Before visitors to the Virginia Museum of Natural History greet any tour guides or scientists, they have to meet the doorman—a towering allosaurus skeleton looming just inside the glass-walled main entrance. Once inside the Hall of Ancient Life, they peer into tall windows to see scientists and their assistants cleaning, categorizing, and playing catch with each animal fossil. Though founded less than 30 years ago as a private foundation, the museum and its staff have assembled more than 10 million specimens in seven collections, which cover vertebrate paleontology, marine science, geology, and archaeology.
At the Uncovering Virginia exhibit, recreations of six Virginia research and dig sites draw visitors into 700 million years of local history. Interactive displays include the modern Grundy site coal mine, complete with tracks, carts, and buildings. When visitors push a button, the display shifts—altering through video animation and changing physically as museum curators channel the power of Zeus—to reveal what the site looked like as a 300 million-year-old swamp. The Hahn Hall of Biodiversity looks into the world of African animals, boasting full-body mounts of a lion and antelopes. Dinosaurs and Dinosaur Discovery brings in skeletal casts of dinosaurs displayed alongside a dinosaur-themed maze to puzzle children, adults, and adult-sized children.
No two cities ever host the same Critical Mud 5K event. Though the race distance stays the same, the event planners litter each race with an ever-changing number of obstacles pulled from a pool of more than 150, giving runners in each city a completely different experience. Some courses might threaten competitors with slippery hills and murky rivers, while others might challenge them to traverse sticky mud bogs and climb up ropes, validating their many years of never skipping gym class. Each event is open to racers as young as 14, but the Little Mudder’s fun run give kids ages 4–13 a chance to get dirty as well. In the spectator areas, family, friends, and supporters can cheer on runners while staying clean.
Deep Springs Golf and Country Club may have earned its charter in 1971, but the 750 acres of land upon which it sits was preserved as an ideal country-club setting long before then. The club's green rolling hills, towering trees, and other pristine natural features were once the backdrop to the grand Lindsay Plantation, first established in the 19th century, or right about the time golf arrived in America by floating island green. In 1969 the club's founders saw that this prime real estate was lacking only a golf course, and promptly set about erecting the first 9 holes of what would become an 18-hole, par 72 championship course designed by Ellis Maples.
Today, the golf course, with its Bermuda fairways and 150,000 square feet of putting surface, is not the only thing at the country club worthy of the "championship" classification. An Olympic-size swimming pool can be found at the expansive clubhouse, and tennis enthusiasts can get their swings in on a pair of clay courts, just like what the pros play on at the French Open.
For one day, gallons of mud and six waves of screaming, laughing runners fill the scenic grounds of Willow Oaks Plantation in Eden, North Carolina?to give it their all at the Mud and Music Mayhem race on August 16th. This obstacle race pits runners against more than 30 natural and manmade challenges ranging from climbing walls and mud pits to just a pile of stuff that needs leaping over. A post-race party lets everyone celebrate their victories with food, beer, live music, and inflatables.