Tucked away in a grove of towering red and white pine trees, the Character Challenge Course pits teams of patrons against a series of obstacles, fostering confidence, teamwork, and communication skills. A collection of low-ropes activities challenges teams with trust falls, games, and role-playing exercises while remaining a short distance from the ground. High-ropes challenges, meanwhile, soar to heights of up to 35 feet, and include cloud-scraping ladders, wobbly bridges, and the Leap of Faith, in which patrons must scale a 25-foot pole and then leap to a trapeze bar five feet away before lowering themselves earthward. To further facilitate team unity, groups gather after completing each obstacle to discuss how the course's mental and physical trials can be applied to daily struggles in cooperating with others at work or while opening a pickle jar.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts 1,689 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.
Held at rugged landscapes throughout the country, HARD CHARGE's races drench participants in mud, water, and sweat as they test their own strength, agility, and stamina against a series of tough obstacles. From the kickoff of the first heat, individuals and co-ed teams launch off to storm 30 challenges, which include crossing swift steams with no bridge but a single rope, navigating forests of hanging tires, scaling towers of hay bales and sand, and clambering over vertical cargo nets.
Competitors are separated into two levels, Charge for Fun and Charge for Glory. In the former level, racers navigate the course at their own pace, while the latter chargers athletes to go all-out for a chance to appear in HARD CHARGE's upcoming televised series. In these heats, marshals watch over each obstacle, ensuring competitors successfully complete it without the help of guardian angels. However they complete the test, all participants gather to celebrate their personal achievement at a post-race party featuring music, food, and complimentary beer.
When woodcarver Kim Bredeson crafted a mantel for an employee of the Robert Mondavi Winery, he received a bottle of Opus One as thanks. For Kim and his wife, Tami, the bottle uncorked a five-year fascination with wine that culminated in the Bredeson's purchase of Carlos Creek Winery. On grounds surrounded by five lakes—Ida, L'Homme Dieux, Miltona, Darling and Carlos—the Bredeson's plant unorthodox grape varieties such as King of the North and Petite Pearl, all of which can withstand temperatures 30 degrees and below. Those grapes eventually yield Carlos Creek Winery's award-winning wines, including the riesling-like Wobegon White and the pinot noir-inspired Marquette, a triple gold medal winner at the sixth annual Mid-American Wine Competition.
As Kim leads tours of the vineyards and complementary tours through Carlos Creek Winery's indoor production area and wine cellar, the staff distributes samples and souvenir tasting glasses in the tasting room. Guests can tap their toes to year-round live music every weekend or explore the winery's expansive grounds, which include bike trails, a 3.5-acre maze, and a giant garden chess set, ideal for convincing Bobby Fischer he's shrinking. Every third weekend of September, Kim and Tami amp up the festivities with their Grape Stomp and Fall Festival, where visitors can stomp grapes, admire blown glass and chainsaw carvings, and laugh along to live comedy shows.