Weekly Drivel®

Being Prepared in the woods

Think about it first.

Think about it first.

I’m not alarmist but I would say that under certain circumstances I may have a tendency to be somewhat cautious. Especially when it comes to matters involving personal safety. Even as a kid and young adult I was never one to throw caution to the wind. Suffice it to say I missed Nike’s memo urging us to “just do it” and I’m certainly not going to start doing it now (takes way too long to heal). I definitely give the matter of “potential” threats to my well-being some serious consideration and one such potential threat facing some or even many of us when we participate in our favorite outdoor activities is aggressive wildlife. Be it bears, mountain lions, a cow moose with a calf or—even less likely—the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, the threats are potential.

This blog entry isn’t a call for everyone to arm themselves with a gun, knife and/or bear spray when venturing outside into the woods. Nor is this intended to start a debate about one form being more effective than another, or whether we should even carry any form of defensive device: there is plenty of debate to be found elsewhere on that matter. The point of today’s blog is to offer some potentially helpful information if you’ve already thought about it and made the decision to carry one or more forms of the aforementioned defensive items.

It says so right there: Be Prepared.

It says so right there: Be Prepared.

In addition to not being an alarmist, I am also far from being a fanatic survivalist. If anything, perhaps I have a slight tendency to (sometimes) go a little bit overboard on matters of preparedness (though not excessively). I can’t help myself: I was am an Eagle Scout (1976), and the Scout’s Motto has always stuck with me: Be Prepared. My time in the Scouts introduced me to a love of camping, hiking, backpacking and generally being out in the woods. It’s what appeals to me about fly fishing, and my favorite places to wet a line are in the backcountry, or at least as far from human activity as can be managed at the time.

Last Spring I began exploring a local area that has a network of trails used for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Considered part of the Cascade foothills, nearly 400 acres of this area is owned by King County Parks and butts up to vast expanses of private timber land, and not much else. A local river runs through this remote area, and for some time I’d wanted to find a means of accessing the river there. A fair bit of Internet sleuthing uncovered a route to a section of the river, and upon my first visit one thing became obvious: while it’s no secret honey hole, neither is it frequented by humans. Only a 6 mile drive to the trailhead from my home, to get to this particular spot on the river requires a two-ish mile hike or bike (or a combination of the two) on trails that grow increasingly less traveled the farther one goes. Once at the river, it feels very remote. Very lonely. Kinda perfect. I hoped the catching might be good due to a lack of angling pressure (thus far that hasn’t proven to be the case, unfortunately).

We're just visiting their world.

Trailhead sign reminds us that we’re just visiting their world.

Despite the relative closeness to human inhabitation this area is prime wildlife country. Deer are plentiful and where there are deer there are other critters that eat deer. Bears don’t typically hunt deer, though they will feed on a carcass, but cougars (mountain lions) are a different story: they’re predators of the deer-hunting kind. It’s not too common, but neither is it altogether unusual to see a bear shit in the woods. It’s even less likely that you’ll see a mountain lion. In fact most people never see one in their lifetime, which is not to say these same people haven’t been seen by mountain lions. They are there, and not always deep in the woods. It’s roughly estimated that Washington state has a population of 2,100 mountain lions. Approximately 46% of the land area in the state is considered to be cougar habitat. The Cascade foothills is undeniably cougar country. My home and many of the areas I enjoy recreating are within this region, but I’ve never seen a mountain lion in the wild.

In May of this year two people from Seattle were riding their bikes on gravel forest roads near North Bend, WA (about 25 miles from my home). Tragedy struck when the cyclists were attacked by a mountain lion. One of the bikers was killed; the other escaped with injuries and was able to call 911. Even if you’re not from the state of Washington you likely heard about the incident as there was no shortage of news coverage. Do a quick search for Washington mountain lion attack and you’ll discover myriad news stories about the incident. Here is one article that discusses the attack and raises some interesting speculation as to why it may have occurred. The devastating incident was big news because it was the first fatal cougar attack in Washington in more than 90 years. According to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) there have been only 20 recorded cases of mountain lion/human contact where injuries of any kind were sustained. The odds are highly in your favor that you will never encounter a mountain lion, let alone one that acts aggressively toward you. The chances of being killed by a mountain lion are so slim that it’s not something most people ever considered a remote possibility. Until last May.

The May 18 attack shocked a lot of people who typically venture into the woods to recreate. It struck fear into many who hike and bike in the general vicinity of the incident. It got a lot of people thinking about their safety, and outdoor forums were abuzz with discussions of the attack in particular, and mountain lion threats in general. On a mountain biking forum which is focused on one particular area that I’ve ridden several times in recent months, talk of the attack had people describing non-aggressive encounters and sightings that they’d had on trails. I was surprised at how many people had actually seen cougars here. The attack definitely got me pondering the potential threats that lurk in the outdoor areas where I enjoy playing. Just this past September Jimmy and I were riding our bikes up an access road toward an area of trails we’ve many times ridden since. As we pedaled up the road a log truck approached and came to a stop. The driver jumped down from the cab and informed us that the logging crew had seen a “300 pound cat” observing them just up the road where they were cutting (and where we would be riding past). While mountain lions don’t get that big, I don’t doubt that it was a big cat. We never saw the lion, but it served as a reminder that they are there.

I’ve carried bear spray in Yellowstone, British Columbia and remote Idaho, but never gave it much thought elsewhere closer to home. Following the fatality last Spring I began carrying a canister of bear spray with me when I ventured out to the remote section of the local river (which is only about 12 miles by way of the crow from where the May 2018 attack occurred).

One bear.

One bear.

On one occasion in June of this year I was standing near the bank of the river when a bear emerged from the brush 80 yards below me and proceeded to cross the river. Another bear followed fairly close behind. The first was fairly small, likely a yearling cub. The second bear was much larger, and wearing a radio collar. Probably the mother. Why was she wearing a collar? Had she caused previous problems? What sort of problems? Yes, my mind went there pretty quickly.

Two bear.

Two bear.

Clutching my trusty 3 weight in one hand, with the other I slowly removed the bear spray from the holster on my hip and removed the safety tab. I watched and waited as the bears nonchalantly made their way across the river and up the steep hillside before vanishing into the woods (in the same direction I would be going on my return trip). Fortunately their poor eyesight failed them and the wind was in my favor so they never detected me. Chances are they would have been in a greater hurry to leave had they been aware of my presence.

See ya, bear.

See ya, bear.

When we in the western states think of dangerous bears, most often grizzlies come to mind. We don’t have grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) here in western WA, and the black bears (Ursus americanus) are not typically known to be aggressive toward humans (Homo sapiens). However, though very rare, there have been documented cases of black bear attacks in Washington, some fairly recent. As I climbed the steep trail back to where I’d stashed my bike, I made plenty of noise so as to avoid a surprise encounter on the trail with the two bruins. As I rode the trail out, my Timber Bell jingled all the way. Was I worried? Not terribly so. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad relieved when I arrived back at the trailhead without having seen a single critter.

Except for when they’re raiding neighborhood garbage cans at night, or backyard bird feeders, black bears tend to avoid humans. Most wild animals do, but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent when we’re in their world. And the line between our world and theirs is being blurred as suburban sprawl pushes further into their territory. More and more people recreate outdoors as well, and as we continue to encroach (even temporarily) on their habitat, wildlife begin to get more comfortable in the presence of human activity. Ten years ago I caught a brief glimpse a black bear that had been hanging around our home for several days, no doubt foraging on late summer berries. The next day I got a good look at the bear, and it got a good look at me. Apparently the bear didn’t like what it saw because it quickly turned on its heels and darted into the woods. I never saw it again, though neighbors did report seeing what was likely the same bear. It was a healthy adult, appeared to be rather well fed. That year I picked blackberries elsewhere.

Backyard bear.

Backyard bear, 2008.

Back to the more recent day on the local river: it felt reassuring to have the bear spray with me and I was glad I didn’t have to use it. And I’m particularly glad I didn’t encounter the bears while riding the trail, with my bear spray strapped to the handlebars. This got me to thinking that there had to be a better means of carrying a canister of spray while riding my bike.

Bike, check. Fishing gear, check. Bear spray, check.

Bike, check. Fishing gear, check. Bear spray (though not ideally located), check.

Turning to the Internet I soon learned that carrying bear spray on a bike requires some careful consideration. One could strap it to the handlebars, as I had done, or keep it in a frame-mounted bag, or use a “Bear Cozy” in the water bottle cage. But what if you were to fall or get knocked off your bike? In this instance the bear spray becomes inaccessible, and bear spray isn’t much use if you can’t get to it in a couple of seconds. The rapid deployment rule means that carrying it in your backpack isn’t a viable option, either. Having it on your person is the only way that truly makes sense, with this important caveat:  if the spray is strapped to your hip, you risk injuring yourself on the canister in the event of a fall. Considering these points, I delved further into the great Internet Abyss before arriving at what I found is perhaps the most effective, safest means of carrying bear spray: a chest pack.

Hill People Gear Kit Bag

Hill People Gear Kit Bag, FHF Gear Bear Spray Holster, and 10.2 ounces of Counter Assault.

I first learned of Hill People Gear while perusing discussions on a mountain bike forum. Among other things, the company makes a series of what they refer to as “Kit Bags”. These chest packs come in a variety of sizes and configurations that are designed specifically with carrying a handgun in mind. The people behind Hill People Gear are avid outdoors folk and it’s no coincidence that their kit bags are perfectly suited to mountain biking applications. The bags seemed to make a lot of sense, so I ordered up their V2 Original Kit Bag SAR (Search and Rescue) Version. What I like about the pack is that it has loops, or more technically correct, PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System), on the bottom of the bag—seemingly a perfect place to attach a canister of bear spray. The bag also has diagonal PALS webbing down the front, to which Search and Rescue personnel would typically attach a radio. A survival knife with the proper MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) strap can also be attached here. I could have attached the bear spray holster to the front of the pack but I wanted to keep the profile as slim as possible.

Next I had to find the right bear spray holster to use with the Hill People Gear pack, so once again down the rabbit hole of the Internet I went. FHF Gear makes exactly what I was looking for: an Expandable Bear Spray Holster. It’s perfect because it is MOLLE-equipped and will accommodate a variety of different sized canisters of spray (I carry a 10.2 ounce can of Counter Assault). Mrs. UA was quick to point out that the blaze orange holster clashes with the bright red of the kit bag, but that’s just something I’ll have to live with. Besides, there’s another motto worthy of consideration: Be safe, be seen.

When loaded, the kit bag is comfortable, though admittedly not as comfortable as, say, not wearing it at all. Worn while riding my bike, it doesn’t impede pedaling and most of the time I hardly notice that it’s there. The harness is breathable and it’s easy to put on and remove. Proper adjustment of the straps is important (and easy) so that the bag doesn’t ride too low or flap loosely against your chest. There are three spacious pockets capable of holding a wallet, phone, snack bars, a knife, multi-tool, whatever. The main (rear) pocket is padded and intended specifically for carrying a handgun. If that interests you, the Hill People Gear website lists which handguns will fit in each of their packs. While it’s a great setup for biking, the kit bag also makes for a nearly perfect chest pack when walking and wading a river. In addition to the other items mentioned, a couple of fly boxes fit nicely and are easily accessed without having to dig into a backpack or sling pack. After all, when there’s a hatch coming off you want to deploy the right fly quickly.

So there you have it. Be prepared when you venture into the woods. Whether you’re hiking, biking or fishing it’s also a good idea to do so with someone else although admittedly many of us enjoy solo excursions from time to time. Make sure that whatever you are carrying for defensive protection is done so in a safe manner that is efficiently accessed should you ever need it. The odds of a dangerous wildlife encounter may be astronomically low, but statistics mean nothing when it happens to you.

Have fun out there, and be smart. Just do it. Be prepared.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any of the products from Hill People Gear or FHF Gear or Counter Assault for the purposes of a gear review. Purchasing these items was my own decision and full retail was paid. I was just another internet order; these companies don’t even know who I am or that I am writing this blog.

 

A Time for Political ads and Leaf Blowers

Over the past few of months I made the decision that, since I haven’t been fishing enough to warrant writing much on that topic, I would just remain silent. There’s something very soothing in silence. Besides, how much can be written about fishing that hasn’t already been written? Even my reports about the annual Firehole Rangers trips start sounding like cut-and-paste jobs after a while. But when a recent inquiry by a dedicated follower noted how quiet things had been lately, I decided to break my silence, to use this blog as a venue for publishing my thoughts on other matters as they strike me. It’s my blog, after all, so I can do what I damn well please. If you’re one of the 7 or 9 readers who continue to buy a ticket to the show, I imagine that—as I veer off the fly fishing topic—those numbers will dwindle to the point where nobody is reading the content other than myself and the unfortunate person who stumbles upon my blog while going down the rabbit hole of the internet. That said, the following entry is something that I feel compelled to write about. If you don’t like it, I’m sure there are still some fly fishing blogs that remain for your enjoyment. I wouldn’t know, however: once popular and plentiful, fly fishing blogs seem to be going the way of the Neanderthal. 

There is no arguing that Fall is a beautiful time of year.

There is no arguing that Fall is a beautiful time of year, even during an election year.

Many of you will probably probably disagree with what I am writing about today because that’s what it seems we Americans do more and more: we disagree with one another. If you’re not American, you probably disagree with what Americans are disagreeing about, and Americans take issue with that. And in this divisive time of rampant disagreement and intolerance of opposing views, there exists a no more heated topic of debate than politics.

And this is an election year.

But it’s also Fall, or Autumn, depending upon which term you elect to use in your vocabulary (neither is wrong, it’s just a matter of preference and should be respectfully honored). Being Autumn Fall the Leaf Season, as I sit here in my office—even with the window closed—I can hear the roar of a distant yard appliance. The sound of fallen foliage management is so loud that it nearly drowns out the the political ads spewing from the radio. Ah, yes, ’tis the season of the leaf blower.

Old school cool.

Raking leaves blows.

These raging 2 cycle, gas-powered machines are as divisive as any measure on the ballot. People either love them or hate them.

Those that don’t have a leaf blower detest them for either their noise or air pollution, undoubtedly both. These same folks also probably have yards the size of a postage stamp that can be managed with a rake. More likely, they hire a service to do their yard work (and these hired hands will, without a doubt, employ the use a leaf blower so there is some irony to be found here). On the other side of the fence are those that do have leaf blowers and value these tools for their efficient means of scattering large expanses of fallen leaves.

Well, that's cute.

Well, that’s cute.

There is very little middle ground to be occupied on the matter. Some people attempt to reach across the isle, if you will, to adopt a more neutral stance by purchasing cute, little handheld electric leaf blowers that are much quieter than their gas-powered brethren. The problem with these is that they are also a lot less manly effective. To get the deafening power required for tackling the big jobs, one needs a backpack style, gas-burning, smoke-puking 2-stroke engine that is capable of moving acres of wet leaves (and post-Halloween candy wrappers). It’s what the professionals use. It’s what I have.

I purchased my Stihl BR320 nearly 20 years ago (BTW, BR stands for BRAAAAP) and it’s a workhorse of a machine that would make Tim Allen proud. It has never required service—other than a new spark plug and air cleaner every few years—and it always starts on the 3rd pull. Always (knock on wood). Much like the politicians flooding the media with their pre-election messages, this thing is a serious blowhard; a serious tool that generates hurricane-force wind speeds.

Leafblower

Raking leaves really blows.

However, gas-powered leaf blownership is not altogether a cut-and-dried matter because, while I love mine, I loath it at the same time. It’s loud (I wear shooting ear muffs for protection) and it’s not without its share of emissions (it smokes visibly upon start up, after which the exhaust pollutants are not visible though they are still evident). As one who does, in fact, care about the environment, I’d be remiss if I said I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt when I fire up the old Stihl. Still, use it I do each Fall when the leaves, well, they fall. I also use a rake, but the blower does the heavy work.

We have, in particular, 3 large maple trees in our front yard that yield an inordinately vast supply of foliage. These trees drop their collective loads over the span of a month, beginning innocently enough in mid October, gaining speed and intensity before finally ending sometime around the second or third week in November. A good wind storm, or lack thereof, can either shorten or extend Leaf Season by as much as a week. During the height of the madness, suffice it to say it’s an every-three-days endeavor to attempt (in vain) to stay ahead of the amassing spent vegetation. It should be noted that these leaves are nearly always wet from rain, thus requiring a bit of extra effort to remove them. Even with the right tools it’s a time-consuming and unsavory task, unless you’re like this guy:

Leaf blowing, made fun.

Leaf blowing, made fun.

Truth be told, the leaf blower is something I’m glad I have, but wish I never had to use. I don’t enjoy managing fallen leaves, but shy of cutting down the offending trees the leaves are just something I have to live with. Fortunately Leaf Season, as well as the election and the accompanying political ads, will be over with soon (though not soon enough). Then we can all get back to enjoying the peace and quiet, and arguing about politics for another two years.

Meanwhile, you enjoy this video. I know I did.

 

 

 

 

 

Status Update

It has come to my attention recently that I haven’t posted in a while, so I just wanted to confirm that.

A lack of motivation to write, coupled with a lack of fishing to write about, has simply added up to me being a worthless turd of a blogger.

Maybe I’ll remedy that sooner than later.

Meanwhile here’s a photo of a nice Idaho cutthroat from last July.

Idaho trout.

Idaho trout.

 

Summer’s here: Time for some buffalo wool socks?

 

Fishing amongst giants

A man amongst giants

It’s that time of year again, when the annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers looms large like a bull bison standing over a fallen touron. Fishing opens inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and for me it is the gateway trip to summer trout fishing, my favorite fishing season of the year. I like to be warm when I’m fishing, and summer offers that.

Late May/early June in Yellowstone is the time of year when, despite the occasional late Spring snow storm, the weather is often quite enjoyable. The herds of cow bison with their calves meander without a care in the world, grazing on new sprouts of tender green grass. The bison seem rather content, as well they should be, for it is a good time of year to be alive.

A good time of year in Yellowstone.

A good time of year in Yellowstone.

But it wasn’t all that many weeks ago that winter still had its grip on the Yellowstone area, and winter is a serious matter here: long, and very, very cold. As I’ve stood along the banks of the Firehole River in the past, I’ve tried to imagine this place during the dead of winter.

Spring in Yellowstone.

Spring in Yellowstone.

Even during a Spring snowstorm I can’t quite wrap my head around the severity of winter here. It boggles my mind to think that critters like bison can survive many months of brutal cold, where daytime temps range from zero to 20F and sub-zero  temperatures are common, especially at night. And what of the snowfall, that can average 150 inches per year (more in higher elevations)? Withstanding the cold is one thing, finding enough food to keep them energized enough to survive is another. Bison are amazing animals. Their wool has incredible insulating qualities. It has to be in order for them to survive Yellowstone’s harsh winters.

Fishing a woolly bugger next to woolly beasts

Fishing a woolly bugger next to woolly beasts

According to The Buffalo Wool Company, bison wool is “Soft enough to wrap a baby in, tough enough to keep a mountain man warm in a blizzard.”

A handful of wool

A handful of bison

That may be true, but I am neither baby nor mountain man. Just an unaccomplished angler. I do, however, appreciate warm feet during the winter season, and as I’ve gotten older and more “wambly” (according to my buddy Large Albacore), I’ve struggled to find socks that keep my toes warm when standing knee deep in a steelhead river in Fall and late winter. Or how about a trout stream in February, when cabin fever drives an angler to such desperate measures as high stick nymphing for catatonic trout in the dead of winter? Enter the Advantage Trekker Bison/Merino Boot Socks by The Buffalo Wool Company. These babies are like buffalo blankets for the feet, and everything the proprietors say is true:

“Not to toot our own horns, but these are probably the most effective use of bison fiber. The ultra soft, very crimpy bison fiber creates warmth, is extremely moisture wicking, and keeps feet comfortable and dry. Bison offers superior breathability, temperature regulation and natural odor resistance. These socks have a stay-in-place fit, flex zones for added mobility, targeted heavy cushioning, and long-wear durability, making them an ideal addition to any outdoor lover’s wardrobe.”

The Buffalo Wool Company

The Buffalo Wool Company

These socks are super warm for outdoor winter pursuits, but they’re also comfortable to wear sitting around the house during the cold months (the very reasonable cost of the socks—$38.00—sure beats the cost of paying to run the furnace all winter long).  And because they are a generous boot length sock, they also look great with sandals.

Birks and bison

Bison and Birks

When The Buffalo Wool Company contacted me to see if they could send me a pair of their socks in exchange for mention of their product on my blog, I harkened immediately back to a scene from Dances With Wolves:

These tatanka wool socks are sweet. Good trade, indeed.

My fishing buddies are like John Gierach, sort of.

Ironically, as I was sitting down to scribe this Drivel® I happened upon a Facebook (boo, hiss–nobody likes you any more,  Zuckerberg) post by my virtual social media buddy Mike Sepelak of Mike’s Gone Fishin’…Again fame and fortune. His commentary I found ironic and timely:

“I’ve always had the uncanny ability to show up for the worst week of fishing anyone has seen in five years. Like most savants with an instinctive skill, I have no idea how I do this; it just comes naturally.” – John Gierach, “Pyramid Lake”, TROUT Magazine (Spring 2018 edition)

Good Lord, can I relate. As usual, John articulates what I can only feel.

Far be it for me to put the Brothers Albacore in the same category as the esteemed Misters Gierach or Sepelak, but they (the Bros) do have a knack for bad timing when it comes to weather, rivers and fishing. Large and Junior Albacore (AKA Sunny Jim and Victor) really do have an uncanny propensity for bringing out the worst in the conditions when we go fishing, and unfortunately they often drag me along down with them. Lest one should think me exaggeratory for the purposes of sensationalist journalism, allow me to enter into evidence our last four outings.

A beautiful day to get skunked on the Yakima.

A dark cloud hangs over a beautiful day on the Yakima with the Albacore Bros..

Yakima River, WA  Spring 2016. I remember the day vividly, a day we had selected weeks in advance. Things looked good right up until a day or so before we were to go fishing, when a ton of rain fell. While the weather cleared up, when we got to the put-in the river graphs were going straight up. I recall that the water was off color, turbid and filled with debris, as one would expect following the deluge of rain. I remember that we didn’t touch a fish all day long. What I don’t remember is why I didn’t scribe an entry, because it was a noteworthy skunking.

Not such a beaufiful day to get skunked on the Clearwater.

Not such a beautiful day to get skunked on the Clearwater with the Albacore Bros.

Clearwater River, Idaho, October 2016. This is a fairly dry part of the country, where seldom does it rain incessantly. However, it did just that for nearly 4 days straight. So much so that there were no campfires at night, and Gore Tex garments were put to the test. The river wasn’t blown out, but the rain definitely put a damper on things, including the fishing. One fish was landed between 4 of us. It was on my rod, but I was not the angler. Neither was either of the Brothers Albacore. If you care to read about that debacle, be my guest: Weather or not to go steelhead fishing.

Sunny Jim Albacore, the great angling optimist.

Large “Sunny Jim” Albacore, the great angling optimist.

Forks, WA, March 2017.  While the wounds were still fresh from the Clearwater trip mentioned afore, we headed out to the wettest location in the lower 48. It’s always a dicey weather proposition fishing the coastal rivers of the Olympic Penninsula, as we departed home we knowingly drive head-on into massive storm. I guess we thought it might not be as bad as the forecast called for. We were wrong. If you’re interested in reading about that shit show, have at it: Hopelessly watching basketball instead of steelhead fishing.

Yakima River, March 2018. The most recent excursion involving the Brothers Albacore took place just last weekend. We had planned the day weeks in advance. The river had been holding consistently at typically low springtime levels. Fishing wasn’t red hot (it never is on the Yakima) but fish were being caught, and a few were taking skwala dries (if you believe guide reports). A week in advance of our scheduled trip, the weather looked to be pretty favorable. And then it rained all day two days before. The river spiked 1000 CFS and leveled off. It may have begun a very, very gradual drop, but it was so slight that it did nothing to improve the conditions of the river. I also learned after the fact that there was a controlled release of water from reservoirs to help flush juvenile salmon downstream. Impeccable timing all around.

Large Abacore (left), UA (center), Junior Albacore (center)

Large Abacore (left), Innocent Bystander (center), Junior Albacore (right) on the day of another Yakima skunking.

Clearly, the common denominator is obvious: The Albacore Bros. are a dark cloud of angling despair, and by virtue of association I am very often an innocent victim of their poor timing and luck. But there’s more to fishing than just catching fish, and it’s always great just to get out.

We make sure that we remind ourselves of that repeatedly.