A flock of mallards swoops over the lake, while in the hills above, california valley quail forage in the brush. Each year, gamekeepers release thousands of fowl onto Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve's 1,500 acres, all of which is meticulously designed to re-create the birds' natural habitats. Overseeing a licensing program that prevents crowding in each zone, gamekeepers open the grounds for daily hunts and can even supply hunting dogs with handlers. To help sportsmen refine their hunting skills, instructors lead safety courses and show outdoorsman the most stylish ways to wear hunter orange. The preserve also encompasses three 10-station sporting-clays course, as well as a grouse bunker, two lighted five-stand courses, and a range for trap and skeet shooting.
A clubhouse gives guests a place to relax, and a kitchen opens for breakfast and lunch—days vary depending on the season. It also houses a pro shop, complete with a gun maker experienced in the English tradition of gun fitting, as well as a sporting gun engraver. The preserve also neighbors the Camanche North Shore Recreation Area, which offers lodging, campgrounds, and further outdoor recreation such as horseback riding and fishing. Other nearby attractions range from historic gold rush sites to vineyards.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
The tallest building in San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid, soars to a height of just over 850 feet. The instructors at Skydiving San Francisco climb about 9,000 feet higher than that—and then jump from an airplane. During tandem dives, San Francisco Skydiving's team members harness themselves to customers and rocket back toward earth at approximately 200 feet per second. Additionally, the company offers an Accelerated Freefall program. In that, teachers equip students with the tools to dive on their own so they don't have to learn by progressively jumping off from each stair in their house.
On a ranch in the country, Epona Farms' trainers share the equestrian spirit with newcomers, youth, and champions-to-be in their indoor arenas and outdoor sand area. Triona Watson, an advanced coach since 1975, draws from her international experience to head up the facility's instructional programs. Her riding curriculum centers on three components: dressage, stadium jumps, and cross-country riding. Along with these focuses, her students learn English and Western styles of riding in an indoor arena and outdoor sand area. As spring turns to summer, Epona's horse whisperers expand their lessons into immersive day camps that teach horsemanship and leadership skills to adolescents, and let the children interact with other animals, such as rabbits and sheep. Younger children may be enchanted by PeeWee Pony School, a program that pairs pintsize novices with appropriate-size steeds to help instill a love for horses and riding at a young age. Additionally, the instructors focus on community outreach and work with special-needs children and young adults.