Gem Mountain!!!

I love Philipsburg for many reasons, but I don’t know if I would be here if it weren’t for Gem Mountain!!

You go into the shop and buy a ticket for a bucket(or pay more for seeded buckets) I believe it was $35 for a regular bucket. We ended up buying two so we could have two tables 🙂 and well…..more Sapphires.

After you get your ticket you pick your bucket. They have a staff member who helps you wash the gravel. They put it in a screen, set it into a large tub of water and shake it around a lot. Sapphires are heavier than the rest of the gravel so they find their way to the center and bottom of the screen, so when they turn them over they sit on top. When they dump it looks like this. This is about 1/5 or 1/4 of a regular bucket. Can you spot some Sapphires!!

Once you pick them off the top you begin to shuffle through the gravel, they don’t always stick to the top

I think we were probably there for an hour, I didn’t time it, but just long enough for the kids to get antsy.

After we went through our gravel we took them in to find out what is good enough to send out for cutting. Last time we were here we only found 3 cuttables…which I assumed was good at the time.

This time we found over 20!! And then more “flawed” for me to practice with if I ever get a chance to take a faceting class.

We did find one tiny cuttable pink! We also bought the keepsake necklace and put some of the non cut quality Sapphires inside

I love Gem Mountain and can’t wait to see what the stones look like when they come back all cut and shiny.

Philipsburg Montana

Oh how I lovePhilipsburg. We traveled here a couple years ago, during a bad bout of wildfires and it was only by sheer determination to go to Gem Mountain did we even see this gem of a town. After that trip it was at the top of my bucket list to make it back and spend some time exploring.

From the Philipsburg Inn where we are staying it’s about a 15 min walk into downtown Philipsburg, so we went for a walk.

We had promised the kids candy, and since they were so patient and quiet during the blow out we said they could get a whole pound of candy. So we headed to the Sweet Palace.

This is the most amazing Candy Store!

I just did a sugar cleanse, but with all the unique candy I decided I’m just going to have to have a sugar rush. I’ll get back over it after the Fourth of July.

After the Candy shop we explored the downtown a little and came upon an amazing Police Museum. This area was very wealthy during the gold/silver rush and it shows in the kind of equipment their police force had.

After the museum we found an old fashioned soda fountain. It used to be a drug store and hotel.

The town had lots of beautiful old features

We are still pretty tired, and this town has a lot more to explore but we will have to wait til tomorrow.

Our first blow out

We left NW Idaho heading for Montana. We had a relaxing ride for 4 hours drive by beautiful Coeur D’alene , stopped at some rest stops. Soaked in Montana.

Then when we were an hour from our destination we heard a tire go. The Captain gently guided us into the shoulder to investigate

We called Good Sam. It was hard because cell service was spotty, but with our hot spot we picked up enough Data to run the phones.

It was 3 hours before the road side assistance showed up. We were parked right by and Air Strip and a Train track off the I-90

Once the guy showed up, he changed our tire and left. We were at the four hour point by now. The Captain got to checking the pressure in all our tires and after a bunch of testing we realized another tire was no good. It wasn’t holding air. It had been another 40ish min so we decided to move the RV to the parking area .9 miles down the road so the kids and me could at least get out of the vehicle.

When I called the wrecking company she let me know it was going to be another couple hours before they could send someone out. We decided to try to change it ourselves. After not getting the lug nut to loosen it was 9:45 and we decided to call for back up and put the kids to bed. No use trying to go anywhere at night. Good Sam told us it wasn’t an “emergency” since we had gotten ourselves to safety and wanted us to call back in the morning. We called our Progressive road side assistance and they sent someone out.

We went to sleep to the sounds of Semi generators, the interstate, and the in and outgoing travelers taking a rest. I didn’t sleep at all. Around midnight a man showed up from road side assistance. Got everything done and looked good and we settled in for the night.

In the morning we woke up, and headed to Philipsburg.

We made it! Leveled out no problem and pulled out our slides. Made some bacon, eggs, toast. Took a shower and although I said I would just drink coffee and power thru, I fell asleep the min I laid down. I needed that. Woke up at 2pm and started running laundry.

Northern Idaho Silverwood Theme Park

Originally in our route from Washington to Philipsburg, Montana we had a reservation at Little Diamond the Thousand Trails in Newport, WA. As I contemplated our route I wasn’t looking forward to the extra 2 hours off route to get to the campground so I checked out Boondockers Welcome and found a spot that we could fit, right next to Silverwood Theme Park so we joined the site, $30 for a year, and requested the stay. Bill and Kathy immediately got back to us and accepted our request!

Due to work obligations we set out a little late in the day from Quincy, and rolled into Athol around 7pm. I’m sure we seemed a bit nuts when I told our hosts we needed to quickly head back to Spokane to hit the last Trader Joe’s we would see til Utah. We booked it back, grabbed 4 carts(two kids size haha) and split up with lists. Got my bestie Brenna her families favorites and got ours too. By the time we got back to the Boondock it was after 10pm! We let the kids sleep in our bed and I hit the couch. There was no time or energy to pull out our slides. They had cows on their back pasture and the friendliest dog!

After we woke up, we got our slides out, had some food and prepared for the theme park. It was only minutes down the street, which was awesome.

First thing we had to do was the Carousel! Little Sunshine’s favorite ride.

They had a fun 30 min train ride with lots of fun surprises and actors.

I think one of Rockets favorites was the cars the kids could drive

The only line we had to wait in was for the rapids, but we were bumped up a good 30 min when they were condensing the riders into groups of 8. We got soaked, in our regular clothes, right before heading to the water park

The water park was fantastic. The lazy river allowed for swimming in and out floaters, the supplied life jackets helped the kids in the rougher parts. There was a ginormous kids okay area with multiple slides built in and surrounded by a foot of water all around for parents to lay in, or small kids. Rocket and I did go on a tube ride together, but the weather was just a little too cold for dad and Sunshine so we headed back to the boondock to rest for a bit. Rested for good 90 min, had warm soup and headed back to shut the park down! I definitely recommend doing this, as when we got back the lines were non existent and we could practically walk into anything we wanted to ride. There is a full section of rides for little kids. Rocket road a real wooden rollercoaster with me, but exclaimed at the end “I better wait til I am older til I do that again”

We let the kids play one boardwalk game each, and they both won a prize! We also all got to pick one thing in the gift shop as a souvineer and the prices were very good, in fact all the parks prices were the most reasonable amusement park prices we have ever seen. We stayed all the way til close, in fact at 9:58 I asked the lady at the log ride if we could take a ride and she(like all the staff) was so incredibly nice and said “I am not closed yet, let’s do this!” So me and Rocket Road the log flume in almost total darkness! It was great.

After that we left, and all of us fell asleep very easily!

Now we are on our way to Montana!!!!

Hansen Creek Amethyst Hunting

Wooohooo here we go, the trip I was looking most forward to while in Washington. Hansen’s Creek for Amethyst Hunting! It was over a 2 hour drive, but I knew it would be worth it. We drove from the desert to Snoqualamie Pass

Exit 47 off Interstate 90 is Denny Creek Exit. Take that. Take a right on Tinkham rd of the interstate and you will come to this sign where you turn left. Follow it a while.

Once you take the hairpin left turn you are almost to the parking spot. We arrived on a very busy day, so there was no mistaking where to park, but during the week there isn’t as much company. Once there you walk about 15 min with a pretty good incline til you get to this cool rock climbing spot

Then you keep walking, walking, walking. The good news is, there is less of an incline after the rock spot. Walk until you see ribbons in the trees. If you don’t see the ribbons, you aren’t there. It’s maybe another 15 of walking.

Once you arrive at the dig site, you want to head up the hill. I see plenty of people dig along the bottom, but from my years of reading about Hansen you want to go up as far as you can handle without crossing into a claim (it’s a long way up to a claim and they should be marked)

Once there you want to prepare for digging. Bring a screen, 1/4 inch is good. I saw people using old kitchen colanders. Knee pads, gloves, and a bucket will help but not necessary. Would have been smart to bring a hard hat. If you want to get into a cave, you need to bring flashlights/headlamps/laterns. I can’t help myself but go in the caves. The caves are holes dug under trees. You can also find crystals just lying on the ground or barely scratching the surface. I found my garden hand rake to be the best tool!

It’s quite a steep hill

Once Sunshine decided she’d had enough, we left. She was battling a summer cold so proud of her for making the trip at all. Dad had to carry her a lot. We spent a couple hours and both felt we had just hit a good patch of raw dirt when she decided she was done.

Washed up our finds this morning and this is what the crystals can look like, we will need to soak and scrub these to find out if we got anything purple. It’s unlikely we did, but there is a chance! You can also see a bit of Pyrite the Captain found.

Next to Hansen’s Creek is Denny Creek and they have some natural rock water slides. I want to check it out next time we are here!