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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Summertime in the PNW isn’t without risks, charm

UPDATED: Fri., July 12, 2019

Everyone should know ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd. And ya can’t take a shower in a parakeet cage.

But did you know ya shouldn’t bike through water without a phone in a sack? A Ziploc bag, to be exact.

The first two shalt-nots come to us courtesy of country music legend Roger Miller. The last one comes from Vicki Isakson, regional manager of the Idaho Department of Labor. The Post Falls resident loves riding a dirt bike in the backwoods of North Idaho.

Last weekend, she was zipping along a new trail in the Marble Creek area of the St. Joe River when she encountered a challenging creek crossing, chock-full of large rocks. Isakson tried to weave her way through the obstacle course, but a rock caught her front tire, causing her to tip in the deepest part of the stream. The bike almost submerged. Isakson got soaked to her neck.

If there was a silver lining to this tale, it would be that her cellphone was mounted on the handlebars and appeared dry. Appearances can be deceiving.

A local cellphone doc pronounced Isakson’s $950 phone dead on arrival. Adding insult to injury, she had declined insurance on the phone. Now, searching for a replacement, Vicki cautions: “Put your cellphone in a Ziploc if you are going to be crossing creeks on your dirt bike.”

And if ya don’t have a dirt bike? Seems the moral of this story applies to any activity that mixes water and cellphones.

The game is on

Katrina and Paul Swaim of Coeur d’Alene enjoy playing the “Costco Shopping Cart Game.” They made it up. It goes something like this. Katrina and Paul take up positions in the Coeur d’Alene Costco food court. Then, they take turns imagining the purpose for the odd combo of bulk items in people’s carts as they go by. Katrina, for example, provides Huckleberries with this scenario for 200 pounds of dog food, a string of patio lights and four boxes of frozen petit fours: “He’s obviously training an army of Corgis to pass out cocktails at his big garden party.” A woman with 16 gallons of bleach and two big boxes of trash bags could only be on her way to clean up the scene of a gruesome crime. The “winner” of the Costco Shopping Cart Game doesn’t matter to the Swaims. They simply enjoy entertaining each other. And us.

Poet’s Corner

’Tis the time of year when late Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler used to hold his annual World Congresses on his 20 acres north of Hayden Lake. Which brings to mind a poem that Tom Wobker, the Bard of Sherman Avenue, wrote after the troublesome racist died on Sept. 8, 2004: “Now he and the Führer/ at last get to meet/ and together complain/ of the unpleasant heat.”


On this day in North Idaho history, 50 years ago, 76 boys from Tennessee arrived in Coeur d’Alene, the first of more than 50,000 individuals who would attend the 7th National Scout Jamboree at Farragut State Park. And David Morriss, 12, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, predicted for the Coeur d’Alene Press that the $385 he raised for the trip was “worth every penny I’ve saved over the years” … Be-Attitude 2019 (on the Dalton Gardens Church of God readerboard): “Blessed are the flexible for they shalt not be bent out of shape” … Rebecca Schroeder, executive director of Reclaim Idaho, had more than the obvious reason for hoping her third major knee surgery Tuesday would work. Prior to the surgery, the Coeur d’Alene health care activist, Facebooked: “One thing I know for sure is that there are still a helluva lot of doors to knock on in Idaho. And I need to bounce back at max speed!” … If my hard-working friends at the Press had waited a few more minutes, their front page headline on the Fifth of July would have read something other than: “Big crowds spend relaxing Fourth at City Park.” The relaxation ended with an officer-involved shooting near the park’s basketball courts, 10 minutes after the fireworks show.

Parting shot

So, Roger Garlock of Coeur d’Alene, and his daughter, Audrey, 7, were strolling together Monday evening, when the girl observed: “Dad, there are so many cars without roofs in town.” Roger: “Yes, they are called convertibles.” Then, perceptive Audrey responded: “They all have old men in them.” Out of the mouth of babes.

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at

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