Zion Canyon for all!

April 5, 2013

Reprinted from an article by Deborah Wall and retired schoolteacher and geologist, Dennis Boulton in the Las Vegas Review-Journal April 3, 2013.

Many of Zion Canyon’s wonders are easily accessible

The heart of Zion National Park in southeastern Utah is Zion Canyon, a magnificent chasm carved into the edge of the Colorado Plateau. This is where the North Fork of the Virgin River snakes its way downstream flanking the six-mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The beauty of this area is complemented by the thick vegetation that lines the river including the impressive, old-growth Fremont cottonwood trees.

Less than three hours from Las Vegas, this landscape is available for all to see via a free shuttle bus from April through October; this bus is accessible for wheelchairs and other mobility devices (the rest of the year you can take a private vehicle on the drive). The bus, which leaves from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, departs about every seven minutes and stops at eight locations along the scenic drive.

Whether riding the bus or driving, one great stop is the historic Zion Lodge. Its appearance suggests the rustic but palace-sized rural retreats built by tycoons a century ago. Photographs from Zion’s historic past line the walls, both in the lobby and upstairs in the dining room, which can be accessed by stairs or an elevator. The premises are generously supplied with comfortable couches and chairs for resting.

As you travel the scenic drive, you will see giant sandstone monoliths that rise up about 2,000 feet. Keep an eye out for some of the resident wildlife, including wild turkeys, mule deer and ringtail cats. There have also been more than 200 species of birds identified in the park, including some recent sightings of endangered California condors.

The premier trail in this canyon is the Riverside Walk, which starts at an elevation of 4,400 feet. This two-mile round-trip paved trail has a gradual 57-foot elevation change overall, and the maximum grade is 7 percent. This is a great trail for people with limited mobility, although wheelchairs may require some assistance. The trail does have drop-offs in some areas without railings. There is an accessible restroom available at the trailhead.

In spring you will see the canyon walls rich with hanging gardens of maidenhair ferns, columbine and shooting stars. These gardens thrive where water seeps from the sandstone cliffs. This time of year you might also be treated to the sight of dozens of waterfalls plummeting hundreds of feet off the high snow-packed cliffs. Also along the trail are desert swamps, where you will find more water loving plants such as horsetails, cattails and scouring rush. My hiking buddies and I have seen mule deer and even wild turkeys many mornings while on this trail.

The Riverside Walk is surrounded by Zion’s signature red and orange Navajo sandstone walls. These rocks, millions of years old, were formed in environments as varied as sand dunes and sea bottoms. Be aware that the walk is slippery when wet. The trail ends at the Gateway to the Narrows. This is where hardy folks drop into the water and make their way upstream using the river as their trail.

There are wheelchairs available for loan at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the Zion Lodge. The Zion Lodge has several accessible hotel rooms and one accessible cabin. Call 888-297-275 or visit www.zionlodge.com. Accessible camping is available at Watchman Campground by reservations at www.recreation.gov or 877-444-6777, or first-come, first-served at South Campground. Accessible ranger programs are available in the park, with different programs depending on when you visit. You can find the schedule on the park’s website, www.nps.gov.

Two Thumbs up for Toroweap

March 20, 2013

Deborah Wall’s March 19, 2013 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal offers a tempting – but tough – adventure!

Though a difficult trek, Toroweap well worth the effort

If you are up to traveling a long, rough and remote back-country road, you’ll be rewarded at the far end of this drive with one of the most breathtaking views in the West. This is Toroweap, also known as Tuweep, where you can stand directly on the rim of the Grand Canyon and see all the way down to the river that carved it, 3,000 feet below. You can see east and west, upstream and down, and you might even have this superb view all to yourself. Alone or with a loved one, it is a view you will not soon forget.

The site is on the extreme west end of the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, on the Arizona Strip. It’s not an excursion for everyone, as the quickest and most interesting routes involve a 90-mile drive out of St. George, Utah. Most of that road is gravel or washboard, with the last few miles over uneven sandstone, which makes a rough and slow slog. The rim, located at an elevation of about 4,600 feet, isn’t a place to bring small children, anyone unsteady on their feet or those afraid of heights, for there are no guardrails or safety measures. And yes, people have fallen and died.

The road-trip portion is one of interest, as it goes by the Mt. Trumbull (Bundyville) one-room schoolhouse, where you can go inside and peek around. After the Mt. Trumbull area itself, and the highest elevation of the road trip, you can take a short side trip of a few miles, culminating in a hike of about 1½ miles round trip, to see the Nampaweap petroglyph site. One of the finest rock art sites on the Arizona Strip, this site has thousands of drawings from Archaic, Anasazi and Paiute art traditions.

Toroweap Viewpoint - 3,000 feet above the Colorado River

At the Toroweap viewpoint, most visitors walk the 50 yards or so from the parking area directly to the edge. There, you can look down at the river. Most of the time, you will be able to see some rafts that look like tiny dots. Binoculars are well worth bringing. For a different view, walk to your right for about five minutes, to the end of the cliff. There, you can look downstream to Lava Falls, one of the canyon’s toughest rapids for river rafters.

The really adventurous and energetic sometimes hike down to Lava Falls, but from personal experience, I can tell you it’s one tough trek. It involves hiking down a steep hillside of scree and boulders, via a route marked only by cairns. It’s one of the hottest routes into the canyon, entirely without shade. And it’s also one of the steepest; the route is only about three miles round trip, but the elevation loss down to the river is about 2,500 feet since it starts below the Toroweap Overlook some miles away.

Towoweap might be the most remote place you ever drive to, but it’s up to you whether the experience changes your life or possibly ends it. You must prepare well for this trip. Your vehicle needs to be high-clearance and equipped with real off-road tires, two good, full-size spares and the tools to change them. The park service reports that 25 percent of visitors get at least one flat tire, which I experienced firsthand.

On this trip, you may operate your vehicle much more than usual in four-wheel drive or lower gears, so gas mileage may be less than normal; think about carrying extra gasoline. There are no services, and to get towed off the Arizona Strip can cost $1,000 to $2,000. And even calling for a tow could be difficult; cellphones do not work along this road, and I have seen times when I was the only visitor for a couple of days in a row. Therefore, bring more water than you think you could possibly need, as well as plenty of food and clothing warm enough for an unexpected overnight. Be aware also that the road passes through the Mt. Trumbull area, at about 6,500 feet, which can have snow even in spring.

There are nine nice camping sites available near the overlook, complete with fire rings, picnic tables and a pit toilet. The sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, except for one group site, which is by reservation only, by email request. For more information, visit nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/tuweep/.

All Aboard!

March 10, 2013

Reprinted from the March 6, 2013, Las Vegas Review-Journal column by Deborah Wall and Dennis Boulton, a retired Nevada schoolteacher and geologist.

Take a trip back in time on Nevada Southern Railway

Less than a half-hour drive from Las Vegas, you can step back in time and experience a historic and interesting ride on the unique Nevada Southern Railway in Boulder City. This train can be an exceptional experience for everyone, as it facilitates accessibility for people with limited mobility, whether they are using wheelchairs, walkers, scooters or canes.

A branch of the Nevada State Railroad Museum, the Nevada Southern operates restored and preserved rolling stock on tracks originally installed in 1931 for the construction of Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam.) The train has four operational diesel locomotives that take passengers on a seven-mile round-trip journey to Railroad Pass and back in less than an hour. The train is accessible for all, and the railway provides a wheelchair lift on one Pullman coach. If you plan to use this lift, arrive 15 minutes early so you can ensure on-time boarding.

This specifically designed coach was the first car renovated by the railway. It has ample space to allow numerous occupants with assistance devices, accompanied by their families and friends. It also has an accessible bathroom.

The railway offers open-air cars, which some prefer in fair weather, but also has air-conditioned and heated coaches, including the newly refurbished Pullmans, which date to 1911. All cars afford unobstructed views of the vast Eldorado Valley as well as the River Mountains, home to desert bighorn sheep. Regular train departure times are 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

There are two special events taking place over the next two months. The first is the “5th Great Train Robbery” event, which runs March 23 and 24. Designed to be fun for all ages, this event features authentically dressed cowboys and outlaws mingling with passengers throughout the excursion. Once you reach Railroad Pass, the “Great Train Robbery” takes place. From your seat you can view a Western shootout between the proverbial bad guys and the good ‘uns. Simulated gunfire and other loud noises will take place during this ride.

The second special event, one especially popular with the younger set, is the “Day Out With Thomas.” Thomas is the tank engine of storybook and television fame. The day begins at the depot with face painting, arts and crafts, games and storytelling. Thomas then leads his young passengers on their 45-minute journey. This train ride takes place April 6, 7, 13 and 14. Reservations are strongly recommended for both events. For tickets for any of the train rides or special events, call 866-468-7630 or go to www.ticketweb.com.

Regular prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children 4-11 and free for children 3 or younger. The same prices will get you a seat on the day of the “Great Train Robbery.” A $1 online coupon is good for the regular rides and the “Great Train Robbery.” “Day Out With Thomas” fare is $16 for everyone 3 or older. Group rates are available. The online coupon is not good for this event.

Handicapped parking is available on site, and all parking is free. Food and beverages are sold at the depot, but only water is allowed on the train. Cameras are encouraged, and service animals are welcome.

After the train adventure, those who want to experience more of Boulder City history can find it at the historic Boulder Dam Hotel in Old Town. The hotel contains the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, which has exhibits, interactive displays and artifacts from the Boulder Dam Project. It is open daily except Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hotel and museum are accessible to all.

February is for the Birds!

February 13, 2013

With retired Nevada schoolteacher and geologist Dennis Boulton, Deborah Wall’s February column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal tells of a great winter bird-watching spot:

Henderson preserve is a fine spot for winter birding

The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve is a hidden gem. It encompasses more than 100 acres and contains nine different ponds, three of which are accessible along a paved, level three-quarter-mile loop trail.

You can extend your visit to other ponds along gravel-surfaced but soft pathways. They are all fairly level but may require assistance. The main trail contains numerous resting benches, interpretive signs and access to the covered lower level of an elevated birding viewing platform.

For birding, this is one of the top choices in the Las Vegas Valley. The park is on the eastern edge of the Pacific Migratory Flyway, so many birds are just temporary visitors here. During winter and early spring you can expect to see a variety of ducks, including northern shoveler, green wing, cinnamon and blue wing teal, pintail, bufflehead and the extraordinary wood duck. This time of year you may also find it to be the perfect time to see geese such as Canada, snow, Ross’s and even possibly a tundra swan.

The preserve also provides an excellent place to see raptors. Look for northern harriers, peregrine falcons and both sharpshinned and Cooper’s hawks. You may spot the golden eagle, an occasional resident. Other resident species include greater roadrunner, Gambel’s quail, verdin, Albert’s towhee and the loggerhead shrike.

The preserve has an excellent visitor center, which has a gift shop, bookstore and numerous exhibits, including a variety of nests, examples of bird eggs and other avian and wildlife displays. It also has a classroom that offers programs for all ages.

This area was first included in the National Audubon Society’s Christmas count in 1967. The preserve was officially dedicated in 1998 as “A Place to Call Home” for more than 250 bird species. It is located at the city of Henderson’s Water Reclamation Facility. This spot was also used by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory to conduct a nationwide survey on shore birds.

The preserve is free to enter, but all visitors must sign in at arrival. A wheelchair is available for use, and the facility also offers free use of binoculars. There are accessible parking spaces and bathrooms and also an accessible shaded picnic area. The preserve also offers educational programs for all ages.

The park is at an elevation of 1,610 feet and is open year-round, but summers are hot, except in the early mornings. Ideal viewing times are from October through April. Through February, the preserve is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. From March to May it is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.

A DAM good adventure!

January 23, 2013

From Deborah Wall’s January 2, 2013 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal VIEW:

Best dam views are accessible to all

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge) on U.S. 93 offers a magnificent visual experience that is accessible to all, and there is no fee to access it. Opened on Oct. 19, 2010, the bridge spans the Black Canyon of the Colorado River approximately 1,500 feet south of Hoover Dam.

This bridge was the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge in the United States. It’s now the longest bridge of its sort in the western hemisphere, at 1,905 feet. It’s 88 feet wide. The walkway is 880 feet above the Colorado River, making it the second highest-walking bridge in the United States.

Pedestrian traffic is allowed along the bridge’s north side, but it is accessed only from the Nevada side. Although there are stairs from the parking area, there are also a series of paved, low-angle switchback ramps. From the parking area to the bridge walkway, those using wheelchairs, strollers or scooters will use these eight paved switchbacks. Although their grade is gentle, those in a wheelchair may need assistance to travel the full distance to the walkway, about 1,000 feet.

At the summit of the switchbacks, many resting benches are available before venturing onto the walkway itself, and interpretive signs give you something interesting to read while resting. Once on the walkway, it is approximately six feet across and about 900 feet to the center of the bridge. As you head across the bridge you will find numerous interpretive signs including one that marks the Arizona-Nevada state boundary.

Besides getting a spectacular view of the dam, you can also see a section of Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the United States, which the dam created. The white band along the lake’s perimeter, well above the waterline, is the former shoreline, showing how far the lake has dropped during the long recent years of drought.

Looking down at the lower section of the dam, you can see the location of the turbines that generate hydroelectrical power used throughout the Southwest. A local landmark, Fortification Hill, can be easily viewed from the walkway.

Once they have seen Hoover Dam from the walkway, many visitors also enjoy driving across the dam itself to view it from the Arizona side. From the Memorial Bridge Plaza parking area, head east to drive about two miles across the dam to where the road terminates. Along this drive there are parking and viewing areas for the bridge, dam and Lake Mead. One of the best views is on the Arizona side of the dam at Parking Area 12. Accessible parking is available at all parking areas.

Although accessible tours of the dam itself are not available, the Hoover Dam Visitor Center and Powerplant Tour are wheelchair- and scooter-accessible. For $5 at the main parking garage, wheelchairs can be rented to use on the Powerplant Tour or visiting other locations at the dam. Tours are not recommended for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia or who may have a pacemaker or defibrillator. Call 702-494-2517 or visit www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam.

Hidden Surprise in the Desert

December 29, 2012

From Deborah Wall’s Christmas Day column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Exotic palms adorn wildlife refuge

While the native California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) can be found in several areas in California, including Joshua Tree National Park and near Palm Springs, there is one hidden spot in Arizona where it also can be found.

Dozens of these impressive palms thrive in a microclimate within a narrow and steep canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in the Sonoran Desert just south of Quartszite. The refuge encompasses about 665,000 acres and was established in 1939, primarily to protect the desert bighorn sheep. There are about 400 to 800 sheep in the refuge nowadays.

Palm Canyon is on the northwest area of the refuge and was eroded out of a wall of rhyolite, a volcanic rock. From the large parking area, pick up the well-signed trail and head toward the canyon. You will find an interesting mix of plants along the way, including cholla, saguaro, ocotillo, palo verde and ironwood. As you near the trail’s end, look for a few small bushes that have leaves resembling holly. This is Kofa Mountain barberry, an uncommon plant.

A variety of birds enjoy the canyon’s environment as much as the plants do. Look for gnatcatchers, canyon towhees, thrashers, white-throated swifts and canyon wrens.

After about one-half mile of hiking from the trailhead, you will see a basic wood sign that says, “Palms,” with an arrow.

Believe it or not, many people would miss the palms without this sign as they are up a narrow side canyon, on the north side of the main canyon. They’re in the shade most of the day, so try to plan your visit at midday, when the sun lights them up.

The palms appear strong and healthy, apparently thriving in this microclimate of the canyon. As the older and lower palm fronds die, they fold downward and form a thick petticoat around the trunk, for a few feet beneath the crown. When these dead fronds eventually fall to the ground, they decompose, forming perfect conditions for the growth of new trees.

You can travel up to the palms, but although it takes only about a half-hour round-trip, it is a steep and strenuous hike.

If you’re not up for that much exertion, you can see a few palms growing, though not so impressively, farther up the main canyon. There are also a few palms in nearby Fishtail Canyon, southeast of Palm Canyon.

Dispersed camping – what some of us call real camping – is allowed in this refuge. Officials ask that you not camp within a quarter-mile of any water source and be within 100 feet of a designated road. Campfires are permitted, but you will need to bring your own firewood. The average high daily temperature in January is 65 degrees.

Wall Welcomed at REI

December 21, 2012

Author and avid hiker Deborah Wall had an opportunity to visit with other outdoorsy folks at her recent book signings:

One gent even brought his collection of  Wall’s hiking column!

Take a Hike!

December 19, 2012

Deborah Wall will be signing copies of Base Camp Las Vegas on BOTH sides of town …

So put on your shoes and hike on over to REI in the District tomorrow (the 19th) or REI Boca Park Thursday (the 20th). And after you’ve picked up a copy of the book, start planning a hike!

Tis the Season to Hike Fortification Hill

December 14, 2012

From Deborah Wall’s column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal VIEW on December 11, 2012:

Winter paves way for trip to Fortification Hill

If you’re one of the smart hikers who keeps a list of seasonal hikes – those that should be attempted only at some particular time of year – Fortification Hill should be near the top of your winter list.

Located in Arizona just east of Hoover Dam, it’s too hot and exposed to sun to be any fun in the warmer months. But in winter, it offers enough challenges and exercise to justify a sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit, where you’ll also be rewarded with one of the finest views to be had in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The “hill” is really a mesa formed through hundreds of volcanic episodes occurring more than 5 million years ago. Towering 2,000 feet over Lake Mead’s Boulder Basin, it appears nearly unclimbable at first glance, but from the trailhead on its southeast side, it’s merely strenuous.

Even so, this hike isn’t for small children or anyone who isn’t up for some dangerous rock scrambling through the basalt cliffs and tackling scree slopes in one area. The trail takes you about 3.4 miles round-trip and has an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet.

To get to the trailhead, drive down the gravel Kingman Wash road for about five miles, and when you reach the outdoor toilets, take a sharp right-hand turn and continue about 2.5 miles.

As you drive along this section, notice the colorful formations at the base of the mesa, resulting from geothermal activity. A compendium of red, pink, orange and purple, these formations are locally known as The Paint Pots.

After reaching the trailhead, a small parking pullout, just walk up the wash to the left and go right and up to the ridgeline. You will find a worn path that you follow as it undulates for about three-quarters of a mile to a small saddle. The spot is marked by a large pile of 3- to 4-foot boulders on your left.

From here, just head up the steep scree slope the best way you can until you reach the base of the cliffs. Once here, go right and head carefully along the path until you see a break in the cliff face.

Usually, there are a few rock cairns here to mark the spot, but don’t rely on seeing them because they often get knocked down. Watch very carefully for the cleft, because if you miss this break, you’ll soon come to major drop-offs and will find it impossible to continue.

Once you find the cleft, climb up and use the any cairns you see to guide you up to the top of the mesa. This can be a tricky and dangerous climb where many people need help getting up but it is short. Once up on top of the mesa, pick up the obvious trail that first heads southwest and then west.

Follow the trail west all the way across the mesa to the large rock outcropping. As you get closer, you will probably see a large cairn and an old wooden pole marking the summit. There is an ammunition box that holds a small journal to record your journey. The comments from hikers who were here before you make an interesting read. A couple of times I have opened the box to see that the journal was missing. It later reappeared, and I’m not sure where and why it went in the meantime.

The views from this vantage point are worth the climb. To the northwest, you can see the Strip, and beyond that, the Spring Mountain Range and Mount Charleston. To the north, you can see the Muddy Mountains and to the southwest, the McCullough Range.

The one distraction of hiking Fortification Hill is the constant and annoying helicopter traffic that flies overhead, on the way to Grand Canyon and other destinations of airborne sightseeing.

The Kingman Wash Road and the side road to the trailhead are best driven in a high-clearance vehicle, preferably with four-wheel drive and good off-road tires. Because the gravel road leading to the trailhead is mainly in a wash, save this hike for another day if it is raining or threatening to do so.

A Peek at Parker Dam

November 28, 2012

From Deborah Wall’s November 27, 2012 column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal VIEW:

Visit to saloon caps Parker Dam trip

Whether you are interested in boating, fishing, hiking, camping or just an excursion along some remote gravel back roads, Parker, Ariz., can meet your outdoor needs.

There, along the lower Colorado River, barely 100 miles from Las Vegas, you will have plenty of activities to fill a day or several. And because the elevation here is only 400 to 450 feet above sea level, it’s warmer than Las Vegas so you can enjoy most of them all winter.

A good way to start your visit is by seeing the Parker Dam, built between 1934 and 1938. No guided tours are offered here, but you don’t need a guide to get a close look. You can drive over the dam if you choose, or just take a quick peek from an overlook. You can even drive down to water’s edge on its north side.

Parker Dam doesn’t tower overhead as impressively as the Hoover or Glen Canyon dams farther up the Colorado, but it is the deepest in the world. Keep in mind that you’re seeing only about one-quarter of its 320-foot height. The dam is what formed Lake Havasu, about 45 miles long and able to store 200 billion gallons of water. While created to store water, control flooding and produce electrical power, Lake Havasu also produced a bonanza of opportunities for recreational boaters, fishermen and other outdoor folk.

Driving south from the dam along the 18-mile Parker Strip you will find plenty of places to access the river, including the 1,677-acre Buckskin Mountain State Park, where you will find a beach, a picnic area, a camping area, a boat launching area and hiking trails.

The community of Parker proper is about only 1 square mile within the 260,000 acres of the Colorado River Reservation. The reservation was established by Congress in 1865 for the “Indians of said river and its tributaries.” Originally, it was intended primarily as a home for the Mohave Indians. Now, Chemeheuvi, Hopi and Navajo also share the land. Functioning politically as a single unit, the Colorado River Indian Tribes operate the Bluewater Resort and Casino a little east of the town and a heritage museum in town at 1007 Arizona Ave.

If you visit Parker on a weekend, one of the visit’s highlights should be heading some five miles into the Buckskin Mountains via a gravel but well-maintained road to visit the Nellie E. Saloon. Also known as the Desert Bar, this remote restaurant and watering hole will probably be one of the most unusual you’ll ever visit. And despite the availability of alcohol, I would not hesitate to bring children here.

It is quite worth seeing the place even if you aren’t eating. You will find antique cars and trucks scattered around the property and even a funky, solid steel, open-air church in the middle of the parking area. This is more of a façade than a true building, and no services are held in it but it makes an excellent photo op.

Entrance to the restaurant and bar is via a covered bridge. The bar is small, with just a few tables, but outside you will find the main dining area and grill, with small seating areas tucked throughout the property. A simple menu of burgers, hot dogs and other basic fare is all you will find here, but the prices are modest. Bring cash, though, for the establishment takes no credit cards.

Come early, as the place fills quickly with locals and increasing numbers of travelers. The business is open from noon to 6 p.m., Arizona time, Saturday and Sunday from October through April. Live bands play from 1 to 5 p.m., making it an even more upbeat place to be.

On the way back home, traveling north on U.S. Highway 95, outdoor lovers will appreciate stopping at the 6,105-acre Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1941, the refuge was named for a mountain man, trapper and guide active during the 1830s and 1840s.

One of the best places in the park to visit is a gravel road on the south side of the road (when heading north), just after the park’s headquarters. Here you will find a lovely riparian area of cottonwoods and willow surrounded by cliffs and hills dotted with saguaro and other Sonoran vegetation. Lots of wildlife makes a home in the refuge, including desert bighorn sheep, gray foxes and javelinas.

More than 300 bird species have been recorded here, including the brightly colored Lazuli bunting, the yellow-billed cuckoo, vermillion flycatchers and the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher. Another endangered bird, the Yuma clapper rail, loves the marsh areas hereabouts and sometimes even winters here. And many a city-weary human will realize upon reflection that the clapper rail has a pretty good idea.