Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dinner in Mukilteo

The rain poured down as I made my way onto I-405. This would be the road to take me to I-5, and if I had been paying enough attention, it would have. However, I was distracted by the sheets of rain falling on my PT Cruiser rental, and I instead headed east when I should have gone west.

I frequently make this mistake when I'm on the Pacific Coast. I am so programmed to think "the ocean is east," and my brain is always navigating by the proximity of places to the ocean. So I am often lost on the west coast.

East I went, which then turns and heads straight north to Bellevue, and definitely not toward my dinner destination. I was completely oblivious of this, concentrating instead on the wet road surface and the cheap rental vehicle that felt as if it might fly apart on the concrete slab highway.

As I passed into Bellevue, I thought, "Hey, this doesn't look like Seattle. Certainly, I should be in Seattle by now." Realization dawned on me. I was lost. I grappled in the backseat for the one page rental map. But the map was too difficult to read with just myself in the car, going 60 miles per hour in driving rain. I had to pull off.

Finally, as I reached WA-520, I was able to pull off. Consulting the map, I realized I was actually quite fortunate. WA-520 was a direct connection back to I-5, just north of the city, but--and this is most important--just south of Mukilteo, my destination for the night. I would not have to backtrack. Plus, I'd get to go across a fairly large bridge.

Great! So let's call the whole adventure a sightseeing detour.

My reason for traveling to this far-away destination was so that I could have dinner with my friend, Jeff, and his family. Jeff and I go way back. He also lives in Virginia and works at my company, but he is here for the birth of his first grandson. So it was serendipitous that we'd both be near Seattle at the same time, and we made a date to have dinner together.

Jeff chose the restaurant, Arnie's, which is the kind of seafood place that is rather common out here. Delicious fresh fish, bay-side seating, candlelit meals, picturesque sunsets--the perfect place for an intimate dinner with your co-worker. (And his family.)

Arnie's sits right above the water, in spectacular view of the Mukilteo Light and the Whidbey Island Ferry, the main access for commuters to Whidbey Island. Dinner came and was served by a friendly, if not slightly over-enthusiastic, waitress. We ate and visited and talked about the new baby.

After supper, Jeff insisted on paying, which I lamely protested. (At twenty-four dollars a plate, that's a bit of dough to save!) And then, after a short but relaxing meal, I was off again in the driving rain to go back to my hotel south of the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

This time, the trip was made not just in the rain, but in the dark and with a belly full of warm food. I was fighting my east-coast clock which said it was well past midnight, fighting the road with my car's awful suspension, and fighting to see the poorly marked highways through the sheets of rain. Finally, I reached my hotel, crawled into bed, and was asleep in ten seconds.

But it had been a nice trip, and worth the effort.

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