I’ve told this story countless times and I’ve even overheard people I didn’t know tell this story.
On October 10, 1999 I asked Julie to join me for a “day long date” and asked her to leave her cell phone at home to avoid any interuption.
We headed north from Tacoma to Seattle and enjoyed the day being tourists. We rode to the top of the Space Needle, visited the oldest Starbucks, and spent time on the waterfront.
As we drove to and from Seattle that day I complained that my otherwise reliable Toyota Camry wasn’t running right. As we continued our day and drove towards Gig Harbor, on mostly deserted roads, I finally told Julie I needed to stop and look under the hood.
After unsuccessfully diagnosing my car trouble I climbed back in the driver’s seat and decided to continue our day. The car didn’t start. I tried again after pounding on the steering wheel and…nothing. We were stuck, without cell phones, along the road, with no one around to help.
I decided the best idea was to wait for the next car, flag them down, and get a ride to a service station where we could call friends. I knew the closest public phone was about 5 minutes (driving) away and it seemed reasonable to hitch a ride.
The next vehicle to come around the corner was a U-Haul moving van and, as planned, I flagged them down. The man who stepped out of the U-Haul wore army fatigues, a tight white tank top, and looked like Bruce Willis at the end of a Die Hard movie…he needed a bath.
I asked if he’d take us up to the next gas station, he agreed, but told us we’d have to ride in the back. I looked at Julie and she agreed. I think at this point she just felt bad that my plan was going awry. We jumped in and they shut the back of the truck. It was dark…shockingly dark.
After about 10 minutes of riding in the back the stress level rose when I said, “I don’t want you to freak out, but I know the gas station wasn’t this far, and I don’t know where they’re taking us.”
The next 10 minutes involved me apologizing, Julie praying for our freedom, erratic driving, me crying, and discussions on escape, and how to use the bathroom.
Shortly after noticing that we’d left paved roads the truck came to a stop and we heard footsteps in gravel, another car speeding off, and then silence.
We waited a couple minutes and decided to throw open the back door and run away from the vehicle into the forest. We weren’t sure where we were, but we decided to get away from the truck in case our captors came back. Our running turned to walking as we got further from the truck. We turned the corner and came upon a table drapped in a white table cloth, dinner and wine at the edge of the Puget Sound.
When I invited Julie to have dinner she began to suspect that everything we had just experienced may have not been as it seemed. We had dinner and then I told her I had something for her. I asked her to close her eyes as I made my way to the other side of the table to join her. At this point I placed a candy necklace around her neck (one of her favorite candies). She smiled and I asked her to close her eyes again and this time I placed a ring pop on her finger. We repeated this until her neck was full of candy and she had a ring pop on every finger except her ring finger. At this point I took to my knee, said something amazing (I’m sure) and proposed.
Then we drove the U-Haul back to my house where her parents and our friends were waiting to celebrate.