Up State New York
Shenandoah Valley
Plans are in progress for a January, February and March, 2005 trip to Florida. We presently have plans to stop in West Palm Beach and Sebring, each for a week, and then the remainder of our time in Crystal River. More details to follow.
  November 2, 2004

Like many folks in the United States, today Diana and I stood in line  at the firehouse for 1 1/2 hours to cast our vote in the Presidential election. After returning from the firehouse I called Rock Crusher Canyon Resort in Crystal River, Florida, just to confirm our reservations for this coming February and March. Sure enough they had the arrival and departure dates correct. We will reside on site # 363 during our stay. At this early date I'm already getting excited to meet up with the nice folks we met there last year.

  November 10, 2004

The countdown for departure continues. We now have about a nine week wait until we leave for Florida. After Christmas & New Year our anxious anticipation will really begin to heighten. Today the weather here is starting to feel much like winter is on the way. The overnight low was 26 degrees and the thermometer will only go as high as 40 degrees today. BRRR!

  Happy New Year !!

January 1, 2005   

The weather today was unseasonably warm, 63 degrees, so we decided to visit the motorhome at the storage facility to begin preparation for our departure later this month. I removed the cover and installed the engine battery. Then came the moment of truth....starting the engine. I was delighted that the engine started right up....no problems what so ever. While I was busy starting the engine, Diana placed some items in the cabinets and inspected the interior for any problems. We always worry that some rodents will make a nest in the motorhome during winter storage. When we closed up the motorhome in late  October we placed dryer fabric softener sheets throughout the motorhome to discourage any unwanted critters....as an added benefit the fabric softener sheets also make the motorhome smell like new.  Well, all went well today and I hope the weather continues to be on the mild side so that we can leave for Florida without doing battle with harsh winter temperatures and snow.

  January 16, 2005

For the past two weeks we have been moving forward with our preparation for a January 20th departure for Florida. But, this past Thursday we had to make a significant change in our plans. It was on Thursday that we learned that Diana's mother would have to undergo a heart catheterization procedure on Tuesday, January 18th. So we cancelled the first 10 days of our reservations in Florida so that Diana can be in Pittsburgh with her mother during the procedure.

This morning at 5:30am we headed west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for a 315 mile drive to Pittsburgh. Diana will be staying in Pittsburgh for the week and I returned home the same day because I had to care for our 14 year old Miniature Schnauzer, Rebecca.

As you can see from the pictures below we encounter some harsh winter weather upon arriving in Pittsburgh. Fortunately we did not take the motorhome. The pictures show the parking lot in the rear of Saint Theresa's Catholic Church. Last April we boon docked in this area while we visited our mothers in their apartment building which is located 50 yards from this spot.



  January 24, 2005 - Monday

Diana returned from Pittsburgh this past Friday so that she could beat the major snow storm being forecasted for the Northeast. Sure enough this past Saturday we were clobbered with 12 inches of snow, 35 mph winds on Sunday and both days temperatures only going to 19 degrees for the high.

Today I have some sore muscles from clearing the snow from our driveway and also making sure I have a clear area in front of the house to park the motorhome. I just returned from visiting the motorhome at the storage facility. As you can see from the pictures below...the snow is deep and is giving us a real challenge for a departure later this week. The roads were just being plowed at the storage facility and the fella stopped to ask if I wanted to get the motorhome out now. He told me he would clear a path special for me by the end of today.



  January 27, 2005

I'm delighted to report that we have been able to begin the 2005 camping season without any problems and for that we are extremely grateful. At 4:45 am this morning we left home to begin our journey south to Florida. There was still heavy snow in all the yards and along side the roadway but the roads themselves were clear and dry.....but caution was necessary for the occasional patch of "black ice". The driving conditions were good for the entire distance today, but the winds did push us around from time to time. Crosswinds were very scary as we crossed the bridge over the Susquehanna River on I95 in Maryland. The traffic on I495 loop around Washington DC was its normal sluggish self with a 30 minute delay where I495 crosses Potomac River. As we crossed the Potomac we were able to look north and clearly see the Washington Monument off in the distance.

After driving approximately 550 miles we pulled into Sleepy Bear's Campground located at Exit 14, Lumberton, North Carolina. We stayed at this campground 2 years ago on our way to Myrtle Beach and decided to stay again on this trip because we like the easy access to I95 and the sites are very long, level and hard top surface. Also, the $22.50 per night is easy on the wallet.

The temperature was a frigid 8 degrees when we left home this morning and the first 200 miles of our drive was cold. The motorhome was comfortable inside but frost formed on the inside of a few windows. By noon time the bright sun and the milder temperature in Virginia helped clear the frost on the windows. Right now it's 6:30 pm and it is still cold here, 38 degrees, but certainly and improvement of the temperature we have been experiencing at home the past free week.

Last year on our way to Florida we had some bad luck when we stopped at the campground on the first night and I was wondering if history would repeat. When I connected the water to the motorhome last year I quickly realized one of the water pipes had been slit by ice formation during winter storage. Last fall I tried to be very diligent when wintering the water supply system so as to prevent ice damage again. So this evening when I connected the water supply hose I was delighted when nothing leaked....no ice damage. Hurray, that made for a perfect first day....all system AOK even the water supply pipes.




  January 28, 2005

"Scare".....that was the word that started our day. Not a big "scare", just a small "scare". But first let me lead you up to the point of the "scare".

Last night we we very tired so by 9:30 pm we were in bed sound asleep. Around 2:00 am our miniature Schnauzer, Rebecca, decided she wanted to go outside. When I took her out I checked the temperature and it was around 27 degrees. My main concern for overnight was the possibility of the water pipes freezing so we left the water in the kitchen sink run at a trickle to circumvent the pipes freezing.

At 6:55 am the alarm clock summoned us to begin another day of out trip south. Today was going to be an easy drive....only 266 miles to our next destination, Lake Harmony Campground in Townsend, Georgia, Exit 58 on I95. We stopped at this campground last year and found it to me a nice quiet destination. In fact, like we did last year, we will most likely stay 2 nights at Lake Harmony so that I have time to wash the motorhome and car.

After a quick breakfast I unhooked the water, electric, etc., and we were ready to get underway by 8:00 am. I was pleased that we did not have any difficulty with the pipes freezing overnight...never did get quite cold enough.

Well, I turned the ignition key on the motorhome and the engine did not start. This was the "scare". All I could think is, "Oh no, now what....maybe just a dead battery". But then I thought how could the battery be dead it was just new last year. I tried the automatic jump feature and still no sound when I turned the key. I tried several more times and then all of a sudden the engine fired up. I suspect the starter spring was the problem...perhaps there was some water frozen in there...don't really know. I'll have to keep an eye on this problem because I think it might very well return in the near future.

We stopped around 12:30 pm at a Super Wal-Mart in Georgia at Exit 104. We stocked up on some groceries and then had lunch in the motorhome. By 3:00 pm we arrived at Lake Harmony Campground.





  January 30, 2005  -  Sunday

We finally arrived at our first Florida destination at 3:30 pm this afternoon. Tanglewood RV Resort, located in Sebring, will be our residence for the next eight nights. The resort is very large and each campsite is equally large....50+ feet in width and 90+ feet deep. All site have a large 10 foot by 20 foot concrete patio and some have concrete driveway such as ours. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the weather. When we left Townsend, Georgia this morning the weather was miserable.....42 degrees, foggy and a drizzling rain. Now, the weather here is completely different.....79 degrees, slight breeze and beautiful blue sky with puffy clouds.





January 31, 2005  -  Monday

We started the day with a walk through the resort. The morning temps were in the low 50's which made for a pleasant walk. After the walk we had breakfast and then took a ride to see what's available in the area. Much to our surprise a Super Wal-Mart is located about one quarter mile from the resort. We pick up some and ends at Wal-Mart and then further down the road we discovered a Home Depot. This came in handy because I needed to purchase some wire for the hot water tank.

After our short shopping spree we drove around the area in search of the Sebring Raceway. In March well over 175,000 racing enthusiasts will flock to the racetrack to witness the 12 Hours of Sebring. A drive through miles and miles of orange orchards finally brought us to the Sebring Raceway. During this week the contestants are at the racetrack performing their tests in preparation for the March race. From the road we were able to see the cars come whizzing by on the track at lighting fast speeds and engines roaring. The site gave me goose bumps and then an emotional feeling that I cannot describe. What a thrill! Tomorrow we will return to the racetrack with our picnic basket and go inside for an unbelievable reasonable price...$10 each for the day.

Later today we took a bike ride through the resort. The modular homes here are very beautiful and meticulously maintained. Many of the homes have a motorhome port build on the side of the home and this is where the home owner's store their upscale motorhome.

The resort has all sorts of planned activities taking place all day. Golf, tennis, woodworking, pool tables, swimming pool, cards, shuffle board, horse shoes, bingo, dance lessons.....just to name a few of the many activities. I visited their woodshop and was pleasantly surprised with their setup.


  February 1, 2005  - Tuesday

Sebring International Raceway was the excitement for today. From January 31st through February 3rd the raceway is bustling with ALMS (American Le Mans Series) cars practicing for the 53rd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 19, 2005. The 3.7 miles track with it's many curves, 17 in total, and straight-aways provides great vantage points for spectators.

At 10:30 am this morning we arrived at the raceway after a 13 mile drive from the Tanglewood Resort. The last five or six miles of the drive is through orange groves as far as you can see. The fee for the entire day at the raceway was $10 per person and this allowed us access to any portion for the raceway.

We stopped an various points of the raceway while I took snapshots with my digital camera and also managed to get some nice shots with the telephoto lens on my 35mm camera. The weather was great us....75 degrees, slight breeze and blue sky. It was very enjoyable to sit on our lawn chairs and watch these cars roar past as close as 150 feet away!!! Even though the sounds were loud you could tell that the engines in these cars had been finally tuned.....the sound was a smooth roar.

  February 2, 2005  -  Wednesday

Today was a do  nothing day. We tool a long walk through the resort and after lunch took a nice bike ride. I did some routine maintenance items on the motorhome while Diana prepared for friends from Sebring that will be visiting us on Thursday and friends from Winter Haven on Friday.



  February 3, 2005  -  Thursday

Our friends Rich and Elaine stopped by to spend the day with us. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed each others company while soaking up the beautiful weather. Rich and I worked together at Verizon in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. When Rich and Elaine retired a few years ago they sold their home and moved to Winter Haven, Florida.


  February 4, 2005  - Friday

Today was another day of entertaining good friends of ours from here in Sebring. Diana prepared and excellent diner including fried chicken, baked potatoes, assorted vegetables, rolls and fro dessert the choice of cookies or cream puffs. The food was good and we enjoyed talking with our friends of 35 years. We first met Dick and Helen when we moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1968. We moved from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg because the phone company offered me a job as an equipment engineer. It was here that I met Dick, he too worked fro Bell on the 9th floor at 300 North Second Street. It was great that we could spend the day with Dick and Helen.

Overnight a rainstorm moved through the area around 3:00 am with winds that escorted a cold front. The high temperature for today was only around 59 degrees with a gusting wind. The good news is the forecast for tomorrow has the temperature climbing back into the mid 70's and remaining that way for the next 6 days or so.

Around 4:00 am this morning during the rain storm there was a loud thump noise under the motorhome. The noise just happened once...it sounded as if something broke loose under the motorhome and hit the undercarriage. I suspicion what happened but I would not know for certain until I could do a visual inspection. After breakfast I went outside and stooped down sufficiently to get a view of the motorhome levelers. A leveler is located in each corner of the motorhome and each leveler has a pair of springs. These springs are under tension when the levelers are lowered. Sure enough, just as I suspicion one of the springs had broken. Fortunately when the spring broke it did not do damage to any other part of the motorhome. I called the manufacturer for the levelers, HWH, and provided them with the model number and the technician was able to easily determine the repair parts needed. The parts will be shipped today and will arrive sometime next week while we are located at Rock Crusher Canyon RV Resort. The installation should be relatively simple....famous last words.

  February 8, 2005  -  Tuesday

I don't know where the time goes each day. We have been so occupied with activities that I have not had time to update the website since last Friday.

Yesterday we left Tanglewood Resort and we are now in Rock Crusher Canyon RV Resort and will not depart from here until March 17th. We are on site 363 which is quite spacious, level and private. The Good Sam price per night is $18 for full hookup including CATV.  Lots of activities take place each day which is a change from last year now that the campground has an activities director. In fact of Canadian friends Barb and Cliff are work campers this year and have the responsibility to plan campground activities.

Our intensions for today was to pack a lunch and take a bike ride, however, that just didn't happen. We visited with friends that we met last year and by the time we said our hellos it was time for dinner.

It's about 7:45 pm right now and we just came in from outside. The sky is clear and it is pitch black, so conditions are ideal for star gazing. With the aid of binoculars we were able to view Orion nebula which would be very difficult, if not impossible, to do at home because of all the light pollution.

Tomorrow we signed up for a 10 mile bike ride along a canal and then in the evening we will participate in the weekly bingo party.


  Ash Wednesday

February 9, 2005

It's 2:30 pm and we just returned from a 10 mile bikes ride along a new trail that just opened this past December. The trail runs along a canal that leads out to the Gulf of Mexico. About 28 people participated in the ride.

On the way back to our campsite I stopped to see if the new HWH leveler springs arrived....and sure enough the UPS guy was just existing the clubhouse. Now I have to find the time to see if I can easily slip the new spring onto the left front leveler.

This evening we plan to join Cheryl & John for dinner at the Sand Ray Restaurant. We ate at this place last year for Valentine's Day and found the food to be very good but the place itself looks like a "dive". Then after dinner we will probably go to the clubhouse for and evening of bingo.

Tomorrow afternoon I expect Brighthouse to connect high speed cable modem internet service in the motorhome. They are running a special charging only $19.95 a month and I'll be glad to have the service.


Click here to view Bike Ride video

  March 11, 2005  -  Friday

Today marks the 42nd day of this trip and we have been so busy with activities that I have not found the time to keep this journal updated on a daily basis. Time is flying by rapidly. Next Thursday we will be leaving our current location, Rock Crusher Canyon Campground, and head approximately 250 miles southeast to West Palm Beach. We have reservations for a one week stay at Lion Country Safari Campground. By this time last year we were just returning home to the could Pennsylvania weather. Hopefully staying here in Florida for another 3 weeks will help avoid a run-in with the winter weather back home.

This year Rock Crusher has an Activities Director so we have taken advantage of organized activities such as bike rides, bingo, ice cream social, picnic lunches, etc. Diana and I have tried to faithfully walk at least 3 miles each day or bike ride a minimum of 11 miles per day. Some days we would do both. Our longest bike ride was a 19 mile round trip to Floral City along the Withlacoochee Trail.


  March 16, 2005  -  Wednesday

This was an emotional day since it was our last day at Rock Crusher Canyon RV Resort and we were saying farewell to our friends that we made while staying here the past 5 week. After dinner we went to Don & Carrie's 5th wheeler. Mary Ellen and Don also join us. Don provided us with an evening of entertainment playing the guitar. He used to play professionally and quickly captured our attention demonstrating his mastery of the guitar. Chet Atkins is his idol and his style is fashion after Chet.

  Happy  Saint  Patrick's  Day

March 17, 2005  -  Thursday

Seven-thirty this morning our stay at Rock Crusher came to an end as we departed heading for West Palm Beach. The rain this morning stopped just long enough for us to get the Honda connected to the motorhome and then the sky let loose with rain for the entire 250 mile drive. About 190 miles of the trip was on the Florida Turnpike. The roadway was in excellent condition so that helped to make the ride more pleasant since the rain persisted until just before arriving at Lion Country Safari Campground. Again the rain stopped just long enough for us to get registered and some of the basic setup completed...and then the rain started again.

The campground is nice...level, concrete patio, fair amount of space between sites but the site length is on the short side.  We are on site 120 and I would request this site again if we would ever return. With a AAA discount the site cost is $42 per night. The campground is adjacent to the Safari and every so often we hear the roar of the lions in the distance. For some reason the folks staying at this campground are not very outgoing....it's even difficult getting them to return a "Hello".

We originally planned to stay here for 8 nights but at check-in we decided to only pay for 4 nights and do some touring tomorrow to decide if there is enough to keep us here longer. The campground is located 20 miles west of West Palm Beach and it looks like the drive will be time consuming because of congestion and road construction.

  March 20, 2005  -  Sunday

Yesterday my niece, her husband and two beautiful daughters came to visit us for the day at the campground. Today we will drive 37 miles south to visit them at their home in Boca Raton.

We decided to leave here tomorrow and head to Manatee Hammock Campground a few days earlier than planned. Diana and I both are starting to get a little home sick and getting anxious to begin our return trip to the chilly north. We must be crazy to leave this perfect weather....60 degrees at night and 78 during the day.

  March 22, 2005  -  Tuesday

This is our second day at Manatee Hammock Campground just south of Titusville, Florida. We are located on site 122 which is located toward the front of the campground so we do get road noise from Route 1. Also, just on the other side of Route 1 is a very active railroad line with trains running during the night hours. This campground is an ideal stop over if you want to visit the Kennedy Space Center since there is access to the causeway over to the space center just 2 miles north of the campground.

The far end of the campground is located on the banks of the Indian River and just 5 miles across the river is the Kennedy Space Center. In fact, the shuttle assembly building can be seen off in  the distance from the campground. This campground would be a spectacular location to view a rocket launch but I would not want to have an extended stay here. First of all the other campers here are not very friendly for some reason, the trees provide too much shade and there isn't much to see or do in the immediate area. I would give the campground an "8".

We originally had plans to stay here until next Monday however decided to shorten our stay till Friday. The weather is starting to get too warm and quite humid. Also, we are anxious to head north to Hilton Head Island in addition to getting back home. So we will depart here Friday morning and drive 320 miles north to our next destination, Outdoor Resort, Hilton Head, South Carolina.

  March 23, 2005  - Wednesday

Another rainy and humid day so we have decided to get caught up on laundry and do some chores around the motorhome. Tomorrow's weather is forecasted to be a spectacular day, 83 degrees, clear blue sky and low humidity. We decided tomorrow will be our day to visit the Kennedy Space Center.

Over night we had rain and thunderstorms and needed to run the air conditioner because of the high humidity. Again the train tracks were very active with trains running what seemed to be the entire night. When I did an internet research on this campground, no one made mention of the noise from Route 1, the train tracks in close proximity and the nearby helicopter training academy which generate noise during the day and evening.


  March 24, 2005  -  Thursday

Kennedy Space Center was a real treat! We spent 5 hours at the complex today and could have easily stayed an additional 3 or 4 hours but we had to cut our visit short to head back to the motorhome to care for Rebecca, our Miniature Schnauzer. The Manatee Hammock Campground has exceptionally easy access to the space center as the drive to the center only takes 15 minutes.

We purchased the "standard" admission which cost $30 per person. The fee included a bus tour past the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, an observation gantry providing a 360 degree view of the launch pads and Launch Complex 39 and finally a visit to the Apollo / Saturn V Center. After the bus trip we viewed a 3D film at the Imax which was extremely educational as well as entertaining about the Space Station. We would recommend the Kennedy Space Center as a must see attraction and be sure to allow at least 8 hours to enjoy all the exhibits available. Plan on arriving at the center just before 9:00 am and you will be able to get on one of the first buses to leave for the tour and thereby avoid much of the crowd.

This evening we began to pack up the motorhome in preparation for an early 6:30 am departure tomorrow morning. We expect to drive 320 miles north on I95 and should arrive at our next stop around 3:30 pm at the latest......Outdoor Resorts, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Tomorrow is Good Friday and I'm hoping the holiday traffic is not too bad on I95. The weekend weather is expected to bring severe thunder and lightening storms in South Carolina....I'll report more on that later this week.


  March 25, 2005  -  Friday

Heavy rain, wind and lightning escorted us for the duration of our 325 mile journey today. Promptly at 6:30 am we departed Manatee Hammock Campground heading north on I95 toward Outdoor Resorts Campground on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Traffic on I95 was congested and frequent backups was not uncommon. Southbound traffic volume seemed to be greater than traffic heading north...in fact, at one point we saw a 10 mile backup in the south lane in Georgia.

Check in at Outdoor Resorts was very busy and disorganized. It took better that 30 minutes to get registered and finally escorted to our site # 133. The campground is very clean and nicely manicured. The nightly rate was $45. I'll be able to provide more details about the campground after we further explore the area tomorrow.

Right now we are tired from a stressful drive and we are thankful we arrived safely.



  March 27, 2005  -  Sunday

For the entire night we experienced heavy, unending rains and thunderstorms. Right now it's 1:00 pm and the rain continues to be constant. We are staying in the motorhome since its so miserable outside and also a severe weather threat remains in effect for the remainder of the day into this evening.



March 29, 2005  -  Tuesday

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Hilton Head Island, be certain to allow a full day to enjoy the beautiful scenery offered at Sea Pines Plantation. Since we were not guests at the Sea Pines Resorts, so a $5 entry fee was required but was the best $5 I ever spent. The entire plantation is contained is protected with large pine and oak trees that form a natural umbrella everywhere you look. The temperature today was a very comfortable 75 degrees and the sky was deep blue and perfectly clear.


We arrived at the main gate around 10:00 am and then drove the short 3 or 4 miles to Harbour Town. Once there we parked the car and leisurely strolled through the unique shops and then climbed the steps to the top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse. In fact you can enjoy a live scenic view from the lighthouse web cam by simply clicking here.

For lunch we selected The Crazy Crab. Both Diana and I ordered Fish & Chips and received a huge portion of beer battered dipped fresh cod. The food was very good, moderately priced, very pleasant waitress and nice atmosphere. I would recommend this restaurant for a fun, relaxing casual lunch.

Following lunch we continued to stroll around the harbour and worked our way toward the 18th hole of the famous Harbour Town Golf Links. The walk on the grass leading to the 18th hole green was like walking on a field of grass with foam rubber beneath it.




March 30, 2005  -  Wednesday

Since we arrived at Hilton Head Island we have been too bust with sight seeing to take the time to appreciate the beautiful bike pathways available throughout the island. This morning we drove North on Route 278 for about 10 minutes to Driessen Beach Park.

We parked the car and walked our bikes on a boardwalk that meandered through a marshland and then onto the beach. This was the first time we ever road our bikes on the beach. The sand was firmly packed and provided a great surface for an easy, smooth ride. We rode about 2 miles along the beach and then headed back to the pathway running parallel to Route 278. Along the way we took occasional stops to enjoy the spectacular views . After riding for about 3 miles we stopped at Cracker Barrel for a late breakfast. Afterwards we biked back to the car and decided to return to the motorhome.

One more day left in Hilton Head before we begin our journey home. Diana gave the inside of the motorhome a through cleaning while I waxed the rear cap. 




March 31, 2005  -  Thursday

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Hilton Head Island, I would recommend that you pick up a copy of the Vacation Guide newspaper that is available at most all businesses on the island. The newspaper is free and is an excellent source for what to do and see on the island. The newspaper outlines an excellent driving tour of the island and I would suggest that you take this at the very beginning of your visit. The tour gets you acquainted with the island quickly.

We enjoyed our visit to Harbour Town on Tuesday, in fact it was such a pleasure that we returned again today. But before going to Harbour Town we drove to Port Royal Plantation and then onto to the Westin Hotel. We stopped and walked through the hotel to enjoy its decor and beauty. We should have arrived earlier to enjoy breakfast out on the deck of the hotel.



  April 3, 2005  -  Sunday

On Friday we started our trip home with plans of taking 3 days to complete the 750 miles or so from Hilton Head Island. After driving only 235 miles on Friday we stopped at Yogi Bear's Campground in Lumberton, North Carolina. We left Hilton Head around 7:00 am and by 2:30 we were pulling into the campground. It's a good thing we did get off the road so early because the campground was just about full with snowbirds heading home much like us.

Saturday morning we woke up to rain that had been coming down all night. I showered and then put on old clothes to unhook and its good that I did, because I got soaking wet. After a few hours of driving in the rain I decided we were going to drive straight through until we got home.

Between the traffic, rain and wind the drive was grueling but we took our time driving no faster than 60 mph and staying safely in the far right lane. We never saw traffic so heavy on I95. When we pulled into the Flying J in Mount Carmel, Virginia we had to wait 20 minutes for our turn at the gas pump due to so many customers. Then just south of Washington DC we encountered a 26 mile backup, bumper to bumper traffic. Never, ever saw anything like this.

Finally by 8:30 pm last night we arrived home safely. We had a wonderful trip and we are very thankful to be so fortunate.



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