Roger Alink has never owned a television. As a kid, he was too busy with the pigs and cattle that roamed his 160-acre home, and this love of animals and the outdoors only grew over time. In the early '90s, Alink decided to share this love with others, so he and a team of volunteers spent 30,000 hours establishing Wildlife West Nature Park.
In addition to the wild creatures, migratory birds, and GPS-lacking manatees who settle at the park, representatives of the region's indigenous animals and plants live and grow on its 122 scenic acres, much of which hasn’t been altered since the park's inception. Elsewhere, 30 wildlife exhibits mimic the natural habitats of the black bears, wolverines, deer, pronghorn antelopes, and birds of prey that inhabit them. Two miles of trail connect each habitat, and each enclosure is specially designed for the particular needs of its residents. The same custom care goes into feeding the animals: to keep the beasts psychologically spry, staff members provide challenges that echo the animals' instinctual eating habits, placing meals up in treetops, burying snacks that need to be sniffed out, and arranging candlelit dinners for mountain lions who forgot their wives’ birthdays.
Sustainable practices such as recycling, organic farming, and water harvesting turn the park into an educational example of eco-friendliness. Facilities such as the amphitheater and the heated, enclosed Bean Barn also welcome special events ranging from music festivals and bird-handling workshops to the kite-spangled Wind Festival and the ursine Bear Fair.
With more than 13,000 square feet of automotive artifacts and hands-on exhibits, Unser Racing Museum is dedicated to demystifying America's racing history. The museum focuses on the eponymous Unser family: four generations of racers who have collectively won the Indianapolis 500 nine times. Using this clan of drivers as the jumping-off point, the facility explores industry hallmarks from the first races at Pikes Peak and Indianapolis to the unveiling of modern racing technology. A newly completed annex features a showroom brimming with restored antique cars, including notable pace cars and racecars. The trophy room, meanwhile, houses thousands of pieces of vintage racing memorabilia, uniforms, and awards. Not all of the museum's exhibits are static, however: interactive video kiosks dispense trivia at the touch of a button, and a racing simulator lets visitors grasp the wheel of a replica car and chug a gallon of simulated milk.
Eschewing traditional race rules and methods, Dirty Dashers must overcome a slew of mud-slicked obstacles, including mucky climbing hills, crawling pipes, slip 'n slides, and bear hugs from Pigpen. Organizers encourage runners to sign up with friends to foster a fun-loving environment, and along the way, racers fuel up at optional beer- or root-beer-chugging stations. Further demonstrating its commitment to outdoor high jinks, each event's registration fees, donations, water-balloon sales, and shoe donations benefit local charities, such as NM[X]—an arts and athletics youth organization—and the Seattle-based Redeeming Soles charity, which dispenses gently used footwear to those in need.
Body & Brain aims to help guests tap into their reserves of energy through holistic yoga routines developed by South Korean trainer Ilchi Lee. Based on the philosophies of an ancient Korean practice, Body & Brain’s classes incorporate fluid stretching, breathing exercises, and meditation to invigorate the body by unblocking the movement of chi energy. The committed instructors also introduce students to DahnMuDo, a noncombative martial art, and full-body vibration, which releases stagnant energy.
Marie-Aude Preau began her passionate relationship with yoga in 1996, a relationship that dramatically altered her life. Her yoga practice is a fluid one—she teaches at different locations and leads students of all fitness levels. Her classes mainly follow basic Vinyasa flow, linking movement to breath to create a dance-like 60- to 75-minute session. By spilling from one pose to another, the classes help students build strength while increasing flexibility and muscle tone.
The chefs at Umami Sushi and Asian Restaurant mix fresh ingredients into flavorful blends of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine. Dining duos chopstick-duel in order to decide who gets to pick from the eatery's selection of appetizers such as the shrimp tempura ($6.95) and tofu nuggets ($3.95) or sushi options such as the yellow tail roll with green onions ($6.95). Meat-seeking mouths nosh on entrees such as the Happy Family ($13.95), with marinated and stir-fried beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp sizzled alongside mixed vegetables. Bamboo shoots, red bell peppers, basil, and a choice of protein or tofu simmer with coconut milk in the red or green curry ($11.95), cooked to please eaters of spicy food, mild food, and suns alike. The restaurant's hardwood floors, tall green potted plants, and Asian-style figurines invite diners to relax and breathe in freshly oxygenated air.