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Flashback – Japan 2009 – Kamakura

All photos taken on September 19, 2021.

Kamakura was the capital of Japan from 1185 to 1333, as the seat of the Kamakura Shogunate, and became the nation’s most populous settlement from 1200 to 1300 during the Kamakura period. This city, 47 minutes away from Tokyo by train, is a popular domestic tourist destination in Japan. It is a coastal city with a high number of seasonal festivals, as well as ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

(Source: Wikipedia)

We had visited here only briefly in 1982.

We seemed to arrive in Kamakura in no time at all, as we caught each other up on our lives since we had last met.

Kita-Kamakura station near Engaku-ji Temple
Torii gate in Komacha-dori shopping street
Bus timetable sign on city street
Dankazura raised pathway lined with cherry trees
on the walkway – oh to be here is spring with the cherry blossoms
on the raised walkway
a lunch of udon and tempura
Dankazura raised pathway
Torii gate to Hachimangu Shinto shrine at end of Dankazura raised pathway
display meals in restaurant window
young entrepreneur waiting for a fare
shops along the street
future shopper
typical shopping street
artisanal display
local bike shop
lots of shops
temple and shrine directory – the swastika like symbols are manji and are a positive symbol in Buddhism, with many meanings from strength to compassion
overhead wires
streetscape

Enoshima Electric Railway is a private 10 km narrow gauge railway operating since 1900. It has 15 stations and winds its way through Kamakura. As a tourist attraction, it was packed on this day.

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Flashback – Japan 2009 – a Day with Friends in High Places

All photos taken on September 19, 2021.

Way back in my first post on this series, I talked about Kunika, a home stay student that one of our dear friends, J had hosted for an entire school year. In the good old days of not knowing everyone’s E-mail address, we relied on snail mail to make the initial contact and let her know when we were coming and asking if we could get together. As the day of our departure drew closer and closer, we still had not heard from her and we grew worried we would miss meeting up with her, altogether.

At long last, I received an E-mail from Kunika, reading “Kunika is Alive”. The only mailing address we had was for her parents, who had moved not long ago. The letter had been held up, but was finally delivered. The parents let Kunika (now married and living elsewhere) know she had mail and the rest, as they say, is history.

We had arranged to meet at our hotel on this day to head off an adventure in Kamakura (separate posts) and then join Kunika and Masa for supper, back at their home. Masa was in the dentist chair in the morning, but would join us in Kamakura later in the day.

Kunika and Patty in Shimbashi station
Waiting for our train
trains come, trains go
some fast, some slow
catching up on old news on the short ride to Kamakura
arriving back at Shinigawa station in the evening
the commuter crush
Shinigawa station
walking out of Shinigawa station
Shinigawa is a busy office complex area
on the way to Kunika and Masa’s home
office building where Masa works on Sony Street, of course
posing with Masa
more office highrises
the building where Kunika and Masa live
city sunset
evening falls on the Meguro River
views from the 40th floor observation area of Kunika and Masa’s building
night has fallen
enjoying our dinner and home visit
giving gifts

We were so lucky to have good friends who lived in the area to show us around.

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Out of the Blue or is that Blew?

All photos taken on March 12, 2022.

Out of the Blew ©

Out for a walk or perhaps a sail

west winds blowing, hard as in a gale.

White cloud puffs scudding across blue sky,

golden sun shining down from on high.

Winter or spring, which season is true?

Often hard to guess, out of the blew.

Puffy white clouds stream across bright blue March sky
Wind sculpted snow
Sailing along the path to the park.
Blowing soil paints the snow drifts
Sunny Alberta
Down by the lake
Sunburst
A mix of spring and winter all in one scene
cross country tracks go cross lake
cloud and snow banks
empty skating rink – might be a good day for an ice boat
one last look at the lake
wind blended colours
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Owl Be Seeing You in all the Old Familiar Places

All photos taken on March 8, 2022.

If you don’t like the weather here, just wait 5 minutes is an oft heard refrain in our part of the world. We were conflicted on whether to do our weekly forest walk today or not. The forecast promised a mix of sun and cloud and limited or no snow.

Meanwhile, a look out the window showed that there was significant flurry activity. We opted to give it a go and set off on our drive in snow and blowing snow conditions.

Arriving to an empty parking lot. Hmmm. I wonder why. Snow is still falling.

Early on in our walk, the sun struggled to break through the clouds…

…and the snowfall lessened and stopped.

As we walked, we spotted a massive bird flying off ahead of us. We recognized that it was an owl that we had disturbed and we were on the lookout for his next perch as we walked. Owls tend to be sleepy during the day, unless disturbed by noisy hikers like us.

We soon spotted this Great Horned Owl in a tree back from the trail and he/she was a beauty. Definitely trying to sleep, but keeping one squinty eye on us.

Colour: light grey to dark brown, ear tufts, fine horizontal breast barring, facial disk has a dark outline, white chin, underparts

Size: L: 46-64 cm (18 1/4 – 25 1/4 inches) W: 91-152 cm. (36 – 60 inches)

Common year round

(Source: Birds of Alberta – Chris Fisher/John Acorn)

At the meadow, we opted to take the Blueberry Connector to shorten our walk on the Aspen Parkland Trail. We also took this shortcut during our walk at -38 C.

We saw some character tree bands, a moose footprint and a long hidden well protected wasp nest on a conifer.

Back on the Aspen Parkland Trail, we stopped for a break and were soon being investigated by the local Chickadee Gang. We opted to reward them for their appearance.

At the Grove, we headed away from the parking lot on Aspen Parkland and Tamarack Trails to seek adventure on a new path, the Meadow View trail or as one hiker referred to it, “the hike to a view with no view”.

Our hope was to spot one of the 4 moose that live in the meadow, but no such luck. The trail though exceeded our expectations and was quite pretty.

At the top of the rise, we found a log to sit on and “enjoy” our lunch. The wind was howling and we were on the exposed hill, but it was still a fine vantage point.

Lunch over, we retraced our steps .53 km back to the Tamarack Trail junction.

Back at the junction, we wondered…what was this strange light from the sky? Was that sunshine? No worries, it only lasted for a couple of minutes.
this artistically skewered leaf caught our eye
this little guy was back wondering if we had more seeds
I call this one “Lost & Round” Somebody’s ice cleat fell off and a hiker placed it atop a small snowman by the trail
Here is the trail map showing our route – from the star, we walked counterclockwise to the Blueberry Connector, then down Aspen to the junction with Tamarack Trail and from there 1 km. to Meadow View. All told, we walked 6.73 km (4 miles 32 yards).
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What Goes Up………

All photos taken on March 6, 2022.

We’ve all heard that saying…”What Goes Up, Must Come Down”. It can refer to a variety of things, such as hiking in the mountains, climbing a lot of stairs, firing a gun up into the air, well, maybe a bit less on this last one.

But, the statement is indeed true in a variety of circumstances. In our area right now, I would use it to refer to the February warm spell that melted a significant amount of our snowfall. In this neighbourhood and in this season, you just know, it will come back soon, as snow. That did happen here with a recent dump of 15cm (6 inches).

Having some time on our hands and needing a bit of exercise, we set off for a walk (more of a trudge in places, actually) in our small city to explore the new layer of winter white under sunny, bright blue skies.

What Goes Up ©

Just when the walks had started to dry,

enough new snow fell to make you cry.

February left and March appeared,

our warm weather all but disappeared.

Hidden Ice made walking an ordeal,

finding safe footing strictly by feel.

Hours of shovelling piling it high,

when will it end, I asked with a sigh.

The answer came to me with a frown

What goes up, must certainly come down.

City paths have been cleared
boulevards are a great place to store shovelled snow
You certainly can not say it is not beautiful
bunny hop paths across the storm pond
We have this much snow
we love the snow covered paths as they provide good footing with cleats on
Even this empty development lot was prettier
snow sparkles
and again
creative gate closing off access to farmer’s field
rural landscape
sun flare through the snow atop my fence
Mountain ash berry meringue?
this berry bunch has become a part of my fence rail
looking up
a fresh blanket of white on my back lawn
Japanese lantern under cover
snow on my Shubert
looks more like January than March
my backyard path – I also raked about a ton of snow off my roof
My Scots Pine looks like it is all decorated for Christmas
wind and sun brought this layer of snow down to the ground shortly after I took this photo
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Red Sky Refrain

All photos taken on February 6, 2022.

Turns out I was a bit optimistic on our arrival time at home by about half an hour, but I was right that we would get home before dark.

Red Sky Refrain © Tanka

Leaving at sunrise

returning home at sunset.

to red sky refrain.

Three thousand kilometers

and thirteen days in between.

It was great to be so close to home.

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Parked

All photos taken on February 6, 2022.

I must admit, Jasper National Park and the Alberta boundary were a welcome sight on this day. We were thrilled to reach the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and be only 4 hours away from home. This was our 9th trip along this route in under 2 years.

As we had just eaten less than 2 hours ago in Valemount and as we were still good for fuel, we were only stopping in Jasper for a rest and scenery break and then carrying on to Hinton for fuel and Edson for another rest stop. With luck, we should be home before dark.

Entering Alberta and Jasper National Park

keeping the traffic moving
Sunny Alberta
Athabasca River

Wildlife sightings

mountain trains
not much snow on the ground down in the valley

The green lakes of summer give way to the green ice of winter

roads are bare and dry

A hazard of the high winds on the day

Talbot Lake

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Nothin’ But Blue Skies From Now On

All photos taken on February 6, 2022.

At long last, the fog seemed to burn off and we were left with sunny blue skies and very wet roads. We were lucky to have lots of washer fluid with us, as we had to continually use the wipers to clear the windshield.

When the car windows were clean, the views were striking and we felt blessed to be travelling in this area during decent weather and road conditions.

Bridge over the North Thompson River near Albreda Lodge
A fresh coat of white frosting on the mountains
view through window splashes
the scene was at times otherworldly
Patty was able to get some great captures from a moving vehicle
a brief stop in Valemount yielded good Kiwi flat white coffees, tasty sausage rolls (we got the last 2) and apple tarts –
in a blur
near the junction of Highways 5 & 16 and within spitting distance of Alberta
After 9 trips up and down this road in just under 2 years), we have only been lucky enough to see Mount Robson a couple of times

Mt. Robson viewat 2975 m (9,760 feet) it is the most prominent mountain in the Rocky Mountains and the highest point in the Canadian Rockies)

How can any windows stay clean under these conditions?
the answer is they can’t

Moose Lake and ice fishers

slowdown
obscured view
traffic was varied but not too bad
a peak into Alberta
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I Haven’t the Foggiest

All photos taken on February 6, 2022.

Given that it was a good 10 hour drive from Kamloops to home, we were up early, so we could leave close to first light. I grabbed some things from the breakfast room downstairs and brought them back to the room. We opted to go to Starbucks to get a coffee for the road and that proved to be a bad idea.

This Starbucks had no drive thru, so I went in to place my order for 2 Americanos. These were produced, but due to Covid, they were the ones to add the milk or cream. I watched them add it and told them when I thought it was enough, but I forgot it was Starbucks coffee, always stronger, always more bitter (I hear some people like it that way). It seems I did not allow them to put in enough cream and my beloved was not a fan. To be fair, I did warn her and suggested Tim Hortons coffee, but they had just let us down just the day before, so that was a non starter. Err on the side of confusion, I always say.

Nonetheless, we hit the road as light greeted the day around 7:20 AM. Driving out of Kamloops, road and weather looked fine and we hoped this would continue.

and it did continue….for a while…
…but we soon began to see fog rolling in…
…until all too soon…

…we didn’t have the foggiest as these rural scenes show.

On past Little Fort, Barriere and Clearwater, we rolled, fog getting thicker and thinner….

…clearing a bit near Vavenby….
…hanging in the valley…
…providing other worldly photo opportunities…

Clear somewhere near Avola…

…and then this scene shortly after.
One of the many sites where the TMX pipeline crews were working
Frozen waterfalls
6 foot high snow banks lined the road

The recent fresh snow was evident on these bear carvings at Blue River

We were certainly glad we were not driving here 2 days ago when the snow was falling

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Happy Mothers’ Day

At this time of year, most of us think of our Mothers, even if only for a day. My Mom has been gone for many years, but I often think of the things she taught me and how she cared for me when I was sick or hurting. 48 long years later, I do still miss her.

When Patty and I first had children, I made it my responsibility to make sure the kids never forgot to honour their Mother on this one day. Now that they are bigger, I no longer need to remind them and in the last few years, I have forgone the giving of cards and gifts, from me accordingly. But, this year, as I was flipping through my photos, I thought it timely to refresh my appreciation for the Mother of our children.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Mothers out there. Happy Mother’s Day to my Patty!

Mothers’ Love ©

From babes in arms to big and strong!

You’ve been their Mom their whole life long!

No break for you and no time off!

You are always there with a Mother’s Love!

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March Mists

All photos taken March 5, 2022.

Winter sunrises can be quite beautiful, but the one I captured on this March morn was unexpectedly beautiful. After cold temperatures and 15 cm (6 inches) fresh snow, the cold air was full of ice fog and hoar frost covered the winter scene.

March Mists ©

Monitoring March morning.

mysterious mist mantle

momentarily moving

masking many motorcars

making moody memories

magically marvelous.

morning mists envelop the landscape
I never knew a granary could have an address
hoar frost on grass stalks
golden disk appears above mist
sunlight diffused my ice fog
hard to tell where the clouds start and the ice fog ends
the sun plays hide and seek
eerie morning scene
getting brighter and whiter
starting to see the furnace vapour rising from Beaumont
getting closer
closer still
the sun distorted by ice fog
golden skies
one last look
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Frosty

All photos taken on March 5, 2022.

With everything covered in morning mist and icy rime, the sunrise looked promising, so I drove West of the city to catch morning’s arrival. Above me, the high tension power lines crackled under the influence of the frosty rime, which covered all stationary surfaces. As I snapped away, I became aware of my fingers turning into ice. Hmmm. Time to warm up.

Frosty ©

Frigid fiery feel,

five frozen fingers forcing

frosty field fleeing.

rural routes in the morning ice fog
this old granary has seen better days
high tension lines and insulators covered in hoar frost rime
no wonder my fingers were freezing
ice fog lifting and sun rising, things start to become clear
morning glow
the bigger picture
rosy sky surrounding frosty branches
eyelash thickener should work this well
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Fade to Black

All photos taken on February 5, 2022.

Arriving in Kamloops, we gassed up before checking into our “usual hotel”. After sanitizing the room, we phoned Pizza Now for a large pizza and headed out for fine in-car dining. The pizza did not disappoint.

As we were time shifting to get back on Alberta time, we did our best to move our old people’s dining hour forward to 3:30 (4:30 Alberta). Back at the hotel, we relaxed in our oasis of calm (no sports tournament guests on this trip). From time to time, I would take photos out the East window, which looked down the valley and I eventually came up with the time sequence idea. Last photos taken, like the day, we hit the pit and faded to black. Tomorrow would be a long driving day.

Fade to Black ©

Travel weary bodies

falling into dark abyss.

Worries fade to black.

Bohemian Waxwing flock swirling above

Looking Southeast

Looking Northeast

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The Snow-Quihalla

All photos taken on February 5, 2022.

Just before shutting down my laptop the previous evening, I again checked all the weather reports along our route to home and was disturbed to see that 10-15 cm of snow was predicted between Hope and Merrit and that this could affect our drive home. Knowing that forecasts have been wrong before, I kept my mouth shut and crossed my fingers. No use worrying until the morning.

Turns out waiting and not worrying was the way to go. There had been snow, but it was not as bad as predicted.

After escaping Vancouver, going in the opposite direction to the 30 km long Freedom?? Convoy, it was smooth driving all the way to Hope. We made great time and were given some “hope” upon seeing the open notices on the highway sign.

Open is good!
on the Coquihalla at last
our first slow down at the road restoration pinch point
First indication of what weather we may face
Given our delayed departure from Vancouver, the roads had been cleared and snow was melted

At the Great Bear Snowshed – a 280 meter (920 foot) long snow shed near the pass summit. The snow was right down to the highway, but roads were just wet. Good thing I brought the whole jug of washer fluid with me.

A pile of snirt along the road way next to the pristine white conifers

A whole lot of pretty

Road crews keeping the road clear

frozen waterfalls
Skies are starting to clear
Britton Creek Rest Stop
Going downhill

Broken Roads

Down into the Merritt Valley

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Lost Lagoon Lament

All photos taken on February 5, 2022.

Not to belabour the point, but there are few places more scenic and filled with life than Lost Lagoon. No matter the weather, Lost Lagoon never disappoints. We lingered longer, before moving on.

Lost Lagoon Lament ©

One last longing look

before we say our goodbyes.

Lost Lagoon Lament.

My camera palette colour setting shows how the willows are starting to come alive.
Serene scene
this female mallard seems to be saying “Look away, I.m hideous.” (Kramer in Seinfeld reference)
Once again, I ask you – How do you get down off a duck.
the brilliant green moss comes to life on my palette setting
Calm waters
not sure what the sheen is on the water
mossy log
waiting to Spring into leaf
Wood ducks and Mallards swimming in harmony

Male Wood Duck – the star of the show

Canada Geese on the wing
Mallard Medley
Look at me, I’m using the crosswalk and I quacked both ways

Hey Lady, what did you bring me? This was a funny scene. Obviously the locals are known to feed the ducks. We did not deliver and this odd couple was disappointed.

Home tweet home

Waterlogged
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Vancouver Mosaic

All photos taken on February 5, 2022.

Our duties done and suitable weather along our return route home meant that it was now time to make the long trek back to Alberta. Ahhhh, do we really have to? Before climbing into the car, we opted to give our heads and the roads a bit more time to clear and headed off for one last snowless walk.

Vancouver Mosaic ©

The time had come to head away,

just one more walk to mark the day.

Through the West End, down to the Bay

smell of green grass and salt air spray

budding trees, waterbirds at play

under cloudy skies, leaden grey.

Our walk over, no more delay,

time to head out on the highway,

ere roadwork and snow block the way,

we had to get home, come what may.

Vancouver mosaic display

locked in our memories to stay.

The magnolia trees were budding out already – Can you believe it? They do look a bit like an abstract mosaic. The colours really show up with a flash.

Colour palette bike share station near Denman
Blossoms everywhere
so nice to get a preview of spring

English Bay is seldom without ships waiting to load or unload

Barrow’s Goldeneye turns away
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Last Seaside Sunset

All photos taken on February 4, 2022.

To say that our hotel room had a water view might be construed as being overly generous. If we stood on one leg, close to the window, cocked our head sharply to the right and squinted, we could just see the sunset over English Bay, sort of.

Sorry for the fuzzy pix, but there was a lot between us and the water. That being said, we loved our 10 nights at the Listel. We originally planned on staying 8 nights, but extended our stay for 2 more nights to wait for the weather to improve in the mountain passes. We were both anxious and sad to be leaving. Much as this was not supposed to be a relaxing fun trip, we still managed to enjoy our moments in Vancouver.

Last Seaside Sunset ©

Tomorrow, we go

back through icy rocks of death.

Last seaside sunset.

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Character

All photos taken on March 2, 2022.

Walking through Bunchberry to get away from the current news cycle, I realized that the trees in the forest are of much better character than many narcissists, who masquerade as world leaders. No need to say more, the definition and the photos say it all so much better.

Definition of character (as per Merriam Webster online dictionary)

1a: one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.

b(1): a feature used to separate distinguishable things into categories

(2): the aggregate of distinctive qualities characteristic of a breed, strain, or type

(3): the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes

c: the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation

d: main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish

Starting off

Decision time – we had come 1.12 km and the choice was to go another 5.55 km on Tamarack and Aspen Parkland Trails or just 2.88 km. on Aspen Parkland Trail
We opted for the shorter route and I concentrated on the tree trunk character that stood out – like this paper birch

Walking through the grove

We so seldom come this way, it was like being on the hike for the first time as we passed more character trunks

bathing in the quiet of the woods
tree adornment
Another shortcut option – we chose the Blueberry Connector

Going the opposite direction, we almost did not recognize we were approaching our regular walking trail

Coming out of the forest into the meadow, we spotted a few more lichen adornments

completing the last part of the Blueberry Connector
wild rose bush struggling to survive
on the last leg
looking back along Blueberry Connector

Colour and texture

on the home stretch

Variations

we were the only ones on the trail

except for the invisible deer, bunnies, coyotes, mice and such – there was plenty of evidence, but no sightings

weed survivors?
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Bridging the Divide

All photos taken on February 28, 2022.

Our lethargy and our lack of enthusiasm for walking a long distance on icy sidewalks took us into Edmonton for a short walk today. Parking at the Kinsmen Sports Centre we walked North across the new Walterdale Bridge on the East side and then back South on the West side.

The following information on this new bridge is a rehash from my April 1, 2021 post on my Photoblography3 blogspot.

A river crossing has operated at or near this location since the late 1800’s. Originally, John Walter built and operated a cable ferry (scow hull) across the North Saskatchewan River between the communities of Strathcona on the South bank and Edmonton on the North bank. The nearby Low Level bridge, constructed in 1900 did not negate the need for a ferry and he continued to run the service until 1913 when the High Level and 5th Street bridges were completed.

(Source: onthisspot.ca)

The original bridge at this location was a steel truss and steel grate bridge opened in 1913. It was named the 5th Street Bridge until 1914, then the 105th Street Bridge until 1967, when it was renamed the Walterdale Bridge (in honour of John Walter). It continued in operation until September 29, 2017, when a new through arch “signature” bridge was completed and opened. It is 230 m (750 feet) long and a brilliant addition to the Edmonton skyline.

(Source: Wikipedia)

I moved to the city in 1974 and met my wife-to-be in 1975. From that point until the new bridge was opened, we drove across the old steel grate bridge many times and she often told me that when she was growing up, she always called it the “ticklefoot bridge” because of the vibrations caused by the car tires running over the open grating.

All that being said, we wanted a change of scenery with a low impact exercise to break up the day as our winter weather drags on. All told, the whole walk was likely about 2 km.

Approaching from the West with the old Rossdale power plant (decommissioned) behind left.
Still approaching from the West after taking our coyote shots (separate post).
under the South end of the bridge
South end of the bridge in the gap between the traffic lanes and the curved pedestrian promenade
Fence in sledding hill with straw bale bumpers
Looking back West from East side of bridge towards Government Centre and downtown
heading back up onto the pedestrian promenade with the downtown skyline
some open water has been created by stormwater outfalls and some warm weather
closeup of the ice/water edge
river ice puzzle
not quite spring breakup, b ut a bit of ice upheaval
looking West toward the bridge
LRT train heading to the University
the wide view West showing the High Level bridge and the Dudley Menzies LRT bridge
crossing under the bridge on the North end
looking East from the North bank
on the trail heading back South
on the main bridge heading South

Western view

Trashy humour
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