Trains for Tots -- Opportunities to kick back in a vintage rail car through the canyons and valleys of Idaho and western Montana are few and far between. This Sunday, Dec. 14, the Montana Daylight Christmas Train provides a chance to see beautiful landscapes from a 1940s-era rail car while at the same time providing help for abused and neglected children. The track fees and a portion of the day's revenue will benefit Kinderhaven, a Sandpoint shelter for kids. Aboard the train, passengers can enjoy meals, sit around a Christmas tree, sing carols and listen to historical stories as the train rumbles through the snowy wilderness. The train boards at Ponderay Station in Sandpoint, chugs to Paradise, Mont., and then returns. Tickets are available at (800) 519-7245 or www.montanarailtours.com.
Of Wheat and Water -- The history of the Inland Northwest was as shaped by its agriculture as it was by the swift, salmon-crowded waters of the Spokane River. Whether you're trying to find a gift for the local history buff on your list or you want something a little more original for your out-of-town friends than huckleberry jam or Cougar paraphernalia, you could do a lot worse with your gift-buying dollar than The Inland Northwest. A handsome new coffee table book published by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in cooperation with the Heritage Media Group, The Inland Northwest is written by local historian Kay F. Reinartz and includes period photographs, contemporary shots of the Palouse, profiles of the area's many small towns (as featured in the MAC's long-running and popular "Hometowns" exhibit), and some really cool WPA-era artwork. Best of all, you can pick up at book through the rest of this month at the MAC's Museum Store for $20 (the cover price is regularly $45). Call: 363-5356 for more information.
Web Site of the Week -- One of our friends who knows the Buzz Bin's fascination with both Japanese culture and hot dogs sent us this very amusing link: www.sub.nipponham.co.jp/winny/kazari It kind of shows what happens when sushi art meets Sanrio meets the humble hot dog. Check it out!