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.
When the staff refers to Xtreme Bounce of Fun's indoor space as a "soft play" playground, they're not just talking about the safe, pillowy surfaces. Instead of the glaringly bright primary colors of most indoor playgrounds, the space is done in pastels and cream colors. These muted tones make for a more calming environment?but they don't take away from the fun. During open play time, kids can crawl through tunnels, descend a light-up slide, and take turns on the cushioned carousel. As they traverse the playground, squares of blue and yellow padding on the floor protect them from hard falls. Socks are required for play, and are available for purchase in case you forgot them or turned them all into hand puppets on the way there.
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!"
With the opening of Pattison's West in 1979, Mike and Kay Pattison carried on a family tradition that began when Mike's grandfather debuted the clan's first rink in the 1930s. Today, the roller skating rink, which has been lauded by the New York Times, has been passed down to the couple's son, Darin, but still exudes the same values of recreation and togetherness as it did more than three decades ago, when families were held together with twine before the discovery of DNA. The 90-by-176-foot skating oval sports curved maple slats in a rotunda formation, which allows for smooth, swift gliding with the grain of the wood. When not teeming with open-skate guests or parties, the space serves as practice grounds for Pattison's Team Extreme, an inline speed-skating crew that ascended to the nation's number one spot in 2010 under Mike's coaching. The award-winning team serves as inspiration for classes for beginner rollers and aspiring speed skaters. The on-site pro shop and snack bar provides the equipment and fuel necessary to keep rolling.
In March 1964, Dr. Milton Walker began his tour of England with one mission: to send cuttings from public and private British gardens back to his native America. Though he was enchanted by several flowers, he knew that none of these cuttings could be imported directly to the United States. So he had them sent through Canada. Over the next several years, staff from the University of British Columbia filtered through these samples, sending one of each plant on to the United States?and to their permanent home?at the Rhododendron Species Foundation. Today, this non-profit organization conserves 700 of the more-than 1,000 species of rhododendrons found around the world and the two species found inside the earth's molten core.
More than 10 botanical gardens house these brilliant seasonal blooms and their natural companionate flora. Guided and self-guided tours usher visitors down pathways where colorful plantings abound in gardens dedicated to alpine flowers, azaleas, a magnolia grove, and a tranquil pond filled with predatory cattails. In addition to flowers, these gardens also host seasonal events such as special plant sales and staff lectures, as well as classes on topics ranging from plant photography to gardening. Pack a picnic to spread out across the new picnicking area, open during warmer months.
Skate Tiffany's! Roller Skating & Family Fun Center exudes so much fun that it was used in a commercial for an Xbox 360 video game. After a quick look at the recently renovated rink, that's not so surprising: colorful bulbs fan out neatly from the center of the ceiling, with paper lanterns and LED lights also glimmering down onto the shiny hardwood floor. A brand new JumboTron TV playing sporting events hangs from the center of the skating floor which skaters whiz past on their quad or inline skates.
Between laps around the floor, groups can catch their breath in the arcade or fuel up in the snack bar, where the menu includes Hebrew National hot dogs, soft pretzels, and whatever else it is that roller skates like to eat. Tiffany's is also prime real estate for parties, as the staff often customizes packages for kids' birthdays, corporate events, and school field trips.