The sounds of slap shots and blades carving the ice resound through Big Bear Ice Arena as it sets the stage for visitors participating in hockey, figure skating, and a host of other games. Hockey programs for kids and adults follow the rules and regulations set forth by USA Hockey, which allows slap shots but not checking or doing burnouts in a Zamboni. When pucks aren't careening from board to board, figure skaters can glide out onto the ice for programs that range from a Learn to Skate class to competitive team events. Less competitive patrons, meanwhile, can log their time on the ice through games such as bandy and broomball or casual open skates.
Aviation Xtreme's simulators let land-locked folk fly aboard jetfighters and WWI- or WWII-era aircraft in aerial missions or close-range combat. Aspiring aces strap into the cockpit of their simulator and choose from aircraft such as an F-15A Eagle, F-4 Phantom, or P-51 Mustang. After a short instructional video, they take off into the realistic blue yonder on a chosen mission, which can include an anti-ship mission or ground-attack mission. Each simulator is part of a larger computerized network, allowing friends to go head-to-head in a dogfight or team up to carve clouds into self-portraits.
Aviation Xtreme is housed inside Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, the former locale of the 1930s-built Lowry Air Force Base that closed in 1995, reports Frommer’s. These days, the 150,000-square-foot hangar houses more than four dozen airplanes, including five Century Series fighters and one of two B-1A Lancers on display in the world. The museum is even home to a full-size X-Wing Starfighter from Star Wars and the Harrison Ford Welcome Theater, where the staff starts each day in hiding to surprise Mr. Ford in case he visits.
In addition to aircraft from films, the museum’s space and rocketry exhibits include full-scale replicas of boilerplate spacecrafts used to train Apollo missions to the moon. Others models recreate planes in all their glory, such as the 16-foot Titan II launch vehicle, while hands-on exhibits replicate the conditions of space travel.
John Hand had a theory: for any problem a person might have, someone in their local community has a solution. To that end, he founded Colorado Free University, continuing a tradition that began with the Denver Free University of the 1970s and early '80s. Whereas the Denver Free University was created as a political move to make education more accessible, the Colorado incarnation sets its sights on simple personal betterment, becoming more of a learning network than a school. All of its teachers are independent contractors culled from the local community, and together they helm skill-based and enrichment classes for adults, spanning a range of artistic, humanitarian, and business disciplines.
Students can receive training in foreign languages or ASL, business or digital marketing, or acting, visual arts, or woodworking. The school's facilities also accommodate CompuSkills computer-training classes, which progress from basic sessions in computer operation to advanced sessions in photoshopping a ghost out of a family portrait. There are cooking classes, foreign language courses, and style classes, all of which turn out well-rounded pupils. The campus's 89-seat John Hand Theater, meanwhile, hosts intimate performances from local Firehouse Theater Company and Spotlight Theatre Company.