Addie and Max told us we'd like Meyers Chuck... they were right. What was good for them and their Dory was also amazing for us.
The Chuck is a small community built on a series of inlets, affectionately called "chucks" and they have a small marina managed by the Wrangle Harbor master by VHF radio nearly 40 miles away.
Just as we approached the dock, Carol, (new owner of what used to be the local school), invited us to set the tent up on her property and assured us we could use the absent neighbors covered, back deck and picnic table. We are living large! Rain cover without a tarp, seating that you didn't have to blow up and the flattest tent spot of the whole trip. But it gets better.
Soon Ron and his wife Suzy, from Seattle and Will and his wife Trish from nearly everywhere, but mostly Australia, came by for a visit. Carol must have filled them in on our trip, or we could have looked malnourished, but we got invited to the docks potluck dinner? They were promising real food and we wanted to hear their stories, so of course we immediately accepted and immediately started worrying about what we could bring. We chatted for a bit and after hearing a few more details about our trip Trish says "Good on you mate" with her thick, charming, Australian brogue. We'd paddle another 700 miles just to hear that again.
So the dock feast was on... Nachos, pasta, red pepper primavera ( yea Lauri! ), brownies. Lauri and I were feeling very conspicuous about how much food we were taking.
Helen and Burt from a troweler, the two couples we just met from sailboats and one other solo sailer, John, joined the story telling...er... I mean potluck. Good food and amazing, inspirational stories of living aboard these boats year around, cruising all over the Inside Passage and the Asian Pacific, kidnappings, bear tent invasions and refurbishing old boats. Lauri and I were in awe... and a little sad this wonderful group was heading south while we were headed north.
So Meyers Chuck has no roads, no real amenities other than the dock, but special people gather there and the residents make you feel like family... oh yea, if you check out the message board there is a resident Chucker that will deliver fresh, hot, home made, cinnamon rolls to your boat each morning for less than Starbucks. We loved this place and we are coming back!
Big exposure, but calm seas
Seas were settling down as we paddled out of Oona on the rising tide. Lauri and I would make our way around Porcher Island and evaluate the opportunity to make the exposed crossing to Kitson Island. Dixon's Entrance... gulp. We could abort the crossing in the Lawyer Island group at the 2 mile mark if need be, but there were no identified camping spots. It would be another 5 nautical miles to Kitson, crossing a Cruise Ship route... To use Lauri's phrase, the water was like buttercream frosting we decide to go for it... and it went perfectly. So Nice!
After a great sleep (so incredibly happy to have that crossing completed) on Kitson we again waited for the tide to rise so we could avoid the crazy long kayak/gear carry to the waters edge... then off to Prince Rupert.
This has been the longest section of our trip with few options to acquire food and we were on fumes in terms of food supply. Lutz had graciously given us some pasta, and cookies in case we were delayed getting to Rupert. Thankfully, we didn't need it...it's pretty unnerving to get that low on food. Our food cache shipment and the box forwarded from Shearwater made it safe and sound to Rupert thanks to the logistics support of our Bellingham shore crew, Damon. Thanks Damon!
So much fun to get the charts and food for the next section! This time we have a half way stop in Ketchikan to go through Customs as we get back to the good ole USA! I'm quite sure we will never get that low on food again.
The Crest Hotel would be our camp spot in Rupert and Cow Bay Marina would be the kayaks home for the next two days. Addie had suggested this marina and the facility and folks there were terrific. Thanks Addie. I still laugh at the thought of calling the harbor master on the VHF radio to dock my kayak. They aloud us to pull the boats right on to the dock and store them there... it was perfect.
The Crest hotel didn't have any regular rooms for us that first night and they withstood all the negotiating Lauri tried with them... so we broke down and got a suite for our first nights stay in Rupert. One night your in a damp, some would say dirty tent with an inflatable mattress and pillow and the next night you have a king size bed and more pillows than you could possibly use. Life is pretty damn good!
We have about 4-5 days that we need to worry about Dixon's Entrance as we leave Rupert. That and we have to cross Portland Inlet... we hate crossings anyhow, but the exposure we face adds to the anxiety. When we are anxious we paddle more and a bit faster. We start earlier and often paddle longer. Daily average grows from 16nm to 20+... we can save one day every three essentially by kicking it up a bit. One day less of exposure to the Pacific is worth the extra work.
On our way to our campsite out of Rupert we saw our first pod of Orcas. Pretty amazing. Hard to take pictures of, but still amazing. Our point and shoot cameras have a hard time focusing when it's foggy. This coupled with the Wales apparently knowing when we have the cameras ready to go, decide to stay beneath the sea. Arghhh. But they are so beautiful!
At lunch we still had cell service and dialed up USA customs to let them know we were crossing from Canada tomorrow and would need to land on US soil prior to officially checking in at Ketchikan on Saturday. They were great and "had us on their board."
We staged ourselves to do Portland Inlet first thing in the AM and started across near what should have been slack water... not quite. The tell tale sign of eb meeting flood are little wavelets and rips in the water AND it really seems like Wales like feeding near the turbulent water. So we had a bit of fog trying to hide our destination, some medium chop and 5 or 6 humpbacks feeding and intersecting with our course. So we did the sensible thing and changed course for the humpy pod! How many kayakers get to say that?
Shortly after our successful crossing of Portland Inlet we had another shorter, but more significant crossing... Lauri and I can officially say... we paddled to Alaska! Canada and its wonderful people were so great to us, but it felt pretty good to be in the US of A.
Ketchikan was still a few days away, but with continued effort we could maybe save a day. The long range forecast was all the encouragement we needed as gale force winds were predicted for the beloved Dixon Entrance for Friday and Saturday afternoon. 20nm on Thursday and Friday would leave us 15nm to safely be in harbor at Ketchican Saturday.
Early Saturday, felt a bit like a race against a wind that would accelerate our trip to Ketchikan. Weird I know, but having the seas kick up behind us as we approached a new, busy port that is known to have 6 or more cruise ships in Port at anyone time... Let's just say we valued "control" over the winds assistance. It was not to be.
We made it to Alaska's first city in record time, but as we approached the various harbors there was a 2 ft swell behind us and wind trying to pull the paddles from our hands. Any other time it would be YEE HAA, but today we had large ships on our mind. Shockingly enough there was zero behemoths in Port... so thankful to not have to deal with them... particularly with them docking or leaving dock, right across our side of the channel.
The Bar Harbor Marina had kayak racks ready to store our boats for our little shore leave. Ketchikan was in in between food drop city so we had less travel chores to do and we got to wander the city albeit in full rain gear. Very thankful that we were in Port versus camping. Let's just say, LOTS OF WATER was falling from the sky. Oh, and the cruise ships came, boy did they come. Maybe 5 at one time? Quite the sight and quite the economic impact to these coastal communities.
A day off in the Ralston Islands set us up for one of the best days of paddling on the trip. Both of us were well rested and did our best to avoid thinking about the food shortfall the day off in the wilderness might cause.
Setting off in thick fog had Lauri and making a game of staying "found" as we glided past Islands and rocks beautifully muted by the ultra low clouds. Around Angry Island we made a few short, blind crossings to make our way to Petrel Channel. I love my compass.
The first part of the channel was clear of fog... at least the part we were paddling in. As the channel narrowed we were prepared for some turbulence from the ebbing tide, but there was very little water movement until we made the big turn west... then the fun began. The channel started to do some serious ebbing at speeds we could only sprint against for a short time. So Lauri took the lead like a pro and did some serious eddy hopping to take advantage of the current very close to shore going our direction. Pure fun... game on.
Rounding a tight bend just inches from the vertical rock shoreline, Lauri surprised some sun bathing seals and they almost landed on her kayak as they dove for the safety of the water. All I heard was Lauri scream... I thought she startled a bear, but her nervous laughter let me know it wasn't that serious. Easy for me to say.
Type one fun all the way to camp!
The next day we headed further up the Petrel channel and headed for Oona River on Porcher Island. We were hoping that a B&B we'd read about would have room for us for a night. As we pulled up to the dock, we were greeted by Lutz, the harbor master and long time Oona River resident. After helping us get the loaded kayaks on the dock he made on phone call and we had our accommodations and transportation arranged. I don't think 5 minutes had passed and we were set.
We stayed at Lemon Acres, the home of Jan and Mike Lemon. Jan was raised in the historic logging, fishing and boat building community. While Mike grew up in Prince Rupert and came to Oona to join his bride over 50 years ago.
Conversation came easy as we feasted on Jan's fabulous meals of fresh seafood, homemade pies and biscuits. With Mike making a living at sea and the experience of building his own 50' fishing trawler and Jan's fish hatchery and second generation Oona experience their stories and perspectives were priceless. We were not the least bit disappointed when the following days weather would keep us off the water and in Jan and Mike's care.
Oona River has a rich history of growth and contraction and Jan is the perfect ambassador to share stories of the people and industry that shaped this little community. These are self reliant people. I guess that happens when the nearest grocery store is 25 miles away... by boat... across water known for its cantankerous moods. You can feel how the community of 25 ( plus or minus, depending on who you ask) supports each other and works together... and enjoys each other's company.
The community has a tradition called "CoffeeBreak" that has people gathering at various homes in the town for coffee at 10AM and 3PM. Jan, hosted the first of the three coffee breaks we were part of, with Winnie, the matriarch of Oona and Lutz and his wife hosting the other two. I can't begin to share how warm and wonderful these gatherings felt as we met more of the residents and travelers like ourselves.
When we first arrived at the docks in Oona, Lutz shared that there was another couple traveling from Skagway to Bellingham (the reverse of our route) in a sailing/rowing 18ft Dory. We got to meet Max and Addie at CoffeeBreak and we soon found ourselves making plans to swap stories, review routs, campsite locations that evening. Kindered spirits for sure.
Max and Addie gave us great suggestions for marinas to select, forestry cabins to visit, camping locations and shared the highlights of their trip so far. Addie also gave Lauri a gift of advice about "dealing" with the upcoming Dixon Entrance and the inevitable ocean swell of the Pacific as we paddle away from the protection of channels and islands and the wave fetch grows to, well, Asia? Addie talked about the gentle, rolling vertical movement the ocean would have with favorable weather. This really helped hearing it from a woman who had just completed this challenging section of our route.
The following day Lauri and I walked Max and Addie through our route and did our best to share possible camp locations that would fit their unique requirements as a result of their boats weight. They couldn't hoist their dory up into the woods or carry it up a beach the way Lauri and I could with the kayaks.
It was very therapeutic to have the day off and enjoy conversation with another couple that understood exactly what physical and emotional challenges we'd been through.
Jan also took the 4 of us up to the fish hatchery to show and tell how she and her team of interns helped re populate and bring back the salmon to the Oona River and how they are expanding on their success. Hearing about survival rate, genetic diversification, best logging practices to protect rivers and her efforts over the years was as enlightening as it was amazing.
Early the following morning, Jan gave us a ride to the harbor and we said our goodbyes. Of course Lutz was there to offer any help we might need and gives us advice about when the tide would be high enough for us to navigate out the harbor. (Oona is tidal locked at low tide)
Onna is a special place with special people and we can't wait to host CoffeBreak if any of you make it to Chicago.
The campsite challenge game adds anxiety to each and every day. Many of the sites do not work at high, high tide and the full moon was upon us as we made our way to Shearwater. Nothing worse than being tired after a long day and finding out your planned site just won't work... paddle on... not knowing if the next site will be any better.
The last site just 8 miles before Shearwater required my Leatherman and some serious vegetation modifications to set the tent up above high tide. Why does it rain when you have the crapy camp site? No worries , we broke out the Frisbee for some beach time agility training.
Shearwater was early the next morning as we glided by Old and new Bella Bella with some tidal help. And for the first time ever I turned to channel 66A and hailed the harbormaster about "docking" our kayaks.
They allowed us to pull them up on dock and park them there... cool! This became our staging area for the next two days... a very short walk from our hotel and all the facilities.
As we checked in with the Harbor Master, Jim and Lynda were checking in Albedos and soon we'd accepted an invitation for drinks on their yacht and dinner at the local eatery... the only restaurant at Shearwater.
Lauri and I had one simultaneous thought... Laundry! Shower... must smell reasonable....
Shower, check, laundry, check. Late lunch, check. We must pre eat, before dinner, so we don't embarrass ourselves with the quantity of food we order if we don't pre-eat.
The next action item was to determine when the box (charts primarily)being sent to us would arrive. We had landed several days early due to the water taxi and mail to Shearwater is notoriously slow.
Alternatively, we looked into buying the charts and supplies we needed to see if that was even an option.
The Marine store was out of every chart needed, but Monday the barge was coming and charts had been on order.
Nothing to worry about except how to coverup the campfire burns in my "only" pants I have on this trip. Good thing Shearwater is very casual.
Drinks and dinner went great with easy conversation with experienced maritime travelers. Jim and Lynda have logged over 35k miles up and down the left coast. Jim was able to answer all my inane questions about the area and piloting a "big" boy boat on the Inside Passage.
As it turned out we successfully found the charts as the marine store was inventorying their latest barge re supply. Luck was with us, but they only had 250,000 scale chart for most of our route to Prince Rupert. Lots of area covered, but VERY little detail.
The office above the store let us slice, dice and laminate the charts... so in a few hours on Monday afternoon we were ready to depart.
Only one thing left, go see Jim's drone video of our departure at Fury Island and get a tour of Albedos. All I can say is wow... what a boat. Built for serious ocean travel in the height of comfort. The color screen lifted out of the back of the dinning sitting area and soon we were enjoying the unique perspective that only a drone can provide.
We said our good byes and agreed we'd look for each other at Prince Rupert.
We were just getting the boats ready to slide off the Shearwater dock as Albedos left her slip at 6AM. The early bird misses the wind... hopefully.
The short paddle on Sunday to Shearwater and the hectic Monday in Port still had us ready to paddle early on Tuesday. We got to our destination, Roar island, drama free, but decided to press on Dowager Island to shorten the following very long day. Sigh... then the rains came.
The island campsite off the SW tip of Dowager was not easily found, but we eventually found the hidden gem. The rain tarp came out and was was quickly becoming our favorite piece of gear. I had also purchased an additional tarp in Shearwater and we put that to use too. No mater how hard we tried almost everything had serious moisture content.
The following day we would experience the Inside passage as frequently described. Wet, check. Ocean swell, check. Fog... double check. It seemed to be lifting as we left our camp site heading north towards Keith Pt. on Dowager. This would give us the shortest crossing to Swindle Island crossing the transition from Milbanke Sound to Finlayson Channel... hah! It was a pretty short crossing and wind and the ocean swell wrapping around Price island was pushing us fast. About 10 min in to the planned 50 min crossing the visibility dropped so that we could just see about 3 miles. The destination was visible, but to be safe Lauri and I went to an exercise pace to shorten up the time in the channel. 10 min later the fog obscures everything. Paddling in a fogged whiteout, with 3-4 ft refracting waves now bouncing off our destination island. Let's just say I'm out of the running for husband of the year.
The crossing was well within our skills, but was all new to us and likely not an experience we will seek out again. I should not have admitted that I thought it was a cool experience. The afternoon was saved by a Momma Humpback teaching tail flip tricks to her offspring. Whale saves marriage.
So after leaving Duval point and saying our good byes to Dave, Lisa and their kids... and their kids (Yup, three generations were there running the fishing lodge. How cool is that? ) we loaded our gear on George's Sea Legend Water Taxi and started our 2.5 hour, high speed blast around the infamous Cape Caution.
I was intending to update the blog in Shearwater, but the internet connection was just too slow. Lots to share, but I thought I start by sharing what we have learned so far. Whew... it's been a lot.
If at the end of the day your wife brushes her teeth with sunscreen... and isn't sure... and didn't mind too much... consider less miles the following day.
Wind is a four letter word.
Wind trumps tidal current most of the time... Ocean swell seems to trump them both, all the time.
Male plumbing is a constant source of envy when your female partner is wearing a dry suit.
We are pretty sure that sleep deprivation is just part of the Inside Passage experience. I still wonder how long I've been paddling with my charts upside down.
I was afraid of the rain ( see first blog post) I was right.... we are very moist.
There is a good reason captains of 50 ft yachts look so rested and relaxed. Those thing are floating, Luxo Condos.
If you lick your lips while paddling on the ocean you will crave potato chips when you reach Port.
It's a pretty good day if you get to build a fort at the end of it with your best friend.
You just can't believe the number of times we heard "Yeah, we cashed it all in a bought this boat.... we start on xxxx coast xxxx years ago."
Gortex does breath but holds the stink in... nice.
People that hang out by the water seem happy and ready to be friends at a moments notice.
Want to meet cool people at a marina? Go do your laundry. How big is their boat... watch them fold their sheets. I'm guessing queen size sheets = 40' plus. If they wash all colors together... and aren't too concerned about clean clothes touching the floor.... likely kayakers.
You see a lot more trawler type boats on the Inside Passage. It was explained to us that a sailboat's living space is mostly below the waterline and when the water is 50 degrees... sailboats are colder and clammy. Hmmmm who knew?
Always go to port for the arrival of the fresh food. Shearwater gets new veggies on Mondays
Each day we are amazed at the warm and wonderful people we have met on this crazy trip. From the first night fisherman that shared his live shrimp with us to the water angels we met in Kelsey Bay that helped us get our Mojo back after a cold night huddled on a log.
After Eric transported us to Kelsey Bay we learned his helper, Randy, the self appointed "Mayor" of Kelsey Bay also managed the 6 place RV park and kayaker camp site we'd store the boats at while Lauri and I got some rest at the Mt. H'Kasum Lodge. We felt secure with Randy's watchful eye on our boats nestled at the retainer wall of the RV parks owners house. The owner carved out a tent site, fire pit (complete with match ready fire pyramid) and picnic table for wayward kayakers. Very nice.
Julie, the owner of the Mt. H'Kasum Lodge, picked us up and shuttled us to the spacious family style lodge where we met Violet (3), Raven(5)... Julie's kids, two dogs, two cats and Julie's Mother in Law, Helena. We felt at home immediately and were soon offered the family car to run errands and rebuild our food cache. We also enjoyed hearing Julie's stories of her 4 month bike trip from Oregon to Belize.
With laundry completed, sleep deprivation staved off and full bear vaults of food we were ready to get back to the boats Thursday night. Angel Julie gave us a tour of the town of Sayward and dropped us off at the boats. Violet and Raven didn't look so happy as we said our thanks and goodbyes.
Randy and all the other RV people said their goodbyes and good luck!
Friday, was a brutal 10 hour day on the water... against a steady wind our speed averaged slightly less then 2 Kts... arghhh. Not an ideal first day back, but with no camping at a shorter distance... we had no choices. Fortunately, there was one Oceanside camping spot at Naka Creek after long slog and we were soon chatting with all the neighbors when the call went out that a humpback was swimming in the channel.
Nothing unites a campground like a humpback. We soon heard stories about the Orcas using the gravel beach to "rub" themselves on and all the whale, seal, dolphin activity when the salmon run. We also learned of a kayak couple we "MUST" meet up with at Prince Rupert. Crazy nice people.
Today after our third Bear sighting of the trip we got to talking with another bear observer and he grew up in Little Current, Manitulan Island, Ontario, Canada. He was a dock hand and his father ran the marina there. There is a 100% chance he and his father have assisted my parents in their 30 plus sailing trips that always included multiple stops at Little Current. Small world.
So it's almost July 4th... and Lauri and knew this would be the hardest time away from family and friends... first time missing the family 4th... in, well... I can't remember if it has ever happened. Tomorrow, with luck, we will be in Port Hardy and planning the next leg of this odyssey, but we will be thinking of, and missing all of you.
Enjoy the 4th and Happy Birthday America and to my Big Brother!
Packing up at Big Bay at 3:30AM to make Dent rapids at the preferred slack to ebb transition of just before 5AM proved our neglected head lights still worked. The days are really long... just not that long.
Paddling towards the familiar Green Rapids and trying to hit its own slack period before it gushed water at us, we hustled up the Cordero Channel. One whale waved and splashed its fin at us from across the channel, but these swift currents wouldn't allow us to stop, unless we were willing to hangout for 6 hour for the next safe passage.
Green Rapids was just starting to move and swirl as we anchored the kayaks in a secluded bay and climbed the rock jumbled approach to a campsite we had used in 2014 with Rob and Pris. Then we witnessed why we give these waters so much respect... minutes after the slack period water is moving faster than we can paddle. An hour later it is 2-3 times faster than we can paddle. Maybe someday in empty boats we could play... not this afternoon, sleep is calling.
Scouting the modest camp location for the ideal snooze that was going to take place we discover the largest animal scat conceivable. Moose, bear? Definitely Bear! Shit! Figuratively and literally. Sleepless in BC.
We waited for the tidal current to change and elected to paddle another 7-8 NM to set up for Whirlpool Rapids the next morning. Landing just before 7PM... it had been a long day.
Evaluating the beach, the enormous logs and what we believed was the previous nights high tide line, we secured/ tethered the boats up on logs and placed the bear canisters considerably above that mark. Not high enough. 3:30AM wake up call... floating boats bouncing against each other make an unmistakable sound. Now you can picture the funny scene of me running around in thigh deep, 50 degree water in my underwear, retrieving our food and cooking gear. Sea filled bear canisters with who knows how much damaged food... unplanned day off tomorrow to get it sorted out.
It's never good to have to compare the time to your destination and the time your food will last. Our margin for error was now minimal. I could probably afford to miss a meal or two. Lauri can not. IF weather is reasonable we'd be fine.
The next morning we timed the Whirlpool Rapids properly, but the stupid wind didn't make it easy. The wind caused the tide to turn a bit early and it required some effort, but finally the wind eased up and we were paddling in calmer seas. After a lengthy lunch stop and brief nap, we made the decision to paddle up the north side of Sunderland Chanel for a bit more protection from Mr. Wind. We paddled from protected bay to protected bay and worked our asses off in between. Then the ebb started as we neared our goal.
Wind against tide... hmmm... it got "interesting" in a big hurry. And then the wind increased and the speed of the ebb increased. Team Thorley was past the comfort zone. Then Lauri's paddle joint stoped holding the paddle from rotating. We needed to find a safe landing as soon as possible.
The large protected bay east of Tuna Point was a welcome relief, but I knew our odyssey was just beginning. High tide near 4AM would prevent a prolonged stay on the rocky beach, but we'd have to make due. We tried to get some sleep as we waited for the inevitable creep of the water. I also said a silent prayer that the wind didn't shift to the south or south east. Tide would be a foot less than last night... We were sure the boats were safe up on giant logs and all our gear found a home stacked on or in them by 3 AM. Lauri and I climbed in our dry suits, added a coat and snuggled up on a log, with a tent draped around us to keep the wind off. Quite the scene I'm sure.
I think there are two types of adventure kayakers... those that have been rescued and those who will be rescued. I'm not sure this makes us the former yet, but the look I got from Lauri when I suggested paddling to the known camp site the following morning, before the wind increased, was a priceless husband wife moment. There would be no paddling today while we had cell phone coverage.
Lauri had a small freight hauling craft dropping it's gate on our beach by 3:30PM and we loaded our boats and gear without getting our feet wet! Eric, the awesome boat's owner took us to Kelsey Bay and we found a hotel to get some much needed sleep.
Lauri and I hope to continue the trip Friday morning... a bit more humble... a bit more conservative. But still happily married.
Oh, don't let me forget to tell you about our first bear encounter and the awesome people at Mt. H'kusam view lodge.
Phew... made it past the infamous Yuculta Rapids. But first let me back up...we saw our first WHALE! Right there in Lewis Straight as we paddled towards the Rendevous Islands. It was about 30-35ft long and did lazy laps from shore to shore. Pretty freaking cool!
Yesterday we got an early start to take advantage of the Flooding Tide and left Copeland Marine Park at 6:30 AM. The tide helped us out right up to the point that it flows the opposite way at the northern part of Vancouver Island... about Quadra Island. So coming off being jazzed about the whale we start paddling in mud (Lauri's name for it) at about a third of our previous speed. So the last 2 hours of an 11 hour paddling day was a bit painful, but it was about to get more interesting. Just as we explored the last island that we could camp on we found one tent location and off in the distance we see 7 other kayakers headed our way. Hmmm. They too were setting up to time some rapids near this camp spot... and there were no other places to camp....so what could we say? Sure join us... the Guides were great and their clients enjoyable, but man were we tired.
This morning we all got paddling before 8AM, but it turned out Lauri and I had barely enough time to catch slack tide at Yuculta due to a stupid head wind that pummeled us. What was supposed to be a leisurely approach to the rapid entrance was a rushed affair, but we made it! We intended to also pass through Dent rapids on the same slack water, but we'd spent to much energy so we pulled into Big Bay and found a place to camp... pretty damn early, but we were beat.
Sorry we haven't written more... way to much to do. Every day is a puzzle to sort out where we should be and how we are going to get there safely. We are trying to take what Mother Nature gives us, but as it turns out she has a twisted sense of humor. This area is glorious but we are on our toes ALL THE TIME! Thumb typing is not my forte... please overlook autocorrect, typos, spelling and punctuation.