The aquatic playland at Surf and Swim aims to bring the quintessential beach experience to a controlled water park. Inner tubes and their passengers float atop a wave pool's sprawling waters, splashing as the sun lovingly stares deep into their eyes. Pipes, plastic animals, and fountains pepper the kids area, and the aptly named Chill and Grill Cafe serves up burgers and fries. On select nights, the park transforms into an outdoor movie theater, where groups can swim and bob for their ticket stubs while watching a full-size screen.
Regardless of the size of its client, Williams Air Conditioning operates under the same singular principle that has guided it since its beginning: "Take care of the customer and the customer will take care of us." This customer-first mentality has led the staff to work on Saturdays, offer pricing breakdowns, and service a wide area of the Northeast Metroplex. The techs learn their craft by taking AC units into the desert for vision quests, which enlighten them on how to improve AC efficiency, ameliorate bad attic insulation, and ensure clean air during service visits.
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
Somewhere in Oregon every November, a flatbed truck trundles down the lone dirt road past row upon row of fir trees. Every mile or so, one of a team of winter-weather lumberjacks jumps down from the cab of the truck and gets to work cutting and piling eight-foot firs. That's when a duo of choppers circles the man-made forest, air-lifting each tree and dropping them off near the truck where they're bundled and loaded for the long drive back to Texas.
For the Bell and Lane families, this annual excursion is a Christmas tradition. For 12 years, the two families have made the trek out to the Pacific Northwest. There, they set to work harvesting Douglas, Frasier, Grand, and Noble Firs in an effort to outfit homes with yuletide cheer and reduce the number of hiding places for D. B. Cooper.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Reservations/Appointments: Not offered
Most popular offering: 7' - 8' Noble Fir Christmas Tree
Pro Tip: We will fresh cut the bottom of your tree. Please be sure to put it in water within 2 hours.
Thomas Volmer credits his wife, Rachel, for inspiring them to start helming boot camps. She wasn’t always a fitness guru, though. "She was a commercial banker and she was 70 pounds overweight," Volmer recalls. Once she started to reclaim her life, "she just fell in love with fitness," he says. She eventually dropped 80 pounds with proper exercise and nutrition, spurring her to earn her AFAA personal training certification and pursue a career as a full-time trainer.
Personal experience lends Rachel and the other trainers—including Sharon Monk, who lost more than 200 pounds by exercising and eating healthily—empathy and a motivating demeanor when working with campers. At each location, they get groups doing pushups, swinging kettlebells, and flipping tires in a positive environment that's focused on teamwork, rather than competition. "You start as a group, you finish as a group," says Thomas. "But the activities that you do in between might be different based on your abilities."
In addition to leading sessions, Rachel creates easy-to-use online meal plans (including a vegetarian plan), which campers can customize to help them stay on track. Options range from the simple, such as cereal with fruits, nuts, and flaxseeds, to the creative, including honey-sweetened oatmeal peanut-butter cookies. She also includes the calorie count for each recipe. Users can pick from simple meals made for one person or larger entrees designed with an entire family or pet elephant in mind.
At Vada Spa, staff members devote their international training to beauty rituals that use natural and organic products from GM Collins and Pevonia Botanica. Two floors accommodate spacious mani-pedi bars, styling stations, and private, candle-lit treatment rooms that all swirl with activity until 9 p.m. every day. The owners of the Spa make sure that each service is administered by a true specialist––laser technicians only do laser procedures and aestheticians never hand over their facial duties to an assistant or nearby welder. "We're very particular about who we hire," one of the spa owners says. "It has to be someone who's experienced. We don't have anyone here who's just starting out or fresh out of school."
Since their mission is to be a one-stop destination for head-to-toe spa services, Vada's owners do their best to reserve hairstyling chairs and treatment rooms for walk-in customers. They also pride themselves on their expertise with the male aesthetic, offering a lineup of guy-specific spa services including back facials, shoulder waxing, and spare-tire rotations.