Celebrated country artist Toby Keith circles the wagons, accompanied by a posse of melodic outlaws and dazzling pyrotechnics during Toby Keith’s Locked & Loaded Tour Presented by Ford F-Series. Toby’s three-fisted lyricism, irresistible hooks, and physics-defying aerodynamics have made him a human cannonball in the canon of country music, and the tour celebrates his new album, Bullets in the Gun, with ballistic flamboyance. Audiences will goggle as 1,000 square feet of video screens, a giant T-shaped ramp party pit, and a dazzling display of explosives form a proscenium framing Toby’s arsenal of straight-shooting hits. Riding sidesaddle on the tour, rowdy troubadour Eric Church deputizes audiences with hits from his No. 1 album Chief, and songsmith JT Hodges belts out ditties about sustaining romance when forced to bake soufflés in zero gravity.
Methow Valley Sport Trails Association's 120 miles of manicured snow pathways unfurl through a scenic landscape of valleys, forests, and mountains. Adventurers spend three consecutive days carving swathes through the powdered paths, with gently rolling areas for beginners, lengthy climbs for veterans, and loop-the-loops for skiers with rockets strapped to their backs. Coast through the 30-kilometer Methow Community Trail, which traverses the Foster-Twalks Suspension Bridge and bows low to the Methow River. On the machine-groomed tracks of the Mazama Trails, newcomers glide through flat farmlands, and the Sun Mountain Trails have an even mix of easy, intermediate, and difficult runs that all end at the doorstep of a warm hut.
It's pitch black inside Purple Haze, one of two inner-tube slides at Slidewaters Lake Chelan Waterpark. The enclosed tube takes riders through 400 feet of darkness, where they twist and turn before dropping back into sunlight and a heated splash pool?the epitome of an adrenaline rush.
Yet for a few moments at the top of the slide?just before the attendant says "go"?it's easy for riders to forget they're inside a water park. The setting could easily come from a postcard. Slidewaters sits just off the shores of Lake Chelan, with national forests and the rolling hills of the Chelan Butte visible in the distance. Luckily, the park makes it easy to relax and soak in the view. A lazy river takes inner tubes and their passengers on leisurely floats around a 500-foot loop, while the 100-degree waters of a hot tub welcome up to 60 individuals or up to 30 identical twins at a time.
At some point, the call of adventure pulls visitors to one of the more thrilling rides, many of which cater to families. The Tube Blaster sends double tubes and their riders through multiple 360 turns, while the Downhill Racer lets three siblings or friends simultaneously coast on mats towards the finish line. Nearby, the Aqua Zoo welcomes younger kids and their parents, who can help toddlers down two animal-themed slides.
That's just what takes place in the water. Here are a few drier things to do: play a game of volleyball, grab a hot dog at the snack stand, or choose from more than 100 temporary air-brush tattoos.
Having grown weary of the Texas tropes of football and heavy-handed competition, James Moore sought some kind of escape. At the advice of his father, he enrolled in Prescott College in Arizona for its unorthodox and outdoorsy approach to education. The school's recreation program lured James to Moab, Utah, where he received his first taste of whitewater rafting. After 30 days hiking the red-rock country, rafting the Green River, and living off peanut butter and freeze-dried dinners, James was not convinced the outdoors were his calling. He struggled to develop survival skills or cultivate an innate sense of how to navigate the wilderness. After one year at Prescott, he found himself returning to Texas.
It was a three-day kayaking trip with his father and brother-in-law on the Guadalupe River that showed James that working together and challenging themselves in such exhilarating conditions could bring people closer to each other and to nature. It wasn't long before he was off again, cramming all his earthly possessions into his pastel-blue '74 Ford Pinto and departing for Western Washington University in Bellingham. Once there, his love affair with the outdoors came to fruition while hiking the lush forests and rafting the bucking rapids of the Pacific Northwest. He was finally at ease in his surroundings.
Orion River Expeditions is the living continuation of James's journey and how he has ultimately solidified his relationship with the great outdoors and his community. He and his team lead explorers down seven of the Pacific Northwest's most scenic and adventuresome rivers, from the Wenatchee in Washington to the Deschutes in Oregon. Each trip strives to bring participants closer to their fellow passengers and their natural surroundings.
Though founded by a seasoned international climber, Mountain Madness is dedicated to getting amateurs out on the peaks. A squad of guides, adept at both climbing and teaching, lead excursions that include climbs and wilderness treks, all while imparting practical mountaineering skills. This holds true on their specialty North American alpine summit climbs that accommodate the varying paces of beginner and more experienced climbers. At areas such as Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, groups navigate forests, active glaciers, rugged rock formations, and intersections with broken traffic lights as they advance to the top?either in one day or over a longer camping trip.
Adventure also permeates the rock-climbing courses, and an array of lead-rope-climbing excursions. Both set out to conquer single- and multi-pitch climbs over granite and other rock on routes in Washington Pass, Leavenworth, and beyond. Though the aforementioned trips are available year-round, avalanche-preparedness training and backcountry skiing excursions present different ways to delve into the winter wilderness.
In 1920, rumor had it there was profitable work to be done in the apple orchards of Washington State's Wenatchee Valley. Unfortunately, North Dakotans Marie Resner Hecht and her brothers didn't have money to travel. So, to earn cash for the trip, the trio sold whiskey made from milk whey. Their westward trek took them to a Dryden orchard, where they settled and eventually brought in 52 harvests.
Today, Carol Levi pays homage to Grandma Marie’s industrious spirit, by combining her family’s history of fruit harvesting and liquor distilling at It’s 5 Artisan Distillery. Here, owner Colin Levi helms the process, making each batch using fruits and grains grown in Washington state. Those ingredients yield spirits such as brandy, grappa, whiskey, fruit liqueur, and, most notably, a gin that Heather Larson of Discover Washington State described as having a blend of botanicals including coriander, star anise, and lavender “not found in any other gin.”