You can make anything an adventure - from a walk in the yard to a road trip to the coast!

Coming soon: Kids Pirate Coloring Pages!

So many people have had fun with the pirate treasure map idea, that I have created a set of kid’s pirate coloring pages. They are not quite done yet; I’m still trying to get them just perfect, but I am putting together a full set of piratey pictures that kids can have fun coloring.

The first few are seeming easy but I’m looking for some good ideas for pirate scenes to round out a nice set of pages, so I welcome any suggestions you care to send in.

These will all be my own creations, so no requests for a “Pirate Sponge Bob” or “Captain Jack Sparrow” please. I hope your kids have as much fun enjoying them and coloring them as I am having putting them together for you!

UPDATE: Here’s the coloring pages new section: Pirate Coloring Pages

Spokane, Washington Area Attractions

Radio Flyer at Riverfront Park

Radio Flyer at Riverfront Park

There lots of activities to do in the Spokane area. Here are a few examples:

Centennial Trail – bicycling

Cat Tales – a facility for rescued lions, tigers, cougars, bears and many more critters

North Town Mall – shopping, food court, children’s play area

Wonderland – miniature golf, go carts and arcade

Riverside Park – canoeing, kayaking, horse trails, ATV

Little Spokane River – canoeing, kayaking

Spokane Falls – river front park, gondolas, ice skating, IMAX theater, carousel

Mount Spokane – skiing, cross country skiing, sledding, hiking

Silverwood Theme Park – Athol, ID – a fun theme park and water park, awesome waterslides – Note: you can get discount tickets at Costco

Lake Coeur d’Alene – kayaking, golf, Lake Coeur d’Alene Resort, shopping

Kroc Community Center – Coeur d’Alene, ID -fitness facility

John Carter of Mars – Movie Review

John Carter of MarsThe movie is based on the John Carter of Mars book series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The movie follows the books fairly well. The characters, Tars Tarkas, Dejah Thoris, Sola, and of course, John Carter are well represented. I liked his dog. The special effects are superb with John Carter jumping, the flyers and other characters. The white apes were scary, I would not want to run into one of them. I was skeptical about seeing the movie, knowing that so many times the original story gets so destroyed, but Disney did a good job with keeping to most of the original story. I hope that they will do another movie. But to truly enjoy the story you need to read the books. Edgar Rice Burroughs stories hold a special place for me, because a friend of the family, grew up in the same town as Edgar’s family and would tell us stories of Edgar being a dreamer all the time. Edgar’s family owned the soda fountain in that town, and he would write all the time while he worked. I recommend seeing the movie. Two thumbs up.

Snow Castle

Jen and Melissa with their new Snow Castle

What can you do with a couple of teenagers, lots of snow and an old postal box – a really cool snow castle, complete with slide. We got a foot of fresh snow over the last 24 hours during Thanksgiving break and my husband and kids were wanting an adventure. We took an old postal box we had from bringing mail back and forth to the post office. It is the perfect size, plastic and cube shaped to pack snow in and make a large snow block. Make several and create a snow castle, snow fort or even an igloo. Have fun and be creative. So what are you waiting for, go and play in the snow.

Eric building a snow block

Trying to make your snow bricks with cardboard boxes or plastic buckets will just end in frustration. We have made these snow projects for years and our secret tool that makes this project a breeze is the corrugated plastic “mail tray” box. If you do volume mailing at the post office you’ll be lucky enough to have one of these, and a few of you may be lucky enough to have access to some of these from other sources. Here is a place that sells them, but a little pricey for a snow fort (but for $15 to $20 you can use this year after year): US Plastic corrugated boxes. The tapered design allows the snow block to be easily dropped out once you’ve packed in the snow. US Mail Supply also seems to have a similar product for sale, and allows small orders. I can’t vouch for the durability but I can vouch for the free (loaner) ones available from the post office – ours has lasted for over 15 years.

Okay – one more source I just have to list because they are only $10 each and you can choose your own colors adding to the fun with the kids. At that price you can get two and everyone can get in on the fun: U-Line Supplies. Have Fun!

Philipsburg, Montana – Sapphires

Philipsburg, Montana – Sapphires

There are a few locations in Philipsburg where you can screen gravel for sapphires. Sapphires come in a variety of beautiful colors such as: cornflower blue, green, purple, pink, and yellow. The Sapphire Gallery, Opal Mountain Gems, and Gem Mountain are the different places you can screen gravel.

Gem Mountain is a couple of miles southwest of Philipsburg. There are signs for how to get there. The cost at Gem Mountain was $15 for a two and a half gallon bucket of gravel to screen. (Note this was the price for summer 2010.) They are most helpful with instructions on how to screen your gravel. It is good to wash your screen full of gravel at least three times so that you can thoroughly check all your gravel. The sapphires will have a transparent look to them similar to glass. We did each screened a bucket and got a small variety of different colors. I had a couple of stones that were big enough to be faceted.

Sapphire Gallery is located in downtown Philipsburg, Montana. At the Sapphire Gallery you can screen gravel in their workroom to the side of their jewelry store. The cost of the gravel to screen is $25. They have several beautiful and unique designs of sapphire jewelry in gold settings.. The ladies in the jewelry store are most helpful to show you some unique designs.

Opal Mountain is located in downtown Philipsburg, Montana. Opal Mountain is a great little shop. The owner is most helpful on information for the local area. She likes to collect rocks and knew about a few locations to collect some specimens of chrysacola and hematite. There is sapphire gravel available to screen at $9 per bag. (Note: price of the El Dorado gravel  during summer of 2010.) There are also Spencer Opals in silver settings available here at great prices. This shop also has some charm vials available at a great low price to put your small fractured sapphires in and enjoy them in a pendant. There are several gifts available at great prices. This is a shop you will not want to miss.

Snowbird Mine – Fluorite – Lolo Pass, Montana

Snowbird Mine – Fluorite – Lolo Pass, Montana

Fluorite deposit

We had quite the adventure locating this collection site. It is a high elevation off of Fishtrap Road near the Montana/Idaho border. The scenery is breath-taking with all the little noble fir trees and lakes on top of the mountains. We were there in mid September and some of the gates were closed off by the forest service so we had a hike that was longer than we expected. What was supposed to be a one mile hike in and a mile out turned out to be 4 miles in and 4 miles out. We did not know if we were on the right track until we were a half mile from the mine when we saw a sign. It is downhill going into the mine and the last half mile is steep going back up to the mountain. This makes it difficult to carry your treasures back out with three and a half miles back up the mountain with 30 pounds of rocks on your back. We started out with 60 pounds for the first half miles then had to dump half our beautiful treasures because we became too exhausted and needed to hike back out before it became dark. On our way back out we also came across what looked like a fresh cougar track. We made it to the car just before dark. We were so tired that we snacked on a few chips, but did not eat any dinner. We made our beds in the car because we were concerned about the wildlife and did not want to risk sleeping in a tent.

Snowbird Mine looking out from the cave

This is a free collection site and you can find beautiful fluorite in greens, blues, purples and even black. In the caves you can find the beautiful cobalt blue, purple and black fluorite. It chips out easily with a rock hammer. Much of it is fractured, but you can find some pieces that are larger. There are deposits of fluorite all around the mine. Any time you are digging or using your hammer be aware of your surroundings and safety. A hard hat and safety goggles are always a good option to avoid injury ( ). You will find a lot of what we called sugar crystals. This is more like a fluorite gravel. When wet it looks like wet raw diamonds. I think it would be beautiful in a fish tank. I would like to go back some time, but I think I will contact the forest service to find out when the gates are open to get closer and not hike so far. (Note: I will add better directions when I fine my notes for the forest service road numbers.)

Snowbird Mine Caves

Digging Fluorite in the cave with a rock hammer

Camping in Montana

There is beautiful camping throughout the state of Montana. Many places are lost cost ($10 or less) to FREE. We spent over a week of tent camping at several different locations while we were rock hounding.

  • Quartz Flat – off I-90 by Lolo National Forest. Cost $10. This camp ground is located on I-90 at the rest stop in Lolo National Forest. Once at the rest stop follow the signs to the campground. There are nice trails to the river and piles of firewood for a nice campfire. Camping spots have picnic tables and fire pits. It has pit toilets,  drinking water available and dumpsters.
  • Flint Creek – just a few miles south of Phillipsburg, Mt. Cost – FREE. This campground has several camping spots, with fire rings and picnic tables, next to a beautiful little creek.  There is no water taps. We used water from the creek that we boiled. There are a couple of pit toilets. You are in bear country so be sure to keep all food in vehicles when not eating and do not keep any food items in your tent. Pack in, pack out.
  • Pettingill Campground -by Wise River, MT. Cost – $6. This camp ground has just three camping spots. It is next to a fast flowing river.  Nice camping spots with large picnic tables and fire rings. You will need to bring your own firewood. Pack in, pack out. Here you are also in bear country.
  • Barnetts Park – Barretts, MT – off I-15 just south of Dillan, MT. Cost – FREE. This is a nice little stop. There is a grassy area for tent camping next to the river. It is next to some large rock monoliths. This was a stopping place for Lewis and Clark and later for stage coaches. It is filled with a lot of history. There are pit toilets, drinking water and dumpsters.
  • Lolo National Forest – Schely Mountain, Lolo Pass. – Cost – FREE Off of I-90 take the exit for Fish Trap Creek Road. It is a well maintained gravel road that runs for 33 miles to I-12 that runs to Idaho. Take the road to Schely Mountain off of Fish Trap Creek Road. It is 12 miles to the top of the mountain. Very beautiful place with changing scenery the whole way to the top. At the top of the mountain there are lots of miniature noble fir trees – they grow much smaller and slowly because of the altitude and because it gets too much snow in the winter. There are a few fire rings, a pit toilet and an area to tie up your horses. There is lots of space to move around and park a horse trailer up there. Wonderful trails throughout the mountains. You are in bear country so take precautions with food storage. Bring in your water because there are no water taps or nearby rivers. There are a few lakes around up there.

Silverwood Theme Park Camping

Here are some areas available for camping if you are going to the Silverwood Theme Park. The park has camping available right next to the park. Here are a few options if you would like something different.

Mokins Bay Campground – Hayden Lake, ID Nice little campground. It has 16 spaces at $16 per night. It is 12 miles off Hwy 95. You take Lancaster Road in Hayden and follow the signs to Mokins Creek Campground. It is across from the fire station on Mokins Bay. This is a switchback road with 97 curves to the campground. It is first come first serve and you cannot make reservations in advance.

Farragut State Park 13400 East Ranger Road, Athol, ID 83801 (208) 683-2425

Tamarack RV Park 3630 N. Government Way Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83815

Call us at (877) 212-0523 or (208) 664-3087! or visit our contact page to make a reservation.

Blackwell Island RV Park 800 S Marina Drive Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814

(1.5 miles south of I-90, exit #12, on Highway 95.)

Phone: 1-888-571-2900 or 1-208-665-1300 Fax: 1-208-667-5853 Email:

Cub River Guest Ranch LLC 1942 No. Deer Cliff Road | Preston, Idaho 83263 (8.5 miles up Cub River Canyon) 208-852-2124

North Idaho RV 24835 North Hester Road, Athol, ID 83801-8830 (208) 683-4054

Gold Fever Mining Supply

Some dry camping available. You can also do some gold panning. We are located at 16405 N Ramsey Road in Rathdrum, ID  83858 and can be reached by calling 208-699-8128

Quick Quiche Puffs

3 eggs – beaten

1/4 cup mayonaise

1/2 cup grated cheese (sharp is great but use whatever you have)

3/4 to 1 cup grated zuchinni

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or basil

mix all ingredients together

2 packages of pillsbury biscuits

Use mini muffin pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Open package of biscuits and cut each one in half. Place one half piece of biscuit in bottom of mini muffin pan. Use wooden dowel or small spoon to press on biscuit half to round up on the edges a little. Spoon in large spoonful of egg mix. Bake at 350 degrees for approx 7 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. You can also store and serve cold. Goes great with afternoon teas.

Confidence Booster

A great activity for teens is a Challenge or High Ropes Course. The Challenge Courses usually have a zip line and several different elements to the whole course. Some courses also feature a low element course. This is a great team building activity. By overcoming your fears it will help you to build confidence in yourself. Many different summer camps offer a Challenge Course. Look for one in your area to bring a youth group to for a few hours.

Camp MiVoden – Hayden Lake, Idaho – 208-772-3484

Challenge Course