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Part 1 Napa-San Fran-Yosemite-Las Vegas- Sedona-Grand Canyon-Bryce Canyon

Part 1 Napa-San Fran-Yosemite-Las Vegas- Sedona-Grand Canyon-Bryce Canyon

Old May 18th, 2010, 11:43 AM
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Part 1 Napa-San Fran-Yosemite-Las Vegas- Sedona-Grand Canyon-Bryce Canyon

Since it's soo much, I am splitting it up.. still to come Moab, Salt Lake City, and Rapid City. I am in no way a professional writer, and we had a LOT OF FUN!!! We saw a lot, and I managed to do it all with my maternity belt! Will wrap the rest of the report within the next few days.

Babymoon April 24- May 9, 2010

Hotels:
Napa Valley: Gaia Napa Valley Hotel
San Francisco: Columbus Motor Inn
Yosemite Valley: The Homestead
Las Vegas: Bellagio
Sedona: Sedona Real Inn & Suites
Grand Canyon: Tusayan Holiday Inn Express
Bryce Canyon: Best Western Ruby Inn
Moab: Best Western Greenwill Inn near Canyonlands
Salt Lake City: Fairfield Inn by Marriott Salt Lake City Airport
Rapid City: Howard Johnson Inn & Suites - Rapid City

Rental Cars:
Sacramento to Salt Lake City: Avis- Kia Optima
Rapid City: Hertz- Nissan Pathfinder

What would we have done different: Maybe spend another day or 2 in CA and skipped Salt Lake City.


April 24, 2010-Saturday: Sacramento & Napa, California
We left really early on Saturday morning on Delta direct into Sacramento, CA. We had an ok flight, it was about 4 hours. Upon arrival, we grabbed a cab to downtown Sacramento to pick up our rental car at Avis. We then started our journey to Napa. We checked into our hotel (Gaia Napa Valley Hotel) a little early, went to grab lunch, then went to take a nap and relax. Later we went to explore Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, and drove around vineyards and wineries. We ate pizza with a salad bar at some shop, then went back to the hotel and rested!

April 25, 2010- Sunday: Muir Woods & San Francisco, California
We left around 8ish in the morning. We were still messed up time wise, so Marc initially woke up around 6am! We packed, and then headed out to Wal-Mart. We ate at McDonald’s for breakfast which was located in the Wal-Mart, and then shopped for snacks, and water! We packed up on fruit, snacks and bought some other items needed for our journey! Then headed off to Muir Woods and San Francisco!
The drive to Muir Woods was about an hour long. We got there early…it wasn’t fully busy yet, and it was FREE that day! So no need to use our America the Beautiful pass.. We walked around for about an hour I think we stayed about 2 hours... it was really cold.. but heated later. We then headed to San Francisco. We went to our hotel first! We were able to check in early at Columbus Motor Inn (free parking). We went to the room, rested for a minute, then changed into shorts, and headed to the Wharf area to grab lunch. We walked around some first, checked out a sub, and boat in the harbor, went to a game “room”, then we walked all the way to the Slanted Door Restaurant, which was a huge disappointment! We got the spring rolls for appetizer, I got the guava spritzer, and had the flat iron steak, Marc had the chicken stir fry. We will never go back, despite the recommendations we got for it from several people. We slowly walked our way back to our hotel. We stopped at Fegway grocery store, and Marc grabbed a Turkey Sub. We stopped in a park for him to eat it, then off to the hotel we went. Took a while to get there! We stopped at a candy store, and I bought some taffy. We went back to hotel to take a nap, then later headed out to the Golden Gate Bridge! We stopped by, it was super busy. Took tons of pics, then headed out to the Pacific Ocean! We stopped by, walked around some, then headed on to drive further down along the Pacific. Ended up in Pacifica, then we grabbed a quick dinner at McDonalds, since we had a fancy and $$ lunch. I haven’t had a big mac in over a year.. so I enjoyed it! We grabbed some ice cream, then found a spot to eat them. We waited for sunset, and watched it near Pacifica on this nice spot. We then drove back to San Francisco to our hotel and went to bed!

April 26, 2010- Monday: Yosemite National Park, California
We left early to Yosemite, Columbus Motor Inn did not have free continental breakfast, so we stopped in Vacaville at an IHOP to get some breakfast! We had a yummy breakfast and off we were, first stopping at the University of CA at Berkeley campus first, we drove around some then headed off to Yosemite! It was about 3.5 hours driving. We stopped in Ahwahnee first to try to check in. Our cottage, at the Homestead, was not ready yet, so we were not able to check in. We then headed to Mariposa Grove. It was about 25 min from the hotel, a very scenic drive. Mariposa Road was closed, so we decided to hike up it was 2 mi up and 2 mi back. Once we got up there, we had to hike some more. We enjoyed the giant sequoias very much! It took us about another hour to go down those 2 miles, I am glad I had my maternity belt on to help support my belly and back! Snow was on the ground, but it was not cold enough to wear a jacket, all I had on was a shirt with jeans. Glad I bought those sneakers, they were of great help! We did not go into seeing the Grissly, or the Tunnel, there was a lot of snow on the trails, and we were POOPED after our 2 mile hike up! The weather was nice.. not too hot, not too cold.. no sweaters needed, and we probably could have gotten away with shorts.
We then headed back to our cottage, and checked in around 4pm. We rested and soaked in the tub, then went off to AKI Japanese in Oakhurst for dinner. Went back to cottage and went to bed, we were pooped from the hike.

April 27, 2010- Tuesday: Yosemite National Park, California
We woke up around 6am again.. our clocks are still messed up.. I fixed breakfast.. We got a nice basket with muffins, fruit, granola, and fresh orange juice every day, so I prepped some nice plates and made some coffee for Marc. We then headed out to Yosemite Village! The drive was a little over an hour. We stopped at Starbucks first to pick up some coffee, and then off we went. It was about an hour drive. We saw snow! We stopped at the Village first and we ate at the café, never had $20 hotdogs before, but that’s how much it was for 2 combo’s.. It was raining a little, so the seats were wet. We then drove around some, then parked and went to hike up Lower Yosemite Falls. We saw el Capitan, the Cathedral, and numerous gorgeous waterfalls! The Yosemite Falls was amazing! We were told best time to see the waterfalls. We roamed around for a few hours. We contemplated hiking up to Mirror Lake, but were too tired, and with the rain, we decided not to. We had seen enough and were very content with our day! We then headed back to Ahwahnee where we rested, soaked in the tub again, then went out for dinner, we tried a BBQ place this time, it was YUMMY! We stopped at McDonalds for sundaes then returned to cottage. We enjoyed the fireplace there, then went to bed.
Let me note that CA is a beautiful State! It was amazing to see the different landscapes! It was also different, with regards to all the organic food that goes around, seeing billboards for crop insurance! Not something we see everyday in GA! Really enjoyed it!


April 28, 2010- Wednesday: Las Vegas, Nevada
Since we were on a Queen bed, we were up by 7am! I got breakfast ready in the cottage, we packed, and then headed out to start our journey to Las Vegas! We were told it was about 7 hours away, the longest stretch on our trip! We went through Fresno and Bakersfield, then through the Mojave, we passed by Andrew Air Force Base (Iron Man 2). Before we exited CA, we stopped in Bakersfield to potty, and we grabbed Subway for lunch, it was a little after 11am. Off to Vegas we went, stopping one more time to potty. Once we passed PRIMM we were in Nevada. There was a complex on the border, with roller coaster and casino and shopping. We arrived in Las Vegas around 4pm. We checked into the Bellagio and explored our gorgeous room! We rested some, then walked to Venetian for dinner at Canaletto! We walked around some.. heard the Pirate Show at Treasure Island, and also the Volcano Show at The Mirage. It was VERY VERY windy! We literally had sand thrown in our eyes! Most of the fountains in Vegas were off that day, and Bellagio did not have it’s fountain shows! Bummer! Since we got lake view rooms!
We gambled some on our way back, stopped at the Shoppes at Ceasar’s Palace.. went back to our room, watched tv, and went to bed!

April 29, 2010- Thursday: Las Vegas, Nevada
We woke up around 7am again. Around 8.30am we went downstairs to Jean-Philippe Patisserie to get some breakfast. We got 2 berry crepes, an OJ and a coffee, all for about $32.. It was delish! We walked around the Gardens some, they had a really cute Garden exhibit. Then we headed on the tram to City Center to check out Aria, etc. There is a Tram from Bellagio to take you there. We walked around some, then crossed the street and went to Planet Hollywood. We got some Gelato (before lunch time), and enjoyed the shoppes. Walked to Paris, then gambled some, and headed to lunch at Mon Ami Gabi! Yummy! We got some awesome steak sandwiches, and I also tried the mushroom soup as appetizer. We gambled some more, then went back to Bellagio to pick up our “O” tickets, and back to our room to chill. I made reservations for Olive’s Restaurant at Bellagio for 5.45pm, and we rested. We went to Olives where we had an awesome salad, I had the filet mignon and Marc had the pork chops! Out of this world. We were stuffed, so headed back to our room to rest, then went down to get ready for “O” we gambled some before the show. The show was at 10pm, but we had to be there at 9.30pm, the place was PACKED!!! We had 2nd row wet seats, luckily only got some mist on us! But we had a fabulous view!!!
We were back in our room around mid night. We did get to enjoy the fountains at Bellagio on this day. Marc had put our chairs in front of the window, and we enjoyed the show every 30 min…and 15 later at night..you turn your tv to channel 23 I believe and you can follow the fountain music from your room!

April 30, 2010- Friday: Sedona, Arizona
We checked out around 8am to start our journey to Sedona, Arizona! We stopped at McDonald’s for a McMuffin breakfast and splurged with some mini buns, all for $13.. lol..We stopped at Hoover Dam for a bit, mainly to check out the progress of the new bridge and roadway. We changed time zones as we finished crossing the dam. Took a few pics, and continued our way to Sedona. There was not much for a long time after you crossed Hoover Dam! We arrived in Sedona early, but they checked us in anyways. We had a suite, it was an online deal I got. We dropped off suitcase, and off we went to the Holy Cross, we stopped at Domino’s for some quick lunch. We drove around some, I saw the bell, and all those snoopy, elephant formations! The red rock was quite amazing! We then headed to Red Canyon Park, they were closing soon, so he let us in to use the restroom, and then gave us info about a trail we could do out of the park, and be able to use our America the Beautiful Pass whenever we parked. We drove about 10 min to hike Fay Canyon Trail. It was a very nice walk, and we hiked for almost 2 hours.. then got back to our car around 7pm. Luckily it was still daylight. We headed back to our hotel, and then headed to Tlaquepaque to walk around and dinner. We ate at El Rincon, Mexican. We walked around some, there were a few art stores open, but pretty much everything shuts down at 5pm in Sedona!

May 1, 2010- Saturday: Grand Canyon, Arizona
We woke up early again, and headed to the Continental Breakfast at the hotel and then checked out. On our way out of Sedona we made a stop where we got ripped off buying Native American Crafts..  We were only about 2-2.5 hours away from the Grand Canyon. Before we headed out there we stopped at the Volcano Crater, walked around some, then had lunch at Flagstaff Mall. I had Subway, and Marc had Chinese. Then off we went to the Grand Canyon. Soon after entering the road to take you up to it, we stopped at a Gas Station to fill the car up, and potty. We checked in at the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan, and then off to the Park we went! It was an amazing view to see the Grand Canyon! We walked around and walked around. We did not go to the visitor center. We hiked some, got some ice cream near Thunderbird lodge. We also got to see a California Condor! Pretty great sight to see! Then went to our hotel to take a nap! We went back to the Grand Canyon around 7.15pm to see the sunset! We had a fancy dinner at Wendy’s.. Not much to choose from out there. We also stopped at the General Store where you get ripped off! We thought about going to the IMAX, but recently had seen a GC IMAX movie in Atlanta, so thought they might be the same, and skipped it. After that we went to bed! The room was nice, we had a suite again, and we had free wi-fi and breakfast.

May 2, 2010- Sunday: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
We woke up around our usual time, no alarm clocks. We went down to get our breakfast, finished packing then off we went! We stopped at the Grand Canyon NP sign to take our photo, and what did we get? SNOW! You could see the snow in our photo’s! We went to some other South Rim View Points on our way out of the park. We also stopped at the Tusayan Tribal Area, and then the Watch Tower, and off we were. We stopped at a small Canyon right outside the park. Here again you would find several Native Americans selling jewelry. On our way we were! We encountered some sand storms, nothing like the Middle East, but they were pretty bad! We stopped in Page for some lunch at Sonic, and went to eat it overlooking the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell. We stopped at Wal-Mart right before that to use the potty. Then off to Bryce we went, which was about 5.5-6 hours. When we arrived in Bryce, we tried to check in a little earlier. We got our room at Ruby’s Inn, at the Ponderosa. We dropped off our suitcase, then off to Bryce Canyon National Park, which was only a few minutes away! It was very cold, and we had seen snow on our way! We stopped at the Visitor Center we watched a video, bought souvenirs, and then off we went to check out the park. We stopped at several lookout points but 2. It was really cold, and the highest point was 9115 feet! We got out in all of those, and took some great pics! We left the last 2 spots for the next morning around sunrise… We went back to the hotel probably around 7pm, and then headed to dinner at the Restaurant in Ruby’s Inn, we had a nice buffet, with tons of salad and veggies! We were in heaven, and I am not a buffet fan, but we were here! Then off to walk some around the hotel, buy souvenirs, and off to sleep!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 11:58 AM
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Photo Albums...
Day 1: Napa: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=1cc7eff6a1



Day 2: Muir Woods-San Fran: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=800ee74644



Day 3-4: Yosemite: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=86e904a121



Day 5-6: Las Vegas: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=dee11f3af8



Day 7: Hoover Dam-Sedona, AZ: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=b11920078a



Day 8: Grand Canyon, AZ: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=e245099964



Day 9: Bryce Canyon, Utah: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=f55e98fc9d



Day 10-11: Moab, Utah: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=d50b594526



Day 12-13: Salt lake City, Utah: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=4ede115bf9


Day 14-15: Rapid City, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore): http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...2&l=2840da23f5
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Old May 18th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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Great report so far. Glad you had a good time.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 12:03 PM
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great report but I've just never seen someone eat so much fast food and then claim they hated the Slanted Door in SF.

Why did you eat at so many fast food places for breakfast, lunch and dinner, when there are so many great food options at all different price points?
I do understand an occasional drive thru moment..love the double double from In and Out!
Is it because you are from the Caribbean and they don't have this kind of thing...then that explains everything!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 12:12 PM
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We did our splurges on eating out on this trip, but obviously when you're gone 16 days spending $150 on dinner every night is out of question even though we did it a few times.. We have awesome restaurants in Atlanta where I live.. AND to add that where I am from in the Caribbean they have excellent restaurants there that far exceeds some of the places in the US. That comment was uncalled for. We were not used to the whole organic menu, and I thought it was like a regular chinese/thai place. We didn't get much food, and I did add that I did like my steak.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 12:56 PM
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Great report! Possibly a little too detailed (maybe leave out the fast food and potty breaks which are not that interesting to most readers perhaps) but very complete. It sounds like you had a great trip.

I do wonder though about your trip from SF to Yosemite, having breakfast in Vacaville after leaving SF and then going to Cal in Berkeley after breakfast? Seeing Cal makes sense but Vacaville would be way out of your way and then to double back? Just wondering. Maybe you meant Emeryville?
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Old May 18th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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Totally agree that one cannot spend $150 each and every night on dinner but my observation from your posts, was there was A LOT of fast food dining but maybe its because you put your fast food trips in the report vs. most people leave them out which is maybe the case here.
16 days is a lot of time on the road but I did find it amusing that you hated Slanted Door..not that its the end all for Vietnamese but its quite good and the spring rolls are some of the best.
Glad you made it to Todd English Olives at Bellagio.
My comment is my observation, sorry it offended you but you were in some great food towns and you didn't need to spend $150 to have a great meal..guess that is all I'm trying to say!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 03:48 PM
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Nice report and nice pics. Wow were you on the go! Oh to be young again and have the energy for a trip like yours.

Never could figure out the big deal with Slanted Door either.

Looking forward to more of your report.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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Otis_B_Driftwood: We left San Fran, found Berkeley, then went back about 10 miles I think for IHOP, it was on our GPS.. and we had no clue how far/close it was! LOL! We just wanted to eat! So it was going backwards indeed!

I will leave the fast food places out next time.. it's more realistic so I added it in..

I didn't HATE slanted door, but was disappointed since I had people on this board and others tell me how good it was.. I would go back and try dinner, but I know my husband wouldn't...it's just not what we thought it would be.. just don't see the big deal..
I had asked for recommendations for several cities, and didn't get many, that's why we felt out of our element to go somewhere we didn't know, even though we did use the GPS at times to find a spot.
We did have lots of snacks and fruit in the car with us..
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Old May 18th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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ksucat: Not everyone has the same taste I guess.. I had recommended The Mix at the Hotel in Vegas to someone once, and they didn't like it much... it all depends..
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Old May 18th, 2010, 05:32 PM
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Carib chick,
Glad you had a great time and 16 days is awesome amount of time to getaway and your report was excellent and so were the pics too.
of course, not everyone has the same taste..what a boring world it would be.
did you win $$ in Vegas?
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Old May 18th, 2010, 06:31 PM
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Nice report, glad you found potty spots when you needed them. One thing about fast food is it is fast and you don't waste time waiting for and expensive dinner when you could be out in the beautiful scenery in the parks.

Thanks, keep it coming!!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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Regarding Slanted Door (which I do like), could you explain what you mean by you thought it was like a regular Chinese/Thai place. And the organic menu. Honestly, I don't care whether you liked it or not (I mean, it's too bad you didn't, but not everyone does), I'm just curious about the comments.

Sounds like a fun trip.
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Old May 19th, 2010, 03:07 AM
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No $$ in Vegas... we are not big gamblers... but won the best at Bellagio... and at Paris some.. We pretty much either broke even or were down $10.. lol.. as soon as I won something big I would walk away to help with the losses...

sf7307: When my husband wanted a coke she said nothing processed bad for your health.. so we assumed organic.. definitely different.. I glimpsed over the menu real fast before going on the trip.. and when I saw egg rolls, thought it was like the ones back home.. and the vietn/chinese theme.. with stir fry, etc. so I didn't look much into it...
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Old May 19th, 2010, 06:59 AM
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Isn't the Bellagio gorgeous..it's too bad that the fountains weren't turned on.
Was that because of the wind?
I've just always seen them on and to have a lakefront room with no fountains is a major bummer.
Glad you walked away with at least some $$.
When you factor in the free drinks, its not so bad.

Waiting for the next round of your trip report!
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Old May 19th, 2010, 09:46 AM
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The Bellagio was fabulous!! The fountains were turned on the second day later in the afternoon! SO we got to enjoy some during the day and some at night! Told my husband Bellagio has the rooms, and Mandalay has the pool (where we stayed 2 years ago)...

First day we were there all fountains everywhere were turned off.. we had sand thrown in our eyes.. it was BAD... strong winds...
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Old May 19th, 2010, 10:00 AM
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>>

Well, it's Vietnamese, not Chinese, so that may have been the first problem - you expected something different from what you got! This is from their website: "The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area."
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Old May 19th, 2010, 10:04 AM
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BTW, I don't want you to think I'm being a snob about food. I don't consider myself a "foodie" at all. I like good food, at a decent price, but I can eat Chicken McNuggets and be very very happy LOL!
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Old May 19th, 2010, 10:11 AM
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I fine it interesting that Slanted Door touts the use of local produce and meat, but it's wine list has very few California wines. Heavy on European wines.
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Old May 19th, 2010, 10:19 AM
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LOL I'm enjoying the trip report and am headed off to part 2. My wife and I never eat fast food and little meat other than fish. While on vacation we'll often indulge in some fast food and local meat including elk, bison, duck, antelope, trout and even emu.

That's the beauty of one's own vacation isn't it...you need please no one but yourself.

I am a bit curious howyou got ripped off by the injuns though.
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