|09-14-2012, 11:19 AM||#92|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World II.4 – Ride like the wind!
I know I promised last time that we will tell you the story from Washington but we can not move on without writing a few lines about how we got to visit Vancouver while we were staying at Traian’s place. Initially I was going to include this part in the last post but I guess it has to have it own space.
So, back at Traian’s house, having a free day on my hands I decided to change the oil and filter of the VStrom. While working on that, I get to meet Bill, Traian’s neighbor how offers to help with a funnel and a tool to easily remove the filter. After I finish the work I return the tools to Bill and he invites me to see his Harley Davidson bikes. He has 4 or 5 of them in the garage. We get to talk some more and Bill tells me that if I would like, I could go for a ride in the town with one of his bikes. I say thank you but I couldn’t. He tells me that I should try it. I decline again and start heading back home. On the way though I am thinking “And exactly why can’t you do it? He seemed honest when he was offering you one of his bikes. You are done working for the day so what better things do you have to do now? Staying in front of the laptop? I turn back and tell Bill that if he is really OK with it, I would like to have a ride on one of his Harleys.
And ask Andreea if she wants to ride a Harley and sure enough we are ready to go in no time.
We giggle at the idea that we are so “wrong” on this bike. Not only that we do not have any Harley apparel, we look so “off” with our touring suits and full face helmets on… Well nevermind. Bill encourages us to just go and he points out a place from where we could see the city.Let’s ride!
The thing beneath us is a beast. V engine of some 1800 cc, it is so different that our easy and slow going Gunnar. And I like it. The sound, the power the grunt. On the road Andreea is trying desperately to hold on as her seat is very small and there are no luggage cases no bars, nothing that she could support herself. She just has to hold tight on me. This brings back memories from our first ride together, when she was holding as tightly on an SV650. Who would have belived that in some time she will end up taking pictures, eating and even sleeping on the bike. Not on this one though.
We reach the top of the mountain, in a small parking lot and we check out the view.
After moving around for half an hour we also relax on the grass, take in the views and the nice sunset. Everything is going great. We are soon ready to roll and enjoy the ride back home. Wooo hooo that will be fun, I am really looking forward to try the power of the big V engine some more.
But wait, something is not quite OK. The bike is somehow clumsy. What’s the matter? Andreea tells me from the side: we have a flat tire!
Wait a minute. That was not part of the Harley Davidson advertisement brochure. What to do now? We were relaxed enough to leave home wihtout our tire repair kit (it was going to be only a 10 miles ride… and we couldn’t possibly have a tire flat so close to home on such a short ride, right? hmmm)
By pure chance I wrote down Bill’s number before leaving home. (Just in case I thought) And we had a case now! I call him and sure enough, he is not answering and the voice message comes in. I leave him a message, being careful to start with “Hi Bill, do not worry, we are OK, the bike is OK” and telling him where we are and that we have a flat tire.
OK, now what? There was no point in just waiting there in the parking lot so we start thinking about our options. I figure that if I manage to pomp some air in the tire maybe it would hold enough to get home. 10 miles are not that many. So let’s see, do we have a compressor around here? We look wishfully at the bike from all the angles, we go around it a few times, we examine here and plead with her. To no vain. No compressor miraculously appears near it. Well, lets try to find one here. We are in a parking lot after all with quite a lot of cars. So it begins my first awkward part of “Operation rescue”. Imagine you take your girlfriend or your wife to a nice romantic ride with the car. You reach the top of a nice mountain with a nice view of Vancouver. Then a guy in a strange suit comes along and asks with a foreign accent if you have an air compressor.
But amazingly enough a guy did had one and was willing to lent it. I return enthusiastically at the bike with the compressor in hand.
Great! we have a compressor. Let’s use it. Wait a minute, this bike for sure has a power plug, right?
We start again to “dance” around the motorcycle, examining it and pleading with all the odds to find a power plug. Again in vain. That’s all right, we will not give up. Here goes episode two of our “Operation rescue” mission. I push the bike near the entrance of the parking lot and wait for cars to come in. Again, imagine yourself driving to this romantic spot with a lovely lady in your car, and then, just as you about to arrive and your mind is already racing towards hmmm nice things, bam, a guy in a strange suit waves at you to stop the car and lower your window. I try to compensate that with a really nice smile and my best “I am not a bad guy” look. Eh, again we are in luck. A guy helps us with power from his cigaret lighter and we put the air compressor to good use.
Perfect. Now we are in business. Go go go!
We thread our way back on the road we came, rushing a little bit to cover the distance quickly. But just 2 or 3 miles on the way, on a stretch of fast road with only forest around us, I notice the tire is flat again. All the air is out. Mmmm so now we are on the side of the road, with cars swhisshing by, no air compressor, no tire repair kit and the night is settling. But for some reason we are not worried and we are still having fun. It was like a quest to reach back home. And we felt rather safe as we weren’t that far out of the city. Worse case scenario we could have walked back the remaining 7 miles but we didn’t want to leave the bike there in the forest.
We watch the cars passing by in speed. They must hurry to get back home. Sure, they do not have a flat tire. We try to wave and stop some but with no success. I guess a smile is not enough anymore as the nights descents on the road. To make things even better, some cyclists pass by and tell Andreea “That’s what you get for riding a Harley!” … what can I say… “That is not ours, bu still, it is not nice to say that…”
Not long a taxi stops by. I guess the smell of money is more powerful than the fear to stop on the side of the road in the dark. We decide to send Andreea back home in order to find rescue and to let people know our new location. I remain with the motorcycle. In the mean time during our stay there for almost 2 hours, from all the cars and motorcycles and bikes that passed by, only 2 guys on SS motos stopped. They didn’t have a flat tire kit with them but one of them was living near by and he offered to go home and bring it. Thank you!
After a while help comes from multiple ways. Bill comes with a car in the same moment as the 2 motorcyclists return from their home. I thank the 2 guys and then I put the knowledge acquired in Nakusp about how to fix a tire to some good use.
So the story has a happy ending with all of us returning safely back home.
Despite the small incident with the tire (or maybe due it) we had excellent fun in that ride. We thank Bill again for his kind offer and also for coming to our rescue. Harley Davidson makes some nice rides. I wouldn’t take one (at least not the particular one that I’ve ridden) on a long trip. But with a little setup, any bike can go anywhere.
From tomorrow, we are back in Gunnar’s saddle and we will ride the “American dream”.
|09-19-2012, 02:13 PM||#93|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World II.5 – Back in the United States
Back in the United States: September 2-4
This border crossing was smooth. The customs officer didn’t know what to do when we told him we are from Romania, he considered having us pull over, wanted to make a phone call, but he gave up eventually (maybe he wanted to avoid extra paperwork).
And here we are in the United Sates again, this time in Washington state. We get on Interstate 5 heading South, as we didn’t have a clear destination and wanted to ride some extra miles.
We are indeed in US and we are impressed by the highways system.
We don’t fit here, our speed, 100 km/h, is inappropriate. Everybody is passing us. We are left behind even by that category who are “on vacation and I am taking my ship with me”.
We keep our own pace and we approach the first big American city, Seattle.
We leave the madness on the highway for the city one. Everybody is enjoying the free day (try to find Andreea in the photo below).
We are actually looking for Pike street, to see the first Starbucks coffee.
We find it but there is a big queue so we prefer to see it from outside and enjoy some music.
We have lunch on the grass in the nearby park watching the restless the ferries carrying people and cars.
We discover that the Norwegian Pearl that we saw in Skagway was also back from it’s Alaskan adventure.
I would have liked to meet some of the passengers and asked them what they thought about Alaska.
After lunch we have our first city adventure when a driver almost hit us while trying to get out of a parking lot in a hurry. I manage to hit the brakes on time, let him get on with his his life on the run and find our way out of the city , without stopping at the Boeing factory. I would have liked to visit the factory where they made the planes I flew with so many times but that was not the time for it.
Maybe it was the lunch, the city, or the crazy driver but I wasn’t feeling so good so next time we stop we decide to find a place to stay in Tacoma, so we contact two advrider users from “tent space”.
It’s amazing, they both answer in less than 2 hours. So here we are heading towards Fox Island to meet Jake and Tammy, the first one who answered us. And we get the chance to visit Fox Island, a great place that we would have missed otherwise.
From one of the bridges we can see Mount Rainier bathing in the sunset light.
The best part in riding a motorcycle is that you can change your destination according to the places you see on the way. So we decide to get a better look at the 14,411 ft volcano.
Until then, we explore Fox island and park Gunnar for the night in front of another garage full with motorcycles. Jake and Ty are working on a new auxiliary lighting system for their KTM.
We get new maps, directions and good thoughts from Jake and his family and head up to Rainier. Actually, the Indians named the mountain Tacoma and we like the old name more.
There is a fee, of course, to get inside the national park. We show our pass to the pretty ranger and she gives us a smile in return.
We are part of the dream, we travel on a windy road, towards a high mountain, enjoying the blue sky above.
And so we arrive in Paradise, a small mountain resort. When you first see it you tend to think it’s at least a Garden of Eden.
But if we check the whole picture…. Things are not so pretty.
Lots of people and cars. No road, no traffic but we couldn’t have gotten there otherwise. We still think that too many people in one place can easily damage nature. We leave the “Paradise” and get back on less traveled roads, hanging on the mountain side.
We planned to camp in an orchard for the night, so we had to reach Oregon border. We follow our GPS and it’s taking us to nice places. Thick forests, paved roads.
Thicker forests, thinner paved roads.
And then….. gravel!
We didn’t plan this. Gunnar’s tires are pretty worn out, we want paved roads! Modern navigation had failed us, we took a wrong turn somewhere. After checking the paper map we see where but it was too far to go back.
We decide to continue on this road. The compass assures us we are on the right direction so we keep heading south.
The paper map didn’t show all the roads but the signs directed us to a place called Trout Lake. We didn’t plan to spend the night there, but given the circumstances we shouldn’t complain. All we wanted was a paved road. This gravel road was bad (worst that any Alaskan road). With every pebble I prey for the tires to hang on.
Anyway, this is a good opportunity to test the fork. If there will be no oil spill at the end of the day it means Kev and I did a good job.We get into a web of forest roads known only by the forest men and while at a crossroad, trying to find our way, here’s what we see: Woody in flesh and…. feathers!
It is late but we take our time admiring the woodpecker. We felt that the day would end up well eventually. We had water, Gunnar wasn’t hungry, and the tires seemed to hang on pretty well. And the sunset can only make the pictures nicer.
We finally reach the paved road but still have to pay attention and drive slow as the road doesn’t look too good.
By the time we arrive in Trout Lake is night time.We check out the camping site but don’t really feel like camping especially when the tent space is 17 $. No shower, no food. We find a B&B cheaper than a motel and this is how it looked like in the morning:
We drive just a few kilometers and spot the Romanian flag, or at least that’s what we thought so we decide to go check it out. We discover that it was a Buddhist flag and the place was a bio farm owned by a Buddhist monk and a druid priest. So we look around a little bit and continue our ride.
We finally cross the Oregon border, we stop to meet Craig, another advrider, and his orchard where we were supposed to pitch the tent the night before. He offers us apples and pears for the road. Thank you!
From Craig’s orchard we head to our destination for the night. We didn’t have a long ride but a windy road through the forests of Oregon.
We are paying more attention to the road this time checking the GPS against the paper map. We don’t get lost anymore and here we are at the Breitenbush hot springs.
We met Mark, a really great guy, at the motorcycle meeting in Nakusp and he invited us in this community. We will tell you all about it next time. Stay tuned!
|09-19-2012, 06:56 PM||#94|
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Upstate SC USA
Awesome update. Those are really great pictures of the area.Gavel roads can get scary with a passenger on the back.
|09-23-2012, 09:45 PM||#95|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World II.6 – To California
Breitenbush Hot Springs is a special place. Although it’s called “A retreat”, the place is actually a private community. A small touristy business based on old hot springs. Cabins for rent in the middle of the forest.
The hot springs flow into designed, man made “pools”, they are clean and they blend in to the environment.
So far it’s a good picture but nothing we didn’t hear about hot springs.What makes it interesting is the people, of course. They choose to live here as a community with some sort of special rules. To get to their houses you have to get to the other side of the river crossing the wooden bridge.
They are off the grid and the power is being generated by a micro-hydroelectric station from the same river. There is no network coverage and only one yurt has internet, no wireless.
Hippies? Maybe, but organized ones. Dress code might be an open one but work is serious. Everyone in the community has something to do. Teams were created for the productivity of the retreat center on the other side of the river (cooking, maintenance, cleaning, and so on). Everyone is on minimum wage (but get food and a place to sleep in the “village”) and they all have time for themselves (no overtime and 35-40 hours of work/ week is encouraged and lots of vacation).
All permanent members can buy “shares”, become owners on all the community properties, get the right to vote on all community decisions. So, for everyday life, there is a management board (executive team), chosen by vote for a determined period, taking care of the community day to day functioning.
I must admit I didn’t watch the whole series of “Lost” but I noticed some funny resemblance with “The Others”. As a guest, you are not allowed to walk around the village without someone from there. The kids have a small school, and the means of transportation is mainly the bicycle, big or small.
Our friend, Mark, invited us there. He is part of the VStrom “club” just like us and we was kind enough to let us stay in his trailer so we got to sleep in our favorite of trailers, the Airstream.
I wouldn’t fit there as a permanent member but funny thing is that even the people there not stay there their whole life, they spend few years there, go back into “the real world” and back to Breitenbush whenever they need some fresh air.And because people are as they are, the founders came up with a good plan for the generations to come not to sell the place. Although the future of the community is decided by the permanent members, the ones with voting rights, money (sale or dividends) go to all the shareholders (all alumni), and that’s a lot of people. This is what makes the people there to think of the hot springs as a way of life and not a business.
We leave Breitenbush and Mark joins us for a while. Two VStroms riding together again.
It is hot outside so we stop by a waterfall.
It’s not only us enjoying this place. We share the view with our little friends.
We ride to Springfield where we enjoy a quiet end of the day with the smell of autumn in the air.
After all these lazy days we have to do some more riding. California is waiting for us.
Today we celebrate: Gunnar is 40 000 kilometers old. Wow, seems like yesterday he was only 30 000….
We travel narrow roads and high speed highways, we meet hasty cars, weird cars or huge cars. Each one on it’s own route.
We turn away from the highways and traffic and go back on narrow roads towards Californian border, through Sequoia forests.
It is hard to talk about how we felt surrounded by those giant trees.
We ride on, speechless, on the road that seems to apologize to the old forest and try to cross it without bothering it. We were to follow those roads for the next days.
We are now in California, maybe one of the most famous of the American states and the most emblematic for the “American dream”.
We are in California, and we got here by motorcycle!
Next time we see the Pacific Ocean again and we travel roads that “hang” between sky and waters. Stay tuned!
|09-24-2012, 08:03 PM||#97|
Joined: Nov 2009
|09-24-2012, 08:16 PM||#98|
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Upstate SC USA
|09-26-2012, 08:33 AM||#99|
Big man, little bike
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Set the controls for the heart of the sun
Hi Alex, got your PM. Check in with your location when you get a chance and I'll see if I can host you for a couple of days on Phoenix. My week is pretty crazy, but shoud slow down by the weekend.
Nothing upsets a woman like a man at leisure.
|09-26-2012, 10:58 AM||#100|
Totally Normal? I'm not!
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Banana Republic of Black Gold
Very nice updates!
Looking forward to more.
SS. '98 BMW F650 / '06 WR250F / '07 KTM 990 Adv
|09-26-2012, 12:32 PM||#101|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World II.7 – Route 1
Route 1 : September 9-11
We are in California but still away from the ocean and we have to do something about it soon.Our plan is to go south on route 1, considered to be one of the most scenic motorcycle route. But to get there we ride through impressive Sequoia forests.
We discover many national parks and whenever we are given the opportunity to get off the main road on less crowded routes, we take it.
We notice a sign inviting us to see world’s tallest tree. How can we say no to that? We take a turn and, no matter what you see we are not tree huggers.
The majesty of these thousands of years old trees sticks to you. And the silence in those forests make the trees look even taller. It was just the two of us there, walking among the giants.
Before reaching the actual Route 1 we ride up in the mountains to find an old stretch of Route 1, now used only for fun rides and not for traffic. It seems that for the Americans recreation means shooting signs. We’ve noticed this even from Alaska, where a lot of signs were used for target practice. The old sign didn’t escape the shooters.
We barely meet anyone on this road and the people we encounter are peaceful. But we do find blackberries, a huge bush of blackberries. Brunch time!
We eat our fill and pick enough to fill one of our side bags.BLACKBERRIES! Do not touch!
Is Mexico that close? We feel that we are still far far away.
The road takes us from the ocean to the Sequoia forests and back. And we cannot get enough of the views. We go on a high cliff where we were told there is a good place for spotting whales. We couldn’t see any but we got hungry looking at the fishermen down by the beach.
We don’t have fresh fish but still hanging on a canned salmon, pleasant memory from Alaska.
And we finally reach the road section that is supposed to take us to Route 1. We were told by other travelers that we were not supposed to miss this part as it is windy and narrow. And so it was…
Let the fun begin! We are riding towards the sunset alongside with the rays of sunshine playing through the trees.
We resist the temptations and lower our speed since we don’t know the places and, it’s really hard to catch the sun. We reach the ocean by the time it gets dark.
And the shadows of the night start playing between waters and earth.
We weren’t supposed to reach a certain place so we decide to stop on the coast, on a high cliff.
We pitch our tent, light a fire and get ready for bed. We cannot go to bed yet, the sky puts on a sublime show for us.
It’s dark enough to clearly see the Milky Way.
Andreea sits by the fire, resting after a long day. From somewhere faraway in Romania come the school trip memories and fire camps.
Our tent is waiting for us just a few steps from the fire promising a good night sleep. The waves breaking on the tall cliff put us to bed.
Next time we reach San Francisco and for 2 days we sleep on waters. Stay tuned!
|09-28-2012, 10:57 AM||#102|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World II.8 – The way back to San Francisco
The way back to San Francisco: 12 September
Early in the morning we can have a better look around and see where we stopped last night. The views are stunning
While Andreea is still sleeping, I take Gunnar for a ride. The “official reason” is that we go to fill up with gas (as last night we were running on fumes) But after I find the most expensive gas station of this trip ($5 per gallon) and fill up, of course we don’t just go back to the camping site. Instead I take Gunnar back on the road we rode last night. This time without luggage and without passenger.
As we stop for a short brake on the side of the road, the sun is rising from over the mountains, heating the cool morning air. It is pure pleasure to ride!
I return the the tent site only to find that Andreea is already packing everything and we manage to leave before 9 AM. That is almost a record for us.
Today we would want to reach San Francisco. I’ve been there 4 years before and it was one of the places I liked the most in the states. Now, I am returning, wanting to show it also to Andreea. And I wonder if I would feel the same and I would still think that I would like to live someday in San Francisco, at least for a while.
But before reaching the city, we still have a few miles to go on Route 1, and that should keep us busy and happy.
We can hardly wait to reach San Francisco and we notice we are not alone on this trip.
Long moments pass without us speaking through the intercom. We just travel, together in the same journey. From time to time I hear the “click” of the Nikon camera behind me. It is Andreea catching a split second of life from around us.
In front seat, I remain mostly quiet and concentrated on the tirelessly curvy road ahead.
My thoughts fly way ahead of us, to a city that 4 years ago was so special to me. I wonder if today it will be the same. But I do not have much time to wonder away from the immediate surroundings. I do not know about “then”, but “now” I just love every new landscape that unfolds after the corner.
In this area there are for sure a lot of people who… let’s say they have no “basic” worries…
But some of the choices they make do not seem to clear, at least for me. For example I think that in America, if you have a sports car you might be considered – how to say this mildly- extravagant. On the other hand, it is perfectly normal and acceptable to have a huge pickup truck with a V8 engine and hundreds of hp or a huge SUV which runs on gas (instead of diesel) and consumes gasoline faster than the Libaneeze can produce oil. That must be why, on this curvy, winding narrow road, carving its way beautifully between ocean and land, 90% of the encountered cars were bulky SUVs or pick-up trucks.
Of course, one could find a ton of reasons why such cars make sense and why you really need a V8 engine to go from you home in Eureka to your cabin in the highlands or to your boat in the marina.
But I think the bare truth (the one that we do not want to admit it) is that we do not in fact need so much power in such a heavy frame for that. Especially since most of the time you end up alone in the car (as of course each member of the family would have his own vehicle)
Far from me the thought of criticize a way of life that I don’t even fully understand. So please forgive the rumblings of a motorcyclist probably frustrated that he had to ride behind bulky cars instead of having in front some super sport car roaring on Route 1. But let’s remember the road as we all love it: empty, clean and inviting. Go on!
Close to San Francisco we leave the narrow road behind and things get busy. Still we keep an eye on the bay fog descending from the hills.
San Francisco at last! We are here!
With “Sound of San Francisco” sounding in my head, we cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Last time when I was here, I was riding the bicycle with two beautiful ladies. Now I steped out to a motorcycle and wife
We call Clay our couchsurfing host and we get direction on how to reach him. Because he administers a few boats in the marina, for the next nights, our “couch” would be in fact a bunk bed on a sail boat.
It is small and old but it is so beautiful and it is a Sail boat!!! Ah, speaking of fulfilled dreams! Nice to see you again San Francisco!
|09-28-2012, 12:56 PM||#103|
Joined: Mar 2003
Location: Jennings, Louisiana
Nice! Very Nice! I too need to get out to the California Coast again. Been years. Thanks for the work of sharing your thoughts and pictures with us.
A '00 KLR 650 40,000 miles, A '07 1250S 74,000 , A '03 5.3L Chevy Truck 78,000 + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
|09-28-2012, 01:09 PM||#104|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World II.9 – Walk with me
Walk with me – September 13-14
During the night the waves swing us and it is now that romantic as it sounds. But in the morning we are ready to walk the streets.
We leave our motorcycle suits in a corner of the boat, we go explore the city in sandals and short pants. Walk with us!
We have no destination, no itinerary but I realize that I follow old paths, my own steps back in 2008. And it seems like it was yesterday. This reality matches perfectly the memories of 4 years ago. The old lighthouse, the catamaran and Alcatraz in the back.
USS Pampanito elegantly greeting it’s guests.
Colored streets. Soap bubbles windmills.
The laziness of sea lions at Pier 39 mocking the tourists excitement.
Other excited tourists are trying to find ways to experience or photograph “world’s most crooked street” (not really, but long live marketing). “Theatrum mundi” seemed more interesting for us to capture than the hundreds of roses spreading their perfume over the beautiful street in the background.
Pelicans elegantly gliding over the bustle.
Golden Gate, always covered by fog…
The steep hills’ Roller Coaster, leading to view points from where your eyes can run free across the open waters…
…or guiding your view to pokey skyscrapers hidden by the green canopy.
While searching for shelter from the sun we discover that other eyes are on us.
The good weather invites sailors to raise the sails.
And they all do it in style.
Sometimes, you have to step away from the places you love to better appreciate them, therefore we decide to extend our ramble outside the city. Gunnar is always there to help. We discover meandering roads North of the city and the scenery never ceases to amaze us. We cannot skip the photo booth. We saved a spot for you next to us!
Let’s not get sentimental and continue our ride…. and if we get tired we can rest for a while on a lonely bench.
The coastal route shows us old military forts
… and newer defense mechanisms, buried in the ground. Luckily nothing had to come out of there.
We like peace so we get away from those mechanisms and our road almost becomes a trail…. desperately hanging on the steep hill.
Are you in the clouds also? If you follow us for sure you will be…
We start our descent towards the waters and we get to Sausalito, a small city with an Italian touch.
The day is almost over, it’s time to end our walk on the marina pontoons.
There is nobody around. The pontoons are deserted. Only the wind sneaks between the masts to sooth the sleeping boats.
In the distance, the city’s sounds can be only guessed and the lights made by human dance with the lights of the summer sky.
The marina entry lights up to guide the boats that might want to raise their sails and head out into the world.
But nobody is coming through. All the boats remain quietly tied up to their ropes in the small harbor.
Here our walk ends!
We head to sleep, with Alfred Noyes words in our head.
Tomorrow, in a breath, we’ll burst those gates of gold,
And find our path before the moment fails.
Tomorrow, in a breath, before we, too, grow old,
We’ll rise and sing and spread immortal sails.
Indeed, tomorrow we will continue our journey yet again! Come, walk with us!Alex si Andreea
//this post is dedicate to all our friends, new and old, from both sides of the Atlantic! Thank you for everything!
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