Muliteo is Calling, a Northwest Adventure to Mukilteo

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Mukilteo is calling, calling me
by Don Doman

It seems like there is always a ferry landing or leaving the ferry dock at Mukilteo.It's almost spring and it's time for another Northwest Adventure. We've been working hard for several months and wanted a few days to sleep, read, talk together and enjoy a quiet life without phones, deadlines, emails, demands and sometimes-balky computers.

We set off for the Silver Cloud Inn in Mikilteo, about 70 minutes north of Tacoma. The day was sunny and warm looking but with a chill wind, great weather for traveling.

We'd never actually been to Mukilteo, but we had traveled all around it. I'd been to nearby Edmonds for calligraphy events such as the early May Letters of Joy, a Friday night lecture and all-day Saturday series of classes. I'd even stayed at the Lynnwood Silver Cloud for LOJ. The Lynnwood motel is one of the older ones in the chain; it's a perfectly fine motel in a strip mall but it can't compare with the waterfront ambiance of the Mukilteo inn.

The Coast Guard Station is well-kept and quaint.When you leave I-5, you wind through miles of the Mukilteo Speedway. It looks like a South Tacoma Way, with car lots, junk car lots, strip malls and fast-food joints for miles. But as you come down the hill to approach the actual ferry terminal, your socks are knocked off your feet by the overwhelming beauty of the shoreline of the bay, islands, and even Mount Baker in the distance. It's open-mouthed stunning.

From the left is a state park, historical lighthouse and buildings, one building of condominiums, the Whidby Island ferry terminal, Ivar's Restaurant and Fish Bar and then the Silver Could Inn.

Unfortunately, the Coast Guard lighthouse wasn't open for visitors the two days we were there, but we stood outside the picket fence and looked into the yard.

The Silver Cloud is brightly clad in white shingle siding, with parking under the building. When you go into the lobby, you look at a gorgeous wrap-around view.

The lobby extends across the side of the building, with mullioned windows opening to the view, making the room seem more like a home than a public building. The room is arranged with comfortable wing chairs set in conversational areas, tables and chairs, nicely framed prints, suitcases that looked as if a guest from the 1940s and '50s had just set them down, fireplace, bookshelves with a good cross section of books to suit the tastes of the guests and lamps for comfortable reading. It ends in a beautiful antique looking Kitchen Queen hutch with cups and teabags. It trails into a small kitchen where they keep the pump coffeepots and juices.

A late afternoon view of a ferry and choppy water.We checked into our room, which had the same gorgeous views, oriented towards the ferry terminal. The ferry comes in every half-hour until 1 a.m. and then goes to once an hour until 6 a.m. and then resumes its half-hourly schedule. We had many opportunities to see the ferry. Out on the sound, sometimes the one that's coming in seems to respectfully dance around the one that had just gone out. As if by magic, it seems that every time you look out the window, you see a ferry.

Reading lamps can be found on BOTH sides of the bed.The room had a comfortable blue décor, with an armchair and ottoman, a microwave, refrigerator, ironing board and iron, gas fireplace and a spa tub in a window enclosure overlooking the ferry dock. Best of all for us, however, is the fact that the room has nice reading lamps on BOTH sides of the bed as well as a lamp for the easy chair and ottoman. We didn't have to wrestle for the side of the bed with the lamp.

We decided to go for a walk and looked at the restaurants across the street from the Silver Cloud and ferry terminal. First was the Buzz Inn, which looked pretty average. There was a lot of activity at Ivar's Fish Bar. People coming off the ferry or waiting for the ferry lined up at Ivar's. We never tried the Fish Bar. Don hates lines.

We crossed a small intersection of busy ferry traffic to the Diamond Knot Brewery and the Manhattan Restaurant. I looked at the posters and newspaper clippings in the window of the Manhattan. It seemed we were a day late to enjoy belly dancing at the Manhattan. We popped our heads into the Manhattan and Don told the owner that we'd be back. Then we went to the brewery.

If you can get in, you can get in.The sign on the brewery door says, "Come On In/ If door is unlocked, /We're open. /Must be 21 or older," - poetry for the beer drinkers of the world. In other words, if you can get in, you can get in. I found this very funny and I hadn't even had a drink, yet.

Nice, homey peanut shell motiff.We went into the brewery to have a beer. It's a long corridor of a bar, with stools lined up along the bar, a conversational area with a couch and chairs, some tables in the back just before the keg storage area. The sign had a peanut shell motiff and there was truth in advertising. Peanut shells littered the floor.

Beer barrell decor.We sat back near the kegs and had a house ale. The kegs kind of remind us of our home rental days. We used to have several rentals around the University of Puget Sound. Sometimes we would end up with empty kegs after students left.

We drank the ale and read the local newspaper, The Mukilteo Beacon. The ale was good but a cigar smoker drove us out after only one glass.

For dinner we went to Ivar's restaurant, just next door to the Silver Cloud. The wind was very brisk; this means that it was blowing like crazy. Don and I held onto our hats. Ivar's even posted a sign on the door warning customers to watch out because the wind was slamming the door shut. But it was warm and comfortable in the restaurant as we were shown to a table on the water view side.

I ordered the Idaho trout. The waitress said, "I'm sorry, but we're out of it." "Ok, then, I'll have the Prawn Primavera." "I'm sorry, but we're out of that, too. We're out of a lot of things. The cook's telling us that someone may have to go to the store!" Don ordered the pan-fried oysters. I love pan-fried oysters, if they are cooked crispy on the outside yet melting on the inside. They had that, so I ordered it too. These were wonderful. Before our dinners had even come, I heard the waitress telling the woman behind us, "I'm sorry but we're out of the pan-fried oysters." It's a good thing it didn't take us 15 minutes to order.

Even in the cold wind, people took advantage of the view.While we were eating we watched people on the dock. Even with the wind, people stood and watched the waves and ferry. Two men on the pier repeatedly cast a crab pot into the water, waited a few minutes and pulled it out. They seemed successful. After a while we saw one man leave and as he came back along the walkway, his baseball cap blew off onto the sand. He must have walked up past the Silver Cloud and then climbed down to the beach, for we saw him retrieve his hat about ten minutes later.

After dinner, we went for a walk along the pier and talked to the man who had lost his hat. Don asked him, "How in the world do you keep your hat on anyway, in this wind?" The man wasn't very talkative, but said, "I just cram it on."

You can bask in the warm waters of the spa and look out over the wind and waves.It was windy and chilly. Sometimes the wind would gust. Sand and shell particles beat against the windows of our room like hail. Back in our cozy room I took a long luxurious bath.

The room we had protruded out from the rest of the structure. The main view side contained a gas fireplace and the spa tub. The tub looked directly down on the water to the North and the ferry landing, Ivar's, and the rest of the motel rooms on the West.

Don lowered the privacy shades and, clutching the Inn's nice, thick terry robe to my bosom, I modestly crawled into the tub. With the lights out Don raised the shades so I could see out. The spa-tub water whirled and churned. I relaxed and peered out over the tub. A heron stalked along the windswept shore. I sank back into the warm waters of the spa.

An antique cupboard adds style to the reading room/kitchen area.The next morning, I went down to the lobby. An antique cupboard stands by the breakfast area. It holds China plates, cups and tea bags.

I enjoyed, and make that ENJOYED the Continental breakfast the Silver Cloud puts on. I had granola, yogurt, tea, and a cinnamon twist pastry. They also had fresh fruit, several kinds of coffee, several cereals, many pastries as well as a toaster with bread, bagels, waffles, French toast and English muffins. It was quite extensive and I was pleased. I really enjoyed sitting in a wing back chair at a marble table, looking out at the phenomenal view as I ate.

Eating utensils are artfully displayed in flower pots.The best thing about the Silver Cloud's continental breakfast wasn't even the food. It was the detail. They didn't have plastic utensils and the dinnerware was placed in flower pots lined with cloth napkins. Very elegant.

Don got up early. Don always gets up early. He went to the lobby just expecting to have coffee. He wanted to visit the Manhattan Restaurant. He likes BREAKFAST. With the great selection at the Silver Cloud, he ate, drank coffee, and sat while he read several newspapers (USA Today, the Seattle Times, and the Everett Herald are all provided by the Silver Cloud), and watched people. He saw couples, mostly middle-aged or over, and business people. "I'll go to the Manhattan tomorrow", he decided.

A lovely view of the Port of Everett.We went for an exploratory drive around the area. If you head up Mukilteo Boulevard, you come to a viewpoint with lovely views of the sound and all the way up to the Port of Everett.

In Everett, we drove around to the gallery of the Arts Council of Snohomish County. I'd been there once before, after a calligraphy retreat to see an exhibit of Jocelyn Curry Asher's paintings, so beautiful, so carefully drawn and colored and her calligraphy was exquisite.

The WaxyLady sculpture was not amused, but we were.Susan Russell also has pieces on exhibit there. She teaches art in the Snohomish high school and has a wild woman way with color that matches her raving red locks. I looked at her notebook of previous work and bought two cards of hers.

Anyway, there we were, looking in the main gallery at the pieces of Tim and Lynda Lord. They were sculptures and paintings of the same subject. They were so funny and surprising, these heads of women with fantastic decorations. I even bought a sheet of stamps based on their paintings and sculptures.

A garden of cups and tin flowers entertained our minds.In the gift shop, they had lots of greeting cards (two in brush lettering with illustrations by Susan Russell), jewelry, ceramics, and these most ingenious bird feeders. They were cups and saucers, some looking like fine china, most of sturdy stoneware. The cups and saucers were glued together and bolted onto an aluminum rod that sticks into the ground. They'd also make interesting water sources for birds.

There were also interesting garden "flowers", made from tin cut into petal shapes, bolted together on an aluminum rod, with bottle caps as the center. One of my favorites had a Guinness bottle cap center. These were tastefully done, not like the beer can-crocheted hats favored by fashion terrorist party animals as personal adornment in the '70s. As they move in the wind, the garden "flowers" would be a good bird deterrent for your homegrown berries.

Don looked at the sculpture and noted that there was a video production in progress. Since he is a video producer, he asked about the project and found out that a Seattle production firm was video taping a training video called Keeping the Good Ones. Just a couple of weeks later I found myself writing up an announcement for the very same training program for a client who sells training programs.

On the way out of town, we stopped at the St. Vincent de Paul store but didn't see anything worth buying. So sad, oftentimes some of the most interesting things come from a thrift store. At Christmastime, at a Value Village, I bought my daughter-in-law a beautiful Eddie Bauer bowl with a painted sage green plaid outside and Arts and Crafts-looking oak leaves on the inside, for a very good price; and she loved it.

We should have asked what the blank space was for in the name.Rolling back into Mukilteo at lunchtime we stopped at the Manhattan Restaurant. The menu offers a funny amalgam of cuisines, featuring Egyptian, Greek, Italian, American and Mexican, as well as an ice cream parlor. When I see a sign like that, I wonder, do they do anything well? Well, yes they do.

We had an appetizer of stuffed grape and cabbage leaves. The grape leaves are better. With cabbage we're tilting way into Polish cuisine. With grape leaves, we're staying in the Mediterranean.

I had meatballs and spaghetti and I liked it. The noodles were al dente and the meatballs were very good. Don said they tasted like my meatloaf - perhaps the same ingredients with the inclusion of something else. I asked what the different taste was and Mrs. Bartos told me - a little dill.

An immigrant Egyptian couple Mr. and Mrs. Pete Bartos, who are always there with their little girl (and two boys in school), own the Manhattan.

The restaurant is normally closed on Mondays. They were actually only open for a party; we came in and so they served us, too . . . and then a young couple after us.

That night we went to Ivar's again, but the wind wasn't blowing so hard so we could stroll instead of hurry. I had a wonderful salad. Don had appetizers and we shared a dessert. After dinner we walked hand in hand onto the fishing pier and then around the Silver Cloud on the pedestrian pier. It was a lovely evening and the views were so inviting.

That evening we watched "Remember the Titans" on pay-per-view. It was a good, thought-provoking movie about overcoming prejudice and becoming a unified team. Also, it starred Denzel Washington, another good reason to watch it. I told you we were looking for the quiet life.

I drew some mock-ups for valentines in colored pencils in my sketch book while Don slept after the movie. I never did get all the valentines made for all the family members, but I did an interesting variation for Don. (He had asked me what I wanted for a Valentine's Day present, and I told him, "A love letter." That put the impetus on me to produce one for him, too!)

Don remarked about how it was a small world. Just weeks before our outing, we had taken our son Del to the Leon Russell concert at the Emerald Queen. One of the songs Leon played was his own arrangement of a Bobby Dylan (another of Don's favorite singers from the old days) song, "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." Don hadn't heard that rendition of the song before. We heard it again in the background of "Remember the Titans."

I like it here.The next morning I got up and enjoyed the continental breakfast, again, in the beautiful lobby. I ate alone. Don had already gone out. He went to the Manhattan and enjoyed the company of owner Pete Botros. They talked for about a half an hour. Pete's from Egypt and spent most of his time in the United States in New York and that's why the place is called the Manhattan.

"So, you like New York?" Don asked. "No," he replied, "I like it here." About thirteen years ago he went back to Egypt and met his wife there. They got married and live upstairs. He was a contractor, but became a restaurant owner about a year ago. The restaurant is still taking shape. "You should have been here Saturday evening," Pete said. It sounds like the Manhattan is the place to go on Saturdays. Belly dancing seems to attract the crowds, but I think that maybe it's more than just the bellies and the dancing. I think the people come because of the Botros family. Nice people. Good food.

After lunch, we headed home, reluctantly.

We had decided not to go to Whidby Island this trip. That ferry is so busy, it must be some happening place. I have a line on some B&Bs there. Maybe next time . . .

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