Cruising at 12,000 feet, the airplane opens its hatch and Skydive Atlas' professional jumpers usher clients right on out of it. Because they're strapped to an instructor, first-timers get to enjoy maximum freefall time before the chute opens. Equipped with state-of-the-art gear that's checked and re-checked before take-off, the instructors help jumpers experience the thrill of skydiving without requiring long lessons or certifications.
Ten different types of grapes sprawl across 12 acres that sit along banks of Spring Creek, soaking up the ample Nebraskan sunlight. Mac's Creek Winery & Vineyards—a joint venture of the McFarland family, whose roots run deep in central Nebraska—handpick these grapes to produce a collection of red and white artisanal wines, including their award-winning 2009 Mac's Lantern.
Guests can savor the cherry flavor of the Frontenac grapes found in the above-mentioned Mac's Lantern or sip on other varieties—such as the light-bodied 2010 Spring Mist—in the spacious tasting room or on the sun-drenched lawn. On weekends, they can enjoy a prairie bistro lunch from 12-4p.m., and on Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., they can toast to live entertainment or dramatic readings of the wine list.
Winery owners Randy, Kelly, and Nate Meyer are so passionate about winemaking that they've designed their entire vineyard to symbolize it—each phase of the buildings' architecture reflects a different step in the winemaking process. A planter crafted from locally harvested limestone marks the entrance to the winery and supports arbors symbolizing trellised grape bushes in the vineyards. The arbors extend through the earth-toned Chancellor Hall, where a towering cathedral ceiling laced with heavy beams can shelter more than 200 guests at once. Inside, light streams in through towering windows overlooking the vineyard, as well as through heavy double doors leading out to a patio and courtyard, where the same arbor continues to form a roof and shield wines from straw-wielding helicopter pilots. Outside, 16 acres of vineyards house rows of Midwest varietals such as Vignoles, St. Vincent, Frontenac, and Catawba. Staffers pluck vines entwined on trellised rows and carry their bushels into a processing building, where they unload pounds of fruit into imported presses and custom-made fermentation tanks. These grapes age into wines in a room designed in the shape of a barrel, which represents the winemaking and fermentation process as well as the winemakers' fear of being trapped inside a barrel. The Meyers also use the wines in these barrels to reflect their love for the region; they've named many of the dry and semidry wines for weather phenomena associated with Tornado Alley.
Today, it's undeniable: Jazzercise is a worldwide empire, spanning more than 1,800 locations and 32,000 weekly classes across the globe. It's also hip; gone are the leotards and legwarmers of the 1980s, replaced with a high-intensity blend of cardio, strength training, kickboxing and power yoga performed to hits by chart-toppers from Shakira to Justin Timberlake. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set, with recent additions such as Fusion, Core, and Strike broadening the workouts' variety and application. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background. This sense of community keeps Jazzercise devotees coming back, but so too do the results; benefits ranging from weight loss and boosted core strength to increased flexibility and stress relief.
Jazzercise's continued success can be traced to the innovation of its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett. While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, she decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the Jazzercise sensation.