Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival – University of Idaho (Seed Post)

This festival takes place every winter (generally February) and has been going on since 1967.  This year I plan to finally go!


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Ice, Ice Babies

Winter in Pullman starts on Halloween and ends July 4.  Ok, this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but winter can seem to last forever, especially after the Most Wonderful Time of the Year comes to an abrupt and depressing end.

Last year, in order to give us something to carry us through, we got the boys started playing ice hockey with Palouse Youth Hockey Association.  This has been a really fun activity that our entire family has enjoyed, the boys as players and we parents as spectators.  Palouse Youth Hockey Association has six different age categories, with ages ranging from little (say, about 4) to teen.  Practices and home games are at the Palouse Ice Rink, located at the Latah County Fairgrounds. 

Hockey season starts around November 1 and ends mid-March, which means that the kids really get a chance to develop as players and to form friendships with their teammates.  November and December are generally devoted to practicing.  This year our boys have one weekday practice and then a practice, game or Jamboree on Saturday (or a weekend-long tournament).  The game, jamboree and tournament schedule picks up after the New Year.  We have home games, a home jamboree and a home tournament, and there are also many opportunities for games/tournaments/jamborees on the road (Lewiston, Tri-Cities, Coeur d’Alene, McCall and Moses Lake).  In the younger age category that we are in, travel is not mandatory. I am not sure if that holds true as the kids get older.  The travel can be a bit heavy, but it is a great time.  And it gives us something to do to keep our minds off the dark, cold days of winter!

There are some demands put on the families.  There is a volunteer hour requirement, though you do have the choice to pay a fee instead of volunteer.  Also, the travel can be time consuming.  A significant demand is the financial one.  There is a registration fee to get started, equipment rental fees, tournament fees, and travel costs, and then if you want to do things like buy skates, jerseys or other equipment, it can get to feel pricey.  However, you really do get a lot out of the experience and you get a long season. 

The Palouse Ice Rink also has adult hockey, figure skating, curling and broomball.  There are learn-to-skate programs offered, and plenty of open skate times. 

As I said, our neighboring cities also have ice rinks.  (See links below to the ones I have been to.  McCall’s is especially nice.)

And if your kids have skates, try skating on a pond.  Our boys skate at Sunnyside Park pretty regularly and that is free!


Palouse Youth Hockey

Palouse Ice Rink 

LC Ice Arena

Frontier Ice Arena (Coeur d’Alene) (there is a good skate shop near here)

Manchester Ice and Events Centre (McCall)


PS:  I could not resist the Vanilla Ice reference. Sorry.



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And Away We Go…. Again!

It has been a long time since my last blog post.  Life as a wife and mom, a new full time job, a thankfully full social life, and so on and so on, have conspired against this blog.  At one point, I had basically given up on the hope that I would return.  This feels like a confession!  Indeed, I have felt guilty, especially when someone would say they actually read and enjoyed my blog, and asked why I wasn’t writing it anymore.  (This is also very gratifying – someone is out there!)

But here we are, entering a new year, and I have a resolution to get back to this.  I will try to do one good entry a month, at least, and maybe some additional quickies.  Why?  Because it is a way of forcing me not get complacent.  It is too easy to stop exploring, to stop noticing, to stop doing things that are new.  And I remember arriving here with little kids and thinking… what on earth do I do here?  If I can help anyone who is in that same boat, that is wonderful.  So here we go, a new year and a new chapter!


On the road again, through the beautiful palouse.

And to those of you who have submitted comments (and one quite important correction)- I will work through those soon!

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McCroskey State Park/Skyline Drive (Idaho)

On a recent Sunday we decided to go on an exploratory drive.  We chose the 18 mile Skyline Drive of the Mary Minerva McCrosky State Park in Idaho.

Skyline Drive offers beautiful views of the Palouse, even on a slightly rainy day like the one we had. It is very interesting in that it takes you through a typically western forest to a typically eastern one.

From the website:

“This 5300-acre ridgeline park is dedicated to pioneer women. McCroskey State Park’s highlight is an 18-mile skyline drive through the park on unimproved roads provides spectacular views of the rolling Palouse country and access to 32 miles of multi-purpose trails. Facilities include a group day use shelter, primitive camping areas and picnic areas along the road. The road is not recommended for large RVs and may be too rough for your family car.”

We did the road in our light SUV, and it was fine.  Here is a photo of the typical road condition:

It is free.  It has campsites, parking, restrooms, and vault toilets (whatever that is!). I think I saw hiking trails, but we did not do any hiking around.  It is open all year.


We bookended our drive with some snacks, of course.  On the way there we went to Potlatch, Idaho and visited the Wagon Wheel Bar & Grille and Laundromat.

Yes, laundromat.  Meaning there are two washers and dryers in the front part of the establishment, next to the pool table and video games (you eat in the rear part).  Kind of kooky, but fun, friendly, good burgers, open on Sunday, and they allowed kids.

Wagon Wheel Bar & Grille
220 6th St

Potlatch, ID 83855

Phone:  (208) 875-1067

At the end of our journey we went to Garfield and had ice cream and beer at Smokin’ Papas BBQ Cafe.  I have been told the BBQ is very good, and I hope to get back to try it.  They also have pizza. We were really thankful to find another place open on Sunday.

Smokin’ Papas

(509) 635-1290

216 W California St, Garfield, WA

It was a nice way to spend a rainy Sunday, and we got to see some nooks and crannies, and sweeping vistas, of the lovely Palouse.

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Children’s Matinee Movie Series (Pullman)

Pullman Village Center Cinemas does a very cool ongoing matinee series that is an amazing bargain. For $5 you get 8 movie tickets.  There are 8 movies in each series, but the tickets are not designated for any movie – so you can use the tickets for whichever of the movies you think your kids will like.

This year the Summer 2010 Children’s Matinee Series started on June 22 and runs to August 12. We went to the first movie, and it is very popular, so I would suggest going at least 15 minutes early to get a good seat.

The movies are recent movies, but ones which are not in the theaters any longer.  (For example, this series includes The Lightning Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Furry Vengeance, Kung Fu Panda, Night at the Museum 2, Barnyard, Madagasgar 2, and a surprise film.)

The theater does a winter series, too.


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R.B. Tukey Orchard: Fruit Picking

The boys with their cherry haul, July 2009, Tukey Orchard

One of the best summer things to do here is to go fruit picking at Washington State University’s organic orchard, the R.B. Tukey Horticultural Orchard.  Today was the first day of the year it was open for picking (strawberries) so I know summer is finally here!

Cherry picking

Look around campus for signs that say “WSU Fruit Sale” and you will know the orchard is allowing people to pick.  You can also get on an e-mail list that will inform you of additional opportunities to pick – I think there are some times when there is not a lot of fruit, so they only send out an e-mail  and do not post a sign.

My favorite time of year is cherry season (these photos are from cherry season last year).  Any of the tree fruit picking days are excellent for kids, too. (Not so much with the berries, which are delicate.)

The fruit is amazing! It is organic, fresh, and really flavorful.  It is generally priced at about the same or slightly less than you would pay for conventional fruit at Safeway.

The orchard is located by the Moscow-Pullman airport and Palouse Ridge golf course.


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Living in the Garden (Pullman, WA)

We made our first trip to a wonderful Pullman spot today: Living in the Garden.  It is a nursery, garden center, gift shop, art space… just all-around cool place.

The plants and baskets are amazingly beautiful.  Truly inspiring (even for a person like me who doesn’t have a garden!)

The gift shop/art space was full of lovely and unique items.

I am glad we made it today, because their season ends on June 27! They only stay open for a few months a year (March through June).  There are a number of special events, such as live music, still yet to come this year, though.

As far as kid-friendliness, it is not a place for running around, as you can imagine.  However, I think it would be a magical place for a slightly older kid to come and choose plants for the garden.  (Note the bathrooms are limited to a port-o-potty.) We made it through our visit without any mishaps, though it took some close monitoring!

Living in the Garden is another of those great places in this area that you can just feel are labors of love- the kind of business you daydream about owning.  Get there soon!

To get there:

Living in the Garden is 2 miles north of Pullman off of Highway 27.  Look for the Reid Road sign and the blue truck with the Living in the Garden sign.

You cannot see Living in the Garden itself from the road, but you see this road:

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Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute

I am going to start doing some entries on places I want to go but haven’t gone yet due to a lack of time (a constant problem!)  This is the first one.

The Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) is a local organization that seeks to “increase citizen involvement in decisions that affect our region’s environment. Through community organizing and education, PCEI assists members of our communities in making environmentally sound and economically viable decisions that promote a sustainable future.”  (From their website

Its website describes a handful of “Special Places” which I am very much looking forward to exploring this summer.  The Special Places include Rose Creek, Magpie Forest, Smoot Hill, Moscow Mountain Cedars, Idler’s Rest and PCEI’s stream restoration sites. These sites are all close to Pullman.

From the PCEI website, here is some information about each Special Place (note there is a lot more info on the PCEI website -these are just small excerpts):

ROSE CREEK:  “The Rose Creek Nature Preserve (RCNP) is a special place located only 7.5 miles northwest of Pullman, Washington, near Albion Rose Creek Preserve is the best example of the distinct quaking aspen-black hawthorn-cow parsnip community type of its kind remaining in the endangered Palouse meadow steppe ecosystem. The twelve-acre preserve is bisected by Rose Creek with a plant community of native bunchgrass species in the upland, and a lush community of species such as Fendler’s waterleaf, and purple trillium in the wet meadow.”  (

THE MAGPIE FOREST:  “The Magpie Forest is important because it provides wildlife habitat and represents one of the last remnants of native Palouse shrub-steppe vegetation. Pullman’s Environmental Quality Commission has designated the Magpie Forest as one of city’s most important and endangered “critical areas” in anticipation of its eventually becoming part of Pullman, Washington. [P] The Magpie Forest provides an opportunity to explore native plants, wildlife habitat, invasive species and conservation issues.”  (

SMOOT HILL:  “This 730 acre farm, located 12 miles from the Pullman campus, was purchased by the WSU in 1972 for research and educational use. Over 300 acres of this property are in the Conservation Reserve Program because it one of the largest intact remnants of the native Palouse plant community. Smoot Hill’s natural diversity and beauty make it popular for ecology and botany field trips.”  (

MOSCOW MOUNTAIN CEDARS:  “Largely spared from disturbance by its location on top of a steep 4700’ ridge, this 269-acre parcel of state school trust land is home to an ancient grove of western red cedars estimated to be 1000 years old. Nurtured by the headwater springs of Felton Creek and Hatter Creek, this stand of trees was nominated in 1974 to be a National Natural Landmark as the best extant example of western red cedar/larch habitat.”  (

IDLER’S REST:  “Idler’s Rest in managed by the Palouse Land Trust. The site has several trails, one easy along the creek with towering fir and cedar, one middle that goes through a grassland, and one longer and harder that climbs out of the valley floor.”  (

The PCEI website has a lot more information about its activities, which include all sorts of things regarding environmental education, restoration and preservation.  Of course, it encourages donations and membership and provides volunteer opportunities.

As I visit the Special Places, I will do complete entries.  Another reason to look forward to summer!

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The Green Frog Cafe (Restaurant, Palouse WA)

If you have not been to The Green Frog Cafe, make plans and get there!  Everything about it is great:  the food is amazing, the decor is fun, the prices are right, the people are friendly, and kids are welcome.

The Green Frog Cafe is located 15 miles/20 minutes north of Pullman in Palouse, Washington (which is a very charming little town).  In the morning they have pastries/baked goods and coffee/espresso/drinks.  It opens at 7 a.m., so we have gone for early morning cinnamon rolls after early morning swimming lessons.  Lovely.

I have been many times for lunch, and the sandwiches are definitely worth the drive.  They have hot grilled sandwiches, cold sandwiches, wraps, pitas, soups and salads. The sandwiches are made on bread from Wheatberries Bakery, sliced THICK.  All the food is made from scratch and everything is simply excellent.  I usually have the grilled sandwiches – they are so good, and big enough to share with kids. They also have beer and wine.

They do live music, open mic nights and other special evening activities.  I have never made one of these, but I have heard they are great , family-friendly, and very popular.  I think they are Thursdays and Fridays, but obviously call and check before driving up there!

The vitals:

100 East Main Street
Palouse, WA 99161

Tue – Wed:
7am – 3pm
Thur – Fri:
7am – 8pm
8am – 4pm

Photos from The City of Palouse

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Palouse Discovery Science Center (Pullman, WA)

When I moved here I was pleasantly surprised that Pullman has its own children’s science museum:  The Palouse Discovery Science Center.  It is the type of facility you would think you could not find in a small town.  Yet another positive thing about Pullman!

From its website:

The Palouse Discovery Science Center (PDSC) promotes science, math, and technology literacy through educational programs, exhibits, teaching collections, and activities emphasizing hands-on learning.

Experience a full spectrum of programs that include live science demonstrations, hands-on lessons, films, lectures, classes, field trips, summer camps, laboratory experiences, teacher workshops, science birthdays, and outreach services. The center has a wonderful science store, the Curiosity Shop, filled with cool science toys, party favors, and gifts. Stop by and see for yourself what science is all about.”

The PDSC has age appropriate areas and activities for all ages of young kids.

It is a wonderful place to spend a snowy day (or a hot one) and it is a great place to have a birthday party.

It has family friendly bathrooms, a place to nurse a baby, and a place to have sit and have a snack (but no food available for purchase).

It also has a nice gift shop that carries science-oriented kid’s items.

The website :

The PDSC is open Tuesday 10am to 5pm, and Wednesday-Saturday, 10 am to 3 pm.

$6 for Adults (12 to 54)
$5 for Seniors (55 and over)
$4 for Children (2 to 12)
Children under 2 are free
Seniors are free on Friday

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