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May 22, 2013

Last week we had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Spokane. It's a city of about 210,000 people, making it the second largest city in Washington State. It's about a three hour drive for us, but it's only 90 miles from the Canadian border. It's name is taken from the Native American Indian tribe that used to live in that area; Spokane meaning 'Children of the sun'. The reason we went there was for a basketball tournament. My son Cass had four games to play, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday. We set off early on Saturday morning, with everybody yawning and dozing(1) in the car. We checked into our hotel, and then made our way(2) to the High School where the basketball games were going to be played. When the second game was over, we decided to go downtown(3) and look around, as we are not familiar with the city. The center has a very large park with a river running through it that becomes Spokane Falls. This is a huge waterfall that tumbles(4) under a wide bridge. The river was high because of the recent melting of snow in the mountains, so the waterfall was extremely turbulent. In another part of the park we saw a monument that was built for the 1974 World's Fair. It was refreshing to be in a city again, especially one that is clean and interesting. We had dinner in the center of downtown Spokane, and then wandered through the shopping area. I happened to see the 'Mobius' center which is an interactive museum that I wrote about a few months ago. The streets, hotels, and restaurants were quite full, as it was the graduation weekend for both universities of Spokane: Whitworth, and Gonzaga University. So there were celebrations going on everywhere, and lots of students dressed up(5) looking very smart. Normally, our children's tournaments are only about sports, but I'm glad to say that(6) this trip turned into a cultural outing.

1. 'Dozing' comes from the verb 'to doze'; it's a sleepy verb. It means to half sleep.

a. During the university lecture I dozed.

b. We all doze during political speeches.

2. 'To make one's way..' means to find your way to a place; it can be figurative as well.

a. We made our way through the crowd to the museum.

b. She made her way through a difficult career.

3. 'Downtown' is the word we use to describe the center of a city or town. Note that it is not necessary to use 'the' with 'downtown' unless it is followed by another noun, such as area.

a. Let's go downtown and see what we can find.

b. They'll go downtown Spokane to visit the park.

c. I would like to visit the downtown area, as I've never been there before.

4. 'To tumble' is a wonderful verb that means to fall in a turning motion.

a. I opened the dryer and all the clothes tumbled onto the floor.

b. The children's toys tumbled down the stairs.

5. 'To dress up' is when a person puts on special clothes or a special costume. This is different from 'getting dressed' which is the normal, daily act of putting your clothes on.

a. You can't wear jeans to the wedding! You have to dress up!

b. We dressed up as ghosts for Halloween.

6. 'I'm glad to say' is a wonderful set phrase that can be included in many sentences, at the beginning or at the end.

a. He finally passed his exams, I'm glad to say.

b. I'm glad to say that the council approved the plans for the park.

Join me on my FACEBOOK page at Anna Fromacupofenglish; you're all welcome. Let me know your questions and comments, or if you need to practice English through Skype by sending me an email at acupofenglish@hotmail.com.