10 for 10

Ten hours of reading for 10 hours of roller coasters and attractions at Silverwood Theme Park? When we heard about Silverwood’s Reading is the Ticket program through our local homeschool organization, it sounded too good to be true. But sure enough, K-8 students (homeschool and public school) have the chance each spring to earn a free ticket to the amusement park for reading 10 hours over the course of several weeks. The Younger Fives wasted no time in getting through their time requirement in a matter of days, and then the hard part came, waiting for the park to open for the season.

We chose the first weekend in June for our visit, the start of the longer hours and the water park opening. It’s safe to say we made the most of our day. The Younger Fives went on all the rides they were tall enough for, including some pretty serious thrill rides. Between hopping back and forth between adult and kiddie-sized coasters, we enjoyed the lush flower and plant life throughout the park and found plenty of shady, calm places to recharge. Five String and Five Spice didn’t hold back either and tried out some rides the kids weren’t quite ready for yet.

After several trips on every ride within the park, some clear favorites emerged…

Paratrooper – Longest, most enjoyable ride of any attraction. High and fast enough to be exciting, but not  jarring.

Frog Hopper – Rising and falling in the lap of a colorful frog. What’s not to love?

Roaring Creek Log Flume – Classic log flume with a big plunge at the end. Bystanders can deposit quarters to soak riders as they pass, which we learned the hard way.

Corkscrew – Great introduction to looping coasters. It was Five of Heart’s first trip up-side-down.

Also, some honorable mentions for Tremors, Tilt-a-Whirl and Scrambler. The latter two were boycotted by Five String due to his refusal to go on spiny rides and have the world rotate for hours afterwards, but the rest of the Fives thoroughly enjoyed both the rides themselves and the feeling of superiority.

By the time our 10 hours passed and 8 pm rolled around, we all were ready to call it a day. While we chose not to check out Boulder Bay (the water park) due to temperatures in the 50s, the weather held out and we had much more sun than originally anticipated.  The true mark of a successful day was when we asked the Younger Fives if they would come back again tomorrow for another round, and they all exclaimed “Yes!” in unison. Fortunately, for the Older Fives (feeling jolted and exhausted from experience), the tickets were good for only one day.

A Yurt In Yaak

Five String has always wanted to visit the Kootenai National Forest and an area know as “The Yaak” in northwestern Montana. Since we were on our way to northern Idaho this past week we figured that it made sense to drive through the Kootenai National Forest on our way. This area of Montana is very rural and reminds us a lot of northern Maine. We loved how green everything was and the smell of the trees, flowers and fast flowing water was unbelievably refreshing.

Since we were quickly passing through the area we decided to spend the night in a Yurt at the Whitetail campground that sits along the Yaak River. The proximity to the river was fabulous for bird watching and getting our feet wet. We challenged ourselves with skipping stones across the river and by the end of the day we were all ready for our first campfire of the season.

The Yurt was surprisingly spacious with a set of bunk-beds and a good sized table. We really loved not having to pitch a tent for the night especially when we woke up to rain showers the next morning and were able to eat breakfast inside and stay dry and warm.

Since we didn’t have to devote time to packing up camp (Yurts really do make life easier) we were able to spend more time relaxing along the river bank. On our way out of the area we stopped off at Yaak Falls where we watched an impressive amount of water cascading down over the rocks. The Yaak area is definitely a gorgeous piece of wilderness and one that we hope to be able to return to for further exploration in the future.

Maiden Voyage

As the temperatures approached 80 degrees yesterday we ventured over to Swan Lake for the maiden voyage of our new inflatable kayak (The Manatee) and our second hand canoe (The Croc 11).

The wind cooperated and we ended up paddling for most of the day interrupted only to cool off in the lake.

We had debated long and hard over the winter months as to the merits of an inflatable kayak and it turned out to have been a good purchase. It saved us having to put a new roof rack on our car, the price was very reasonable, and we didn’t find the set-up time consuming at all. We especially love how stable it is in the water. The kids can jump off of it and climb back in without the fear of the kayak tipping over. It seems to handle well and it is pretty easy to tow behind the canoe when the Younger Five’s arms tire out. Hopefully we will get some good use out of both boats this summer.

All Alone at Tally Lake

We have heard great things about Tally Lake in Flathead County, Montana and wanted to get a visit in before tourist season begins at the end of the month. As the temperatures rose into the 70’s this past Thursday we figured that there was no better time to make the trip.

Tally Lake is Montana’s 2nd deepest lake at 445 feet deep. The kids were prepared for a day of swimming, but as they rushed in for their first dip they realized how cold the lake still was. The fast rushing creek adjacent to the beach looked like it would be fun to tube down, but the snow melt that it carried made even our fearless cold water swimmer, Five of Hearts, head back to shore. However, the Younger Fives still found a way to enjoy the freezing water as they built rafts out of their boogie boards and managed to paddle the lake without getting wet.

The campground at Tally Lake wasn’t yet open and besides a few people using the boat landing we pretty much had the whole lake to ourselves. The lack of people near the beach area created the perfect environment for birding and we enjoyed watching Yellow Warblers and Rufous Hummingbirds. The Richardson Ground Squirrels were also a pleasure to watch. We ended up staying at the lake until well into the evening and had great difficulty getting the kids to leave. It seems that Tally Lake will definitely be at the top of our list for camping and swimming this summer.