Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fort Worth Stock Yards

How would you like to step back into the "Old West" without having to pay the ticket price required to get into a western-themed amusement park? It can be done via "the real thing" by visiting the Texas historic district known as the Fort Worth Stock Yards. There are a variety of ways to get there: You can saddle up and ride your horse, which is how folks originally got to the location (like the character in the top photo); you can arrive via the Grapevine Vintage Railroad to the Stockyards Train Station. ( It was the arrival of railroads in 1876 that turned the livestock center into an important part of the cattle industry.) Train is how I traveled there, and arriving by rail car gave me an elevated view of the interior of the former animal stalls, that have now been converted into restaurants and retail stores (middle photo). What made my arrival by train especially memorable, was that a live band was singing the famous Johnny Cash song "I hear the train a coming, coming 'round the bend" just as we pulled into the stockyards rail station. It was a very enjoyable "Welcome to the Stockyards" serenade! The lower left photo shows that most people come by cars. It was, in fact the development of the motor-driven vehicles---specifically the trucking industry and better highways, that led to the decline that the Fort Worth Stock Yards started experiencing after World War II. Their peak year of livestock processing was 1944, which was also a result of World War II. Although cattle no longer come by rail or truck to the stockyards, they can still be seen there, AND, being marketed. But this is a different market---one based on video /satellite auctions of cattle, but still taking place in the Exchange Building. You will also see a considerable number of "iron horses" being ridden to the stockyards, as evidenced by the lower right photo line-up of fancy motorcycles..
Why, you may ask, would I want to go to some smelly old stockyards? Well, perhaps in years past (the stockyards have been in operation since 1866) these former livestock markets may have had a strong "aroma", but not so anymore. Today, The Fort Worth Stock Yards are one of Texas most popular tourist destinations. Now, all that is in the air, is a feeling of excitement, coupled with an occasional whiff of Texas BBQ or other Southwestern cuisines being cooked up fresh. There are "saddlebags full" of activities awaiting you at the Fort Worth Stockyards. There are pony rides for the kids (top middle photo), and one of the most popular events is the CowKid Roundup. That is where little buckaroos can learn all about roping cattle, branding, riding stick horses, and doing fancy rope tricks. You can take a walking tour of the distinctive architecture (middle photo) and visit the museum. You can even look for the star plaques in the sidewalk (similar to those in Hollywood), but these stars are for the "Cowboy Hall of Fame", not just ordinary Hollywood celebrities. If you have always wanted to jump on the back of a longhorn, plus get your picture taken on top---this is the place (middle left photo). There are even wooden stairs beside the longhorn, so you don't have to really "jump"! Not surprisingly, there is shopping for all things western. The lower left photo shows a worker custom fitting a cowboy hat for a customer, using steam. The photo on right shows just a small sampling of the hundreds of pairs of cowboy boots available for purchase. And finally, the middle lower photo shows an example of what many cowboys of old did at the stockyards---sit on a bar stool. If you're more inclined to a saddle, you can even sit in a saddle while you spend time at the bar. (lower middle photo). The Visitor's Center also has a short free video, that gives first-time guests a good overview of the history and current use of the stockyards. If you are there on a Sunday, you can attend Cowboy Church, held weekly at noon (western attire welcome, but not mandatory!) The Cowtown Coliseum, which was the home of the first indoor rodeo, still serves as a venue for big events, including the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering/Western Swing Festival, scheduled for October 23. For a complete listing of future events or other information, visit the website www.fortworthstockyards.org or call the Visitor's Center at 817-624-4741.
The main reason I wanted to visit the stockyards was that I had seen so many advertisements in travel magazines about watching the Fort Worth cattle drive, that takes place on a city street. This is the only longhorn cattle drive in the United States that happens daily. Just like the sign on the left says, people line the street once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, to see real cowboys lead the cattle through the Stockyards (middle photo). But don't worry, it is nothing like the "Running of the Bulls" in Spain. These longhorns are mellow, very mellow---as evidenced by the lower photo, that shows the cowboy with his back towards those gigantic horns of the cow.

"We have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did." Although these words could have been spoken by the three fellas in the photo, as they sit on the steps of what used to be called "The Wall Street of the West", they were actually spoken by the brothers of Joseph (as in Joseph with the coat of many colors) when the brothers were appealing to the Pharaoh of Egypt to preserve their livelihood as stock herders. Fortunately, the leaders in Fort Worth's historic preservation efforts, have heeded such a plea, and we can continue to appreciate this important era of our country's past. Happy Trails! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grapevine Vintage Railroad Excursion

When you look up the word "vintage" in the dictionary, one definition says it is "something old and of enduring interest/importance". Another definition says vintage is "a season's yield of grapes or wine from a vineyard." Both these definitions are appropriate for the subject of this post, because railroads have a significant importance in our nation's history, and this particular railroad experience is located in an area known for its vineyards. I am referring to the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, located in Grapevine, Texas. As soon as I approached the station's roundhouse, with some of the rail cars parked outside, I knew I was in for a "photo fest" because a professional photographer had picked the train cars as her background for a photography shoot she was doing of a mother with her two young kids (top photo). That gave me the idea to coerce two members of my travel party, the goodwomen whose last name was Goodman, to do some posing for pictures. The mom, Beverly, and daughter, Arianna, are in lower left photo, while the photo on lower right shows Arianna Goodman, grabbing onto the end of the train.

Moving on to the actual Grapevine Depot, one is greeted by a very poignant sculpture on the outside of the building that shows a man and woman embracing. The sculpture is called "The Homecoming" and you can almost feel the joy of two people who love each other, being reunited after a long time apart. Located inside the Grapevine Train Depot is not only a gift shop and ticket office, but also a historical museum. The remaining three photos show vintage items on display in the museum that relate to Grapevine history, including the 1900's cane bottom wheelchair, a handmade friendship quilt, and an assortment of "pre-electric" tools used by craftsmen of days gone by.
If you have time before or after your train excursion, take advantage of the many points of interest in the area surrounding the train station. I enjoyed watching talented international bronze sculptor, Archie St.Clair, create pieces that are being made to honor firemen and policemen (lower left photo), as well as visiting the Vetro Glass Studio, where one can not only purchase art glass items, but see them being created from the adjacent kiln and glass blowing studio (upper right photo). Or, if you tire of shopping, there are plenty of park benches or rocking chairs around, where you can sit, while you do a little people watching (lower right photo).

But enough chit-chat, I have just heard the conductor give the "ALL ABOARD" announcement, and it is now time to get on the train, and get ready to roll. The engine pulled two passenger cars---I rode the open-air car (upper left photo), but there is also an enclosed car with windows that a passenger can choose. The one and one-half hour ride I took was destined for the Fort Worth Stockyards Station (which I will write about in a future blog), and was totally enjoyable. Although they don't advertise the ride as being scenic, since it goes mostly through populated areas, there were some photo ops, as seen when we crossed the Trinity River (lower left) or rolled by pastoral scenes of horses grazing (lower right photo). My trip was especially enjoyable because a little boy was sitting directly behind me (middle right photo) who was having the time of his young life. His exclamations of delight and innocent questions about train travel, kept me thoroughly amused. The conductor is a very friendly guy, and is happy to pose for photos with passengers (upper right photo). In addition, there is a professional photographer on board who will take a photo of your group, print it out, and have it available for purchase before you disembark the train. There is a passage in The Old Testament that says "Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you; your elders, and they will explain to you." Deuteronomy 32:7 You can do this in modern times by checking out the website http://www.gvrr.com/ to check excursion times, dates, and ticket prices for experienceing the Grapevine Vintage Rail Road. I say "hats off" (train engineer hats, of course) to the city leaders, volunteers, CVB staff, and train aficionados who make it possible to keep a passenger train still running on the historic Cotton Belt Route between Grapevine and Ft. Worth. You are doing a great and worthwhile thing! Miles of railroading smiles! Tricia Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Schedule a Gaylord Texan Expedition!

The first time I visited the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center, it was just a daytrip to view the ICE! exhibit being held there (See 2008 archived blog post about ICE! ) I knew from that first visit that I wanted to experience more of this incredible property. Therefore, I was delighted to recently have the opportunity to be an overnight guest there. And I would have to agree with a quote from their website ( www.GaylordTexan.com ) that says the place is "brimming with authentic Texas style and hospitality, and is awe-inspiring." From the expansive lobby (upper left and lower right photos) to the reminders of Texas Longhorns throughout the atrium (upper right and lower left photos), you can definitely tell you are in the Republic of Texas!
My room had a balcony with a great view of several scenic parts of the four and one-half acres of indoor gardens and winding waterways (Upper left & lower left photos ). Just outside the doors of the atrium one can enjoy the beautiful landscaping of the outdoor pool (upper right photo), or opt for the gorgeous architecture of the indoor pool/spa area (lower right photo).
The area covered by the clear dome structure has several distinct sections that pay homage to various sections of Texas. One area is a miniature recreation of Palo Duro Canyon (see June 26, 2009 blog post), a railroad section, and a desert Southwest section; yet another area is designed to recall Texas Hill Country, with its distinctive-style pioneer homesteads (lower left and right photos).

One of my favorite areas of the atrium was the one devoted to San Antonio, including a facade like the Alamo (lower left photo) In addition, the Riverwalk Restaurant next to the waterway makes one recall their times along San Antonio's famous Riverwalk (remaining 3 photos)
If you feel a "Howdy, podner" deficit in your life, then head on down to the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center. If your own horse won't take you, then book some airplane tickets! The property is located just six minutes from DFW airport, and is situated in Grapevine, Texas---a location ever so eager to make you feel welcome. A favorite Bible verse of mine is Philippians 1:3 that says "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you"; to personalize that even more, I should say "I thank my God upon every remembrance of the folks at the Gaylord Texan." Miles of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mtn. Home Marathon for Kenya

The 2009 Mountain Home Marathon for Kenya is scheduled for Saturday, November 21. Visit www.mountainhomemarathon.info for complete details. Whether you are training for the full/half marathon, or the 5K run/walk, you can use this verse to keep you motivated: "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14 Miles of smiles while we keep 'pressing on' !! Tricia

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The Grapevine I am speaking of is Grapevine, Texas, located between Dallas and Fort Worth. The town has been around since the first white settlement in the 1840's at a landmark known as Grapevine Springs. It was named for the tart, wild mustang grapes prevalent in the area. City planners work hard to preserve the town's history, as evidenced by the log cabin restoration on Main Street (upper left photo), and the architecture on Main Street that is all done to simulate the early 1900's, even though it is much newer than that. The figure in the upper right photo stands atop a local government building on Main Street and signifies the town's Nightwatchman, who in days gone by, was the only official needed to keep the community running smoothly. The area started experiencing exponential growth with the opening of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport (better known as DFW to frequent flyers) in 1974. Not surprisingly, this spurred enormous development. The lower right photo shows a view of the expansive Gaylord Texan resort, located on the banks of Lake Grapevine. The Lake is also a fairly new geographic feature, as it was created by the Corps of Engineers in 1952, as a water reservoir. A 2006 census gave an unofficial estimate of the population of Grapevine to be slightly under 50,000.
Besides the well-known Gaylord property in Grapevine (remember the Gaylord folks also own the famous Opryland Hotel in Nashville), retail development has also been a boon to the area. The photo on the right shows eager shoppers at the Bass Pro Shop in Grapevine. This has got to be one of the few retail establishments where grown men will actually take a number, and wait in line, to make a purchase! (Since I have lived for many years near the ORIGINAL Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Missouri---in fact, when my husband and I got married in 1994, it was the Springfield Bass Pro shop where we had our wedding day lunch!---I have followed their expansion to a nation-wide testosterone phenomena with great interest) Another property that carried over the back-to-nature, lodge-themed decorating, is the Great Wolf Lodge, that was built in Grapevine within the last few years. The indoor water parks (upper left photo) that are a hallmark of Great Wolf Lodges might seem out of place in a location as hot as Texas, but insiders told me that their property in Grapevine did better than the ones located in colder climates. Another landmark in Grapevine is the evangelical megachurch known simply as "Fellowship Church", and pastored by well-known Ed Young. With an attendance of 20,000, their location across from Grapevine Mills retail shopping/dining mecca is bound to be a boost for restaurants that cater to the Sunday church crowd for a post-worship dining experience. Although there are probably plenty of cowboys that go to Fellowship Church, the cowboy pictured in lower left photo might have trouble getting through the front doors of even a megachurch, and certainly an impossible squeeze into the little cage sitting in front of the sign at the Grapevine hardware store advertising information about a Cowboy Church that meets in a home nearby. (lower right photo)

Throughout the year, Grapevine sponsors several special events and festivals, but the one I was able to attend this past week was their 23rd Annual Grapefest. With a name like Grapevine, and a history that included domesticated, as well as wild, grape vineyards, it is only fitting that the town honor that heritage with a celebration about all things "grape". As someone with a nutrition background, I have kept up with the research (and subsequent media attention) given to the 1992 discovery that a substance called "Resveratrol" in the skin of red grapes was a potent antioxidant with many health benefits, including reducing heart disease and cancer. (But "Resveratrol-fest" just doesn't have the same pleasant ring to it that "Grapefest" does!). If you want to know more about Resveratrol, the Texas Department of Agriculture could probably provide you with bucket-loads of data on the subject. Grapefest has many child-friendly activities, as evidenced by the children picnicking with their moms on Grapevine's Main Street during the beginning "free admission" period of the four-day festival (top photo above). Other activities I observed being enjoyed by children were the opportunities to actually crawl up into the gigantic military vehicles on display (middle and lower left photos). And, what kid would not enjoy taking their shoes off, and trying their hand (or should I say "trying their foot") at stomping grapes to see if they can get any juice to come through the spigot leading out of the barrel. (see above lower right photo).
Likewise, there were plenty of activities for the grown-ups. In the upper left photo, Central Market Chef and TV personality, Carol Ritchie is shown giving a culinary demonstration. With several wineries located in or near Grapevine, the city is the perfect location for attendees to place their vote for the people's choice Texas wine award (lower left photo), as well as sample wines from other countries (upper right photo). Another grown-up activity getting a lot of attention was the prize for best costume among the adult "grape stompers" (lower right photo). The festival had numerous food vendors brought in especially for the event, and the smell of food cooking in their portable kitchens out in the open air was a definite appetite stimulant. In addition, there are numerous restaurants localed along Main Street that provide a relaxed environment with delicious food, and give Grapefest attendees additional options beyond the (always yummy, but sometimes messy) carnival-type cuisine. To quote the Bible verse from Genesis 1:29---Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." The folks in Grapevine, Texas, are working diligently to capitalize on this God-given gift of grapes, not only for their food value, but also for the economic impact that celebrating grape agriculture provides. If you are ready to start planning your Grapevine expedition, go to http://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/, or phone l-800-457-6338. If they ask how you heard about them, just say you "heard it through the grapevine"!! Miles of smiles!! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Monday, September 14, 2009

How about an "olive expedition"?

I have been in larger cities where a big supermarket has a serving bar completely devoted to different types of olives, but it wasn't until I was driving on Interstate 5 in northern California that I came across such an arrangement, with the added advantage that you were allowed to freely sample the various types of olives BEFORE you made your purchase. The place I am speaking of is in the city of Corning, California, and is called "The Olive Pit" (www.olivepit.com) . You can tell you are in the right place if you look along both sides of I-5, and see mile after mile of olive groves. There is a reference made in the Bible (Job 24:11) to a type of people who are so mistreated that "they are forced to press out the olive oil without tasting it...", but that is certainly NOT the case for those pressing out the oil in this area of olive production in the United States. In fact, anyone can come into The Olive Pit, in Corning, and taste test dozens of types of olives, as well as numerous varieties of olive oil and olive spreads.
You simply point to the bottle containing the type of olive you want to sample, and the courteous employee behind the serving bar will use his handy-dandy "olive-lassoing tool" to retrieve a single olive from the jars of samples, and put it on a napkin for you to try. (Of course, these specialty tools, and a host of other olive-related gadgets are for sale in their store, along with the wide array of olive-based food products.) The scientific name for olive is Olea europaea which is a reference to its native home in the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin. In more recent years, California has also become a growing area for this short, squat evergreen tree. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the plants that is most cited in recorded literature. Besides at least 30 Bible references, the plant is mentioned in Homer's Odyssey, as well as the Iliad, numerous Greek mythology stories, and the Quran.
The Roman poet Horace mentions olives in reference to his own diet, saying "As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance." The customer shown in photo above looks ready to make a similar choice for herself.
Olive oil has long been considered sacred; it was used to anoint kings and athletes in ancient Greece. It was burnt in the sacred lamps of temples as well as being the "eternal flame" of the original Olympic Games. Victors in these games were crowned with its leaves. Today, it is still used in many religious ceremonies. In the last two decades, there has been a great resurgence of its use in the American diet, largely because of evidence showing the Mediterranean-style diet is more "heart healthy" than the way Americans have been eating for the past century. Perhaps the fact that olive trees can live for a very long time was a clue to some ancient "dietitian" that it might also help people live a long time. There are several trees in the Garden of Gethsemane (from the Hebrew words "gat shemanim" or olive press) in Jerusalem that are claimed to date back to Roman times. Many health food stores sell medicinal teas made from olive leaves. Now that you know all these facts about olives, olive trees, olive oil, and olive leaves (you could even interpret the spelling to be saying---O! LIVE!) Therefore, GO! LIVE! GO OLIVE EXPEDITIONING!! Tricia
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Monday, September 7, 2009

"Home on Wheels" Expedition

The photo shown here of a vintage publication comes from the cover of the book that my father used in the 1930's to build what my parents called a "house trailer". My mom always liked to tell the story of how this house trailer that dad built was the first one to ever park by the Highway 65 bridge over Crooked Creek, in Harrison, Arkansas. In later years, I guess that area became what we would now call a "mobile home park". My parents lived in that trailer by the creek, while they were taking classes at the college in Boone County, enabling them to get their certificates so they could teach school. Later, they were living in this same house trailer, when it was parked on the grounds of the Olvey school in Boone County, where they were employed as teachers. (They took seriously the part of the verse in Matthew 28:19, that says "GO ye therefore, and TEACH!") They were living on the Olvey school campus on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. They had no children at the time, and must have had concerns on the world they would be bringing offspring into. (For the record, I am very glad that they DID bring my sister and me into this world!) These oral family histories were in my memory (plus, mom had told me the 1930's publication was still somewhere around the house), so I was delighted to find the actual cover for the guide that dad had used as the inspiration/building guide to construct the aforementioned house trailer, when my sister and I were cleaning out their belongings following their deaths.
What made that vintage piece even more significant was this: That same cover of "The Trailer Builder's Guide" was used in the orientation video of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. Apparently, my father was not the only man inspired to try their hand at building one of the house trailers described in the guide. In fact, the publication spurred the development of the entire RV/MH industry, as we know it today. The Museum gives the history of how an Indiana man who saw the early house trailer at the 1934 Century of Progress Exhibit pictured on the publication's cover, came back home, and built a house trailer himself. Then he built another, and another, and another. Soon he hired additional men, so that they could turn out more of the trailers. And the rest, as they say, is history.The time was right for the rapid expansion of the mobile home/recreational vehicle industry.
You can learn more about the "movers and shakers" of the RV and manufactured housing industries by planning to visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame (www.RVMHHallofFame.org). This relatively new facility showcases actual units from 1913-1970's. In addition, there is an extensive library/archives area for those who want to do more in,-depth research and study on the subject. I felt compelled to put this information down in writing for the benefit of my son, who recently purchased his first RV. I told him he was continuing the family tradition, started by his grandfather in the 1930's. My son lives in the Shasta area, so it seemed appropriate to include a photo of an old-time RV with the "Shasta" name on it that is on exhibit at the museum, along with the photo of his RV, which currently is parked in Shasta.
The last photo collage shows me standing beside one of the trailers in the museum, that I imagine as being pretty similar to the one my father built. Although museum goers cannot go inside the vintage trailers on display there, the doors are open so you can view what they look like on the inside. In the lower half of the photo, my son is shown standing at the entry of his RV, as he showed it to me for the first time last week. So on this Labor Day holiday weekend, it seems appropriate to do a blog post about how my father labored to build a home on wheels for him and his bride, and how his family is continuing the tradition. Miles of smiles! Tricia
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Take A Farmer's Market Expedition!

When was the last time you made an expedition to a Farmer's Market? They are fun to go to in your local area, but I enjoy them even more away from home, because I get to see fruits and vegetables that don't grow in the Ozarks. The Farmer's Market held weekly in front of the government buildings in San Francisco was especially memorable for unusual vegetables, many of them with Asian origins. The Fairbanks, Alaska, Farmer's Market is memorable for the SIZE of the vegetables---I saw cabbages there that were four times bigger than what we grow in the Ozarks. Then there was the Santa Barbara, California, Farmer's Market. It was different because it was held at night, with the organizers blocking off downtown streets, and there was the feeling of "Fiesta!" throughout the exhibitors. My latest expedition was to the Farmer's Market in Klamath Falls, Oregon---an area in Southern Oregon near the California border that is considered "high dessert" climate. Up until a few years ago, I only thought of Farmer's Markets as a colorful place to do photography. But then, my professional organization, The American Dietetic Association, started a big educational emphasis to get dietitians to encourage consumers to do more of their food shopping at Farmer's Markets. One result of their lobbying efforts was that arrangements were made to allow folks enrolled in WIC, or other government nutrition programs, to use their government vouchers at Farmer's Markets, as well as typical grocery stores. There were several reasons that the ADA was promoting Farmer's Markets. The one prediction that ADA made that I saw play out in the last few years was this: The nation's food distribution system during the 1990's was workable because it was based on the premise of inexpensive fuel costs, so shipping food from hundreds of miles away did not add significantly to the cost of the food. Produce at the big grocery stores was so low priced, local growers could not compete, and often just quit producing food locally. Hence, a few years ago, there weren't that many Farmer's Markets still flourishing the way that they had before mass transportation. However, just as the ADA predicted, fuel costs rose, and consequently the price of produce at the big grocery stores rose significantly. But since many local Farmer's Markets had shut down because of no business, consumers did not have any other options. Therefore, most places in the U.S. are still in a "rebuilding" process to get local Farmer's Markets flourishing the way they did in the first half of the twentieth century. Another reason for keeping your local farmers in business, is the potential for food shortages in the event of a national disaster. If nobody local is growing any food, then when a disaster strikes, causing disruption in the nation's food transportation system, many areas could go without food, because local farmers have quit growing produce.

Besides enjoying photographing the colorful foods at a Farmer's Market, I also like to photograph the colorful bouquets of flowers available, as well as the pretty customers taking the bouquets home with them. In this photo, three generations of beautiful ladies are as pretty as the blooms they are holding. A big thanks to Stacy, Kaylee, and Jan for doing their part to make the KF Farmer's Market a part of their shopping experience.
Besides meeting friends at a Farmer's Market, you can also meet the people who produced the product. It makes a meal that much more enjoyable when you have an idea of the effort that went into getting that item to your table.
Most Farmer's Markets have booths with items besides food---with craft booths being very common. In the upper left hand photo, a crafter displays the gourd that she turned into a piece of art after many hours of labor. The Klamath Falls Market, like many others, had live music, which adds to the festive atmosphere (upper right photo). And here's the thing I especially like about Farmer's Markets---they will cut up the produce and give you a sample taste. The lower right photo shows something I got to try for the first time---a "lemon-variety" cucumber. It was yummy, and illustrated Psalm 34:8 "..taste, and see that the Lord is good." SOOooo---get out there and TASTE! Miles of smiles! Tricia
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