Northwest USA & BC Summary 2014

Pine trees silhouetted against the backdrop of the Olympic Mountains on the other side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the fading sunset orange to yellow to green to blue with the full moon rising

October 8, 2015 | Posted in Canada, Oregon, Places, Summary, USA, Vancouver Island, Washington | By

After a long train ride out West, we spent some great times traveling around Washington, British Columbia and Oregon by train, bike, bus, krr, boat, foot and dogsled. Ok, not the last one. We met lots of friends, old and new, and spent time in stunning natural beauty.

Idaho (Aug 29) Transit only

We passed through Idaho on the train to Seattle.

Washington (15 nights: Aug 29-Sep 3; Sep 8-18)

Distance cycled:326 mi / 524 km / 2,117,849 RJP
Elevation gained:15,147 ft / 4,617 m
Elevation lost:15,129 ft / 4,611 m
Brake failures:2

Our route took us from Seattle up to Vancouver Island, British Columbia via the San Juan Islands, back to Seattle and then around the Olympic Peninsula. We cycled through incredible beauty in Washington and met really great people there. We also had some of the more challenging days of our trip so far in that state, both physically and mentally. We added the Olympic Mountains to our growing “must revisit with more time” list, but do not really recommend cycling the Olympic Peninsula. I had been looking forward to that ride for quite a while, but in the end it did not deliver. It was a nice ride, but the scenic views were too few and far between to be worth putting up with the absolutely horrible log truck drivers. These guys to date constitute the very worst group of people we have encountered on our trip, by a very wide margin. We felt in danger the entire time we were there and it is only a matter of time before someone is killed by their willful negligence.

Snowcapped mountains peek out between closer mountains.

One of the very few views of actual mountains on the Olympic Peninsula

Mountains in the behind a golden ranch

Another rare view near Forks, WA

Rays of sun shining through pine trees in Olympic National Park, Washington

The beauty of the Olympic Peninsula is in the forest

Beautiful red leaves against the blue sky

Fog shrouded rock pillars on Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

And the sea

Sign saying the dates of forest plantations and harvest and "JOBS GROW WITH TREES"

If only those jobs could be filled by humans with some respect for life.

We chose the perfect time to visit western Washington because the rains had not yet started and there was an unbelievable amount of apples, pears and especially blackberries available for picking on the side of the road.

The cutting board at our campsite includes free pears found on the side of the road.

Free fruit breakfast!

Corncobs bungeed to the front of Brandy's bike rack.

Some other good produce from the farmers market!

"Coming Soon - Cannablyss"

Other Washington produce coming soon!

The ferries throughout the San Juan Islands were a nice treat, although we didn’t see any whales. Orcas Island claimed both of our brake failures. On a steep downhill, Brandy lost a screw, which dropped the pad it was supposed to hold in place. This is a serious design failure in some otherwise excellent brakes. Luckily she was able to find the pad and poached a screw from another, less crucial spot. I had a brake cable snap while coming down a very large hill. Luckily I had been on the road previously and knew I could coast it out without worrying about some busy junction or crazy potholes. I would find out in a couple months that I had made a serious rookie mistake of not investigating why it snapped (hint: that should never happen).

Brandy sits in a low limb of a huge pine tree in a virgin forest on Orcas Island

Great trees on Orcas!

The sound outside of the Orcas ferry terminal with imposing grey clouds.

Waiting for a ferry that never came.

Riding on an empty road underneath alongside a raised highway causeway and some huge pipes.

Sometimes you find yourself riding in some really random places.


With some random names

A Model T era car driving down the road

One day there was a classic car rally along our route and we saw dozens of these guys. Most of the passengers were dressed in period wear as well.

Working in front of a huge window with a view of Mt. Rainier

My “office” in Seattle

Lewis staring longingly into the display window of Metsker Maps

And my paradise!

Yellow leaves at night match the school buses behind

Just a final cool photo from Seattle

British Columbia (5 nights: Sep 3-8)

Distance cycled:85 mi / 136 km / 549,770 RJP
Elevation gained:2,155 ft / 657 m
Elevation lost:2,178 ft / 664 m

We had a short, but sweet visit to Vancouver Island. The cycling was fantastic and almost entirely on trails. Our host in Sooke, Justin had been a Couchsurfing guest of ours in NYC back in 2013 right after we first decided to take this trip. We stayed at his parent’s beautiful B & B / blacksmith shop and had a good time catching up.

Silhouettes of the blacksmith tools over the background of chopped wood outside

The forge

Pine trees silhouetted against the backdrop of the Olympic Mountains on the other side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the fading sunset orange to yellow to green to blue with the full moon rising

View from the B & B

Victoria is a cute, but pricey town where we had the best sushi of our lives and our first intro to bike polo! I think this town has some good soul, but we just weren’t there long enough to get too far into it. My cousin came down to meet us and we took a krr trip out to the isolated tourist town of Port Renfrew. Everyone says this part of the island is incredibly beautiful. It is definitely pretty, but I was a bit underwhelmed, perhaps because the coast here is so much like Lake Superior so the scenery was not much of anything new for me. We got some more time with BIG trees, which is always magical.

The nearly full moon above a brightly lit colonial building

Victoria at night

Hiking back from Big Gnarly tree

Hiking back from Big Gnarly

A large cliff overhangs a sandy beach on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Aside from the mountains across the channel, this could be Lake Superior.

Vancouver Island is HUGE. We only got to see a tiny part of it. Hopefully we’ll get a chance for further exploration in the future.

Lewis riding on a path next to a highway stacked with billboards

This one spot on the ride from Victoria to the ferry was littered with billboards. We learned that BC prohibits billboards on highways, but this short stretch is on First Nations land, so the laws do not apply.

Oregon (23 nights: Sep 18-Oct 9; Oct 16-18)

Distance cycled:215 mi / 346 km / 1,398,469 RJP
Elevation gained:4,340 ft / 1,323 m
Elevation lost:7,926 ft / 2,416 m

I had not been back to Oregon since I lived there in 2008, so I was excited to come back to this place I loved, but I was also nervous that it might have changed, or I might have changed or my expectations would prove ruinous in one way or another. I am happy to report that Oregon withstood the scrutiny. Portland was as comfortable and welcoming as ever. I was a bit disappointed to find that the city seemed to have stagnated a bit in terms of cycling infrastructure and ridership. Portland was still high on its early cycling successes when I lived there and there was so much optimism about capturing an even greater share of travel. They hadn’t backshifted, thankfully, but there did not seem to be much new, aside from a sweet car-free bridge they were about to open. People I spoke with in the industry seemed a bit disheartened about some negative governmental changes and lack of energy. The low-hanging fruit has been picked and the momentum doesn’t seem to have been enough to take it to the next level. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome city for cycling. I was not at all surprised after six years living in New York to find Portland much smaller and quieter than I remember.

A neighborhood traffic circle is surrounded by flowers painted on the road

Portland: still funky and bikeable

A fully enclosed yellow tricycle waits for a train

A good way to keep cycling through the wet Portland winters.

A cool mural on the side of a house

I was not at all let down in the brewery department. There are tons of good ones and we even took a brewery bike crawl one day. On the west coast I discovered that it’s not that I don’t like IPAs, I just don’t like crappy, stale East Coast IPAs. The difference is night and day. On the flipside, IPAs are great on the West Coast, but the diversity seems to be a bit limited. Everyone makes great IPAs, but not much else. It could be worse though, it could be 1976 and everyone could be making light American lagers only.

Brandy looking bored and cool with a beer flight

From hipster…

B & L looking like dorks with our tasting

To dork in three breweries.

Brandy and Joe packing up the bikes after a successful brewery crawl.

And that’s a wrap!

We also made it down to Bend, and so did our bikes despite being strapped to the top of a Ford Focus. The town was a little more car-oriented than I expected, but we had a nice time, and again, the breweries did not disappoint. The ride over the mountains to Corvallis was spectacular and we got some hot springs action.

Bikes tied to the top of a Ford Focus

Lewis cycles through lava fields

Over the pass to Eugene

Strings of morning mist hang over the fields

Morning out of Eugene

"Nimrod" location sign

A sign just for us!

We had been looking forward to cycling the coast down to visit my family in Humboldt County, CA, but when we compared the timeframe with the distance, it was looking like we’d have to do some heavy pedaling and I was starting to have some pain that couldn’t be ignored. When my friend Araby offered us the use of her krr AND said she’d go with us to the Phish show in Eugene, it was a done deal. I realized that I probably would not have enjoyed cycling the coast too much anyway. There is too much tourist traffic, not enough shoulders and not enough views. I think the way to see it would be to hike the Oregon Coast Trail and I intend to do that someday. The sea has captured my affection on this trip in a way it never has in the past. Although I consider Humboldt County to be part of the Pacific Northwest in spirit, it’s still in California, so I will lump it in with my Southwest summary.

A starfish wrapped around a seaweed stalk on the sand

The ribbed texture of the sand fills the screen

My conviction that Oregon is a very special place has been reinforced. We had an incredible time checking out some new parts, drinking delicious beer and best of all, reconnecting with some great friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I have also had my conviction reinforced that krr travel is for the birds. It could be great for certain things (like Phish tour!) and some of my greatest childhood memories are of grand road trips out west. These are the trips that started it all for me! But man, sitting in a krr driving around just sucks the life out of me these days. It puts me into a state of hypnosis where I just float unconsciously from one place to another. The air is stale, even with the windows rolled down, there is no connection to the places we pass through and I become insanely tired for no reason at all. After all the cycling touring I have come to realize just how much of the experience of a place is missed when boxed in.

Typical Pacific Northwest coffee hut

I love the coffee huts in the Pacific Northwest

B & L posing with loaded bikes

See you soon!

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USA / Canada Summary 2014

The full moon rising over a wall of sunset highlighted mountains in Arizona

August 3, 2015 | Posted in Canada, Places, Summary, USA | By

Well, we’re back in the USA for the summer. What better time than now to finally post the summary of our travels in the USA last year?

What follows contains excessive quantification of our activities from my last day at work, May 2nd, 2014 until we crossed the border to Mexico at Douglas, Arizona / Agua Prieta, Sonora on Christmas Eve, 2014. I kept track of a bunch of random useless information with respect to our cycling, sleeping, breweries visited, transit used and other stuff so put on your nerdiest glasses and get ready for the good times. I have broken it into the following posts:

Whole Country Nerdy Stats (this post)
East Coast & Hawaii

This post contains our overall numbers for USA/Canada for a bunch of different categories. The regional posts contain brief-ish reviews of what we did in each state and some photos.

Closeup of a spring tree bud

This is what we did with our first free day together – sat around in a park looking at blossoms and watching people play frisbee.

Moving the last of our stuff across town from our apartment by bike

Packed up and ready to move out of our apartment

We entered 24 US states and 1 Canadian province, but 3 of those were drive-thru and 5 were train-thru:

–       New York (May 2-7; May 16-19; Jun 24-27; Jul 1-14)
–       New Jersey (May 7; May 16; May 19-20; Jun 24)
–       Pennsylvania (May 7; May 16; Jul 14) Transit only
–       Maryland (May 7; May 16) Transit only
–       West Virginia (May 7; May 16) Transit only
–       Virginia (May 7-16)
–       North Carolina – Lewis only (May 13-14)
–       Georgia (May 20-21)
–       Hawaii (Jun 21-23)
–       Vermont (Jun 27-Jul 1)
–       Ohio (Jul 15)
–       Michigan (Jul 15-17)
–       Indiana (Jul 17) Transit only
–       Illinois (Jul 17-22)
–       Wisconsin (Jul 22-Aug 27)
–       Minnesota (Aug 27-28) Transit only
–       North Dakota (Aug 28) Transit only
–       Montana (Aug 28-29) Transit only
–       Idaho (Aug 29) Transit only
–       Washington (Aug 29-Sep 3; Sep 8-18)
–       British Columbia (Sep 3-8)
–       Oregon (Sep 18-Oct 9; Oct 16-18)
–       California (Oct 9-16; Oct 18-31)
–       Nevada (Oct 31-Nov 4)
–       Arizona (Nov 4-Dec 24)

We cycle toured in 12 states: New York, Hawaii, Vermont, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona; and 1 province: British Columbia. This brings our state cycle touring total up to 17, with the inclusion of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Maine and one duplicate, Wisconsin from previous tours.

A road in a state

A road in a state


Total USA & Canada Cycling
Distance cycled2,080 mi / 3,347 km / 13,516,150 Ron Jeremy Penises (RJP)
Elevation gained62,106 ft / 18,930 m
Elevation lost64,608 ft / 19,693 m
Cycling days70
Total nights236
Paid (inc. camping)43
Lodging TypeNights
In Transit6
Vacation Rental3
Sleeping SurfaceNights
Air Mattress12
Drove All Night1

We were in a bed almost half of the nights of our trip, which seems crazy when I look at it, but it makes sense considering how much we visited friends and family. The hammock nights were woefully few because we kept chasing autumn down the west coast and nights were a bit too chilly. Luckily we were able to dust them off once we got to the coast of Mexico.

An immaculate bedroom

Our first Warm Showers hosts had an immaculate house that reminded us of a B & B and made us nervous to bring our filthy asses in there, but they were so welcoming that we quickly felt at home.

Our hammocks strung up in a beautiful oak grove with tons of afternoon light

Our poor neglected hammocks got used a couple times, such as this incredible stealth spot in Wisconsin.

Host TypeNights
Spontaneous host12
Warm Showers8

We spent the most nights with friends (thanks guys!), including a handful of nights with friends of friends. We had no specific host on 82 nights, but this category is varied because it includes wild camping, park camping, hotels and hostels. Family put us up for 39 nights, which is actually a bit less than I thought it would be.

A great night highway shot with blurred lights as we pass a semi

We took a photo of every place we slept, or spent the night, as was the case when we drove all night back from Virginia.

Other Miscellaneous Crap

Here is some more miscellaneous crap we kept track of.

Water FeaturesNights
River / Stream12
Arroyo (inside)3

Yes, I know camping in arroyos is foolish, but it’s also the best place to camp for every other point aside from being washed away in the night.

The full moon rising over a wall of sunset highlighted mountains in Arizona

Sweet moonrise from our cozy little arroyo

Hot Springs2
Music Festival4

We would have loved to have way more fires than that, but I’m pretty conservative about the conditions in which I’ll build one, especially in the desert. The backpacking nights come from four hikes: Na Pali Coast; Pololu Valley (I barely count this because it was a 45-minute hike in and out); Lost Coast Wilderness; and Superstition Wilderness. All four of these places demolish anywhere else I have backpacked in amazingness factor. Most of the 23 concerts are Phish, but we did also see Primus on the Primus and the Chocolate Factory tour, which was one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Two weekend music festivals make four nights and very good times. Mosquitoville nights are nights where the mosquitoes are “out of control” and are not good times until you’re in your hammock laughing maniacally watching the bastards bouncing off the net.

A huge bonfire shoots sparks into the night visible through the silhouettes of other revelers.

Our most badass fire (note, I did not build this)

Closeup of the boys playing at Bill Graham from our sweet spot on the floor

Phish at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco (sorry to cut you off Page)

We spent 38 nights on public land (5 in official Wilderness Areas). Below is the breakdown by agency or type.

Public Land Management EntityNights
State Park19
National Forest7
National Park3
County Park2
Other state land1
The trail is a thin line in the middle of a cliff, with steep drop offs to the sea. Tiny hikers are barely visible.

Approaching ‘Crawlers Ledge’ on the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii

The bright sun casts rays through the mist over an empty, still dark bay from behind the mountains hugging the coast. Huge wave lines come in perpendicular to the camera and stretch off to the horizon.

Sunrise from camp in the Lost Coast Wilderness in California

Looking up at Brandy staring off at epicness, sharing the view with desert vegetation

The complex beauty and epic scenery and feelings of the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona cannot be captured in a hundred photos, but this one actually tells a lot of the story if you let it sink in.

Public Transit

Ethan Allen Express: Saratoga Springs, NY-NYC
Lakeshore Limited: NYC-Toledo, OH
Wolverine: Jackson, MI-Chicago, IL
Empire Builder: Columbus, WI-Seattle, WA
Coast Starlight: Eugene, OR-Oakland, CA
California Zephyr: Richmond, CA-Truckee, CA

Napping in Montana on the Empire Builder to Seattle

Napping in Montana on the Empire Builder to Seattle

Regional Rail
Metra Union Pacific North: Clybourn Station Chicago, IL-Kenosha, WI
Sounder: Seattle, WA-Everett, WA
BART: Oakland, CA<->Berkeley, CA
BART: San Francisco, CA-Richmond, CA
Caltrain: Bayshore Station San Francisco, CA-Palo Alto, CA
Caltrain: San Jose, CA-22nd Street Station San Francisco, CA

Awesome roll-on bike car with tons of capacity on the Caltrain

Our bikes make some friends on the Caltrain

East River Ferry: Wall St-Greenpoint (home from my last day of work)
East River Ferry: Randall’s Island Special
Washington State Ferries: Anacortes, WA-Orcas, WA
Washington State Ferries: Orcas, WA-Friday Harbor, WA
Washington State Ferries: Friday Harbor, WA-Sydney, BC
Washington State Ferries: Sydney, BC-Anacortes, WA
Washington State Ferries: Clinton, WA-Mukilteo, WA
Washington State Ferries: Edmonds, WA-Kingston, WA (on a bus)
San Francisco Bay Ferry: Alameda, CA-San Francisco, CA

On the Washington State Ferry to Orcas Island, bicycles are leaned against the wall in the car bay.

Our bikes enjoying a break on the ferry to Anacortes

Intercity Bus*
Kauai County Bus: Lihue, HI-Hanalei, HI
Kauai County Bus: Hanalei, HI-Kapaa, HI
Kauai County Bus: Kapaa, HI-Lihue, HI
Hawaii Island Hele-On Bus: Kona, HI-Hilo, HI-Pahoa, HI
TheBus: Pupukea, HI-Honolulu, HI
Olympic Bus Lines Dungeness Line: Seattle, WA-Port Angeles, WA
The Wave (Tillamook County): Tillamook, OR-Portland, OR

*I believe that all of these but the Dungeness Line are operated as local, fixed-route bus services, but I am categorizing them as intercity because of the distances.

An old school bus all tricked out

Sadly not in revenue service

Local Transit
We had our bicycles with us for the most part, so generally did not use local public transit, despite my professional interest. However, we did use local transit in the following cities:

NYC, obviously
Atlanta, GA (rail)
Chicago, IL (bus & rail)
Milwaukee, WI (bus)
Phoenix, AZ (rail, we tried to use the bus, but after three passed us with full bike racks, we just rode the 25 miles)

Phoenix Light Rail

Phoenix Light Rail

Multi-Use Trails

These are all trails we rode on for more than some short, half-assed amount. What that cutoff means is chosen arbitrarily of course.

East River TrailNew YorkManhattan
University Parks TrailOhioToledo
Centennial TrailOhioToledo area
Lakeshore PathIllinoisChicago
Pike Bike TrailWisconsinKenosha
County Bike TrailWisconsinKenosha & Racine Counties
Root River PathwayWisconsinRacine
MRK TrailWisconsinRacine County
WE Energies TrailWisconsinRacine County
Oak Leaf TrailWisconsinMilwaukee County
Ozaukee Interurban TrailWisconsinOzaukee County
Eisenbahn State TrailWisconsinWashington County
Sheboygan Interurban TrailWisconsinSheboygan County
Friendship TrailWisconsinCalumet County
Fox River TrailWisconsinCalumet & Brown Counties
Wiouwash Trail WisconsinShawano County
Mountain Bay TrailWisconsinShawano County
51/29 TrailWisconsinMarathon County
Green Circle TrailWisconsinPortage County
Wisconsin River TrailWisconsinWood County
Southwest Commuter PathWisconsinDane County
Badger State TrailWisconsinDane County
Capital City TrailWisconsinMadison
Highway 2 Bike PathWashingtonSnohomish County
Centennial TrailWashingtonSnohomish & Skagit Counties
Tommy Thompson TrailWashingtonSkagit County
Lochside Regional TrailBritish ColumbiaVancouver Island
Galloping Goose TrailBritish ColumbiaVancouver Island
Interurban TrailWashingtonSnohomish & King Counties
Cheshiahud Lake Union LoopWashingtonSeattle
Olympic Discovery TrailWashingtonClallam County
Waterfront Park TrailOregonPortland
Eastbank EsplanadeOregonPortland
(San Francisco) Bay TrailCaliforniaSan Mateo County
Guadalupe River TrailCaliforniaSanta Clara County
The Wiggle*CaliforniaSan Francisco
Pioneer TrailCaliforniaNevada County
I-225 East Beltway TrailNevadaVegas Area
St. Rose Parkway TrailNevadaVegas Area
Amargosa TrailNevadaVegas Area
UPRR TrailNevadaVegas Area
Arrowhead TrailNevadaVegas Area
River Mountains Loop TrailNevadaVegas Area
Arizona Canal TrailArizonaPhoenix
Sun Circle TrailArizonaPhoenix Area
Other unnamed canal trailsArizonaPhoenix Area
The LoopArizonaTucson
Aviation BikewayArizonaTucson

*Note that the Wiggle isn’t really a trail, but it’s cool enough to mention here. It is a signed route that “wiggles” through many blocks to follow the best grade east/west to reach the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park.

A selfie of both of us riding on the crushed limestone Friendship Trail

On the Friendship Trail in Wisconsin shortly before one of our stealth mosquitoville nights

The trail is a long wooden plank causeway across a bay

We are about to discover yet another blackberry motherlode on the Tommy Thompson Trail into Anacortes, Washington

The signage for the Wiggle is a squiggly arrow

The Wiggle in San Francisco

Breweries & Other Alcoholeries

We also visited the following breweries and makers of other fine alcoholic substances. I’ve noted where we filled a growler, just because.

Maker NameStateCity
Dirk the NorsemanNew YorkBrooklyn
Brooklyn BreweryNew YorkBrooklyn
Crank Arm Brewing CompanyNorth CarolinaRaleigh
Kona Brewing CompanyHawaiiKona
Grand River MarketplaceMichiganJackson (growler)
Haymarket Pub & BreweryIllinoisChicago
Saint Francis Brewing Co.WisconsinSt. Francis
Sprecher Brewing Co. WisconsinMilwaukee
Three SheepsWisconsinSheboygan
Red Eye Brewing Co.WisconsinWausau
Bull Falls BreweryWisconsinWausau (growler)
Hydro Street Brewing Co.WisconsinColumbus (growler)
Spinnakers Gastro BrewpubBritish ColumbiaVictoria
Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & MeaderyBritish ColumbiaSooke
Astoria Brewing CompanyOregonAstoria
Nehalem Bay WineryOregonNehalem
Pelican BreweryOregonTillamook
Hopworks Bike BarOregonPortland
Upright BrewingOregonPortland
Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.OregonPortland
Commons BreweryOregonPortland
Base Camp Brewing CompanyOregonPortland
Crux Fermentation ProjectOregonBend
Deschuttes Brewing CompanyOregonBend
Block 15 Brewing Co.OregonCorvallis
Flat Tail BrewingOregonCorvallis
Lost Coast Brewery & CaféCaliforniaEureka
Redwood Curtain Brewing CompanyCaliforniaArcata
Faction BrewingCaliforniaAlameda
Rock Wall Wine Co.CaliforniaAlameda
Magnolia Brewing Co.CaliforniaSan Francisco
Southern Pacific BrewingCaliforniaSan Francisco
THAT BreweryArizonaCottonwood
Mother Bunch BrewingArizonaPhoenix
Prescott Brewing Co.ArizonaPrescott
Beaver Street BreweryArizonaFlagstaff
Hops and Vines WineryArizonaSonoita
Hannah’s Hill WineryArizonaSonoita


Cool art produced by welding bicycle wheels and gears together adorns the wall at Crank Arm Brewery

Crank Arm Brewery Raleigh, NC

Brandy admires the art at Commons Brewery Portland, OR

Brandy admires the art at Commons Brewery Portland, OR

I could go into all sorts of additional detail with crazy maps and reviews and plenty of other crap, but I’m going to leave what remains of my eyeballs in my skull and leave it at that. The next post will begin the less detailed state summaries. The first will be the East Coast & Hawaii (Hawaii included because it was sandwiched in time by the East Coast).

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