Fording rivers and walking on sand

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, March 16, 2008

We've walked a total of about 970 miles since leaving Vancouver on November 11, 2007. We nearing the 36th  Parallel, after being as far north as the 53rd while crossing Canada. We've given about 45-plus presentations, with about 12 more to go. The money we've found along the roadsides now totals $20.27.  Recently we chuckled over a bumper sticker on a bicycle that read, "Car is not the answer" which the owner had created by modifying an FCNL "War, is not the answer" bumper sticker.

We will be out of e-mail and cell phone range for most of our walk down Highway 1 between Monterey and San Luis Obispo, and our next blog upload will be on April 3 from Santa Barbara. REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN DOUBLE CLICK ON ANY PHOTO AND YOU WILL SEE A LARGER IMAGE.  

On our last morning in San Francisco we walked with Jan Hartsough to the thriving farmers market at the UN Plaza, which she helped found 28 years ago! It was exciting to walk through the many stalls of mouth-watering offerings at a year-round market. We stopped to buy a couple of oranges for the trip.We Vermonters are amazed at the amount and variety of produce offered in early March. After saying our heartfelt thanks to Jan and giving hugs, we walked down to the Nature Conservancy to meet Eric Broque, who would be returning the pocket knife which had fallen from Louis's pocket while we had been visiting at Eric's home in Oakland. Eric also handed us a package containing many useful Nature Conservancy-logo camping items, including a flashlight, knit cap, and scarf.

After saying good-bye to Eric once more, we walked to the train station. A train ride to Redwood City became necessary when we had to delay our talk with San Francisco Friends and couldn't fit in the two-day walk as originally planned. We are learning much about being flexible. We were able to get around fairly easily with the cart on the sidewalks of San Francisco, but we were surprised to find we were basically "invisible" to passers-by. With our signs, flags, and packs of travel gear, we must have blended right into the background of crazies, homeless, and counter-culture types that inhabit the city. For example, to avoid a long flight of steps, Louis took the cart onto a small elevator along with three people in business suits. Assuming they'd be as curious as people had been in other communities, Louis cheerfully announced that he was walking from Vancouver to San Diego, but the three other passengers kept talking about their various business deals as if he hadn't been there.

We were thankful for the efficient trains that run from San Francisdo to San Jose through the "Silicon Valley." We were met in Redwood City by Sandy Farley, our next host. She and her husband Tom were active with Quaker Earthcare Witness from the early days, and it was great to reconnect with them. They are talented storytellers and very entertaining hosts. They have plans for building an energy-efficient home in a vacant lot next door. We enjoyed our evening with them and hearing of their future plans. We also enjoyed attending the mid-week worship at Palo Alto Friends Meeting wearing our new Peace for Earth t-shirts!

The next day Tom walked with us through Redwood City, Menlo Park and into Palo Alto and the Stanford University campus. Sandy and Eric Sableman, who is very active on Unity with Nature work in Palo Alto Meeting and Pacific Yearly Meeting, met us for coffee during our walk and then met up with us again on the Stanford campus. We visited the Carnegie Center, a very innovative facility of the Global Ecology Research Center. We spoke with a professor who is overseeing research on photosynthesis and with a graduate reseach assistant working on wind technology. This included a lively exchange on whether technological advances could supply the demand for future resouces without also requiring conservation and population limits. After lunch at Stanford with Eric and Tom, we visited the Rodin Sculpture Garden. There we were met by our next host, Will Rogers, who took us by the Andy Goldsworthy serpentine sculpture, which was constructed entirely with stones salvalged from buildings damaged by the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes.

Will is a film student at Stanford, and we were to spend the night at the home he shared with nine other Stanford students. This was definitely a new housing experience for us on the walk. The students were engaging and interested in our walk, and since they are quite focused on their studies and electronic entertainment and personal interactions, their time for cleaning and straightening-up is minimal--and it showed. Will said, "If you can stand it you are welcome to take a shower here." After some rest, we walked with Tom to an Afghan restaurant, and there we met Marion of the Palo Alto Meeting Unity with Nature Committee. After dinner we walked to the Palo Alto Friends Meetinghouse and gave our presentation. We then caught a ride back to Will's house for the night.

In the morning, after we had enjoyed breakfast and good conversation with Will, Bill Kirkpatrick of the San Jose Meeting arrived and we headed off for a 20-mile day. We had met Bill and his wife Anna almost two years ago at the FGC Gathering in Tacoma, where we had participated in a Couples Enrichment workshop. Bill was our guide for the day, and we detoured through a scenic "Baylands Path." The patch connected fresh and salt water ponds and lots of marshes, and we could see many wonderful birds of all ilks. We took special pleasure in viewing a male Anna's Hummingbird, which perched on a branch near the path at just the right angle to catch the morning sunlight and display its breathtaking magenta plumage. The 5.2 miles of bay walking took most of the morning since we could hardly take two steps without stopping to gawk at birds (see photo). So, by lunch time we had only walked about 8 miles and still had 12 to go.

At lunch we met with Melissa Hippard, the executive director of the Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club which includes San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Benito counties. We shared the frustrations and hopes of the kind of work we were engaged in. We found strong agreement on the point that we must find ways to project a positive message in our environmental witness. We then began our urban walk to Santa Clara, near the border of San Jose. Bill was a fun and upbeat person to walk with, and our chatter and laughter helped make a long day go by easier. Louis was happy that Bill happily volunteered to push the cart more than half the time. By the time we got to Bill and Anna's home we were pretty darn beat. We plopped ourselves on the couches while poor Bill soldiered on to fix a delicious dinner. We made lame offers to help, but we're relieved when he declined. Ivy Iverson, our San Jose contact, arrived for dinner, and soon Anna got home from work and we had a great time together. However, soon after dessert, our eyes were drooping, and we excused ourselves to fall into bed for a long night's sleep.

The next day was a rest day until our presentation at San Jose Friends Meeting. We caught up on computer work and explored San Jose with Bill (while Anna took a bike ride). Louis did some home energy conservation consultation with Bill and Anna, which gives him much satisfaction. In the evening we walked to San Jose Meeting, whose meetinghouse is the oldest in California. We could feel the spirit of Hannah and Joe Bean who founded the Meeting (which later became part of the College Park Association, a distinct branch of Quakers), and of Rufus Jose, a well known early 20th-century Quaker theologian and writer who spoke there a number of times while he was a lecturer in religious studies at Stanford University. After an abundant and creative potluck dinner we gave our presentation which was followed by an inspiring discussion.
Ivy Iverson, our San Jose contact, had filled our schedule thoroughly. On Sunday morning we enjoyed a breakfast potluck and presentation by Friend Jamie McLeod, an environmental planner for the County of Santa Clara Water Department and a member of the Santa Clara City Council who gave an impressive talk about the sustainability initiatives to use clean energy that Santa Clara is doing and her role in that.
After worship, a large group of San Jose Friends joined us to walk on the Los Gatos River recreation path to Anna Lanborn's home for a potluck lunch. Anna is an artist and has been part of a Northwest Earth Institute discussion group. During lunch, an Iranian man, Ali Moayedian, and his son Zaul joined the group to interview us about our mission for his website about peace. (payvand mean unity in Farsi). We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them!
After lunch, some walkers turned back, but a handful forged ahead with us on a well-used recreation path to reach a rendezvous place near a beautiful reservoir that would coincide with the 900-mile of our journey. We commandeered a passer-by to photograph the historic moment.
We were then driven over a very pedestrian-unfriendly two miles of winding mountain roads to the Presentation Center, which is run by a Catholic order called the Presentation Sisters. The order has focused on education over many decades. The sister have come to understand that their spiritual calling includes caring for the earth and teaching people about Earthcare as a sacred duty. They purchased the buildings and grounds of a former boys school. Recently they invested much time and money in building a gold LEED certified facility and now proudly lead "green" tours. Sister Pat Marie Mulpeters gave us a brief tour that afternoon, and after settling into our room we headed off to dinner at Ivy's home at the Las Cumbres Community. We were joined by Ann, also of San Jose Friends. Ivy had built her home in the 80s as a small energy-efficient model with an incredible view of the Monterey Bay.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfasting with the five sisters who live at the Presentation Center, and then Pat Marie gave us a more thorough tour. When we parted we walked the nature trail, thoroughly in awe of the beautiful costal redwoods and ruggedly beautiful terrain. Ivy then gave us a ride toward Boulder Creek over some more dangerous winding roads until we felt that the shoulders were reasonably walker-friendly. After walking a couple of miles into Boulder Creek, we settled into the local library, where Louis worked on the QEW website for a few hours. After lunch we caught a bus to Ben Lomond and trudged up the steep winding road to Quaker Center.
Lenore Diane, our Santa Cruz contact, joined us on the road for the last part of the walk to Quaker Center. At the office, we were introduced to Tristan, an intern who offered to accompany us to our cabin. We also met Greta Stone, a co-director with her husband Jacob, of Quaker Center and agreed on a time to join them in a potluck dinner.
Dinner discussion that evening at Greta and Jacob's was stimulating. The group included two Alaska Friends who were visiting Greta and Jacob. Others in the group were Jeff and Kathy Richman, who would host us several days later, Lenore, Tristan, and David and his children (who had to leave early). After feeling that enough attention had been paid to us, Ruah suggested that each person share what they thought was the most pressing problem of the day. The answers included, but weren't limited to: population pressure on the planet, the Irag war, the economic system, and meat-eating (from the perspective of our indifference to the suffering of sentient beings).
After the discussion, Jeff and Lenore came to our cabin and we labored together for several hours to chart our route from Ben Lomond to Santa Cruz and then on to Monterey. We hadn't imagined there would be so many choices and unknowns. Below we are including two emails we received from Lenore which will give you a flavor of the decisions we faced (and the humor):

From Lenore before we arrived at Ben Lomond:

I hope you and Louis are doing well.  I have a few strange questions as I am tying up the details for your stay in Santa Cruz County.  Before I pose the questions, I'll give you background info. to set the stage.  I hope this is clear: You are entering a territory of rivers and tides - two rivers in particular:  the Pajaro River and the Salinas River.  You have to get over them. There are bridges farther inland in the cities (small cities) but we are counting on the weather to remain good, therefore, you will be several miles from the cities.  You will be at the ocean and will have to cross at the ocean, maybe.   (When you get here we will set some time aside so I can go over the maps and territory with you.  There are options.) These are the possible scenarios listed randomly: 1.  The Pajaro River is the first river you have to cross.  At present, I have your staying at the Sunset Beach campground.  Crossing the river is do-able.  The tide is low a bit after 10AM and you will be camping about 3 miles north of the river.  Therefore, you will need to get an early start to get to the river by 10.  The catch is that you will have to wade through the river!  I don't know if you like surprises so I decided to let you know now.  The up side to this is that the water will probably not be higher than your calves.  This is the most direct way to get across the river if you want to walk along the shore and camp out.  1a. If you don't want to do this, then you will need to walk some miles inland and it will change your course, taking you away from the ocean. 2. The Salinas river is a different story. This is going to sound a bit far out, but hey, this is Santa Cruz.... The shortest way to cross the Salinas River is to wade through it near the ocean because you will be on the beach.  The down side is that it will be closer to high tide, although not there yet, when you arrive and well, the water may be up to your chest, depending on how tall you are, or there about!   The reason for this is because the area "Moss Landing" and several miles before and after between Sunset Beach and Marina has practically no place to stay overnight and there aren't any Friends for miles in either direction.  A Friend, Jeff, scouted it out for me yesterday and passed through it four times.  He is a reliable person, clerk of the Live Oak preparetive meeting.  He is not only willing to meet you and do this with you, he is happy to cross the river with you.  The water may be up to anywhere from your waist to your chest.  He is even willing to carry your backpacks over his head to keep them dry for you, if necessary.  Sounds a bit nuts, maybe, depending on who you are.  The up side is that this area is not very populated and there will probably be nobody around.  You can take your clothing off and do it aux-natural.  I imagine, however, it will be more than delightfully refreshing - probably dern cold!  It would be for about 40 yards, I think or feet, I'm not sure. But it isn't a huge crossing.  And, you will probably do it as fast as you can!  But then again, you're from Vermont.  The water may feel warm to you, maybe.

And here is an email from Lenore to Jeff after we left Santa Cruz which gives you another flavor of all the work and fun people have when helping us:

Ohlone Otter??  Hmmm, ok, I can do this....

Earthwalk Coordinator to Ohlone Otter: come in Ohlone Otter, come in.  Bogies are on the sand. Ohlone Otter I have located 22 Via Buena Vista, Monterey.  Two humanoids are inhabiting the area - Jasters.  One is "Shirley"  the other is "Robert", female and male respectively.  It appears they have some technology in their possession.  I've discerned a telephone: (831)641-9337.  I have communicated with the female.  She articulates well in English.  She stated she and the male live in this location.  It is off of Pacific Street which goes straight to the warf.  I google earthed it and it appears that the Bogies may be able to pick it up from the bike path and walk about 2 miles up Pacific and turn on Via Buena Vista.  It looks like a leading straight to a meeting. John Woolman could do it.  Double check this and then deliver the names, number and address to Bogies after they land on your terrain.

Made contact with Watsonville agent.  Affirmed successful rendevous and delivery of Sal.  Watsonville agent is aware of inventory and saw it on Sal. Good job Ohlone Otter.  Repeat: good job.   Will go over inventory with Monterey humanoid Jaster.  Inform Bogies: Earthpeace coordinator will email inventory to Monterey humanoids - Top Secret delivery of Sal running smoothely.  Thanks Ohlone Otter. 10/4. Over and out. 

Earthpeace Coordinator

We had decided to temporarily give up "Sal," our cart, for the trek from Ben Lomond to Monterey since much of our walking would be on sand. We sorted and rearranged our gear to be able to carry our camping equipment, food, and minimal clothing in our backpacks, including one small front pack for Louis. Sal and various bundles of equipment would be taken ahead by relay and would be waiting for us in Monterey.
Walking mostly downhill into Santa Cruz without "Sal" was easy and uneventful. Our next host, Marjorie Swan, was another long-time Quaker activist who awed us with stories of a life of service to peace and social justice. We're always amazed when people like Marjorie are excited to meet us! It was soon time to be driven to Santa Cruz Meeting for a great potluck and our presentation.
In the morning we were treated to omelets and fresh fruits and vegetables prepared by Marjorie and her live-in assistant, Graciela Laake. Even with Marjorie's difficulty with walking, we were honored when she announced her determination to walk with us for several blocks. Graciela continued with us for a couple more miles and acted as guide through the maze of bay-front streets in Santa Cruz. We were excited to see our first ocean waves and surf-boarders of the trip. We also enjoyed coming to know Graciela, including her stories about living in a kibbutz in Israel for several years before moving to the U.S.
All along the way that day we were constantly being stopped by passers-by who either had heard of us or were drawn by our flag and sign. We had more encounters per hour than ever before, and we thought of how this contrasted to our walk through San Francisco, where hardly anyone had paid attention to us.
In Capitola a group of school children in a beach-front park started asking questions about our mission and got very excited about what we were doing. While one young girl showed us her peace medallion that she always wears, others were taking photos of us with their cell phones. We then suggested a group photo, telling them it would be on our blog. They enthusiastically arranged themselves around us. This kind of excitement gives us hope for a future generation that will genuinely care about peace, justice, and Earthcare. THANKS TO YOU, YOUNG PEOPLE OF CAPITOLA!
Soon after parting from Graciela, we were joined by Ken Foster, whom we had met the night before at our presentation at Santa Cruz Friends Meeting. We learned that Ken's parents had founded the Meeting. Ken has a landscaping business which focuses on ecological design. He was riding a sophisticated recumbent bicycle, which he locked up a railing along the sea wall in order to walk with us. We loved hearing his stories of his politically active parents (who had also founded the Santa Cruz Friends Meeting) and later were delighted  to encounter his brother, David, in Capitola where David works for the city. After a pizza lunch by the sea wall, we took a few photos, said our good-byes to Ken and David, then headed towards the beach for our planned walk along the shore of Monterey Bay.
At New Brighton Beach our written directions from Lenore told us to begin walking on the hard-packed sand along the water's edge. Ruah was glad to have her sandals with her and she felt like a real Californian. We slathered on sun screen in anticipation of strong afternoon's exposure. The sun was bright and the water glistened as we enjoyed the roar of the waves.
We kept remarking about the audacity of the people who had built so many gigantic homes as close to the water as they could, risking damage from storms and erosion and slides. We couldn't imagine how most of them could even obtain insurance in such a precarious location. As we left the developed areas, we began to walk along where there were cliffs on our left and ocean to our right. We anticipated that some of the shore birds would be new to us, and we excitedly got out our binoculars and bird book. We also saw signs and roped off areas where nesting site of Snowy Plovers were being protected. There weren't many other people on the beach, and we felt like we were in paradise. We were also pleased to see how litter-free the beach was. At Aptos, Louis was interested to see a beached cement ship that has been a local landmark for the past 80 or so years or so. (Later he did a web search to find out more about its fascinating history.)
Although the sand was fairly hard, it was still more of a challenge to walk on it since our feet lost traction as they made depresssions, and continually walking on a  slope put extra stress on our joints and muscles. Louis was carrying somewhat more weight in his two packs than he had been carrying when the cart was part of our entourage. So we were pretty darned tired by the time we reached our campsite at Sunset State Beach. Emelyn Buskirk of Live Oak Preparative Meeting came to the campground with delicious lentil soup for our dinner. Her birthday was to be the next day and she wanted to spend it with us, so we made arrangements to meet again for lunch. We then set up camp, made our dinner, sat by the campfire, and dropped off to sleep.
We had to get started the next morning in time to get to our first river crossing by low tide, since it would be impossible to cross with higher water. It had rained during the night and some of our things were damp in the morning. But Louis made a nice fire and we enjoyed our hot drinks and oatmeal. After breaking camp we climbed over some dunes and down to the beach again to head out. At low tide, the Pajaro River is about 25 feet wide.
Ruah started to cross first, picking a spot that looked the least turbulent. Then she let out a big "Ohhh!!!" as her feet sank into the bottom almost like she was in quicksand. The water, which we had been told would be only ankle high, reached up to her knees. The current was somewhat strong and she worked hard to keep her balance. Once Ruah was across, Louis began to ready himself for the crossing by removing his shoes and rolling up his pants. Just then, Ruah received a phone call from Jeff, who had scoped out our crossing a week and a half before. He explained that the shallowest crossing would be where the river and the ocean waves met. This advice came too late to help Ruah, but she relayed Jeff's instructions to Louis over the noise of the surf, and he was able to cross without much difficulty.
We were feeling very accomplished after this experience when we spotted Emelyn walking towards us. We enjoyed the rest of day at Moss Landing, having lunch, birding, and watching sea lions and otters at play. We were fascinated to see a group of some 90 sea lions that had taken over a floating dock as a siesta haven. We also delighted in watching the many otters floating on their backs while snoozing or eating what they caught while diving. There were many Surf Scoters in the harbor, as well as in the waves. We felt privileged that Emelyn wanted to spend her birthday with us.
While entering a café, we met up with a remarkable traveler. Joff Summerfield, a young Englishman, who had begun riding his velocipede bicycle (one of those old-fashioned types that have the very large front wheel and a really tiny back wheel) from London in 2006. He was talking with two other bicyclists that he had just met when we took the opportunity to have our photo taken with them. He had a bright spirit and had already crossed Europe and Asia and had just landed in San Francisco with the plan to pedal south to San Luis Obispo over the same route we will soon be traveling before he heads for New York City. Louis was particularly interested in the ways that Joff had adapted his bicycle to carry his travel gear. Joff also talked about his repairs along the way, and we appreciated how very resourceful he had to be to accomplish such a feat. You can read more about him at
In the late afternoon we caught a bus to Salinas. Per our instructions, we found that Jeff was returning home from work on the same bus, and we would accompany him to his home in Salinas. This city is the hometown of John Steinbeck, and there are many memorials there to his writings and life. On the bus ride we passed through Castroville, which is the "Artichoke Capital of the World." In Salinas we spent a memorable evening with him and Kathy, feasting on great food and then singing into the night with Jeff's great guitar playing and knowledge of countless oldies by the Beetles, Simon & Garfunkle, and others. We were sorry that we had to turn in fairly early since we knew our big day lay ahead.
In the morning Jeff and we were to meet up with Graciela and her friend, Tim Kensit, back at Moss Landing. They were eager to help us with another a big crossing where the Salinas River enters Monterey Bay, and we were happy to have an extra couple of people with us. It was important to reach the river at high noon to take advantage of the easier crossing conditions at low tide. We encountered some fairly walking conditions, due to softer sand, which challenged all of us to keep up a good pace to reach our goal in time. But we did it! We got there at 12:05 p.m. Nevertheless, we were concerned to see such a strong current, even if the water wasn't expected to be very deep. Jeff, our fearless guide, agreed to go first to gauge the depth and strength of current. We could see he was struggling to stay upright, but he with danced with glee as he reached the other side. He then took off his pack and left his shoes to return to assist Ruah. (We had put on bathing suits that morning, not wanting to cross naked as Lenore had suggested.) Ruah gave her backpack to Jeff and struck out for the far shore, wavering in the strong current and feeling at times like she was going to be swept out to sea.
Graciela went next, with Jeff's assistance. Tim followed, while Ruah stood taking photos and cheering folks on. Louis was the last one to cross. Tim had taken Louis's smaller front pack, and Louis continued with his heavier backpack. He too found it a struggle to get through the deepest part against such strong current, even with the assistance of his walking stick. Jeff quickly waded out to take Louis's hand and help him through the last several yards. Once Graciela and Tim had reached Ruah and Jeff and Louis were about to finish crossing, a rogue wave rushed over our packs and shoes and sundry items that supposedly had been left on dry land. Graciela, Tim, and Ruah scampered to save things from being washed out to sea. They were laughing so hard while trying to keep things dry that when all the items of gear had been picked up and taken to higher ground the group of us fell to the sand in elated exhaustion. We cheered our bravery and had lunch and many toasts.
During the day's walk Graciela and Jeff had fun signing Argentinian folk songs (Graciela grew up in Argentina and Jeff has family there.) The hours passed very quickly as we shared deeply about past experiences and we also took time to appreciate the stunningly beautiful landscape and seascape we were walking through. We were quite surprised to found how few other people were using the beach, and most of the day we had it all to ourselves. There were just a few fishermen and some hang-gliders and beach combers as we neared the state park near the town of Marina. At one point, Tim and Graciela climbed a dune and motioned to the rest of us to climb up so that we could all appreciate an especially beautiful view of dune land vegetation colors and shapes of the dunes.
We kept talking about our adventure for the rest of the day's beach walk into Marina where we were to spend the night and part from our fellow musketeers. We celebrated our parting with a mini-feast of crackers, avocados, smoked oysters, and oranges. Then we made the decision to stay in a motel instead of an RV park, since we needed to dry our things out and there was rain expected that night. We kept reflecting on what a wonderful day it had been, even up to the point where we fell asleep from exhaustion.
After breakfast the next morning we found the recreation path that goes from Marina to Pacific Grove (which is just beyond Monterey). We met up with Jeff and Kathy, who walked into Monterey with us, with a stopover for coffee along the way. Although the day started with the threat of rain, we were once again lucky to avoid any downpours and even had the sun peeking out at times. We really enjoyed our time with Kathy and Jeff and again felt like we were with kindred spirits. Before parting, we posed for a group picture at Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey because it was a memorable spot for Louis. When he was about 15 years old he and his mother had visited relatives in Monterey for several days and he remembered having fun sailing in a small boat in the park.
We arrived at the home of Shirley and Bob Jaster in mid-afternoon and began once again getting to know our new hosts. Bob is an expert on the USSR, Russia, and South Africa and has written several books about the issues in those countries. One book was co-authored by Bob and Shirley. We are aware of the many gifts of new people in our lives and enjoy all these encounters. It was a relief to be reunited with "Sal" and our computer once again. We needed to spend a lot of time on our blog since we hadn't had our computer since leaving Ben Lomond. Shirley made us a delicious dinner and after some time of sharing we were back at the blog writing.
Sunday we worshiped with Monterey Peninsula Friends Meeting and returned to the Jasters' house for a scrumptious potluck lunch before giving our presentation at the local library. People from the community came as well as local Friends. Our presentation and our walk prompted a goodly amount of discussion and questions.

We are now preparing for our next adventure and look forward to the beauty of the Big Sur Coastline. We hope you are all continuing to enjoy our entries and we love hearing from you.

Ruah and Louis
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