Category Archives: General Topics

General topics for interesting subjects

Cooking Or Carving ?

What Do You Do With Your Pumpkins ?

How do you pick your pumpkin? I pick mine by the shape and size. Shape because we always carve them for decoration first. We carve the day before Halloween and cook them up the day after so the meat is still fresh and good. We like medium to large size to get the best effect of the carving.

Then the day after it is cut up into pieces and cooked. Pies and loaves are baked and the rest of the pumpkin filling is bagged into portions and frozen for another time.

Check out some of these tips…

How to Choose Pumpkins to Carve or Pumpkins for Cooking

The choice between carving pumpkins and cooking pumpkins is actually very practical. When choosing a carving pumpkin, you’re looking for a nice shape and a pumpkin that will last several days, once carved. The choice of a cooking pumpkin is all about taste and texture.

Whatever type of pumpkin you’re looking for, there are some basic guidelines.

  1. First, your pumpkin should be fully mature when it’s picked .
  2. Never pick up or carry a pumpkin by its stem. It is not a handle.
  3. Check the pumpkin well for soft spots and dark bruises. Once a pumpkin starts to rot, it goes downhill pretty quickly. The smallest nick is enough to let infection in.

When to Harvest

  • Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the vines start to dry up and the pumpkins turn the expected color. You don’t want to pick your pumpkin too soon.
  • Check to make sure the skin has hardened enough so that poking it with your fingernail will not crack it.
  • Pumpkins can be left in the field, even after the vines have withered.

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Picking a Pumpkin for Carving

  • You can carve any type of pumpkin, gourd or squash. A good carving pumpkin should be firm and healthy.  Pumpkins with outer shells that feel as hard as a piece of wood are very difficult, and dangerous, to slice into.
  • The tall, oblong-shaped varieties tend to be stringier inside, making it difficult to make precise cuts.
  • Shape is up to your own taste.
  • Don’t discount the smaller pumpkins entirely. They’re great for kids to carve and to use as decorations.

    White pumpkins, like ‘Lumina’ give a spooky look to your jack-o’-lantern. They can also be painted more easily than orange pumpkins .

Keeping a Carved Pumpkin Fresh

Your jack-o’-lantern will start to dry and shrivel as soon as it is cut and exposed to the air. If you need to carve your pumpkin a few days before you’ll be displaying it, try these tips to keep it fresh longer:

  • Keep it in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight.

  • Spray it with an anti-transpirant, like Wilt-Pruf.

  • Drape the entire pumpkin with a damp towel.

  • Protect it from animals that might be tempted to take a bite.

  • Don’t leave it outdoors if there’s a threat of frost.

How to choose pie pumpkins and pumpkins for cooking.

Pumpkins for carving are strictly for show. If you’re going to be using your pumpkins for cooking and baking, you want the sweetest pumpkins you can find. A smooth, creamy texture is important too. And having an outer shell on your pumpkin that doesn’t require a power tool to remove is a nice plus. Here are some tips for picking a great pumpkin for eating.

  • The smaller varieties are favored for cooking. They have denser flesh with a smooth texture and a higher sugar content.

  • Pumpkin shells get dull as they age, but the flesh should remain intact and can even get sweeter.

  • Many cooking varieties help you find them with names like ‘Small Sugar Pumpkin’ or ‘New England Pie Pumpkin’.

  •  There are several new varieties being bred specifically for cooking. Some nice, recent introductions include: ‘Baby Pam’, ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Ghost Rider’. The white pumpkin ‘Lumina’ is also rapidly becoming a favorite

  • You can also use winter squash as a substitute for cooking pumpkins.  Butternut squash, in particular, shows up in a lot of old recipes as an alternative. Most commercial canned pumpkin is actually some type of C. maxima squash, like ‘Dickinson Field’.

  • Crook-necked squash, sometimes called neck pumpkins. Their smooth tan skin is easier to peel than other pumpkins and the orange flesh is flavorful and springless.

  • The Cinderella or Fairy Tale Pumpkin, ‘Rouge Vif D’Etampes’, is delicious, but very hard to shell.

  •  You can roast and eat the seeds of any pumpkin, They’re delicious too.

Article by : Marie Iannotti – Gardening Expert

To read full article click here

Summer Garden

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My Summer Garden !!!

Its not even the beginning of July and my greenhouse is going crazy.  We have had warm weather since mid April .  I planted my greenhouse the first of May .  Tomatoes are coming the plants are four feet tall.  The cucumbers are about four and a half feed tall and I have about two dozen very tiny cucumbers coming. I am so excited this is my first time as a gardener usually I have no luck at producing anything.  I studied this time on how to look after them and I am reaping the rewards.

My flowers are doing great to  I have poppies , petunia’s , and marigolds coming and blooming .  I like these flowers because they last right into the fall and can take the cold. Most the time my petunia’s last right into October.

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I also have pumpkin , Watermelon and squash in the green house they are growing leaps and bounds but so far no actual watermelon or pumpkins .  The squash are coming but are only about two inches long.

I have old bathtubs outside and have potatoes , carrots , beet greens and onions in them . They are growing faster then I thought but the weather has been so warm and beautiful .

I will be pulling one of the potato hills just to see if they are doing okay in the tubs .  I will fill you in on my crop if I get some.

I’ve picked all my rhubarb , washed it cut it into chunks and froze it for the winter.

My raspberry bushes are growing great and it looks like a bumper crop of raspberries on its way. We are going to eat as many fresh as we can then I will be freezing them for smoothies this winter.  I think I will freeze them on trays lined with parchment paper so they can be froze individually.  That way they will not all clump together and fall apart.  They are very fragile.

Well that’s my update for now on my summer garden , I will come back with more as they grow.

Have a wonderful day.  Enjoy your summer garden !!

 

Septic Systems !!

We are in the process of trying to put a septic system in in Canada.  British Columbia to be exact .  What a bunch of  B.S. .  The government has just given the people who took the training a blank check to charge whatever they want.

We put septic systems in that have worked for years , we didn’t need pumps , multiple cement tanks , alarm systems if the pump quits .  We just made sure that the grade was correct and the drain field was the proper size and length and in the right location on our property.

We got two estimates , one was for $38,000 .00  so we thought holy maybe we had better get another one.  So we got a second opinion  he came in at between $20,000.00 and $28,000.00  so we thought well we have to go with some one so we said do it.  It wasn’t even 24 hours after he got the go ahead he said .  Oh ! By the way its going to cost a little more.  So we said how much expecting maybe a couple of thousand but nooo. It went from the first estimate to $36,000.00 . Needless to say we were not happy.  So we started phoning around and seeing what the cost of all the supplies will be and the supplies are under $10,000.00 .  According to the information we have the perk test is around $3-$4 thousand with the trip he had to make out to the property. We have a person there to do all the test hole digging for him , he just had to pick up the dirt and do the samples .  So that comes to $14,000.00 . So there is $22,000.00 left to do the backhoe work place the tanks and cover the system up. We have had a lot of backhoe work done , gravel and sand brought in , we have built basements and none of it has even come close to $22,000.00 .

As you can probably tell I am not a happy camper , I feel like we are being shafted and I think there should be a control put on how much these people can charge for this service. They seem to be able to do what ever they want because they have you over a barrel.  I blame the Health department also they have just washed their hands of any responsibility and don’t care .

I watch the Global News this morning and they were showing Brazil and talking about the next summer Olympics and the mess they have in their country with garbage and raw sewage in the waters that are supposed to be being used for the water sports. I agree things need to be looked after, it was disgusting , but there is the middle of the road.  The government seems to be in one ditch or the other. Somewhere common sense should come into play. They are making people put in septic systems that are mini commercial town systems . There are three people in the house .

We are all for doing things right , have always done it right , if you don’t it comes back to bite you. I just don’t want to have to mortgage my first born child to do it.

So there you have it my rant and opinion for the day.

Antique Edison Phonograph

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This is my wind up Antique Edison Phonograph .  It has come down through out family since 1916 .  I believe that was the  year it was bought because of the dates on the plaque on the inside of the machine.

It was bought from the Kent Piano Company in Vancouver or Victoria.  I believe it was Victoria because that is where my Grandmothers family moved to when they left Toronto in 1915 .

There are 33 records that have been kept in real good condition. Even though the paper covers are gone they have always been in the bottom of the record player in the velvet casing.

When we used to visit our grandmother on the old homestead we used to go into the living room and wind it up and play records for hours .  We thought it was the neatest old player.  I am so glad that she gave it to me to look after .  We still get it going once in a while so the grandchildren can listen to it and see how things were many years ago.  They laugh at the crackling sound of the records but it is a very good history lesson to see how much we have progressed.  In the old days though having a record player like this was quite a deal.  Not everyone had one.

This Antique Edison Phonograph came with my grandparents when in 1926 they moved to Vanderhoof from Victoria and went out to Prairiedale to homestead on the parcel of land that they bought from the government.

So it has been well traveled and amazingly has survived in very good condition

It will be passed down to one of our daughters . One of them has already spoken for it and I know it will be looked after very well. So it will continue on its journey through the generations.

Clay Concretions !!

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This is my small collection of Clay Concretions . We are hoping this summer to find some more.  When we were kids we found lots but did not know what they were and as children do we just threw them away.  So now we are starting from the beginning again.

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This is the collection that our Museum has it to is not very large either. They have it on display in one of the many buildings on our museum site.

A Clay Concretion  is a rock made from fine sand and clay solidified  by nature over thousands of years .  They have many names some of which are Imatra stones ( Finland ) , Fairy Stones ( Scotland , Ireland & Quebec ) , Mud Babies or Clay Dogs ( Connecticut ).

The information that I have gathered states that  in Canada they are unique to the Northern Quebec region , especially on the bottom of lakes with a glacial origin.  Although  we have them in our River which is in Northern B.C.  And I have spoken to people who have picked them on Vancouver Island.  So they are prevalent in other places .

The superior face of the Concretion is usually smooth and regular as for the interior face , it is often rough with puffed up spheres.  The irregular lines on certain stones are caused by traces left by miniature worms or organic matter which where fossilized thousands of years ago.

The specimens are found in soft deposits of the Quaternary where they were found in ponds having occupied the depression of the retreat of the glacial front ; subsequently they were carried by the water and deposited on the shores of lakes and rivers.

We in Central B.C. have the privilege of an area where we can see and find these Clay Concretions.

Happy Hunting !!

My Greenhouse – Recycled !!

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We tore our old greenhouse down , when we bought this home the green house was a complete disaster . My husband decided to build me a new one.  He kept all of the material that was any good, which consisted of the white greenhouse siding and a few of the 2×4’s that weren’t rotten .  We had four  4×4 ‘s that were treated so he started with the new foundation.

Then he was off to the dump ( land file ) to see what was in the discarded wood pile.  Low and behold there was enough 2×4’s to finish the walls. So up they went.  He then went back to the dump looking for 2×4’s again to make the roof stringer’s and again success, a few nails had to be pulled but other wise they were like new.  Then it was time for the 1×4’s to strap the roof to put the aluminum roofing on again the aluminum roofing discarded also . He came home with everything that he needed.  The only thing we did have to buy was the aluminum roofing nails .

We have started teasing him that when he needs something he’s off to go shopping. The dump is his new best friend for all good things he needs.

After the frame and roof were done he resided it  with the saved greenhouse siding .  The windows that are in the greenhouse are single pain retrieved from a construction site that was replacing the windows with double pane windows .  So I now have windows instead of plastic which will last .

We then needed a door so off he went again and came back with a metal door, hinges , door knob and all; fit perfectly . He also found some used eavestrough , perfectly good and he put that on so I can have a water barrel to catch the rain.  We also went to the water bottling company and got 6 old 11.3 litre water jugs that had holes. We placed one in each tub so that it will automatically water if we want to go away for a few days.

So now it was time for the  gardening beds , so back to the dump where he retrieved 6 old discarded bathtubs .  He brought them home and placed 4 inside for tomatoes , cucumbers , squash , pumpkins and watermelons.  Two were for the outside which I am planting potatoes , onions , beets and carrots. Now I do not have to kneel to weed. I have bad knees so everything has to be raised beds. I’m so happy with my new greenhouse.

I bought chimes to decorate and plant pots for flowers.  I’m excited to grow my own tomatoes and cucumbers .  I have never had a greenhouse so I’m on my maiden gardening experience.

I will keep everyone posted as to my success , hopefully I will have a bountiful crop .

Henna Tattoos – All About Henna!

 

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First lets find out a little bit about Henna , its history and how to use it.  My daughter applies these tattoo’s to my granddaughter because she likes tattoo’s but is to young to have anything permanent .

So here we go Henna is also known as Hina , the Henna tree , the Magnonette tree , and the Egyptian privet . It is a flowering plant , and the sole species of the lawsonia genus. The English name Henna came from the Arabic ( ALC-LC hinna pronounced hin-nae.) The name also refers to the dye from the plant and the art of temporary tattooing .

Henna has been used since antiquity to dye skin , hair and fingernails, as well as fabrics such as silk, wool and leather.

Historically henna was used for cosmetic purposed in Ancient Egypt or Carthage , as well as parts of North Africa , Horn of Africa , the Arabian Peninsula  and South Asia. Bridal Henna nights still remain an important custom in many of these areas .

The Henna plant is native to Northern Africa , western and Southern Asia , Northern Australasia in semi-arid and tropical areas.

Unbroken Henna Leaves will not stain the skin.  Until the Lawsone molecules are released by mashing them into a paste. the lawsone will gradually migrate from the henna paste into the outer layer of the skin and bind to the protein in it , creating the stain

Henna powder is green in color .  It is mixed with one of a number of liquids , water , lemon juice and strong tea .  Many artists use sugar or molasses in the paste to improve the consistency  and keep it stuck to the skin better.

Henna once mixed must rest 1-48 hours before use to release the lawsone .  Essential oils with high levels of monoterpene alcohols , such as tea tree oil , cajeput oil or lavender oil , will improve the skin stain  characteristics.  Other essential oils NOT to use are eucalyptus and clove , they will irritate the skin .

The paste can be applied many ways traditionally it was done with a stick or twig .  A syringe or plastic cone like a piping bag can also be used . A light stain can be achieved within minutes , but the longer the paste remains the darker and longer lasting the tattoo will be. So leave the paste on as long as possible .  After a time the dry paste is simply brushed away or scraped .  Henna stains are orange the first day but will darken the following days to a darkish brown .

Chlorinated water and soaps may spoil the darkening process , alkaline products may hasten the darkening process.

The tattoo’s can last for days .  I know my granddaughters lasts up to three four weeks.

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The girls choose the designs that they wanted Tommi to apply that was three weeks ago and they are still showing on their hands and ankles.

As you can see in the picture we bought premixed Henna . She usually mixes her own but we couldn’t find the powder. Tommi has used Henna a lot on the girls but I think with this information that I have found , she will be able to  improve the quality and life of the tattoo’s.

I hope you found this information knowledgeable and useful especially if you are interested in getting into Henna Tattooing. Or even is you want one applied to your hand or ankle by another artist. Its good to know what you are getting into , knowledge is power .

 

My First Trip To Nova Scotia

My first real long trip out of my home province and I am going to Nova Scotia .  We are going to visit my husbands family whom he hasn’t seen most of them in over twenty years.  I have not meet some of them because I have not gone back and they have not come  to B.C.  Lobster feeds are the one thing that will highlight our trip . My husband has been waiting an incredible long time for this day to come. We will be staying with family so the access will be great. Here is what the first feast looks like.

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We made our dipping sauce from butter and minced garlic ,  also made a second one with butter, minced garlic and cajun seasoning it was a big hit . I like it , it adds to the flavor.

We visited for a few days and then we were on our way to Prince Edward Island by way of the Confederation Bridge . The bridge is something that my husband has been wanting to see for years. And it is quite the site.  The trip was incredible never have I seen anything that huge . We enjoyed that part of the trip immensely .

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We then started the drive to out Bed and Breakfast just about twenty minutes out of Charlottetown .  The drive was lovely the soil is so red and well looked after everything is ready for the planting of the potatoes .

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Our Bed and Breakfast was a very well kept older home with antiques and old fashioned furniture. The food was great and the host’s were very nice and helpful and knowledgeable about the area.

Our first stop the next morning is to go to Charlottetown and see the parliament building ‘s , they are one of the items on our to-do list.

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We went on the tour of the parliament buildings and they are beautiful a must see for anyone coming to the Island.  Lots of information about a lot of first’s in our countries politics .

We then went out side and decided to take a walk about. Just down from the parliament buildings is a church that we thought we would go and see.  Holy, the work that the people put into that is unbelievable. It is one of the most beautiful structures that I have had the privilege to see.

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This church takes up a good city block and we walked the whole way around . Couldn’t see enough it was so nice.  We then went about another half a block and came upon another of my awe moments on my trip. Another Church !

St. Dunstan’s Basilica  this church is huge and the beauty of the inside is breath taking. These pictures do not do it justice you have to personally see it up close.

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We spent the better part of the day walking around looking at the beauty of the area  and all the old architecture .

We then set off back to the B&B for the night. Tomorrow is another day.

Well we are off and running again this time we are off to see the Lucy Maud Montgomery museum . I have been a fan of Anne of Green Gables every since I was a young girl.  I have all her books and have read them many times. My grandmother gifted them to me when I was a young girls and I still have them packed away ready for the next generation of readers in my family. Hopefully technology will not get in the way.

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After our tour of her house we went on a buggy ride around the property and bought a few little nick knacks to bring home .

So we are off to Avonlea now the town that Anne grew up in . nova scotia 196nova scotia 230

We spent all afternoon exploring the town Cassidy wanted to dress up like Anne so we had fun doing that. Walked through all the houses and stores to see all the things they had collected.  Went to a concert in one of the building and the church had a play of Anne of Green Gables going on so we got a bit of that.  All in all we had a fun day.

We then decided to go to the wharf area and check out the Moo Ice Cream .  We had heard about it and were told it was a must do .  So off we went.  Here we are in the pouring rain getting ice cream and our picture taken with the resident cow.

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The trip was worth the rain. Ice Cream delicious and all the little shops on the board walk were neat to go through.

So we decided once the rain cleared to check out another board walk with food and stores. nova scotia 165

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Had to get a funny picture . A good touristy one.  We had fun shopping. Bought some things to bring home for gifts and of course had to have more to eat and it was yummy.

Our next stop was the Haunted House. Cassidy and I never went through we started but Cassidy just got to scared so we look her out the exit door almost immediately . So we toured the grounds and Cassidy went on rides while Her mother and grandfather went through the Haunted House. They had a blast , so did we outside.nova scotia 316

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This is just some of the things that we toured there is so much more and its all well looked after and done up perfectly.  A must see on anyone’s to do list.

Well we decided to head back to the main land . Go back to see family , the weather is bad it is coming down in buckets . We are taking the ferry back so we get to experience both forms of Island  access. It was very rainy and the wind was blowing but all in all the trip back was great something different.

So we are now off to see Peggy’s Cove the weather is gorgeous  and the drive around the ocean to get to Peggy’s  Cove is a wonderful drive , going through all the little towns that are so well kept and cute.  Peggy’s Cove was another of my awe moments. The rock formations are miles long and I have never seen anything quite like it. It is a definite must see. We went through all the little shops and some of the other buildings that were their museums . The town is an actual town where people live and work from so all their homes made up a lot of the scenery and added to the whole picture.

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Now off to Halifax going to the Wharf to see all the neat things they had going on.  They play music , have stores and lots of little eateries, which of course we have to try out and test .  We may have to walk back to B.C. when we are done .

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They have all kinds of fun things for both adults and kids , it was a great time.

Our next stop is Lunenburg there we are going to see the Fisherman’s Museum and the Dry dock where they are working on the Bluenose to get her back up and sailing again. We spent all day looking through the Museum and checking out the boat. The Museum is filled with so much you need a better part of a day to check it all out .  Old and new .

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Next we are off to Pictou County , we are going to see the museum that they have created around the Ship – ” The Hextor ” It came across the north Atlantic with over 120 people on board . The people had to sleep in shifts because the ship was so small.  How they ever survived is amazing . The ship is not big and they had to bring animals and supplies with them. It must have been terrifying at times but most managed to make it.

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So the rest of our trip we are spending at our families going around see all the places that my husband grew up. The old homestead and school , church and grave site where his parents are buried.  Just a little ways away from his brothers is a wind turbine field so we are going to take a drive up to see what they look like.   never thought they would be so large but they are huge.  We normally see them from a distance but this is incredible we can drive right up to them.nova scotia 604nova scotia 593nova scotia 600

Now we are visiting the local Light houses , it is nice that they are keeping lots in working order and lots are for tourist’s to see what is was like when they were needed.

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These are just a few of the light houses that we saw and checked out.

So for the rest of the trip we stayed close to my brother-in -laws and visited . All in all the trip was a great success and lots of fun.  Have much more on my to do list but that is for the next trip .  Hopefully it won’t be long before we can do this again.

 

Fossilized Clam Shell’s

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How they were found was when my daughter was working in the forest industry.  She was a forest technician working out of Vanderhoof . The company she was working for was laying out logging blocks in North eastern B.C. getting them ready to be logged.

The bush was covered in fallen logs and shintangle so it was hard getting through the bush , there was a lot of falling down and a lot of talking out loud if you know what I mean.  The one time she fell and was talking a blue streak she looked up and there before her was a whole area of fossils laying all over the ground.  Needless to say she forgot all about falling on her face and became very excited .She was a ways away from her truck but she managed to pack as much as she could haul in her backpack.

This was a few years ago but we now have decided to go back and see if we can get some more and look to see if there are different kinds of fossils other then the clam shells.  She is going to get the coordinance’s from her old boss and then we are off on a fossil hunt to see if we can relocate  them .

When you see where these fossils are located you begin to wonder what the world looked like when they were under the ocean.  Some of the fossils are on top of mountains absolutely  amazing .

It will be this summer before we can go back , a little snow is probably   still there . I will let you all know what we find later on either in the summer or the fall .  Wish us luck !!

Fossilized Ferns from Northern B.C.

 

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My family owned a hunting area in Northern British Columbia and most of the hunting was done on foot or with horses.

This fossil was found on one of those trips by my husband as he as walking on the edge of a creek.  We have had this for many years and just realized its importance since a lot of dinosaurs  footprints and fossils are being discovered.

My father told us once that there was a lot of fossils in another part of the guiding area but we never pursued  it, now we are kicking ourselves for  not doing so . We know the area so are going to go back and see if we can find anything when we are up there this year.

We are going to become amateur archaeologists .  It is something that I have loved for a long time so maybe we will be reporting some interesting things by the end of the summer.

There was just a large discovery in the area of  dinosaurs foot prints, an area of about the size of a football field like they all lived in the area there.  There are different kinds not just one species. So it was like a gathering area. Very interesting !

I am very excited to pursue this , we always go gold panning so this will just add to our adventure.

Will keep you posted on our  progress . And give any interesting information we hopefully will find