For those of you who missed our Bellevue City Hall Tour, I wanted to share what we learned because I think the info is really important for everyone!
First off, thanks so much to Kevin Henry for organizing this day for us. Kevin is the City of Bellevue's Diversity Outreach Coordinator. He shared many great pieces of information with us. Here are a few things we learned:
1) City Hall has 2 excellent brochure walls with all sorts of helpful information about resources, exhibits, and other offerings throughout Bellevue. All brochures are free and many are translated into different languages.
2) If you have a concern that you would like the City Council to address, you can contact them by email or attend a City Council Meeting. Visit the City of Bellevue Website for more information. Click on the links below:
Request Assistance or Report Issues
City of Bellevue: http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/
(For those of you who do not live in Bellevue, your city will have similar types of resources; just visit the website for your local City Hall.)
3) If you would like to host a cultural event that would be free and open to all, you might be able to use space in City Hall for this event. Find out more by contacting Kevin about what you have in mind. Kevin is a great resource for us!
Kevin Henry's email is: KHenry@Bellevuewa.gov
We were also joined by a very friendly and helpful police officer who answered a lot of our questions. Here are a few of the important points:
1) Keep your home safe by locking all doors and windows whenever you are not at home and while you are sleeping.
2) Be careful when answering the door if there is a strange person who you do not recognize or were not expecting. It's okay to tell the person that you do not open the door for strangers and ask them to please leave.
3) Call 9-1-1 from any phone, anywhere in the U.S., in an emergency situation or call the non-emergency number for the police, which is monitored 24 hours a day. In Bellevue the non-emergency number is: (425) 452-6917.
(If you do not live in Bellevue, you can find your local non-emergency police number by doing a web search.)
4) If you are unsure whether something is an emergency or not, go ahead and call 9-1-1. The person who answers the call will be able to help you and direct you to the proper resource for help.
5) If you get into a car accident, here are the steps you can take:
1) Take a deep breath and don't panic. Stay calm.
2) Check for injuries. Call 9-1-1 if anyone is injured.
3) If the accident is minor, move the car to a safe place, out of traffic.
4) Turn on the hazard lights.
5) Call the police (911) and file an accident report.
6) Exchange information with the other driver:
names, phone number, license plate number, insurance information
6) The police in the U.S. are here to help you and keep you safe. You do not need to fear the police, and if you ever have a complaint about a police officer you can contact the non-emergency number and report your issue.
Finally we were joined by the Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Bellevue, Shelly Shellabarger. She is the most knowledgeable person in Bellevue regarding volunteer opportunities! I know many people have had difficulty finding volunteer positions, and Shelly sounds like the perfect person to help with this issue. She suggests you email her directly with very specific ideas about what you're interested in, and she can connect you with places all around the area that need volunteers.
Shelly's email is: email@example.com
All in all, it was a great morning. Thanks again to all the people who helped make this possible!
Please let us know if you have further questions or concerns, and we can try to find the answers for you.
Last week, several of us took a walking tour of the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. Fremont is a colorful, eclectic neighborhood filled with public art, sculptures, boutiques, cafes, and a lively atmosphere. Its residents are full of neighborhood pride and affectionately call their town "The Center of the Universe"!!
For those of you who were unable to join us on the tour, I've put a self-guided version of the tour here, so you can head to Fremont on your own or with friends and family, and take the tour yourselves ;-)
If you go on a Sunday, the famous Fremont Farmer's Market is open!
Here is The Walking Tour of Fun, Funky Fremont!
Start your tour at the corner of N. 34th Street and Fremont Ave. N, in front of Peet's Coffee. Head across the Fremont Bridge for a view of the Ship Canal and a closer look at the drawbridge:
This drawbridge was finished in 1917. It is a very low bridge, so it opens an average of 35 times a day, making it the most frequently opened bridge in the U.S. A neon Rapunzel, added in 1995, can be seen in the window of the northwest tower of the bridge. The Welcome to Fremont silly sign (shown above) can be found at the entrance to the Fremont neighborhood, on the on the southeast side of the Fremont drawbridge.
Look to the east of the Fremont Bridge and you will see the beautiful Aurora Bridge:
This beautiful bridge, also known as the George Washington Memorial Bridge, was finished in 1932. It is 165 ft. above the water. Sadly, over 230 people have died by jumping off the bridge, so in 2006, emergency telephones with suicide hotlines were added in several places along the span, and in 2011 an anti-suicide fence was installed.
Walk back across the drawbridge toward Fremont and at the end of the bridge you will see Seattle's most decorated public sculpture, Waiting for the Interurban:
Waiting for the Interurban:
A cast aluminum sculpture built in 1979. It depicts several people waiting for the trolley that used to run between Fremont and downtown Seattle. The locals frequently dress the statue in different clothing and costumes, just for fun or to promote a cause.
Walk east along 34th Street and you will come to the next piece of art, a sculpture of 2 dancing clowns:
JP Patches and Gertrude:
A bronze statue unveiled in 2008, depicting the famous Seattle clown J.P. Patches and his co-star Gertrude. J.P. Patches was a local favorite of Seattle children since 1958. His children’s TV show was extremely popular here. He died of cancer last month (July 22, 2012). All money collected in the coin bank on the statue goes directly to support the Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Patches was a frequent visitor to entertain the children.
Continue on 34th Street, then turn left at the History House (with a fun, colorful, and flowery gate) and head up Troll Ave., underneath the Aurora Bridge. At the top of the hill, lurking beneath the shadows of the bridge, you will see the famous Fremont Troll:
This scary-looking “troll under the bridge” is clutching a real Volkswagen Beetle! The one-eyed troll is 18 ft. tall and is made of steel rebar, wire, and concrete. It was built in 1990, and obtained instant fame.
Turn left at the troll and walk along N. 36th, then turn left onto Fremont Ave. N. In the middle of the intersection of Fremont Ave. and 35th St., you'll see the colorful directional signs:
Center of the Universe Directional Markers:
Fremont jokes that it is the “Center of the Universe” and these colorful markers point the way to all other places, such as the Louvre, the North Pole, Machu Picchu, and Taiwan!!
Also on this street, you'll see the Vintage Mall shop:
Pop in this fun and funky vintage shop that carries all sorts of clothing and other odds & ends from earlier days.
From the directional markers, continue west on Fremont Place, and at the corner of N. 36th St. you'll see the huge statue of Lenin:
This towering statue of Lenin was originally erected in Poprad, Czechoslovakia in 1988, but was toppled a year later when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. The statue then lay face down in the mud at the Poprad dump until an American English teacher from Issaquah, WA saw the statue, admired it, and mortgaged his house to purchase it and transport it back to the U.S.!! It was installed in Fremont as public art in 1995, amid much controversy. The statue is actually for sale and waiting for a buyer… the price: $250,000.00. Any takers??
Turn left from the statue and walk down Evanston Ave. Look up as you walk and you'll see the Fremont Rocket at the top of the entry to a store:
A 55 ft. 1950’s military-style rocket installed for no other reason than to be something interesting to look at and photograph in Fremont!
From here, head down N. 35th St. for 1 long block to Phinney Ave., where you'll catch a whiff of chocolate and come to the famous Seattle chocolate factory:
A specialty chocolate-maker, using only fair-trade, organic products to make their uniquely flavored chocolates. Inside, you can taste some interesting chocolate…beware of the “chile chocolate”- it’s really spicy!! If you have time, you can take an hour-long tour of the factory (go online or call ahead for reservations: www.theochocolate.com)
As you exit the chocolate store, continue one block down Phinney Ave., toward the water, where you'll find a pair of green, leafy dinosaurs:
A pair of friendly topiary dinosaurs- mom& child in the park along the Ship Canal.
This completes the tour, but save time to hang out in Fremont longer and pop in some of the fun boutiques and tasty cafes! If it's a Sunday, visit the Fremont Farmer's Market. Enjoy!
There is a joke in our area that summer in Seattle doesn't "officially" begin until July 5th (while the rest of the country has been enjoying summer since May!!) Well, we were right on schedule this year, and... summer has finally arrived! Can you believe this fantastic summer weather we are having??
There are many events and festivals to enjoy throughout the summer months. Our ELLA co-founder, Denise, has put together a list of festivals and events throughout the state. Thank you, Denise!! This is a great list of some wonderful ideas for enjoying the summer:
People are often asking me for ways to practice English outside of the classroom. Recently I've had several requests for textbook suggestions, as well. Below are some ideas:
1) Movies & Television. You'd be surprised how many people I meet who tell me that they learned English entirely on their own by watching television! It really amazes me, but it's true. The people I've met who learned English by watching American TV speak really, really well, so I think this method is proven to work!
It's also a really fun and relaxing way to learn. Plus, the language is very realistic, unlike a lot of textbook CD's or recordings that are very "forced" or unrealistic.
I suggest you turn on the "caption" or "subtitle" option on your TV, so that you can read the English as you listen, at least at first. Then you can turn off the captions and listen again a second time.
2) Online Practice. The Internet has completely changed the world of ESL learning for the better! There are some really fantastic websites to help people learn (there are also a lot of really awful ESL sites, so be careful!)
One of my new favorites is BBC: Learning English. Someone recently brought my attention to this website, and I really like it. You can listen to short stories in English (with a British accent!), then scroll over certain words for vocabulary definitions and pronunciation, or listen to a story and then answer a question about the story at the end to see how well you understood. They also have all sorts of other fun things on this website.
Another favorite is English Central. This site has several features that I like. For pronunciation, you can listen and see visuals of where your tongue needs to move when you make certain sounds. They also have videos that are very helpful. And if you have a microphone on your computer, you can even practice making the sounds into your microphone, and it will rate you on how well you're doing! (please don't be upset if it gives you a poor rating... I think it will be extra-hard to have a computer evaluating you!!)
There are many, many other sites that are great and I've listed some popular ones on our ELLA website, so please click here to see more helpful websites and videos. If you have another recommendation that is not listed here, please let us know!
3) Books and Texts. Reading good fictional novels is a great way to learn. In a previous blog post (Summer Reading, 5/24/12), I listed some of my favorite novels. You might try some of those and see what you think. If they are too difficult, you might start with children's level books (I will make another blog post about some children's books soon!)
As for textbooks, these can be dry and boring, but some are helpful for getting the basic rules and answering grammar concerns. I made a list of some of the ones that I've used in teaching my classes. I've found these texts useful and helpful.
Click here for the list, which is at the bottom of the ESL Study Ideas page of our website.
4) Get out of the house, and talk & listen and talk & listen and talk & listen... you get the picture?
This is most important! Don't be shy :-) Regular daily practice hearing others and speaking with others is the best way to learn!
Okay, I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. See you soon, I hope.
Hi everyone! I wrote about some of my favorite hikes in the area in a previous post, but people have been asking about camping sites that they could drive to, rather than hike to, so here is a list of some nice camping sites.
We are so lucky to live in a state with so many beautiful options. There are literally hundreds of beautiful, forested campsites that you can drive to. Some are "first-come, first serve," but at many you can make a reservation in advance. Then it's as simple as parking your car, setting up your tent, and you're ready to light your campfire and enjoy dinner and s'mores! (okay, does everyone know about s'mores?? They're my favorite part of camping! First, you take a marshmallow and roast it on a stick over the campfire, then you put the toasty marshmallow between two graham crackers along with a piece of Hershey's chocolate... mmmmm... it's a delicious treat!)
Okay, back to the campsites. Below is a list of a few good ones. You can click on the name of each place listed below, and it will take you to the park website. Then click on "Camping" or "Reservations" to find more info or make a reservation:
1) Fort Flagler - We camped here a few years ago with two other families. We had so much fun! It's a beautiful area. The camping area is on a high bluff, overlooking Puget Sound. You camp surrounded by beautiful forest, but the saltwater shoreline is just a short walk away. There are also some historic remains from a military fort that you can visit. It's fun to explore the old, abandoned fort. Fort Flagler Campground is about 2.5 hours drive from Bellevue.
2) Deception Pass- This is a really beautiful area along the strait of water connecting the Skagit Bay with Puget Sound. There are breathtaking views from cliffs overlooking the water. A beautiful bridge spans the straight. Deception Pass is 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Bellevue.
3) Alta Lake- This is a camping area located beside an alpine lake. Some people like to fish for trout in the lake during the summer. The area is on the border of where the forested, lush green Western Washington meets the drier, more desert-like Easter Washington. Alta Lake is about 3.5 hours drive from Bellevue.
4) Cape Disappointment- Don't let the crazy name of this park scare you away! This camping area is not a disappointment at all!! It's a beautiful spot along the Pacific Ocean, at the southwestern tip of Washington State. There is a charming lighthouse that you can see high on a bluff. There are plenty of reservable tent sites, but if you don't want to camp in a tent, you can reserve a "Yurt" or cabin at this park. Cape Disappointment is about 3.5 hours drive from Bellevue.
Camping in Mt. Rainier National Park:
The following two campgrounds are located in Mt. Rainier National Park. These are beautiful, of course, but extremely popular, so you will need to make a reservation well in advance. Both of the campgrounds are approximately 2.5 hours drive from Bellevue.
1) Ohanapecosch- This campground is located in the southeast corner of the Park. It has beautiful old-growth forest and the area offers views of Mt. Rainier and surrounding mountain ranges, as well as many hiking trails.
2) Cougar Rock, near Longmire- This campground is 2 miles from Longmire in a beautiful part of Rainier National Park. I'll be camping here later this month, so I'll let you know how it is!!
This is just a very small sample of the many wonderful places to camp in Washington State! You can explore many more opportunities on the State Park Website. Also, if you are not quite so brave about camping in a tent, many of the parks offer Yurts, Cabins, or Platform Tents (click on the tab that says "cabins/yurts" on the website link above).
These accommodations are rustic, but not quite as rustic as sleeping in a tent ;-)
So... hopefully the sun will come out soon and the temperature will warm up so we can enjoy these summer activities!! Contact me if you have questions about any of the information in this blog. Also, if you have a favorite campsite that you'd like to share, please let us know!
Some people have been asking me about some of my favorite books to read. I love to read, so I'd like to share some good ones with you. I call the ones on this list "summer reading" books because this is a list of great fictional stories that are "quick reads", meaning you will get into the story quickly and hopefully be unable to put the book down because you love it so much! They are great books for the summer... when you can read outside in the beautiful weather or on vacation somewhere special :-)
Here is a list of some of my all-time favorites. All of these are books I could not put down!! I hope you will enjoy them, too:
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
Still Alice, by Lisa Genova
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
City of Thieves, by David Benioff
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
Kane and Abel, by Jeffrey Archer
Let me know how you like these, if you read them. And please feel free to share your own favorites with all of us, if you have some good ones. Happy reading!
With summer on the way, I've been thinking about hiking. We are so lucky to live in an area with so much beautiful terrain... water and mountains everywhere you look!
I like to hike with my family, so one of my favorite hiking books is called:
Best Hikes with Children: Western Washington & the Cascades, Volume 1, by Joan Burton
This book was great when my kids were young, and it's STILL great now that they're all grown up!!
I highly recommend this book, even if you don't have kids. In my opinion, it's one of the most useful books for finding enjoyable hikes in our area. It rates the hikes by difficulty and gives you great directions and useful tips.
Here are some of my favorite hikes in our area. You can click on the link to find more information:
1) Denny Creek Slippery Rocks- A beautiful mile-long hike through the forest, along the creek, until you reach a spot where the water runs over big, flat granite rocks and makes a natural waterslide. Kids and adults alike love to splash in the shallow water here on a hot summer day!
2) Twin Falls- a beautiful hike through a lush, green forest that leads to a beautiful waterfall.
3) Boulder River Waterfall- Another great hike through old-growth forest that leads to a spectacular waterfall.
4) Soleduck Falls- This hike is in the Olympic National Park, so it's a bit farther away. It's a really beautiful hike through mossy old-growth forest, and a beautiful waterfall. http://www.olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com/sol-duc-falls
Okay, so can you tell I like waterfalls?? I also love the coastal beaches, and here are a few
of my favorite coastal hikes:
1) Second Beach- This is a lovely hike through lush forest that leads to a Pacific coastal beach. It's also a great place to pitch a tent and camp overnight, if you have a pack to carry some camping supplies and don't mind backpack hiking for about a mile to the beach. It's beautiful and we've camped here twice with our kids. It can get crowded on weekends, so if you are able to go during the week, then lucky you! It's so beautiful at Second Beach!! I love this place.
2) Shi Shi Beach- Another beautiful hike through forest that leads to a Pacific coastal beach. You can also camp at this beach. I haven't been here yet, but I intend to go this summer. It's said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Pacific Northwest.
By the way, if you don't have your own tent or camping backpack, you can rent these items at REI.
If anyone else has great places to share, please post and share them with us.
Best wishes for happy summertime hiking!