One of the best parts of my civilian job is when I escape my Cubicle of Deathly Boredom and get out on the road, providing emergency management planning assistance to local jurisdictions. This week I was invited out to the southeastern portion of our state, which is geographically referred to as The Palouse. This time of the year is especially stunning, with endless rolling hills covered with bright green wheat, undulating in the wind like an emerald ocean. There's a whole different vibe out there, compared to the Seattle area...more laid back, plain spoken attitudes. The Palouse is also home to Washington State University, which is the football arch-rival of my grad school alma mater, the University of Washington. Since I was a guest of the locals, I didn't wear any of my UW apparel...well, at least until I was leaving town this morning...it's good to show the purple and gold just to remind people that all Huskies aren't confined to Seattle.
Next stop was the all-time alliterative capitol of America: Walla Walla Washington! Despite living in this state for over 30 years, I had never visited Walla Walla until today. Serious omission there! Quaint downtown, wine shops about every 100 feet (the Columbia River region boasts some of the finest wineries in the world, and they definitely have the market cornered on quirky, funny names!), and the sidewalks were filled with people eager to prove that Walla Walla deserves their recent honor of being named, "Friendliest Small City in the USA". I witnessed what probably passes for Road Rage, when one motorist hollered at another driver who was blocking an intersection, "Hey there, sir, if it's not too much trouble, can I get by you?" The response? "Oh, gee, I'm really sorry...I'll move in a jiffy! Have a nice day!"
Since I didn't finish my meeting until late afternoon, I decided to stop for dinner in Union Gap, after getting stuck in slow-moving detour traffic. Crawling along the main street, I glanced to my right, and spotted an old favorite from my Yakima Training Center tank gunnery days in 1980-81..."Jean's Cottage Inn". I saw an open parking space and on impulse pulled in. I think the last time I had eaten there was 1983. It was a favorite among our battalion officers, because their schtick was simple and brilliant: Offer a heftyT-Bone steak, potato, and salad for around $10, and serve that meal in about five minutes after you place your order. Naturally I didn't expect the current version to be anything as awesome as I remembered it, but I was dead wrong! Almost 30 years later, the price of a steak dinner had gone up a measly buck ninety-five, the steak was a fork-tender 16oz T-Bone, the salad and potato were first rate, and yep, it was sizzling in front of me in 4 minutes and 27 seconds. If you've stuck with the grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables regimen on a regular basis, but are in the Yakima area craving a serious burst of 1950s chloresterol goodness, you've gotta drop in at Jean's Cottage Inn...(Just be forewarned that Jean's isn't open on weekends...a faith-based accomodation which hasn't hampered business since they opened in 1946.)
I sure do enjoy being on the road!