The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Great Blue Heron’

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 6

On Day 6 of our vacation (Thursday, April 11th), after eating breakfast, we went to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We drove, rather than ride our bicycles.  It was a chilly and windy morning, with a temperature reading of 49 degrees.

We saw NINE wild horses in the lighthouse parking lot and watched as they walked down Beach Access Road to the Wildlife Loop. 

Wild Ponies in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Pony in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Ponies in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Ponies Walking Down the Beach Access Road Towards the Wildlife Loop

Wild Ponies Walking Along the Beach Access Road to the Wildlife Loop

There are 8 wild ponies in these two pictures; however, we saw a total of 9 ponies.

Wild Ponies Walking Toward the Wildlife Loop

One of 9 Wild Ponies Making its Way to the Wildlife Loop

This was the straggler, the 9th wild pony.

Seeing the horses was really cool.  We have always seen evidence that the horses have been on Beach Access Road, but had not seen them there before.

Before leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we visited the Assateague Lighthouse.

Assateauge Lighthouse

The Assateague Lighthouse stands 142 feet high.

After visiting the lighthouse, we returned to the warmth of our vacation home.  Bob turned on the heat for the first time since our arrival.  For the next few hours I washed, dried and folded two loads of laundry; we ate lunch (ready-made lasagna and cheesecake); and we relaxed, enjoying the peaceful setting of our Airbnb vacation home, Tranquil Shores.  

Around 3:00 pm we left for one more visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We drove around the Wildlife Loop three times.

Wildlife Loop Snake

Wildlife Loop Great Blue Heron

Wildlife Loop Cattle Egret

Wildlife Loop Turtle

Turtle Crossing the Road at Wildlife Loop

Wildlife Loop Little Blue Heron (adult)

We drove also to the beach and back, along Beach Access Road.  We were saying so long, until next time, to a place that we have grown to love.

Leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we picked up a 12-inch sub at Subway to share for dinner and went to Island Creamery for ice cream.  Yes!  We ate dessert first.

Returning to our vacation home around 5:00 pm we discovered piles of dirt had been placed in the deep holes (craters in some instances LOL) on the road to Tranquil Shores.  Thankfully a resident pulled in after us.  We didn’t know if we should drive on the grassy area to the right of the dirt piles (to go around them).  She told us it was okay.  According to the resident, the piles of dirt will be graded the next day.  I passed this information to our host, as I thought he might be interested.  Our host replied: “I’m so glad we finally have it getting done. Last winter was so hard on the road!  Corralling all the neighbors to pitch in was a project in and of itself!”  

TO BE CONTINUED

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 4

Late in the morning we rode our bicycles in the neighborhood to Veteran’s Memorial Park. 

Veteran’s Memorial Park sits along the Assateague Channel

Our round trip ride was 5 miles.

We ate lunch at McDonald’s and then drove onto the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, stopping for photo opportunities along Beach Access Road.  We saw wild ponies in the marsh, closer than we have seen them in past years.  There were wild ponies in the pony corral, too, near the Woodland Trail.

According to a delmava now news story, published on April 1st, “Chincoteague pony stallion Riptide and his band were penned in the south corral on Assateague Island after visitors to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge disregarded warnings not to approach the wild ponies…The ponies will remain in the corral until the spring roundup April 12 and 13”.

We saw great blue herons, egrets and wood ducks.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Pair of Hooded Mergansers (Thanks EileeninMD for ID)

We spent a couple hours at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, before returning to our vacation home.  We relaxed for a couple hours.

We returned to the Wildlife Refuge around 4:30 pm.  We went for a drive around the Wildlife Loop.  We saw birds, a fox, Sika deer, egrets, turtles, snapping turtles and a muskrat.

Red-Wing Blackbird

Mama Fox

Mama Fox – What a face!

Mama Fox

Two Egrets

I love the reflections!

Two Egrets, a Great Egret taking flight

Three Egrets, a Snowy Egret in flight

Snowy Egret

 

Muskrat

Snapping Turtle

Painted Turtle

Two Snapping Turtles Mating

Leaving the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, after an approximately 45-minute visit, we drove to Food Lion and picked up dinners for three nights (through Thursday).  Our purchases included three ready-made salads and three Culinevo ready-made dinner entrees–lasagna, beef stew and beef and noodles.  All dinner entrees are microwaveable. We shared a Chef Salad and the beef stew for dinner.  For dessert we had cheesecake.

We watched a few more episodes of NYPD Blue and went to bed.

Easter Vacation – More Assateague Island, VA

On Saturday, March 31st, after another scrumptious breakfast at our hotel, we once again drove to Assateague Island and visited the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We saw deer off in the distance, crossing through the wetlands.

_LG25608We watched deer pass through the marshland, as the sun rose.

_LG25606

Bob said one of the deer had antlers. I didn’t see that deer.

In addition to the deer, we saw egrets, a view of the Assateague Island Lighthouse from Toms Cove, several water birds at Toms Cove and a belted kingfisher (!).

_LG25611Egret

_LG25614
Assateague Island Lighthouse,
as seen from Toms Cove

_LG25617Bufflehead Duck at Toms Cove

_LG25620More egret

_LG25625Belted Kingfisher

We spent about 30 minutes at the wildlife refuge.

Several hours passed by, after we left the wildlife refuge.

 

 

 


Photo obtained here.

 

 

 

We didn’t return to the hotel until 4:20 pm, at which time we discovered that the Easter bunny had been in our room.

20180331_202039671_iOSThe Easter bunny left us a small Easter basket.

Around 5:30 pm we went for one last drive through the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We saw birds, the Assateague Island Lighthouse and, while on the Wildlife Loop, a pair of Sika Deer!

_LG25716Long-Legged Wading Bird

_LG25723Great Blue Heron

_LG25725
Assateague Island Lighthouse

_LG25729Sika Deer

One could make the assumption that we did very little this day. How wrong that assumption would be, as you will discover in the next several blog posts about our Easter vacation.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, VA

Background

Located on the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the largest, natural barrier island ecosystem in the Middle Atlantic states region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development.  The Virginia portion of the island is designated as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the exception of 448 acres in the refuge’s Toms Cove area maintained by the National Park Service. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the southern end of Assateague Island should not be confused with Chincoteague Island, the neighboring island to the west with a residential community on it. One must drive through Chincoteague Island in order to reach Assateague Island.

 

On Friday, March 30th, we ate breakfast at the hotel.  I had scrambled eggs, bacon and a waffle.  Boy did that waffle smell good, as it cooked!  I added strawberries, along with some whipped cream, to the top of my waffle.  As is customary at most, if not all, Best Western hotels, breakfast is complementary.  Best Western Chincoteague Island provides an excellent breakfast for its guests.

At 9:00 am we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The Best Western Chincoteague Island is less than 1 mile from the entrance to the wildlife refuge.  Admission to the refuge is $20.00, which is good for multiple days.  We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February, when I turned 62 years old. We drove to the Toms Cove Visitor Center at the Assateague Island National Seashore, where I got our Passport to Your National Parks stamped and purchased a page of souvenir stamps. Assateague Island National Seashore (Virginia) is the first National Park that we have visited, since purchasing the Passport.

We made two round trips along Beach Access Road. We saw several northern shoveler ducks, several egrets, and one great blue heron.  We didn’t see any ponies.

_LG25589Male and Female Northern Shoveler Ducks

_LG25574Close-up Picture of Egret

_LG25578Egret in Water

_LG25580
Egret on Tree Branch

_LG25582Great Blue Heron

We returned to the hotel around 11:00 am. It was a windy, overcast, rainy, and dreary day. The 55 degree temperature, though, was nice. Weather conditions improved in the afternoon, so we returned to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

In additional to making several round trips along Beach Access Road, we walked the Woodland Trail.

The Woodland Trail is a 2-mile round trip.  We saw a few ponies off in the distance, during our walk on the trail.

IMG_20180330_135122Chincoteague Wild Ponies
(Photo by Bob)

_LG25595An Assateague Wild Pony

The trees along Woodland Trail have been destroyed by a southern pine beetle infestation.

MVIMG_20180330_142904Southern pine beetles cause much devastation.
The only thing that fell during our walk was a few rain drops… No branches or trees.
(Photo by Bob)

We drove around the Wildlife Loop two times.  The Wildlife Loop is a 3¼ mile loop and is a great place to observe wildlife, especially waterfowl and wading birds. It is open to walkers and bikers throughout the day, but vehicles are only permitted to drive on it from 3:00 pm. till dusk. This trail is paved and wheelchair accessible.  We saw very little wildlife during our two drives.  On the second trip we did see several deer crossing through a marshy area. I didn’t have my camera with me on that drive. The deer, though, would have been too far away for a good picture.

East Syracuse NY to Mt. Morris NY

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area.

We checked out of the Best Western East Syracuse, after breakfast, on Monday July 3, and were on our way home shortly before 8:00 am.

On our way to East Syracuse on Saturday, we stopped at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped at the wildlife refuge once again on our way back home. I am so glad that we visited Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I put my new camera lens to good use, as we drove around Wildlife Drive.

New camera lens, you ask?  I just realized that I hadn’t shared on my blog that I purchased a new camera lens.  I waited for well over 1-1/2 years to purchase this camera lens.  At first the camera lens wasn’t in stock.  Then I didn’t have the money available to purchase the lens.  Finally, everything came together to make the purchase.  I purchased an Olympus m.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS Pro lens, specifically for wildlife photography.  Coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter, I have an effective focal length of 840mm!  My new lens arrived on Friday, June 30, the day before we left on our weekend getaway.  I need to use the lens more to increase my proficiency in its use, but I am very pleased with the images that I captured at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

_LG22411Bird ID needed

_LG22424Osprey in Flight, with seaweed attached to its claw

_LG22428Are these birds American Coot?

The highlight of our visit to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was the sighting of two American Bald Eagles.  One eagle flew off to parts unknown, but one eagle landed in a tree not far from where we were on Wildlife Drive.

Bob took this photograph of me, while photographing the eagle.

And to think I didn’t want a moon roof, when we were car shopping. I didn’t want to spend the extra money. The car on the lot that we liked came with a moon roof. I am glad that we got a moon roof, because it enabled me to capture a couple good photographs of the eagle!

_LG22462American Bald Eagle

_LG22472
My new camera lens is a keeper!
These two eagle images are the best pictures I have ever taken of an eagle!

We sat and watched a group of Canadian Geese farther along on Wildlife Drive.

_LG22481Canadian Geese, quietly enjoying the pond

The quiet didn’t last for long!

_LG22482Noisy Canadian Geese!

_LG22487This duck had one of the Wildlife Drive ponds all to herself.

_LG22499Great Blue Heron

We stopped once again to admire the newly installed eagle monument.

_LG22529The eagle monument was built in honor the the 40th anniversary of New York State’s bald eagle
reintroduction program, which largely happened at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

_LG22532The eagle monument is visible from Interstate 90.

Leaving Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, we drove to Mt. Morris, NY.  We ate lunch at Brian’s USA Diner.  We selected this restaurant for lunch, based on its positive reviews. Yes, as stated by reviewers, the service was quick and friendly. Bob ordered a Reuben sandwich with Onion Rings. I ordered pulled chicken in a hoagie bun with potato salad. The restaurant reviews indicated that the portions were large. I agree. My pulled chicken hoagie sandwich was huge! My potato salad was heaped high in a small bowl. At first, Bob’s Reuben sandwich looked average size. He said, though, that there was lots of meat in his sandwich, so much meat that he could barely taste the dressing. Reviewers raved about the taste of the food. The food tasted okay, nothing really to boast about. Nothing to complain about either.

After lunch, we drove to nearby Letchworth State Park.  I will share details and photographs of Letchworth State Park in the next (and final) blog post I write about our East Syracuse NY weekend getaway.

 

Warren PA to East Syracuse NY

We departed home at 6:50 am, on July 1 (Saturday) en route the Syracuse NY area for a 2-night stay. It was thundering and raining, when we left home.

We ate breakfast in Frewsburg NY at Sally’s Deli & Catering.

Sallys_Deli-portrait-16x20-vertical-01

On Saturday Sally’s has a breakfast buffet, beginning at 7:00 am. It was our first time there. I am glad that we chanced upon it, while looking for a place to eat. Sally’s is a tiny place, with a pleasant dining area. The breakfast selections that included scrambled eggs, bacon, corned beef and potatoes, potato casserole, sausage, French toast, pancakes, fruit, pastries and hot beverages were more than adequate. The food was delicious. We liked everything, with possibly the exception of the corned beef and potatoes. I am sure it was a personal taste issue in regard to the corned beef and potatoes.

The rain stopped, while we were eating breakfast. We caught up with the rain again a short ways west of the Friendship/Boliver exit on Interstate 86.  We drove in and out of rain rest of the way to Syracuse. For the most part, the rain didn’t last long.

Our next stop, after breakfast, was in the village of Honeoye Falls. The small village of Honeoye Falls is located approximately fifteen miles southeast of Rochester, NY.  The village includes a small waterfall on Honeoye Creek, which flows through the village and gives it its name.

_LG22248Honeoye Falls, NY

This was our first time in Honeoye Falls. How we missed knowing about this village is beyond me. We have been within a few miles of the village many times over the past 19 years. Now that we know of its existence and how picturesque the village is, I am sure we will make a return trip to Honeoye Falls sometime in the future.

We stopped for lunch at the Clifton Springs Travel Plaza on Interstate 90. Our lunch at Burger King (a Whooper with Cheese meal and a Junior Whooper with Cheese meal) was much more expensive than the cost at home! I should have planned this trip better and brought along food for picnic-style lunches.

Before stopping for lunch a couple accidents had slowed traffic on Interstate 90. Interstate traffic was moving well, after lunch.

Around 1:00 pm we stopped at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. We saw lots of geese, a few great blue herons, and several ducks.

_LG22266Great Blue Heron

_LG22270Canadian Goose

_LG22292Close-up Picture of Canadian Goose

_LG22284Duck Family

It thundered and rained about halfway around the 3.5 mile Wildlife Drive. We stopped near the end of the drive and waited out the rain. Near the end of Wildlife Drive is a new viewing platform and eagle monument.  It stopped raining momentarily, and I snapped a picture of the new structures.

_LG22301New Viewing Platform and Eagle Monument at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

The eagle monument was built In honor of the 40th anniversary of New York State’s bald eagle reintroduction program, which largely happened at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

Soon it began to rain again.

We departed Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge around 2:00 pm. We were notified a few times of severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood warnings, soon after departing the refuge.  The rain and wind were pretty wild, as we made our way east!

We stopped at an indoor flea market, located in Elbridge NY along NY Route 5. We shopped, while waiting for the storm to get ahead of us. There was a nice selection of merchandise, reasonably priced. I came out of the store empty handed, though.  The stop served its purpose, as the storm did get ahead of us.

_LG22305Storm Chasing

The white building seen in the photograph displayed above is the Inn Between Restaurant, located in Camillus NY.  The restaurant provided an excellent contrast against the dark sky.

We checked into Best Western Plus East Syracuse around 3:30 pm. Our room number was 225.  We turned off the air conditioning soon after entering the room. The room stayed comfortably cool throughout rest of the afternoon and evening. Our room was comfortable, but small.  The walking space between the furniture was narrow.  The bathroom was of moderate size. Our room included a microwave, refrigerator and single-serve coffee maker. There were both tea bags and coffee in the room for the preparation of hot beverages. In my experience tea bags aren’t always provided, along with coffee.  There is a beverage station in the lobby, too, where hot beverages may be obtained. I read that the hotel was recently renovated. Our room appeared to be fairly new. We spent 2 nights here, using reward points as payment.

We ate dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s, located within walking distance of hotel. We took the car, though, in case it rained. It didn’t rain. We both ordered chicken entrees, with the garden salad bar.

Rather than order dessert at Ruby Tuesday’s, we went to a nearby Dairy Queen and ordered small blizzards.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Rite Aid and picked up beverages and snacks. It was around 6:00 pm, when we made it back to the hotel. We stayed in for rest of the night.

Please check back later.  I will be sharing additional blog posts about our East Syracuse NY Weekend Getaway in the near future.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Visit (Day 1 of 2)

We spent two nights (April 14-16) at the Clarion Inn, located in Hudson, OH.   We stayed at this hotel one time before for one night, a couple years ago, while en route Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  During that stay, we noted that the hotel was in close proximity to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  When we decided to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park this past weekend, we chose to stay at Clarion Inn.

We left our home in Warren PA around 5:30 am en route Ohio.

We ate breakfast at Richard’s Family Restaurant in Youngsville, PA. We ordered omelets with toast (rye for Bob; wheat for me), one order of home fries to share and coffee for Bob / tea for me. Bob had eaten breakfast there before. I hadn’t. Breakfast was delicious and filling. We were back on the road again shortly after 6:30 am.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio.  The 32,950-acre park can easily be divided into three regions: North Valley, Central Valley and South Valley.  We used this map, which I found on the U.S. National Park Service website, as a guide during our 2-day exploration of the park.

Points of interest 1 through 5 are located in the North Valley region.  Interest points 6 through 9 are located in the Central Valley regions.  Points of interest 10 through 13 are located in the South Valley region.

We arrived in the North Valley region of Cuyahoga Valley National Park at approximately 9:45 am.  In particular, our arrival point in the park was at the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation. This was our first visit to the North Valley region of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  We discovered there were many points of interest in this region.

Our first stop was at Bridal Veil Falls.  We parked at the trail head and walked across Gorge Parkway. It was a short descent from the road via boardwalk and steps to a platform that overlooks the falls.

_LG20866-EditBoardwalk and stairs to Bridal Veil Falls Overlook

Once you reach the bottom of the boardwalk and stairs, a bridge crosses over the creek.

_LG20867-EditThe waterfall observation platform is visible from the bridge that crosses over the creek.

_LG20874-Edit
Bridal Veil Falls

_LG20876Bob and I at Bridal Veil Falls

Our second stop was at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. The viewing area is located next to the parking lot.

_LG20878Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook

This overlook provides a panoramic view of the valley from the rim of the gorge. The view would be spectacular in the Autumn.  The lighting was particularly good, so this was the only photograph that I took during this stop.  We did return to this overlook, and I have a photograph of the view later on in this blog post.

Our third stop was at Willis Picnic Area, which we mistakenly thought was Viaduct Park. The two areas are next to each other. There are several points of interest at Viaduct Park, and we were not finding any of those points of interest. One point of interest was Great Falls. We could hear rushing water, but couldn’t see the waterfall.

_LG20886Willis Picnic Area

We saw a sign at Willis Picnic area that read “trail closed”. It looked like high winds had passed through the picnic area at some point in time, and the downed trees and branches had not been cleaned up. Behind the picnic pavilion we found a “trail” that looked like it led to the bottom of the gorge. Bob hiked down that trail, and it did lead to the bottom of the gorge. Bob didn’t find a waterfall. He found a tunnel, through which Tinkers Creek flows.  We later saw the other side of the tunnel at Viaduct Park.

_LG20890
Willis Picnic Area Trail to Tinkers Creek

If you look closely, you will see Bob making his way back up the trail.  I am glad that I didn’t attempt to hike down that trail. Bob said he had some trouble navigating the trail.

Our fourth stop was at Viaduct Park. This small park features a very nice waterfall, view of a large viaduct, and information signs dotting the trail as you walk through the park.  The parking lot is at street level.  When we visited the park, we had to drive over a curb to reach the parking lot.  From the parking lot there is a paved trail that descends down to Tinkers Creek, where the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek can be viewed from an observation platform.  We spent about an hour exploring Viaduct Park.

_LG20899The Viaduct

The Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad stone viaduct across Tinkers Creek Gorge was completed in 1864.  It replaced the original wooden truss bridge, which opened in 1852.  The viaduct is 225 feet long and towers 120 feet above Tinkers Creek.

_LG20913The Great Falls of Tinkers Creek

IMG_20170414_122104I love this picture of me that Bob took at The Great Falls.

Here is a short video of The Great Falls.  If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.

Remember earlier I mentioned that Bob hiked down to Tinkers Creek from the Willis Picnic Area?  He saw a tunnel there, through which Tinkers Creek flowed.  Here is the other end of that tunnel, which is called The Arch.

_LG20925The Arch

The Arch was built between 1901-02.  Its purpose is to control the flower of Tinkers Creek, while providing a base for the railroad above.  The Arch is 512 feet long, with a 20 degree turn inside.  The openings are 40 feet wide and 32 feet high.

Our fifth and last stop at Bedford Reservation was a second stop at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. As I mentioned earlier the lighting was better than it was during our first stop.

_LG20935Again, this is Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook.

If you walk to the end of the overlook, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the valley from the rim of the gorge.

_LG20933View from Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook

Leaving the overlook, we continued on Gorge Parkway to Dunham Road. We turned right onto Dunham Road, crossed over Tinkers Creek, and turned left onto Tinkers Creek Road. We followed Tinkers Creek Road to its terminus, at which time we turned left onto Canal Road. About this time we decided it was time for lunch. We were hungry, which was understandable. We ate breakfast around 6:00 am, and it was after 1:00 pm.

We ate lunch at Joe’s Family Restaurant in Northfield, OH. The salad bar and soup were excellent. Service was excellent. Our main entrees (meatloaf for me, boneless pork chops for Bob) were piping hot and delicious. Our side dishes were not so great. My mashed potatoes and our mixed vegetables were lukewarm. Our waitress did bring me a new dish of mashed potatoes, which were piping hot. I am surprised she didn’t do the same with the mixed vegetables. Perhaps she didn’t hear me, when I said that the mixed vegetables were also lukewarm.

After lunch we drove back to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, in particular to the South Valley region. We stopped at Beaver Marsh. It was a short walk from the parking lot, along a tow path, to an observation platform. We saw wood ducks, geese, tree swallows and lots of turtles. Bob saw a muskrat, briefly.

_LG20942Wood Ducks at Beaver Marsh

_LG20944One of several turtles at Beaver Marsh

_LG20946Goose Sitting on Nest

_LG20968
Tree Swallows

From the Beaver Marsh we drove to the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area.

_LG20994One of two trees making up the Great Blue Heron Rookery

_LG21003Great Blue Heron

We didn’t stay long at the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area, as there wasn’t much activity at the heron rookery.

We checked into the Clarion Inn around 5:30 pm. We spent rest of the day in our room. We had picked up a few grocery items, after lunch, so we were able to eat a picnic-style dinner in our room.

**TO BE CONTINUED**

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