In the verdant Cowichan Valley, Pacific Northwest Raptors cares for a diverse flock of birds of prey?owls twist their heart-shaped heads curiously, and hawks look on with eyes like copper coins. The staff provides them a safe habitat while educating the public about their habits, hunting methods, and favourite brands of feather cosmetics. Eagles and falcons ride warm zephyrs overhead daily, searching for prey high over the canopy when they aren?t perched back at the centre.
Avian experts demo the birds? skills during walks, which include the opportunity for patrons to have a hawk or owl land on a gloved hand or already impressive jaw line. Intensive workshops and week-long falconry courses let guests settle in with the animals beneath the towering trees, which hush each other liltingly in the wind. Regular family events at the centre facilitate bonding with the regal raptors, many of which are trained in film work and pest control.
After a trek down the Panama Canal, visitors stop for a brief sojourn under the Matterhorn before journeying on to the Eiffel Tower. This trip around the world comes courtesy of All Fun Recreation Park's miniature-golf course, whose 18 globally themed greens are littered with water traps and austerely dressed customs officials. Elsewhere, eight cages hurtle baseballs and softballs toward batters at 40?75 mph, and drivers accelerate across a 1,400-foot go-kart track's over and under bridge or hug the turns of a smaller oval track designed for parents and youngsters.
For more racing action, patrons can head over to Western Speedway each Saturday night in May?September for stock-car competitions on an oval track or drag strip. Westshore Motocross rents entry-level dirt bikes to riding and racing novices, and 75 RV and tenting sites give guests opportunities to yodel freely in nature. Guests can also explore the Swap & Shop each Sunday, where vendors dispense copious household goods and collectibles.
The veteran athletes at Peregrine Expeditions nurture their already intimate relationships with Mother Nature during skiing and climbing excursions into the icy peaks of Mount Baker or jagged rock faces of Mount Erie. Backcountry skiing courses hone snow-skimming techniques, and intense skiing tours toe the border between the United States and Canada on two-day treks that embark each morning from a hut at base camp. Adrenaline junkies foray into Forbidden Peak for two or three days, conquering the ins and outs of navigating ice, performing mountaintop rescues, and backpacking in challenging conditions. Kid-specific expeditions tone tiny muscles and teach bird calls used to ask eagles the way to the nearest latrine as youngsters grouped by age engage in courses that span one to five days.
Regardless of visitors' experience or athletic ability, Romper Room provides guests with an opportunity to test their physical and mental fortitude on one of its indoor climbing walls. These walls present a wide array of challenges that climbers can feel free to tackle within a safe, controlled environment. Whether they are steadily ascending a straightforward route, navigating tricky angles and overhangs, or tackling the bouldering challenges, harness-clad visitors always remain under the watchful eyes of their belaying partners. Specialized classes can introduce newcomers to the fundamentals or help more experienced climbers master more advanced skills, such as lead climbing or using telekinetic powers to tie knots.
With some reaching up to 70 feet, Coastal Climbing Centre's more than 100 routes create a staggering sight as interweaving patterns of colourful foot and hand holds stretch from the gym's padded floors all the way up to its ceiling. Visitors needn't feel overwhelmed, however, as the gym's staff can help them climb step by step. During drop-in sessions, instructors handle all belaying, letting climbers focus on solving each problem. Alternatively, instructors teach students to belay for themselves and master more nuanced climbing techniques, including back steps and the backstroke.
Aside from the roped routes, approximately 80?100 bouldering problems challenge climbers in different ways. Devoid of harnesses and ropes, climbers must rely exclusively on a chalk bag and a firm grip. The gym's hang boards, rings, and H.I.T. Strips help build the required dexterity, and complimentary hot beverages can fuel visitors' steam-powered legs.
As rock-climber, Andrew Coffey saw a growing interest in bouldering among his fellow climbers and he also noticed a lack of dedicated bouldering gyms in the city? so he decided to build one himself. He teamed up with architects and graphic designers to plot out a floor plan and contracted undulating walls of custom-designed rock that could be climbed without ropes. When he and his team finished laying the soft-mat flooring in the 10,000 square foot space, they'd finally brought The Hive to life. To supervise and lead classes, Andrew has gathered a team of climbers with extensive outdoor experience, including some who also hone their bodies for rock-climbing through gymnastics, dance, judo, and tai chi.
Inside the facility, instructors and visitors traverse overhangs, vertical angled slabs, an archway, and top-ups where they can climb up over the lip without any ropes. The walls reach up to 16 feet throughout most of the gym, with grades ranging from V0- to V10+, remaining closer to the ground and free of avalanches in a dedicated children's area. In one of the central structures, summit-reachers can glide back to earth in a tube slide.
Instructors require new visitors to take a tour and small lesson prior to climbing, and gym staffers change the challenging routes every three weeks to keep climbers from discovering hidden deposits of Skittles. They also teach in-depth techniques during short or long courses lasting up to five weeks and expand instruction to the outdoors during up to two-day programs. When not teaching visitors how to climb without ropes and evade roving packs of mountain bikes, gym staff host climbing competitions, special film screenings and parties for local climbers, where they pit their skills against each other in friendly competition.