human stories for much longer.

We introduced Jolly Jumper because Lucky Luke and his faithful companion are not as widely known in the U.S. as in Europe and other countries and the rest of this post requires you to know the name.

Germany may not strike you as a country with lots of ferries but there are a number of vehicle and passenger river ferries around here, saving foot passengers or vehicles an hour or two of travel time versus taking a detour to find a bridge.

By seafaring standards, the ferries are miniscule in size, roll-on-roll-off, low draft catamaran type deals capable of carrying maybe 30 passenger cars or a few buses. The ramps down to the vessel are wide enough enough for one bus at a time.

Locals in the riverside communities love and hate the ferries, with the feeling of hate reaching its annual peak when the ferries shut down during floods.

The other day, we arrived at the waiting area/marshaling area for a ferry after a long day out in mid tourist season. While we stopped at the fat white line labelled "stop here", two other vehicles were beyond the line. One vehicle was part way down the ramp despite the fact that the ferry was on the other side of the river, letting out passengers.

The distance is a few hundred yards, right across, so you have to be impatient or a bit dumb to take your vehicle down a ramp with nothing but water waiting for you there.

Workers of the ferry company were talking to the wayward cars and then walked along the short line of other waiting vehicles, basically us and one other car behind us.

Our worker was in a happy mood, congratulating us on actually following instructions. The car part way down the ramp backed up as the worker was talking and with obvious upset, noticable even in the dark of the night, lumbered up the exit ramp to go to one one the bridges some 30 minutes away.

This was an impatient non local driver, the worker explained. But the locals, too, have their moments, she smiled. Not long ago, a teacher from the high school was rushing to catch the ferry after school, and she arrived just as the vessel cast off. Judging the gap between herself and the ferry small enough, well, she jumped, and promptly landed in the water. She climbed out, headed back to the school to dry off and returned later for another try, successful of course. The real problem for the teacher was the fact that a large number of students from the school were on the ferry and witnessed her mishap. The students nicknamed her Jolly Jumper.

During the short conversation, the ferry had made its way back and we were being motioned to start up and roll down the ramp.

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