The whoosh of baseballs against protective screens and leather mitts drifts through Extra Innings’ 11,000-square-foot facility even when rain is pouring down and baseball season seems far away. Athletes training for all levels of play can shut themselves in under the black meshing of eight multiuse batting and pitching tunnels, where they crush ball after ball to sharpen the minute movements of their swing. The tunnels, one of which is equipped with ProBatter ATEC7600 simulator, are all equipped with L screens and ping machines and are ideal for practicing sliders. A staff of current and former professional, college, and high-school athletes offers step-by-step instruction and on baseball- and softball-specific strength conditioning. In private lessons and group clinics, Extra Innings puts students of all ages on the path toward big-league skills such as hitting the curve and spitting sunflower seeds into the shape of a beautiful sunset.
For a couple of days, the Washington County Fairgrounds transforms into a jungle. Large cats. Venomous snakes. Reptiles of all types. Those and other animals sprawl across the Pacific Northwest Reptile & Exotic Animal Show, where more than 100 vendors display exotic creatures and related merchandise. In addition to the animals and products on sale, the show doubles as an educational attraction. Interactive reptile and mammal displays teach visitors about new creatures, while an exotic animal petting zoo lets visitors discover which animals secretly know how to shake hands.
With its historical downtown and lush greenery flanking the undulating Columbia River, Vancouver, Washington, is a Pacific Northwest paradise for the laid-back. This is just fine with Vancouver Segway Tours, a family-owned company that invites its patrons to experience the small city in one of the most relaxed manners?from a Segway.
The upright machines, which balance themselves through dynamic stabilization technology and yoga classes in their off-hours, respond to the movements of the rider, moving forward and backward along with the helmeted guests. This allows the riders to glide through the city's streets and park paths comfortably and confidently as they learn historic tidbits about the area.
Upon entering Husted's Hazel Dell Lanes, visitors are greeted with 24 sleek lanes, which may or may not be glowing, depending on the day of the week. Mondays through Thursdays showcase regular bowling fun, but the whole place lights up on Fridays and Saturdays as laser lights and music create a party-like atmosphere for Thunder Alley, Husted's version of cosmic bowling. In between games, bowlers can visit the Cedar Room Lounge for cocktails and karaoke or hop over to the pro shop for advice about proper form and what to do if your ball doesn't have any holes. Those looking for a quick bite can also grab snacks at the 2nd Addition bar and grill.
Mandy Voecks has been at it for more than 20 years. After dancing competitively and cheering for the Oakland Raiderettes, she opened Pulse Dance Studio in order to share her passion with others. She and her fellow instructors teach students aged 3–19 using age-appropriate teaching methods. Their classes offer a diversity of styles, such as tap, ballet, cheer, and hip-hop, within a studio with sprung floors.
From the outside, the nonprofit, 100% volunteer-run Kids Cooking Corner has the whimsical appearance of a fairy-tale cottage, its white siding accented by baby-blue paint and surrounded by fresh flowers and topiaries. The interior of the century-old house is equally exciting to youngsters, though not because of a prince or fairy godmother willing to do all of the heavy lifting. Children work hard at The Kids Cooking Corner, but the work is disguised in fun and rewarded with tasty snacks. Instructors warmly welcome foster children and children with special needs into their classrooms.
Helmed by chef, health enthusiast, and mother of three Heidi O'Connor, the volunteers at The Kids Cooking Corner strive to educate whippersnappers on nutrition, food safety, and food prep, often helping picky eaters try new foods along the way. Instructors incorporate math, science, and reading into curricula, teaching real-world applications for kids' school-sourced skills. Children definitely get their hands dirty, however: in spring and summer, they spend time in The Kids Cooking Corner garden, getting firsthand experience working with ingredients from seed to plate. Brightly painted walls, a playful party room, and a fully stocked kitchen provide a safe, exciting environment for kids to get crafty with edibles during each class, as well as during summer camps, parties, and peaceful games of food baseball.