For Seattle-based Aaron Baggenstos, "it's not just about capturing a photograph, it's about connecting with the natural world.” From his experience traveling the world and capturing internationally recognized wildlife portraits, Baggenstos understands the value of experiencing nature's wonders firsthand. His tours range from two-hour private introductions to the feathered denizens of Seattle to three-day camping trips on the snow-capped, elk-laden Olympic Peninsula. Explorers don't even need to bring their own camera, as Baggenstos is happy to send the shots he takes by email or heron. Those who do want to improve their photography will not be disappointed, as Baggenstos gives not only practical advice about camera settings and image composition but also tips on finding a good camera at a reasonable price. By acting as an explorer first and a photography instructor second, Baggenstos fosters a shared sense of awe and provides tours suited for nature and wild-life enthusiasts.
Tom Peterson channels his passion for cycling and experience as a competitive racer into running his shop. Hoping to create a hub for cyclists of all experience levels, he’s gathered a team of cycling enthusiasts and seasoned mechanics to assist customers and perform a range of services that include repairs, tune-ups, and custom bike building. Their inventory of products from brands such as Shimano, Bianchi, Garmin, and 3T helps cyclists gear up for rides or find the perfect gift for their bike’s birthday.
When night falls over southern Brazil, groups of gauchos gather around flickering fire pits and celebrate the end of another day by slowly grilling meat over the open flames. Novilhos Brazilian Steakhouse aims to capture the spirit of these traditional meals by hosting all-you-can-eat churrasco feasts that Zagat scored as "very good to excellent."
The chefs roast up more than a dozen cuts of meat, including filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken, lamb chops, and pork sausages. Servers dressed as gauchos parade these freshly grilled skewers throughout the dining room, stopping at diners' seats and offering to carve them slices tableside. In between these protein-laden servings, guests can visit the salad bar and load their plates up with more than 60 different side dishes, such as fresh-cut vegetables and imported cheeses.
An osprey hovers 30 feet in the air over Lake Washington, virtually silent until it spots something beneath the water's surface. Quickly, it folds its wings and plunges into the water, emerging seconds later with a fish ripped firmly between its talons. Nearby, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' founder, Dan Henderson, floats by silently. This slice of the pristine outdoors happens to be his workplace, but none of it would have happened if his mother hadn't forced him to take a canoeing lesson in 1972. Despite his initial reluctance, Mr. Henderson took to the water like a robot to a magnet store. He went on to race whitewater canoes and flat-water Olympic-style canoes, eventually earning four medals as a member of the U.S. national team. Later, Mr. Henderson became a coach and set out to train a new crop of water athletes. To this end, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers serves as the natural continuation of Mr. Henderson's journey: a place to, in his words, "share paddling with the community in a manner that is fun and safe."
Under the leadership of expert guides—many of whom learned their trade directly under Dan Henderson's wing—visitors embark on day trips into inlets and bays, paddling in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains or tailgating orca whales. The staff also leads canoe and kayak classes that aim to take novices from beginner to expert. Their efforts have proved fruitful, as three of Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' students have made it to international-level competitions.
InSights Training Center teaches out of local ranges, and it is the exclusive training provider at West Coast Armory's indoor range in Bellevue and at West Coast Armory North in Everett.
With certifications from organizations such as the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and American Women's Self Defense Association, the coed instructors of InSights Training Center teach unarmed and armed personal-security courses under the direction of Army Ranger and Special Forces veteran Greg Hamilton. The highly trained staff has trained more than 15,000 students in its civilian courses alone. Topics range from the Women's Basic Handgun Safety & Responsibility to Unarmed Self Defense, which teaches you to stun an attacker and escape to safety. Outside of training civilians, the instructors provide specialized training programs for members of law enforcement and the military.
In 2005, a group of avid badminton players finally pinpointed their favorite part of the game: community. Springing from this insight, they opened Bellevue Badminton Club, inviting members to mingle or hide from exes behind their rackets on 11 courts open 24/7. The club’s coaches, including Israel's 1998 national champion and a seven-time national collegiate title winner, lead private lessons and classes. For juniors and adults alike, classes range from laid-back to competitive based on pupils' abilities and goals.
When learners vacate the courts, members and nonmembers have free rein to play drop-in matches or trace outlines of each other in chalk. Round-robin doubles and singles leagues cultivate atmospheres of amiable competition, enabled by top-shelf Yonex equipment found at the pro shop.