Traverse City Record-Eagle


Small town to big city

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserEditor’s Note: We’ll be featuring daily blogs from Nicole Blakkan-Esser, winner of the Grand Traverse Regional Spelling Bee, as she competes this week at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Hello! My name is Nicole Blakkan-Esser, and I have the honor of representing our region at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Saturday I departed from Cherry Capital Airport to begin the adventure of  Bee Week.

From there I flew to Washington D.C. I have been here once before, when my brother Lukas competed in the Bee. This year, we are not at the same hotel though.

This is the first year that the Bee is hosted at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The hotel is on the Potomac River. When I first got here my first thought was: huge. Everything here in D.C. is just humongous!

Once we got settled into the hotel room, we explored the convention center.  We even bumped into Paige Kimball, Director of the National Spelling Bee.

Nicole points to her picture on a board of spellers at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Next we found the Maryland Ballroom, which is the actual competition site. I peeked into the ballroom. People were buzzing about making last minute arrangements. The room and its vast space filled with cameras and lights made my stomach do a flip.

Just outside the ballroom is a long hallway filled with banners of each of the past spelling champions. At the end of the hallway there is a large sign with pictures of the 2011 spellers.

Soon it became dinnertime and my family headed out. As soon as we had gone a block or two I felt completely lost in the maze of National Harbor. Luckily, the hotel I am staying at towered above most of the buildings.

While walking down the street, we were part of hundreds of pedestrians leisurely strolling.  Live music filled the air.  There were many different restaurants and shops.

We finally decided to eat at “Potbelly” which is named after the old-fashioned ovens.  It reminded me of a more antique version of Subway.

My first day in the capital area was very fun!

  • Frank Esser

    It sounds like your first day was fun. I heard that Aunt Liza, Uncle Gary and Molly visited all of you yesterday. We watched the Memorial Day concert at the Mall in Washington last night. It was great. Enjoy yourself and enjoy every minute that you are in Washington.  We enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading it during your stay in Washington. Good luck again.  Love, Grandma and Grandpa

  • Faygo

    I was my junior high school spelling bee champion in 1963, in seventh grade.  I was totally confident going to the regionals, but then was tripped up by the word “bounteous,” which I spelled with an “i” instead of an “e”.  I cried.  I cried even more that November 22.  However well you do in the Bee, you have already done your friends and family proud, and all of TC.  You will always remember this time.  Enjoy it.  Win or lose – but you have already won, and thanks.

    • Nicole

      Thank you very much!

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