Monday, June 20, 2011

Why I Love Seattle/Bellevue

My parents recently drove to the Northwest for my daughter’s graduation. Though Mom had visited Seattle several times, this was Dad’s first trip to this part of the country. After introducing Dad to all I love about this area, I can more easily articulate some of the things I’ll miss by leaving. Here’s a sample:

• Driving across the floating bridge with waves and white caps on one side and pure calm on the other.
• Walking up and down hills in downtown Seattle and understanding why one inch of snow paralyzes this steep city. (People continue to insist that we are wimps compared to drivers in such flat cities as Denver and Chicago.)
• Viewing the bubblegum wall in Post Alley. I can’t imagine such a place in staid, stuffy Washington, DC.
• Watching the ferries. I don’t take the ferries very often because I don’t have a real need to reach the Kitsap or Olympic Peninsulas (or any of the many islands in between). I do enjoy watching the peaceful behemoths sail across Puget Sound. When I am on a ferry, I truly love the views of Seattle that I am always treated to.
• Knowing that we not only have many sidewalks and paths but knowing that they are well used.
• Living within a 10-15 minute walk of the post office, bank, grocery, restaurants, parks, schools, and a community-centered shopping center.
• Knowing how rain may bug us in extremely cloudy years like this one, but it doesn’t paralyze us. We still go out and play baseball and other sports, shop, and participate in outdoor activities.
• Believing that people here are far less inclined to be concerned about “what the neighbors think.” They are more concerned about their neighbors. This is a very outward-focused community.
• Living in a diverse community. Bellevue Schools host children with over 80 different first languages. My kids are friends with lots and lots of other kids who were either born in another country or whose parents were born in another country. People around here don’t think in terms of color or ethnicity. Everyone is accepted.
• Serving in our community. Unlike some churches who focus inward and sustain their own, our church focuses outward to help sustain and enhance the community through many different organizations. It doesn’t proselytize or condemn; it loves. I love that.
• Receiving care at Group Health. We’ve been part of this HMO our entire time here, and I don’t have a single regret. After two births, 8 collective surgeries, 12 collective broken bones (11 to one individual), and numerous other visits, I have rarely had a poor experience. When I left DC, I was only too happy to leave my previous health care provider behind.
• Shopping at Pike Place Market. Dad asked me in advance why I love it. All I could think of was how can’t I? The sights, the smells, the local artisans, the flavors, the views all excite me. If I could afford the parking, I would go there all the time.
• Getting through the downtown core. Bellevue is more accessible and pedestrian friendly than any East Coast city I know of. We have parks and shops and businesses all together in a relaxed atmosphere. Dad compared downtown Bellevue to Tysons Corner, VA, but Tysons raises my blood pressure every time I consider navigating through it.
• Teaching our kids. Bellevue schools are consistently ranked among the top in the nation. I’ve been active in the education community here for many years. I don’t know that my interest would be well-received in Southern Maryland.
• Reading the news. In Seattle, our news has a lot of local flavor. DC news was all political. International news was also local news because everything that happens in DC affects the whole world. Around here, the local issues and events make the headlines when WTO stays away.
• Riding public transportation. Our high schoolers take the Metro bus instead of school busses. It allows them to learn how to use public transportation, and it frees them to use it when it is convenient for them. The bus drives by Interlake every 30 minutes. Other routes are also close by. A transit station is a ½ mile from the school.
• Standing next to Bill Gates. Okay, this only happened once while standing in line for tickets at a movie theater. My point is that you can easily stand next to some super rich person and not even realize it. People here aren’t pretentious and often don’t want to be known as anyone special. The ones I know are among the nicest and most sincere people I have had the pleasure to meet.
• Smelling the flowers. Sure, everywhere has flowers, but ours are bigger, brighter, and smellier. It’s all the rain that does it. No rhododendron in Charlotte Hall is so big that it gets confused with a tree.
• Seeing the mountains. True, we don’t get to see them very often. When they do appear, however, it’s beautiful beyond my inarticulate tongue. I often see the Olympics to the west when the clouds break just before sunset. The Cascades are just east of us with a sentry of peaks from the Canadian border to the Oregon border and beyond. From Bellevue and Seattle, we can see Mount Rainier looming large when the clouds break. On a really special day, we can see Mount Baker standing guard at the Canadian border. Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens appear as we drive south on I-5 heading toward Portland. My name is Lyrel, and I’m addicted to mountains.

I’ll stop here, though I could continue on and on. For balance, I will post another blog soon with all the reasons why I’ll enjoy moving to Charlotte Hall.

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