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Lisa Breitenfeldt, owner of Spokane-based  Cache Advance, is offering gift certificates for classes on how to do geocaching – in which objects are hidden at secret locations for participants to find using GPS coordinates posted on the Internet. (Colin Mulvany)
Lisa Breitenfeldt, owner of Spokane-based Cache Advance, is offering gift certificates for classes on how to do geocaching – in which objects are hidden at secret locations for participants to find using GPS coordinates posted on the Internet. (Colin Mulvany)

That unusual gift is closer than you might think

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the person who has just taken up skydiving?

That could be the one-year Northwest MedStar subscription, provided by Spokane’s Inland Northwest Health Services. For $59 the certificate provides free medical transport services wherever MedStar’s medevac aircraft or helicopters fly.

The $59 provides one year of coverage for the recipient’s direct family members. Three years of coverage costs $150.

“We started the gift membership plan a year ago,” said Jerrie Heyamoto, communications manager for INHS, which operates the medical transport aircraft. She said about 100 people bought certificates last year.

Many medical insurance plans cover just a portion of emergency medical transport costs, according to Northwest MedStar. Without full coverage, people using emergency transport to a hospital could face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

Other unusual, locally focused holiday gifts that go well beyond being nontraditional include:

• Spokane-based geocaching retailer Cache Advance offers gift certificates for classes in how to be a geocacher.

Owner Lisa Breitenfeldt leads the classes and explains how cachers use handheld GPS devices to hunt down hidden items, using clues and other ground-tracking techniques. Her next class will start Jan. 23 and involves classroom instruction followed by field practice, said Breitenfeldt. People can buy certificates at cache-advance.com.

• Housewarming certificates, offered by Avista Utilities. The Spokane energy utility gives people the chance to spend whatever amount they choose and give the certificate to an Avista customer. This is the first year buyers can get the certificates online, from the utility’s community blog.

• Computer service or repair certificates from Strong Solutions, a full-service computer and technology shop in Spokane.

Jack Strong, the company’s founder, said Strong Solutions specializes in Apple computers but it provides service and repair for PCs as well. A $20 certificate won’t provide much, however; Strong said his service rates are $100 per hour.

• Main Market Co-op memberships. Downtown Spokane’s new community food co-op, due to open in early 2010, is offering gift memberships. The $180 membership provides several benefits, including discounts on food, some classes and other services.

Gift memberships can be purchased online by using the “comments” form on the online registration page, Mainmarket.coop. Or buyers can visit the co-op location, 44 W. Main, or phone to complete the purchase.



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