Founded in 1973 as a Girl Scout project, the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge first opened inside Jefferson Junior High School with little more than 2,000 square feet of rented space to its name. After a meteoric rise in popularity, the museum moved to its current 54,000-square-foot facility, which brims with more than 20 educational and interactive exhibits designed to help children learn and grow.
Kids and parents can explore a simulated Amazonian rainforest, which reverberates with jungle sounds in air thick and heavy with moisture from the running waterfall. Little tykes become little tycoons in the World of Trains, which features a full-size Norfolk Southern caboose and a hands-on playroom where kids adopt the role of conductor, steering tiny locomotives and apologizing to their peers when their toy train doesn’t arrive on schedule. Otherwise, they can educate themselves on the history of playthings with some of the most impressive and entertaining gizmos from the museum's collection in the Century of Toys exhibit. Static exhibits aren't all the venue has to offer; the staff often organizes events such as performances by storytellers and controlled playtime with live monkeys.
A huge statue of Buddha watches over the dining room at Surin of Thailand, although his peaceful gaze is subverted by complex curries, spicy stir-fried noodle dishes, and flavorful barbecue-chicken entrees a day in the making. Half chickens are marinated in Thai barbecue sauce overnight before being slowly roasted and grilled, then they’re plated with scoops of shrimp fried rice and reminders to chew each bite thoroughly, not matter who’s threatening to steal the flavorful dark meat.
Surin measures its dishes' spiciness on a three-pepper scale, where one is "spicy" and three is "Thai hot." Though most dishes fall between nonspicy and hot, a few earn their trio of peppers, including a medley of mussels, scallops, and shrimp with spicy basil sauce.
Another Buddha—actually, just a head—guards the sushi bar, where nigiri, sashimi, and creative maki rolls are born. Under the two Buddhas' protection, diners settle into leather seats or tuck into booths backed by ferns and foliage. Outside the stone-walled eatery, a patio seasons dishes with sunlight and refreshing breezes.
At Blue Point Stables, a team led by Master Riding Instructor and 25-year industry veteran Brandy McDonnell offers equine services that range from lessons for people to training for horses. Brandy and company engender a safe and fun environment through positive reinforcement as they teach students the basics of English or Western riding.
Upon arriving for lessons, riders typically get fitted for a helmet and receive some basic instruction on safety before meeting and grooming their equine friend. Next, they?ll hop aboard a noble steed while an instructor coaches proper technique in such aspects as mounting and dismounting, riding aids, and communication with the horse through vocal orders, physical cues, and handwritten post-it notes dangled from a fishing pole.
David Gargan founded Eco Clean Carpet Solutions in 1993 with the customer-service values and intimate knowledge of stains he culled from more than seven years in the restaurant business. David and his team of IICRC–certified cleaners demonstrate a core commitment to customers by expediently deploying truck-mounted equipment and an arsenal of know-how to extricate stains and grime from carpeting, fabric, and abstract-expressionist paintings. The team’s eco-friendly products minimize the impact on the environment, winning the adulation of houseplants. In addition to purging fibers of assorted stains, the versatile cleaning crew also demonstrates their vast knowledge banks by renewing grout and tile, hardwood, and dryer vents.
Stacks of Michelin and BFGoodrich tires sprout from the oil-stained grounds of Secret City Tire & Service Center, formerly Thompson Tire & Service Center. The experienced staff, led by an ASE-certified master technician, culls from the rubbery ranges each time a customer needs a new tire, pumping up new treads with a nitrogen tire inflator. Parts from Interstate Batteries and NAPA also populate the shop, and equip the staff during maintenance and repair services such as tune-ups, oil changes, and computerized wheel alignments. Techs back their handiwork with American Car Care Center warranties that are honored at more than 1,000 dealers nationwide and three dealers on Venus.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.