Several years ago, Ken Smith and Chase Williams were typical door-to-door salesmen. In need of a gimmick to boost sales and a quicker mode of transport, the duo tried riding Segways and immediately fell in love. Eventually, they turned their love for the two-wheeled transporter into their current venture, All American Segway Tours. Their company provides all manner of Segway engagement, including guided Segway tours that offer rolling educations in local history and wildlife. Customers can also discover the revolutionary devices on their own by renting out Segways for recreational use, private parties, or as a friend for a lonely office chair or shopping cart.
During the 2011 college football season, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Oregon Ducks combined to score a whopping 1,112 points. And each team did so at nearly the same clip—the Badgers put up 564 points to the Ducks’ 548. So it’s a natural fit that the two heavyweight teams will battle January 2 in the 2012 Rose Bowl, a game that pundits predict will be one of the highest-scoring Rose Bowls in history. To get an up-close view of the offensive fireworks, Badger Trips has tailored comprehensive travel packages: after tailgating and getting amped up at team pep rallies, fans will attend the Rose Bowl itself.On the morning of New Year’s Eve, Badger fans will board a private, chartered jet from Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) in Madison direct to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The long trip is made breezy thanks to a stylish aircraft: travels can sink into plush seats and watch movies, listen to music, and play video games on the entertainment systems.Once on the ground, travelers will be taken by shuttle to the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, a Four Diamond retreat situated atop historical Bunker Hill. For three nights, guests can take advantage of all the Omni has to offer, whether they wish to camp out in recently renovated deluxe rooms, ease pre-game anxiety at the onsite spa, or debate the merits of the wishbone offense at the romantic Noé Restaurant, voted Best Romantic Restaurant by the Los Angeles Times Readers Choice Awards. Leading up to the big game, fans can use shuttle services to freely hop to and from various festivities and sightseeing opportunities: on Saturday there’s a massive group pep rally and on Sunday a four-hour tour of Los Angeles and a group viewing of the Green Bay Packers game. Check out a detailed trip itinerary here.On Monday morning, buses board for Pasadena to the storied Rose Parade, which is followed by the Badger Huddle—a massive tailgate that serves beers, brats, and a spread of snacks. And then, finally, the main event kicks off at 2 p.m., when the University of Wisconsin will compete to be crowned Rose Bowl champion. Established in 1902, the Rose Bowl is known as the “Granddaddy of Them All” and, outside of fishing marshmallows from cereal, is the oldest bowl game known to man. At the center of the legendary 90,000-seat stadium, players such as Wisconsin Badger running back Montee Ball—who has scored 38 touchdowns this season—will look to turn in a legendary performance to join Wisconsin alum and Heisman Trophy-winner Alan Ameche in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
Illuming Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort for the third year, the Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights ornaments a nearly mile-long drive-thru trail with more than a million lights. Leisurely drift past scenes of elves tinkering away in Santa's workshop, Rudolph bravely piloting Santa's sleigh, a life-size carousel, four enormous gingerbread houses adorned in candies, and a ranch where formerly feral stockings live happily domesticated. Cups of regular coffee or apple cider await trekkers in Santa's Coffee Shop after their radiant voyage.
Held aloft by 35 years of family tradition, Stillwater Balloon sends intrepid explorers skyward from a port just off the scenic St. Croix River. Friendly FAA-certified pilots operate each craft and readily answer any questions that passengers may have as they float through gorgeous views of the surrounding valley. The billowy, multicolored behemoths cruise at treetop level, allowing travelers to shake hands with monkeys. Private and semiprivate flights are the business's forte, but Stillwater Balloon also accommodates custom flights for backyard surprises or ultimate school pickups.
Those who shudder to remember the Shadow Manor Haunted House may want to hide under their beds. For although the legendary haunt may have faded into oblivion, a vastly expanded 7,000-square-foot portal to the profane has risen to take its place. The heinous Dr. Goffman rules more than half the bedeviled romping grounds, a blood-spattered surgeon waiting to terrify his patients, first by performing tortuous procedures, and then later by mailing them their bill. Those who manage to check out must then don 3-D glasses before venturing through a whirling tunnel. The swirling vortex leads to the harlequin-haunted Psycho Circus, where weird clowns caper with tortuous intent, ushering their audience through disorienting neon rooms. To keep the screams coming, Shadow Manor has also added two new attractions, including the evocatively named Slaughter House and a meandering path through a mysterious cornfield and haunted wood.
Generally, adulthood forces people to give up childish pleasure, robbing them of the joy associated with playing in puddles, unearthing hidden treasure, and being silly in public. Sierra Adventure Sports wants grownups to regress, if only for a day. In service of that goal, the company organizes a variety of novel races that range from city scavenger hunts for the casual adventurer to creative triathlon courses for the ambitious athlete.
Scavenger Blitz, for instance, turns exploring one's city into a fun, fast-paced race scattered with clues, obstacle courses, and riddles. Racers in teams of at least two scour the urban jungle in search of 12 clues, which can include challenges, riddles, or orders that need be completed before crossing the finish line. Some send racers hunting for a snapshot in front of a landmark, whereas others challenge them to complete some special feat, such as conquering an obstacle course on stilts. The Mad Mud Run challenges participants to sprint and frolic through a dirty and deliciously fun outdoor obstacle course littered with manmade obstructions such as cargo nets, hills of hay bales, monkey bars, and slimy mud pits. Extreme Heat Adventure Races combine equal parts triathlon and scavenger hunt to create a 10–12K journey filled with running, river rafting, and mystery challenges that could pit teams against anything from blindfolded puzzles to wall climbs. Most Sierra Adventure Sports events encourage racers to compete in costumes of all types save for gremlins, which multiply in water and unfairly dominate the timed results.
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