The buzz of motors rises and falls as bright-red blurs zip around the track at PGP Motorsports Park. Here, in the shadow of Mount Rainier, racers ages 15 and older loop around an 8/10-mile track at speeds of up to 48 miles per hour, leaning back in the ergonomic seats of Italian-built Birel N35 karts. The 30-foot-wide asphalt track can be altered to take on 12 different configurations and is centered in a velodrome, which puts spectators at an elevated angle so they get a good line of sight no matter where they sit.
For safety reasons, drivers should wear long sleeves and pants and closed-toe shoes. Drivers are equipped with helmets and driving suits, and since races take place rain or shine, they will also be provided with rain gear that includes waterproof gloves and booties.
On a mission to preserve the vestiges of motorboat racing, The Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum allures wave-whizzing enthusiasts into its historic halls with a trove of racing artifacts, collections, and boating exhibits. Seven decades worth of designs are touted by a compilation of vintage hydroplanes, including boats that have won championship cups and arm-wrestled legendary propellers. An eclectic stock of memorabilia, such as photo archives, trophies, and vintage packs of personal floatation device trading cards provide glimpses into the past, with some pieces dating back to the early 1900s. Alternatively, more than 200 hours of rare films transferred from videotape cover hydroplane racing events from the 1940s up to present-day competition. The museum also lets visitors glean the stories of renowned drivers including Bill Muncey, Ron Musson, and "Wild" Bill Cantrell.
For both Sarah Matuszewski and Brittney Venhorst, a lifetime of equestrian practice and horse adoration has led them to their current roles as the head coaches at Freedom Run Equestrian Center. Their easygoing demeanors create a supportive yet challenging environment where students can grow into balanced and confident riders.
All students begin on the lunge line and participate in strength-training exercises to develop strong legs and steady hands before moving on to lessons in the disciplines of eventing, hunter jumper, and dressage. Students are expected to groom, tack, and care for their horses as a supplement to their saddle-based learning. This broad-based approach to horsemanship cultivates a sense of interspecies camaraderie that can come in handy during high-pressure dressage championships or old-timey bank robberies.
A siren whines, and its volume suddenly overwhelms all other sounds on the ravaged battleground. Soldiers peek out from between layers of sandbags. Some stick to the camouflage netting on the edges of the field, cautious, yet daring to hope that the keening noise means a ceasefire. They're out of ammo. Finally, the call comes over the loudspeaker—"Reload!"—and they rush forward, snatching up handfuls of bright orange darts and popping them back into their plastic weapons. Once the siren goes silent, the fighting will begin anew, and the indoor arena will once again become a flurry of foam projectiles and laughter.
This scenario is a typical open play session at the Tag Zone, where an armory of Nerf guns ensures safe yet thrilling competitions. Every battle follows the rules of one of four team-based games: squad vs. squad, capture the flag, protect the leader, or "the prison." Youngsters ages 5 and up launch and dodge the soft missiles in an indoor arena dappled with padded obstacles. Field #1 displays inflatable bunkers throughout the 2,300-square-foot zone, whereas Field #2 stacks sandbags and barrels around 1,900 square feet of military-themed space. To encourage teamwork and fair play, a referee oversees each bout.
Though The Tag Zone is all for friendly rivalries, the staff refrains from tracking scores. They prefer to focus on in-the-moment excitement and sportsmanship. In addition to rounds of open play, they also host private parties, tournaments, and monthly sleepovers, which bookend a night of rest with Nerf warfare. Additionally, adults can also join in the fun of aiming toy bazookas during corporate events that forge bonds between coworkers. Parents can even participate in open play matches, preparing their kids for the day when they must hunt and capture their own birthday piñatas.
John Gustafson began skating at 5 years old, rolling along on squeaky wheels that would carry him toward a lifetime of high-speed competition. At 25, he became a professional skater, winning national championships in both speed skating and figure skating before settling down as the owner of Auburn Skate Connection. His love of skating hasn’t dimmed, though; even with his 69th birthday approaching, John continues to lace up his skates each day to gain an extra 2 inches of height and guide students in the sport he knows so well.
Alongside instructors that he himself recruited, John teaches the art of effortless rolling during private lessons on the rink’s solid-wood skating surface. The team imbues students with the intricacies of quad and inline skating while also focusing on the fundamentals of racing. Their dedication has borne some notable fruit. Olympic gold-medalist Apolo Ohno took his first glides at Auburn, working with John for three years before moving on to his life of ice-based glory.
At the age of 9, Bonnie Morris began a lifelong relationship with horses. By age 10, she was the proud guardian of her own colt and at 22, she set the wheels in motion to open her own training center. Today at Morris's Shadow Mountain Stables, she and her staff continue to bond riders and steeds within a five-acre haven that's beyond the reaches of the outside world and its persistent chorus of honking bikes. They foster interspecies rapport through various types of instruction, including lessons and summer camps that teach showmanship and horse care. Trail rides mosey through nearby woods, meadows, and grasslands overlooking Mount Rainier. Birthday parties include horseback rides or visits to the petting farm. The petting farm facilitates up-close encounters with fuzzy ferrets, giant bunnies, mini horses, and baby goats as well as the stable's fleet of horses and resident cow, Henry, who also answers to, "Look! A cow!"