Book Release! Journey: The Amazing Story Of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf that Made History


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I’m beyond excited to announce the official release of my book, Journey: the Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf that Made History!

Most of you know the story of this famous wolf. Journey left his homeland in northeast Oregon in the fall of 2011. He traveled south, becoming the first wild wolf in western Oregon for over sixty years. Journey then headed into California where he made headline news as the first Canis lupus to enter the Golden State for nearly a century. By now a household name, Journey returned to southern Oregon where he met up with a black female wolf. Since then they’ve produced three litters of pups.

I felt compelled to write about this tenacious and important canine. He inspired me, as he did so many others. I decided to create a book for a middle-grade audience, but one that would also appeal to readers of all ages. This allowed me some freedom in the writing style and also enabled me to write a book that would be educational for young people. This summer I found a terrific publisher, Inkwater Press in Portland. The people at Inkwater are dedicated to the environment and are especially fond of wolves. They took Journey under their wings and did a beautiful job editing and designing the book. They will continue to help the cause by promoting the book and organizing readings and other events.

Sketch by sculptor George Bumann. His work and those of others are featured in the book

The book tells the story of Journey through his eyes as well as through the people who studied him, saw him, and campaigned for his safety. Readers will learn about the history of wolves in our country, the Yellowstone and Idaho reintroduction, and the role of wolves in the environment. There are many photos, sketches and maps. A bibliography, index and  detailed source notes are included. My hope is that you will find this a well-balanced book, with up-to-date factual information, evocative illustrations, as well as a compelling story.

Journey is available through Inkwater, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell’s. If you would like an autographed copy please contact me through my blog and I’ll be glad to send one off you to. Amazon is still showing the book as “temporarily out of stock” but it is not taking long for them to ship the book out. Amazon reviews are really helpful if you have a moment to write one! A hardcover book will be available soon, and in January a Kindle version will be out. I’m working on a teacher’s guide as well.

The goal of this project is to first of all to help increase understanding of wolves and the need to protect them, but I also see if as a gift to all of you, a tremendous thank you for caring about these animals and for speaking up for them. Through the years I’ve been interacting with “wolf people” I’ve come to respect and admire their tenacity and devotion. Along this vein, a portion of the proceedings of Journey will go to Oregon Wild, a non-profit that does so much to help wolves.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the book. Please let me know!

Me with Akela, a wolf at the zoo my father directed in Iowa



Demanding the Good

Minam pack Eagle Cap ODFW 12:14:12.jpg
Minan wolf pack. Eagle Cap Wilderness. ODFW photo.

Today, when many of us fear for the future of wildlife, the environment, as well as human beings, gratitude can be a tough thing to feel. But it’s there, well within our reach. A hike in the forest, on a beach, in the desert or a city park, can reignite a simple but profound acknowledgment that the air still surrounds us and the earth is still below our feet.

Farther out, there remain places of indescribable beauty where we can witness mammals, birds, fish, and all forms of nature continuing the cycle of life as if there did not exist concrete and skyscrapers and pipelines and greed. These are the places of rejuvenation and of hope. These are the holdouts to an authentic, unaffected world.

These natural places are there not because of anything we’ve done, but they remain intact because people have fought selflessly to prevent their destruction. Since the election, I’ve read some strong and encouraging statements from individuals and non-profits. They speak of the renewed urgency to stand up to protect public lands and the creatures that live on them. They speak of coming together to counter what could be the most environmentally negligent tenure so far. As the website for Center for Biological Diversity says, “The Fight is On. Help Us.”

Rachel Carson knew what we were up against. In her words, {Have we} “….fallen into a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior or detrimental, as though having lost the will or the vision to demand that which is good?”

Sketch by Helen Patti Hill

On this day of gratitude, I am so thankful for the individuals and groups that have not lost the will to demand the good. They, and we can all be a part of this, will do everything possible to preserve what remains of our natural world and to stand up for the rights and safety of all forms of life, human and non. Thank you for caring, and for not giving up.


(Special thanks to Oregon Wild, Pacific Wolf Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, KS Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Wolves of the Rockies, Living with Wolves, International Wolf Center, Defenders of Wildlife)


Coming next week! The official release of Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf that Made History. 


Seeking Solutions to the War on Wildlife

Trail-cam photo of coyote by Randy and Pam Comeleo

Pam and Randy Comeleo are devoted to the cause of protecting wildlife. Over the years, they have spent countless hours sharing ideas about non-lethal measures with officials and the public in Benton County, Oregon, where the Comeleos live. They and a group of concerned neighbors have promoted discussions with Oregon State University about alternatives to trapping coyotes with neck snares on the OSU Sheep Center. Randy and Pam have interacted with Wildlife Services, fighting through the web of red tape to obtain ten years of data on wildlife killed in Benton County. The results are staggering-over 738 wild animals, including coyote, bobcat and beavers, have been killed by Wildlife Services in Benton County in the last decade.

The Comeleos’ latest effort involves organizing events led by John A. Shivik, PhD. Shivik is a federal and university researcher on the topic of non-lethal management. His book The Predator Paradox, explores the biological and social aspects of conflicts between humans and wildlife. The public talk will be held on Sunday, November 13, 2016 from 7-8:30 PM at the Benton County Public Library in Corvallis. Shivik is also doing a seminar at OSU with Fisheries and Wildlife Department students and faculty. And local farmers will be involved in a private on-site, hands-on discussion with John Shivik on how to protect their livestock without killing predators.



ODFW photo

Around the same time, there are workshops scheduled in Southern Oregon and Northern California to help livestock owners curtail problems with wolves. The talks are hosted by the Working Circle Collaborative and we will hear advice from Timothy Kaminsky, Joe Engelhard and Carter Niemeyer. I attended a version of this talk last spring and it was terrific. These workshops are timely, considering the arrival of more wolves into California as well as recent depredations in the Wood River Valley and outside of Ashland.


I promise, it’s coming soon… the online book launch of Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf that Made History. Watch here, on FaceBook and Twitter for updates. 




Journey: Five Years Ago



Facebook reminded me of a post from five years ago today. It was a Medford Mail Tribune article by Mark Freeman about a young male wolf that had just entered northeastern Douglas county, the first wolf in western Oregon in 65 years.

A few months later, the first photo (above) of this wolf, known as OR-7, was shared around the world. Around this time, Oregon Wild sponsored a naming contest and the wandering wolf became affectionately known as Journey. He entered California right around Christmas of 2011, and the rest is history.

I am still so impressed with the tenacity of OR-7. He traveled over 4,000 air miles in his efforts to find a mate and a new home. He led the way for other wolves in their dispersal into southern Oregon and northern California. Journey has truly been an ambassador for his species. The recent livestock depredations that may be attributed to his pack are certainly cause for concern, but they do not erase the value of this wolf and all he has done. With all the issues and controversy in the world today, it feels right to acknowledge the successes that abound, and the story of Journey is one of them.

Sketch by Hannah Hartsell

(click below to read entire article)

Migrating wolf enters southwest Oregon

Posted Nov 1, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Updated Nov 1, 2011 at 2:40 AM

A young wolf migrating out of a northeast Oregon pack this fall has reached northeastern Douglas County, becoming the first confirmed wolf in Western Oregon in 65 years.

A young wolf migrating out of a northeast Oregon pack this fall has reached northeastern Douglas County, becoming the first confirmed wolf in Western Oregon in 65 years.
The 2-year-old male, labeled OR-7, has a transmitter collar on it that showed it crossed Highway 97 and moved across the Cascade crest and into the Umpqua River drainage, where he was last located late Thursday, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The animal set out from his original Imnaha Pack of Wallowa County on Sept. 10, wandering southwest as far as Lake County last week before turning due west and crossing the Cascades, said Russ Morgan, the ODFW’s wolf program coordinator.

“It’s the first one in modern times to go in that direction, and he’s really traveling,” Morgan said. “He could turn around and go back. He could go to California or Idaho. There’s no way to predict it.”


Official online book launch coming soon! Watch for details!


Embracing the Return of the Wolf-Don’t Miss This Event!




The wolves of Southern Oregon have certainly been making headlines lately, and this event, sponsored by KS Wild, will be a chance to learn about and discuss what is going on down here. The guest speaker will be Richard P. Thiel, a wolf biologist from Wisconsin. Thiel has studied wolves since the 1960s and has published numerous peer reviewed articles and two books on the subject. His decades of work in Wisconsin promise to bring insights to our current wolf situation in Oregon.

We will also hear from Lyndsay Raber with the Pacific Wolf Coalition and Lilia Letsch who will present the new Oregon wolf family tree. I will be on hand to discuss my book, Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf That Made History


The event will be this Friday, October 21st,  from 6-9 at the Medford Public Library in the large meeting room. Light refreshments will be served and several local conservation organizations will be present. Click here for details. We look forward to seeing you there!


(Featured image-OR-14, ODFW photo. Sketch by Hannah Hartsell)

Is Journey in Trouble?

Journey pic

News of the livestock deaths most likely caused by the Rogue pack has traveled fast. Yet, there are still many unanswered questions. I don’t have any inside information to offer, but here is what I know of the facts.

What Happened?

On Monday, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) released news of three confirmed livestock attacks by wolves in Klamath County. The incidents occurred in the Wood River Valley and all were on private land.

The depredation investigation reports discuss the examinations done on the three calves, which ranged in weight from 300 to 800 pounds. Two were dead and mostly consumed while one was badly injured. The attacks were estimated to have occurred on 10/2, 10/3 and 10/5/16. Wolf tracks were seen around the site and the specific details, which I won’t go into here, indicate that wolves were clearly involved. The ODFW report states “The Rogue Pack is known to frequent this general area this time of year.”

ODFW photo

Other wolves also spend near the Wood River location, including OR-33 and OR-25. Both are from the Imnaha pack and unfortunately, have previously been involved in livestock deaths, OR-33 just outside of Ashland and OR-25 at a ranch along the Williamson River. However, from what we know, these were isolated incidents and non-lethal actions have helped prevent further problems.

USFWS biologist John Stephenson is quoted as saying it is “very possible” the Rogue pack is responsible for the attacks. I’m sure I’m not the only one who held out hopes that OR-7 and his pack would continue to steer clear of cattle. They had for so long. Journey left northeast Oregon in September of 2011, and thus far, had not been implicated in any livestock deaths. What changed? The growing size of his pack (possibly up to 9 now) and the need for more prey? Perhaps the shift had something to do with Journey’s age. Seven is old for a wild wolf and maybe his hunting skills are ebbing.

Rogue pack pups. USFWS photo from 7/12/16.

What’s the Good News?

Oregon wolves living west of Highways 395-78-95 are protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act. So, the Rogue family has that on their side, and they also have John Stephenson, who when asked if the attacks would lead to lethal control, said, “That’s not being contemplated at all. We’re trying to stop it from continuing.” Newspapers report that Stephenson put up special fencing (fladry, I assume) and increased human presence in an effort to keep the wolves away. He also plans to keep tabs of the wolves by renewing efforts to capture and collar members of the Rogue pack.

What Can We Do?

The Oregon Wolf Plan, as you may know, is currently under review. Changes made to this plan will affect the future management of wolves statewide. Keep an eye out for future public comment meetings or contact ODFW regarding the importance of providing continued protection for wolves.

These recent depredations, as well as the Profanity Peak pack fiasco in Washington and the lethal removal of the Imnaha pack this spring, are reminders that wolves need large areas of land to roam on, land that is free of the temptations of free-ranging cattle and sheep. The Rogue pack lives near the nearly 9,000 acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and if the current efforts to expand the monument succeed, thousands more acres of primarily BLM land would be added to the monument. This land is free of livestock and is just what wolves need to stay out of trouble. While we can’t keep wolves from leaving the monument, at least there would be a safe space for them. KS Wild and Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument are two groups working for the expansion. There will be a public hearing in Ashland on October 14, click here for details.

While we’ve witnessed a lot of livestock producers that have failed to protect their livestock and have pushed for lethal control of wolves, from what I’ve read the ranchers in the area of the current issues have been quite proactive and patient regarding wolves. When OR-25 attacked a calf in western Klamath County, the rancher there put forth a lot of effort in hazing to prevent further problems. And the livestock owners outside of Ashland who lost two goats and a lamb to OR-33, from all appearances, chose to support the use of non-lethal measures on their land rather than raise a stink about the losses.

Wolves are a natural predator, bound to necessitate change as they return to lands they have not inhabited for decades. Let’s hope this part of Oregon will continue to support this  return and learn ways to live with Canis lupus.

ODFW photo Range rider








“Wolf Land” Reading In Portland

Remote camera photo from July 21, 2013, documenting three pups in the newly formed Mt Emily pack. Photo courtesy of ODFW. Download high resolution image.


If you live in or near Portland don’t miss the upcoming opportunity to hear wolf biologist and writer, Carter Niemeyer, speak about his latest book, Wolf Land. The event is sponsored by the Audubon Society of Portland and will be held on October 11, 2016.

Wolf Land is Niemeyer’s second memoir based on his experiences with wolves in several settings, including Alberta, where he led a major role in capturing subjects for the Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho reintroductions. We also read many of Niemeyer’s compelling stories about wolf interactions in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Read in Wolf Land how Niemeyer trapped and collared this wolf, B-300, before she left Idaho for Oregon. She is the mom of OR-7, our famous wandering wolf. ODFW photo, as is featured photo of Mnt. Emily pups. 

Below is my review of Wolf Land that appeared today in The Oregonian. This is a fascinating book, one everyone with even a spark of an interest in wolves will enjoy and learn from.

Wolf advocate’s new memoir filled with insight, respect and awe (review)

By Special to The Oregonian
Follow on Twitter
on October 04, 2016 at 9:38 AM

Years ago, biologist and trapper Carter Niemeyer’s job was to kill problem wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. Since then, he’s become a supporter of wolves, a consultant when wolf and livestock issues arise, as well as an interpreter to a curious public of what goes on behind the scenes in the controversial world of wolf management…


Niemeyer in Yreka, CA.

Washington vs. Wolves

WDFW photo

In an all to familiar deja vu, another wolf pack in Washington state is targeted for extermination due to livestock depredation. Four years ago it was the Wedge pack–six of them killed by Washington Dept. Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the rest got away. Now, the decision has been made to eliminate the entire Profanity Peak pack , consisting of eleven wolves. Two or more have been killed already, including the breeding female. WDFW is not sharing much information on their progress. According to Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for the department, “We are kindly asking for a little space and understanding so we can maintain the highest level of safety for the public, the staff and our producers.”

In both cases, cattle were on their summer range in heavily forested public lands, making it difficult to protect them against natural predators. And in both cases, at least most of the cattle were owned by the Diamond M ranch. About a month ago the Stevens County Cattleman’s Association requested that WDFW lethally remove the Profanity Peak pack. The president of this organization happens to be Justin Hedrick, co-owner of the Diamond M ranch. WDFW responded to Hedrick and on August 5, 2016, two female wolves were shot  in the Coleville National Forest. When two more calves were  killed by wolves last week, the plan shifted to removing the entire pack. Apparently, groups that one might expect would protest this lethal removal have thrown in the towel and publicly agreed with the actions of WDFW. This includes Conservation Northwest and Defenders of Wildlife.

But other conservationists disagree. Amaroq Weiss of Center for Biological Diversity said in their press release on August 24, 2016, “We can’t keep placing wolves in harm’s way by repeatedly dumping livestock onto public lands with indefensible terrain, then killing the wolves when conflicts arise. These allotments should be retired by the U.S. Forest Service — or livestock losses should simply be expected, and wolves shouldn’t have to pay for it with their lives.” In the same release, Tim Coleman, executive director for Kettle Range Conservation Group, is quoted as saying, “We believe the wildest areas of our national forests should be a place where wolves can roam free.”

WDFW photo of Diamond pack pups

Other issues are contestable as well. For one, killing wolves, especially by helicopter, is not cheap. Removal of the Wedge pack in 2012 cost Washington over $77,000. With eleven wolves in the currently targeted pack the expense could be much higher. Also, there are only about 90 wolves in Washington according to WDFW’s April 2016 report. While the elimination of one pack will not likely send the population into a decline, it is a 12% reduction, a rather larger percentage for what is still considered an endangered species in the state.

Killing off packs of wolves is not what the majority of us feel is the best solution. WDFW knows this, yet our voices are ignored. I found this quote in an article about the Wedge pack removal: “Future department actions to remove an entire pack are likely to be extremely rare if they occur at all, said Madonna Luers, a Fish and Wildlife department spokeswoman in Spokane. “Our director (Phil Anderson) has said that he never wants to do this again,” Luers said. “… The social acceptance is just not there.”

A pattern seems to setting in northeastern Washington, one that is not conducive to ranchers, conservations, cows and certainly not wolves. Cattle are roaming, primarily unprotected in rugged country on public grazing allotments. Wolves are hungry. Deer and elk may be sparse so livestock becomes the target. It seems a major shift needs to occur or wolf packs will be exterminated routinely, and this only after significant livestock loss. Coming from Iowa, I realize that those who work the land and raise critters on it have a lot of forces to deal with; flood, drought, the take over of corporate farms, and an unreliable market. I saw some Iowa farmers close up shop. But others made major changes to keep going. They diversified, rather than putting all their eggs in one basket. They tried contour farming in order to hold onto the rich topsoil, most of which had been lost by old farming practices. In the decades I lived there I witnessed tremendous change in that industry. The farmers seemed to know that some things were simply not in their control and that no one was going to bail them out. Perhaps this should hold true for cattle ranchers as well.

WDFW map, June 2016


Wolves of the State of Jefferson


Happy 4th of July!

While folks around the country are celebrating the Nations’s independence with parades, fireworks and BBQs, the movement continues to create a new state out of southern Oregon and northern California. The State of Jefferson is not a new idea. It was going strong in the 1940s and probably would have succeeded if World War 2 hadn’t interrupted things.

The reasons behind the current movement have to do with taxes, water rights, concerns about regulation and proper representation, which all sounds reasonable. But one of the goals listed on the SOJ51 website tells me the environment may come in a far second to humans. It calls for “Utilization of our natural resources – timber, water, farming, mining, hunting and fishing.” Sounds like old-fashioned dominion over nature to me. Some proponents of the state split have been quite vocal about their disapproval of creatures like wolves and spotted owls. And their social viewpoint leans way to the right, blurring at times with the Tea Party.

As the secession is a tremendous long shot that would require approval from both the California Legislature and the U.S. Congress, I don’t think we need to worry about this just yet. But if the State of Jefferson ever does become a reality, let’s hope the leaders have the foresight to protect their natural resources, rather than just deplete them.

Jefferson logo_state_flag2

Meanwhile, the majority of us are thrilled when we read of yet another wolf dispersing to the State of Jefferson. One of the newcomers is OR 33, a black male from the Imnaha pack of northeast Oregon. He recently earned the dubious distinction of being the first wolf to prey on livestock in Jackson County (quite close to Ashland) since wolves were extirpated from our state in the 1940s. Nonlethal measures have been taken and so far, seem to be working.

Last I heard, OR 25, also a black Imnaha wolf, had trotted back into Oregon from a short stay in Modoc County, California, and is now roaming Lake and Klamath Counties. He dispersed from his natal pack in March of 2015. OR 25 killed a calf on the 5,000 acre Yamsi Ranch along the Williamson River last fall. No new depredations have been reported. I spoke with Gerda Hyde, the matriarch of the Yamsi Ranch, shortly after OR 25 had been spotted on her land. She was quite blasé about the matter, saying the wolf didn’t bother her a bit. Dayton Hyde, Gerda’s former partner, now runs the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota. He is a writer and long-time conservationist. Over 40 years ago, Dayton first spoke up against randomly killing predators to prevent livestock depredation, believing that lethally removing predators that were not killing cattle was counterproductive and unnecessary. We have a lot to learn from some of our ranchers.

OR 7, or Journey, has maintained a clean record, as has his Rogue Pack, as far as I know. The first litter born to Journey and his mate would be two years old now, their second litter are yearlings, and likely they had pups born in mid-April. Journey is the sole wolf collared in this family group and only the VHF aspect of his collar still functions. I imagine the Fish and Wildlife officials know the whereabouts of members of the Rogue Pack, but the rest of us are wondering if the young adults have dispersed or if they still hanging out and helping with the pups.

OR 3, a black Imnaha wolf that had not been seen or heard from since 2011, has reappeared in Klamath County. This older brother of OR 7 may be paired with OR 28, a radio-collared female from the Mount Emily Pack. Her area of known wolf activity (ANWA) includes the Fort Rock and Silver Lake management until of Klamath and Lake County. If they are a couple, there are likely pups.

The Keno wolves showed evidence of inhabiting their area during January, March, and August of 2015. ODFW lists no new information for 2016 for these wolves. They may have dispersed into northern California to form the state’s first pack in nearly a century.

The Shasta Pack, a family of seven all-black wolves (not counting this years pups), have the good fortune to live beneath and to the east of the majestic Mount Shasta. A June, 2016 update to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website reports that both the female and male breeding animals of the Shasta pack are from the Imnaha wolves. It’s heartening to know that OR 4 and OR 2 are still living through the many offspring they produced.

Shasta Pack pups

Northern California has a new resident, this one to Lassen County. A young male, grey coated wolf has been spotted on trail cameras in the area, meaning he is probably  not related to the black Shasta wolves. DNA tests of hair samples have not proven conclusive, but it’s likely this is another disperser from NE Oregon.

I am grateful to live in the area that is becoming a destination for so many wolves. And to have wonderful people like Amaroq Weiss, Wally Sykes, Pam and Randy Comeleo and Lilia Letsch to go hiking with in search of wolf sign. There are many folks hiking and camping in the wilds of the State of Jefferson, enjoying the opportunity to surround themselves with a nature that now includes wolves. As wolves are keystone predators, we can look forward to the positive effect they may have on the environment. And we can appreciate the chance we have, at long last, to live in a world that contains the presence of at least one more element of it’s natural state.

Thanks to ODFW, California Wolves (a blog you want to follow!) and the CDFW, for their help with this article.

Remote camera photo of OR7 captured on 5/3/2014 in eastern Jackson County on USFS land. Photo courtesy of USFWS. Download high resolution image.


Journey in the Limelight


If he only knew how many people thought about him, talked about him, read about him and watched movies made in his honor, Journey, our famous wandering wolf, would no doubt delve even deeper into the wilderness. Fortunately, he doesn’t know and his life continues as it should, without untoward interference by humans.


This Wednesday, May 18 at 7 pm, the documentary entitled Wolf OR 7 Expedition will be shown in Ashland, Oregon at the Meese Auditorium at Southern Oregon University. You may have heard about this expedition. It’s the story of six adventures who followed the trail of Journey, all the way from his home in the far northeastern corner of Oregon to places he visited in northern California. After the film there will be a question and answer period emceed by Lilia Letsch. On the panel will be myself, Wally Sykes, wolf advocate with Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, and Joe Kreuzman of Coyote Trails School of Nature. KS Wild (Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center) and SOU Outdoor Program are hosting the event. Tickets are $15. Please join us if you can!

Wolf 0r 7 sign

I am also happy to report that my book, Journey: The Wandering Wolf is (finally!) complete and will be out by the end of this summer. I started working on this project over three years ago and it has evolved into what I hope readers will agree is an educational and interesting portrayal of Journey’s life so far. The book is geared for middle to high school readers but is accessible for all ages. Enlisting the tool of narrative nonfiction, I’ve written the story in a personable yet accurate manner, including sections that are through the point of view of the wolf. There is information about the history of wolves in Oregon and elsewhere, how biologists study these animals, the importance of wildlife corridors to their movement, and what we can do to improve life for Canis lupus. Journey: The Wandering Wolf will be available in both hard and soft cover. I’ll keep you updated as the date approaches. Thanks to everyone who made this possible including those I interviewed and my patient and encouraging family and friends who read the text. I’m indebted to my sister Helen Hill and Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild for their help. And of course, thanks to Journey for creating this amazing story for all of us to learn from and enjoy.