Yellowstone County Museum Coolest Free Museum in Area

Most free museums feel like junk stores without price tags, but this place, as small and four miles away from where you probably want to be, wasnt just worth the trip, it was straight up awesome. Not only did we find a bunch of great cowboy stuff to buy our brother for his upcoming birthday at fine prices, but we also saw neat stuff, had great fun, and all on free admission.

story351Yes, we’re all very impressed that your Frogasuarus Rex made it through mud, sea, sand, and stretches of highway to get here. I’m sure both you and your amphibious friend are plenty tired after your 3-day Arcata to Ferndale pilgrimage. And I know you think that entitles you to all kinds of legal exemptions, but no matter all that, you still have to obey the law.

no-frog-tallHey, if I was allowed to drive I’d want a car like that. It’s attractive without a doubt. The appeal is clear, it’s a frog after all, I got it. Now, let’s pause to look at your legality. There’s no blinkers, no seatbelts, and despite four attractive articulate limbs, there’s no bumper in sight.

So in case I haven’t been clear: You can’t park your frog here! You’re goofing up traffic, no-frog2you’re distracting passers by and, with all this uncommon attention, your frog is creating a nuisance. Frankly, I think you’re going to run me down if I stand here explaining myself much longer.

iIf you disagree with me, take it up with your local lawmakers, but in the meantime you need to take your bloated pseudo-Kermit and hop it on off the city street. Even though it’s me talking, it’s really the dull roar of your own commonsense welling up within you.

Now move it, Buster, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Okay, maybe not bigger but the sticks are surely tastier.

Problem Found, Ya Got No Motor

Okay this is wierd. I’m no mechanic or anything but when I heard that this Subaru couldn’t do more than about 10 mph I had to have a look under the hood. What I found was alarming, the darn thing had only bicycle pedals chained into the tranny and no motor.

Alright, lemme have a peek-see figure out what`s going on here.
Alright, lemme have a peek-see figure out what`s going on here.

I should point out that we’re not in my shop since as a non-mechanic I lack any shop to speak of. Likewise, though, we weren’t in their garage either and they had to get it here on it’s own steam. Did I already mention it doesn’t have a motor and that it’s a Subaru?

These guys really need someone to look over their car. I’m told they drove three days over highway, sand dunes, mud, and even across the bay to come here. Seems like a lot of pedaling to me but what do I know — Wait, did they say “across the bay”? Weirder still!

I’ll leave it to the real mechanics at this point. I doubt they’ll need my help, I mean, any mechanic should be able to ascertain from even the most cursory glance that this thing is running (or failing to run perhaps) on no cylinders. I don’t know where they bought this or who’s been working on it lately but I sure hope they got a warranty on it. I’d hate to have to be the one to break the bad news to them if they have to cover the costs out-of-pocket, seems likely it’s a pretty major sort of repair to me.

All this funny business in here and yet nary a motor in site. It doesn't look good I'm afraid, not good at all.
All this funny business in here and yet nary a motor in site. It doesn’t look good I’m afraid, not good at all.

 

Navy’s Trojan Horse Program Cancelled

As I’ve come to understand it the US Navy has been working for the past year in total secrecy to develop an aquatic trojan horse program to infiltrate foreign coasts with the greatest of sneakiness. Now, due to unforeseeable drawbacks and cutbacks it has sadly been abandoned.

Thar she blows on parade.
Thar she blows on parade.

It made perfect sense on paper. It’s man powered so it’s quiet and doesn’t emit any Electro-magnetic signals. Humans hide inside it and it looks like a perfect kinetic sculpture of a real live horse, horsy or see-horse if you will. (Not a seahorse, that’s something different, though maybe they should work on one of those instead.) It sounded too good to be true and, once in the water the paper it looked so good on got soggy and all that research and development went out the window.

trojan-horse2Though water-faring it would seem as though for high sea-faring it would be quite deadly. Further it can only hold two solitary soldiers, both of whom would be pretty tuckered out upon arrival. Worse still is that they’re in plain sight all throughout their journey. I know, total bummer, huh?

The upside to it all is that the Navy is the loser to the tune of at least a couple billion but the winners are the spectators here who got to watch it lazily paddle by. Even an errant seal could tell something was special about it as he popped out of the water momentarily to bark at it. That’s not a photoshopped deal there people, it really happened and it was really wierd.

Don’t besmirch your government for failing to make new weapons. They have to try something new and us peace-mongers can pray nothing less than failure. I’d rather be the guy shaking and shrugging than the guy pedaling, wouldn’t you?

Above a non-Navy seal can be seen barking orders at the kayakin' shepherd in charge of wranglin' the horse.
Above a non-Navy seal can be seen barking orders at the kayakin’ shepherd in charge of wranglin’ the horse.

Family Pancake House Review… Delicious

Most free museums feel like junk stores without price tags, but this place, as small and four miles away from where you probably want to be, wasnt just worth the trip, it was straight up awesome. Not only did we find a bunch of great cowboy stuff to buy our brother for his upcoming birthday at fine prices, but we also saw neat stuff, had great fun, and all on free admission.

(This article dictated by elementary school age and younger children.)

family-pancake-house-edmonds1

What we ordered

We had a couple of pancake faces, which are teddy bear looking pancakes with whipped cream, pineapple and strawberries and chocolate eyeballs. These were so delicious and ridiculously affordable at only $3.15.

Max liked banana pancakes and chocolate chip pancake. He also looooved the butter, could eat that stuff all day. Also liked the chocolate on the ice cream at the end. He picked up the cherries and put them under the ice cream and he couldn’t try the circle strawberries (cherries.)*

Dominic had bacon & eggs with hash browns and toast for $4.59, a tasty good deal. It was a big meal for a little price.

How nice the people are

The service was very nice and kind. Lori gave us everything we needed and she was always there when we wanted something. The food came out plenty quick like ay-yay-yay. When you say you want your eggs scrambled, they will do it.

The restaurant was nice and clean and shiny.

Location

We went to the Family Pancake House in Edmonds, but there are a handful of locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. For hours, directions and sample menus, check them out online at FamilyPancakeHouse.com.

* This paragraph was dictated by a 2 year old.

family-pancake-house-edmonds2

 

Boys Had Laughs at Aladdin Puppet Show

On Saturday we went to a puppet show. The show was called Aladdin and it was put on by Carter Family Puppets.

The show is too good, they have a genie in it. Two genies I mean. There was one genie of the magic ring and the other genie of the magic teapot. I mean lamp.

Aladdin and the princess dance together. They dance like a puppet dances.

The show was entertaining and funny too. The show is good for kids and grownups if they like funny, kid stuff.

And it’s easy to get free street parking there. And there’s a big, fun playground for kids when you bring them. You can play on it before the show or after.

Full info and ticket sales online at NWPuppet.org.

The show is fun and it plays through March 17th.

Note: Article written by the boys.

ABOVE: After the show the performers come out to introduce the little stars of the show.
ABOVE: After the show the performers come out to introduce the little stars of the show.
ABOVE: An actual during the show picture from where we were sitting. Please remember never to use flash.
ABOVE: An actual during the show picture from where we were sitting. Please remember never to use flash.
ABOVE: Aladdin and the Genie appear after the show for a meet and greet.
ABOVE: Aladdin and the Genie appear after the show for a meet and greet.

 

The Day We Missed Pancake Day

We have a tradition of attending IHOP’s annual Pancake Day celebration, where we dine on fluffy goodness and donate to one of our favorite charities; Children’s Miracle Network.

Due to a perfect storm of miscommunication, we missed it this year. But that’s okay because they still have pancakes for sale every day of the year, and Children’s Miracle Network still needs your help.

So in place of hyping pancake day, let me urge you to take just a ihop-pancake-day-max-funny-facemoment of your time and go to the CMNWI.org “Donate” page and give something, even if it’s only a few dollars.

And because it wouldn’t be that time of year without some entertainment, below is the review of the restaurant conducted by the kids. The oldest didn’t participate, so this is what a review looks like when written by kids ages two through ten.

And much like the house rules, these are dictated, but not read.

The Restaurant

How the restaurant is is super bright and nice looking. We’ve been there before and it was nice all year long. The parking is really easy so don’t worry about parking.

Our favorite one is located at 20402 International Blvd, SeaTac, WA 98198. Their phone number is (206) 592-5928. They’re open Mon-Fri from midnight to midnight, and weekends 6:00am to 6:00am plus midnight to midnight to midnight. Basically they don’t close. I guess I should have just said that instead.

The People that work there

The people that work there taste like hot dogs. No they don’t. The waiters were so nice to give us balloons. They were like, “sure”.

There’s this manager named Jerry that is like a friend to us. He always says hi to his guests that enter the place.

Our waitress was a real joy. Like literally, her name was Joy, but she was also a treat, but her name isn’t treat.

The Food

My funny face pancake taste funny because it has eyeballs on it. I mean it looked funny. (Contribution from Max, who is only 2.)

The funny face pancake is better than ice cream. It was like ice cream because it tastes like something that comes from home. Like ice cream it has chocolate, whipped cream and cherries. The food tastes like happiness. (Contribution from Dominic, who is 8.)

The pancake was delicious with the chocolate chips on top of the whip cream. It looked so delicious and it looked like a man. It is super delicious so it would be a good choice for other kids. (Brendan’s contribution, he’s 10.)

We normally go for pancake day but we missed it. You don’t miss it too. It comes once a year (so here it is on Google.)

On Pancake Day we get free pancakes and you also get to buy paper balloons to give money to Children’s Miracle Network to save kids’ lives. (That’s an oversimplification, but the money goes to local Children’s Hospitals.)

We like IHOP.

These children like this place because there's a lot of pancakes involved and so will you.
These children like this place because there’s a lot of pancakes involved and so will you.
Does it look forced? Maybe because it is. Parents almost never appear in our stories, and never like this. It was a special request by the junior editors. Kids gotta cuddle, grown ups do too.
Does it look forced? Maybe because it is. Parents almost never appear in our stories, and never like this. It was a special request by the junior editors. Kids gotta cuddle, grown ups do too.

 

Billings Visitor Center Great People in Great Town

A town so far east we barely made it out there on our first trip is Billings. Once you’re there, you’re half way from the Pacific Ocean to Minneapolis, and with our schedule getting busier and busier with each passing day, we weren’t even sure if we’d make it out there, but boy are we glad that we did.

Super cool statues are as easy to find as relevant area information.
Super cool statues are as easy to find as relevant area information.

Billings has so many great attractions, but more than that, it has really great people too, and there’s no better place to kick off the Billings leg of your tour than at the newly constructed Billings Visitor Center.

Not only do they have a statue out front so great that it gets two full pictures in this article, but once inside you’ll find more than just the regular run-down of touristy brochures for your taking.

The people there were really great to us, and they don’t mind drawing you out locations on the city map to show you all the different things in town that are of specific interest to you. I mean it, these people will literally listen to what you tell them you like, and then they’ll tell you what all they have in the area to fit your particular desires.

It’s like show and tell, except what they have is much cooler than anything I’m allowed to bring to school.

And I know that all visitor centers are supposed to operate in the same way, and many do, but there are two things that really set Billings apart. The first is that there’s a surprising amount to do in Billings, especially when you consider what a relatively small city Billings is. The second is that the people there don’t just have to tell you what’s in the area, they really want to. They’re proud of their city and its many splendors.

Our only regret was that there were still a handful of things leftover we didn’t manage the time to get to, though if we ever make it back that far east, we’ll surely try that much harder, because the locals never steered us wrong, and everything else they told us to check out was totally worth it.

Check them out online at www.billingscvb.visitmt.com, or stop by in person at 815 27th St. in Billings.

ABOVE: Even though brochures and air conditioning await inside, there's no way I'm going to miss this statue, and my boss would be wise to catch it too.
ABOVE: Even though brochures and air conditioning await inside, there’s no way I’m going to miss this statue, and my boss would be wise to catch it too.

 

Staff Camera Shipped off to Affiliate Site, New Contraption Rocks

Over the span of my storied career (of stories), I’ve seen many cameras come and go. We had a good starter, a premium upgrade, and an unfortunate step-down, but now we’re stepping up again, and it’s like Canon has been waiting for us to do it, because it’s so good it will take the pictures and my eyes won’t even know the difference.

May not look like much, but this is a half-inch toy photographed up close and VERY personal. Great macro feature, really.
May not look like much, but this is a half-inch toy photographed up close and VERY personal. Great macro feature, really.

I’m going to try to keep this one funny, really I am, but I’m struggling to make this thing work right now, so hang tight a second while I find my clever angle.

Wide angle? Nope, that’s not it. I’ll try again.

We’re not sponsored by Canon or anything, and their cameras have been great for us, but not entirely trouble-free, and they sure haven’t given us so much as a discount. No, we’ve paid more than $1,000 for Canon cameras over the past seven years with an 80% failure rate, but the bible says to let these debts slide every seven years, so we’ll forgive endurance for the quality of the photographs.

And well we should, since the Nikon and Fuji’s have been terrible. Bulky, over-priced, painfully slow and the photo quality has been “meh” at best. Forget Fuji, even though the name is foony, and forget the Nikon, since it’s only middle-of-the-road and they scammed us inside out on the $200 rebate we never got.

Nikon, man, they’re like clowns but without the funny red noses, floppy shoes and remotest semblance of entertainment. They don’t treat the media, so I can only imagine how they treat the general consumers.

canon-upgrade2Left – This is how tiny the ninja is in actuality. Also, it’s very cool, I should point that out too.

 

 

 

 

Trust me, this is a funny shtick, it’s just got a bit of a biting edge on it. It’s a dark comedy, but I wrote it late, so I blame the darkness outside.

But past failures aside, Canon was the only brand we considered this go-round. My advice is to Google and read the reviews, stick with a killer digital brand like Canon (no, just Canon) and don’t be too cheap with yourself. Splurge the extra $30 to $50 for the features you really want and you won’t hate yourself for cutting that last half-a-corner.

I won’t ask you to believe me or anything, you can just take a look at the quality of these pictures and decide for yourself. We got the A560, and we’re glad we stepped up to it, because it’s got the bigger screen, the 7.1 mega-pixels and the automatic face-finder feature that always identifies a human face, keys in on it, and insures that just about everything is razor sharp, crystal clear and spectacutastic. Don’t even get me started on the video quality, it’s camcorder good, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

In conclusion, this was a sufficiently funny article, especially the part where I said that all the camera manufacturers were crooked jackals who don’t even offer glossy literature for consideration, but that we’re not even a tad bitter about it, because we just love spending money on cameras… again.

So the Fuji has been shipped off, reassigned to an international division of Daddy-Man’s media company, so it’s out, the Canon is in, and we couldn’t be more delighted about it.

Above - This picture, taken with our killer new camera, shows how great the finest little details are once they're blown all the way up to fantastimagical... that's a word, I'm pretty sure of it.
Above – This picture, taken with our killer new camera, shows how great the finest little details are once they’re blown all the way up to fantastimagical… that’s a word, I’m pretty sure of it.
Above - This is the full version of the picture above. Pretty amazing when you look at how great the close-up is when you realize how wide the original shot was. Good stuff, man, good stuff indeed. Seriously, these two pictures are from the same photograph. Very good stuff.
Above – This is the full version of the picture above. Pretty amazing when you look at how great the close-up is when you realize how wide the original shot was. Good stuff, man, good stuff indeed. Seriously, these two pictures are from the same photograph. Very good stuff.

 

Our Sister Site – TheBabyDictionary.com – Is Launched

Our creative team has been working on it for years and we’re embarrassed to say it’s taken this long, but TheBabyDictionary.com has finally launched, and the early reviews say it’s pretty darn great and plenty of fun.

You could easily spend a few hours on the site, though maybe not a whole day as you can here. It has all kinds of crazy definitions based on what kids say compared to what they mean as well as words adults think compared to what kids think of them. Makes sense right?

There’s a lot of fun in there.

Since it’s our sister site I can tell you this, even though you might only see a hundred or so words defined on the site, there are actually more than 300, with the rest scheduled for intermittent release over the coming months while more are created. That means you can go back day after day and always find a fresh batch of words defined, or you can just add it to your RSS feed and wait for the magic to happen.

And because it’s all us, I can let you in on the closely guarded secret that video and other multi-media entries will be coming soon.

So check TheBabyDictionary.com and see what you think. If you have kids, or you just know how they speak, it’s a fun daily site to check out.

 

Pancake Day Cometh but Once a Year

Holidays aside, we’re not much for religious pilgrimages.* Sure, you’ve got your anticipation at Christmas, your bunny hunting at Easter and the unforgettable costumes of Halloween, but there’s one day too often forgotten from the calendar, and that’s Pancake Day. And there’s no better way to celebrate it than with a free short-stack of those golden flappy jackies from IHOP.

Pancakes so tasty even kids can figure out how to douse them with syrup!
Pancakes so tasty even kids can figure out how to douse them with syrup!

So before I get too far in to the story, let me break the breaking news. Pancake Day is coming up on February 24th, and it’s being honored, once again, by IHOP with a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes for every guest coming in between 7:00am and 10:00pm. It’s not a holiday taken lightly, so there’s a limit of one stack per guest, and it’s only for the dine-in guest, but when it comes to free pancakes, what more could you want?

Pancake Day has a rich and storied history dating back hundreds of years. It’s that day preceding lent when you shrove all your leftover milk and eggs together to make pancakes instead of shoving them in the trash… not a great joke, I’ll admit, but there’s only so much funny I can make on short notice.

If you want to learn more about the history of Pancake Day, or at least our history with Pancake Day, you can read our 2008 coverage or Pancake day, our 2007 Pancake Day Coverage, or heck, why not our 2006 Pancake Day Coverage. What can I say, we’re big fans of Pancake Day.

It’s not just that we’re big fans of pancakes, though we’re definitely that. What’s special about IHOP’s Pancake Day celebration is that it’s a massive effort to raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. If you want to know more about them, read their FAQ page.

If you just heard about this amazing event, you know, the one where you can actually get free pancakes just for considering dropping a buck or bunch to kids in need, and you’re wondering if it’s still a real event: yes it is. Read about it on IHOP’s own site or just drop in to any location and ask them. It’s very real, and it’s for a very good cause.

Find an IHOP location near you.

Our favorite restraunt is the Seatac location in Washington State. We’ve been to plenty of good ones, but this one is convenient, it’s sprawling, new and the staff is almost as great as the cakes. It seems like everytime we go in, the manager Jerry is there, and he goes out of his way to make everybody feel welcome. Here’s what a great guy Jerry is: When we were done, we told him we wanted three balloons, you know, to contribute to Children’s Miracle Network. He thought we wanted three helium balloons, so he got those for us.

You know, kids like balloons, and technically we’re still kids, so that was really awesome… oh, and by the way, we took the balloons. We still donated to put our three balloons on the wall though. You can find them down near the west end. They’re easy to spot because we all wrote our own names on them, and they’re really illegible.

And if you were to press me, ok, I guess I can tell you our favorite server. Her name is Amanda. She’s always been friendly, keeps our drinks fresh and full, and even suggests new things on the menu we might like (she said we should try the stuffed French toast next time). She’s the kind of server we really appreciate, and not just because she’s so nice to us and always pre-anticipates our needs, but because she seems pretty much that friendly and helpful to everybody.

ABOVE: This is easily the best explanation, and it's not even my work, it's just a table tent with my baby brother pointing to it. Pretty much sums it up though don't you think?
ABOVE: This is easily the best explanation, and it’s not even my work, it’s just a table tent with my baby brother pointing to it. Pretty much sums it up though don’t you think?

* Then again, if not for a holiday, what would be the point of a pilgrimage? Aren’t the two ideas kind of inexorably intertwined anywho?