Tucked away in the foothills of the Western Cascade Mountains, Camp Dakota flouts the constraints of gravity with high-flying adventures that test participants' skills, stamina, and propensity to scream at high altitudes. Suspended steel ziplines whiz above the forest canopy as squirrels wave from nearby branches and passing meadowlarks pause for fist bumps. Teamwork trumps individual heroics on the high-ropes course, whose elevated, threaded obstacles sway precariously above the distant ground.
The aerial odyssey doesn't stop there. Instructors supply safety harnesses and words of encouragement before leading the way to a vertical rock-climbing wall. Replete with slim footholds and perturbed mountain goats, the wall poses a challenge to climbers of all abilities, who take solace in the added safety of fully automated belays.
Having reeled in 25 years of experience as a licensed fishing pro, Steve Roberts shares tricks of the trade during half-day and full-day fishing trips, welcoming avid anglers and beginners alike onto his fully equipped fishing vessels. Throughout the year, Steve and company track down seasonal targets. Winter trips focus on chinook, or winter steelhead, and autumn trips chase after coho salmon—a feisty fish notorious for fighting under water and starting bar brawls on land. No matter what the target, every trip with Steve includes all the necessary gear and an endless stream of expert advice.
For John and Kristi Heiser, moving out to the farm in 1991 meant raising a family of self-sufficient kids. The farm began humbly enough, producing strawberries, melons, and a thriving pumpkin patch. Before long, folks in the surrounding area began to cotton on to the family-friendly atmosphere, and the homestead became a destination for school trips and weekend outings. With the recent acquisition and remodeling of a neighboring Dust Bowl-era barn, the Heisers started hosting social events.
During harvest time, the farm whirs into high gear. A nostalgic John Deere trundles by, towing a train of hay-filled wagons. The Grand Island Railroad carts around passengers on its miniature train cars, much to the chagrin of squirrel commuters stuck at its crossings. Visitors forage in the pumpkin patches in search of one to take home, while amateur cannoneers shoot the spherical squash from air-powered devices. To infuse the farm with macabre fun during Halloween, the Heisers transform the pastoral corn maze into the haunt of spooky spirits.
At Woodburn Aquatic Center, swimmers of all experience levels explore the facility's chlorinated garden of swimming holes ringed by a set of terrestrial workout equipment. While lap swim is available all day and open play stretches from 9 a.m. until closing, the set schedule also sets aside blocks of time for parents and their children and therapy sessions for seniors. For more flexible scheduling and one-on-one attention, swimmers can opt to take personal lessons.
Youthful squeals drift from a rope swing and waterslide, where young aquanauts frolic supervised by seasoned lifeguards. Members can supplement their water workouts with fast-paced fitness classes such as Zumba and yoga. All swimmers enjoy complimentary lockers that stow dry clothes and formal water wings for job interviews.
Inside Milltown Pub you'll find a full bar, an all-ages atmosphere, and a menu with vegetarian and vegan options. Swimming at the head of the school of pub fare is blackened salmon, served with spinach, blue-cheese crumbles, roasted almonds, and raspberry balsamic dressing. A meatless marriage of burger and fries can be easily arranged by swapping a beef or turkey patty for a black-bean patty. Milltown has 12 beers on tap, and hosts regular dance contests, karaoke bashes, trivia nights, and movie nights—there's even a 15-foot TV for football games. During warmer weather, enjoy your meal in the outdoor dining garden.
Whether seeking a specific sweat session or looking for an intensive cardio overhaul, Diesel Fitness's classes, offered six days a week, cater to every exercising intent. Knead muscles and load biceps with Monday's Buns and Guns class, or sweat out stress with hot yoga on Wednesday evenings. Amenities at Diesel Fitness include a basketball court, an indoor track, free weights, a sauna, a racquetball court, and a cardio room with more than 30 pieces of equipment—one for each ripple in a bodybuilder's pectoral muscle. Diesel Fitness opens at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, allowing roosters to get in a few bench-press reps before heading to work.