When the sun shines on the inky black coat of 8-Ball, an Asian leopard, you can see the intricate pattern of spots on his fur. What you may not notice are the scars on his neck, remnants of having been chained up in a pool hall by a former owner. When the owner could no longer keep him, 8-Ball was sent to a drive-thru safari park that was later shut down by the USDA. But all of that must seem like a faraway nightmare to 8-Ball, as he now enjoys the security, ample food, and medical care at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. He is among the more than 40 big cats that have been rescued and rehabilitated, trading lives of abuse, neglect, and misplacement for environs that executive director Brian Werner calls a "living resort."
The facility is owned and operated by Tiger Missing Link, a nonprofit organization that Werner chartered in 1995. After diligent research, Werner and friend Terri Block began creating a big-cat sanctuary on a 25-acre property that Werner owned. They lived in a small cabin with no running water, heat, or air conditioning, clearing the land themselves and going door to door to garner support for the project. It certainly wasn't easy, but through the hard work of volunteers and some big-time press—including features on Animal Planet's 2007 Tiger Week and Good Morning America—the shelter's reputation and facilities continue to grow.
The refuge aims to raise visitors' awareness of the plight of large cats in the wild, and it plans to expand to add more natural habitats and observatories. Landscapers have even built a waterfall habitat where the tigers can exercise while trying not to puncture their plastic inner tubes. This feature may have been the favorite amenity for two of Michael Jackson's tigers that, according to a KLTV 7 story, have called the space home.
Oil Bowl Lanes opens its 32 lanes of rolling glory to pin pushers every day of the week. A one-hour lane rental pits quartets of players against one another to see who can garner the highest score based on pins felled and the secret 11th frame, which is judged on the overall style of post-strike moonwalks. Eight rental shoes lend their aid to earthbound extremities, and a full pitcher of soda bubbles with between-frame refreshment or postgame head-dunk opportunities. Spheres rumble down Oil Bowl’s alleys between retro-futuristic murals and cheery checkered floors.
Harbor Inn Marina at Northshore Harbor rents covered and open boats to visitors looking to explore Richland Chambers Lake. Its 24- to 36-foot boats roam the lake's 43,384 acres, allowing guests to water ski, break out wave runners, or fish for bass, crappie, and catfish.
BADASS Dash’s organizers live in a world of imagination. Where others see cargo nets, they see giant webs to be scaled. School buses become climbing walls and bales of hay turn into tunnels filled with grass and mud. In city after city, they place 20+ of these obstacles along a 7-kilometer course, and invite individuals and teams to compete against each other in elite matches, or beat their personal best in recreational races. Afterward, the organizers throw a celebratory bash filled with bonfires, food, live entertainment, and prizes for top finishers. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the charity Autism Speaks.
Defining CrossFit can sometimes seem like trying to hit a moving target. It improves the body's ability to function in ten domains of fitness, it dreams up different workouts everyday, and it encompasses an ever-expanding repertoire of techniques. It’s almost easier to describe CrossFit by discussing what it's not.
"We have no ellipticals, no smoothie bar, no mirrors, and no excuses," say the coaches of CrossFit Royse City. Instead, they focus on hard work, combining modern techniques such as swinging kettlebells and using resistance bands with classic workouts such as Olympic-style weightlifting or recreational barn-raising.