Safari Wilderness Ranch's exotic wetland animals freely roam 260 acres of grassy plains, girded by an 850-square-mile watershed. Accredited by the Zoological Association of America and licensed by the USDA, the ranch is an agritourism project dedicated to teaching about endangered species through hands-on safaris. Wandering zebra and watusi-cattle herds coexist harmoniously with waterbuck and lost cable guys as explorers ride by on trucks, horse-drawn carts, and camels. An outdoor aviary flutters with nearly 100 colorful, playful budgie parakeets who will munch millet seeds from the palm of a hand, and a lemur habitat allows guests to feed the ring-tailed primates grapes.
Though their flight school has racked up some impressive recognition—including the prestigious 2012 President's Award from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)—John Amundsen and his Tailwheels, Etc. team eschew pomp and circumstance in favor of fun. According to Jill W. Tallman of Flight Training magazine, you won't "see flight instructors in epaulets. In the summertime, everybody wears shorts and T-shirts—instructors and students alike." The crew hosts weekly cookouts to promote a welcoming, social atmosphere and has created a community room where budding aviators can learn from private pilots and former military and airline pilots.
As Tallman reported, Amundsen meant to retire in Florida after his aviation career but now finds himself happily running the family business. His son Jonathan has been flying since the age of 2 and heads up the aircraft-maintenance department with the help of his wife—flight instructor and mechanic Liz Amundsen. The couple restored their 1940 Stearman Kaydet so people could experience the thrill of flying an open-cockpit biplane. Their infant son Riley is currently training for an aviation career by plotting flight paths for the airplane mobile above his crib.
Tailwheels, Etc. is one of the first flight schools in the country to be accredited by the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA). The school specializes in an accelerated, two-week private pilot-training program that gets students into the air quickly and safely.
Gold's Gym began more than 45 years ago and today features an impressive array of next-generation fitness gadgets, a results-oriented focus, and clean facilities. With today's deal, a member of Gold's Gym's staff of certified personal trainers will test each client's strength, flexibility, and body-fat percentage, among other metrics, before designing a personalized fitness regimen. Then, clients can follow up with regular attendance at the friendly gym, where they can hop on a cardio machine, pump up in a controlled manner on strength-training machines, acquire a golden glaze in the tanning beds, and loosen up in the yoga and Pilates studios.
Curves trades in competitive rows of workout equipment for a circle of hydraulic resistance machines designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. During 30-minute circuit classes, trainees form a convivial circle as they rotate from machine to machine, timed by a soundtrack of fun, upbeat music. Health-minded toe-tappers can attend eight classes of the new Curves Circuit with Zumba Fitness, which mixes Zumba dance moves with resistance exercises to create a muscle-toning combo that's almost as fun as your Jane Fonda salsercise tapes.
In more than 100 locations around the country, ThrillZown's staff facilitates adrenaline-filled excursions full of extreme water, air, and land adventures. Under the supervision of experts, brave souls defy gravity as they skydive, hang-glide, bungee jump, or play films of apples falling off trees in reverse. On land, crews harness the power of horses, stock cars, and snowmobiles; in the water, groups navigate whitewater rapids or explore aquatic depths as they scuba dive or surf.
Situated in the center of a cluster of lakes, Chain of Lakes Kayak Rentals grants adventurers quick access to scenic nautical exploration. Half- and full-day tours expose visitors to local sights and waterways, giving them ample time to admire the lake’s verdant shores. Alternatively, hourly rentals of single and tandem kayaks let guests venture out at their own pace, paddling to the tune of their own drum or the drum their partner is beating instead of helping with the paddling.