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Old 06-13-2013, 08:02 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cam22 View Post
Though they had the boat rides when I was a kid, we never did that tour. My Mom was not fond of being in a cave in the first place. Putting her on a boat would have sent her over the edge. Several youth groups I was a part of did different tours, but always the walking ones.
How cool to have been able to visit so much! I bet that's a popular field trip in that area!

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Mammoth is on our to do list for next spring... Aprilish - thanks for the info on the tours. Sorry to hear about the mess with the cabin thought. Ugh.
You will have a great time at Mammoth Cave!

Thanks for following along everyone....
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:05 PM   #32
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Tuesday June 11th
We left Mammoth Cave around 11:30am. We just had a short 2.5 hour drive in front of us to Madison, Indiana but we had a few pit stops; lunch and grocery shopping.

I drove this leg of the trip as well. Indiana *does* accept out of state learners, but most of our driving was still in Kentucky plus Wesley was still working on his books for his English class. Maybe he will drive the next leg of the trip…

For lunch, we knocked an item of off Dillon (14)’s “bucket list”. Last road trip he had this idea that we should eat Kentucky Fried Chicken while in Kentucky. Unfortunately, for whatever reason it just didn’t work out last road trip- can’t remember if we couldn’t find one or what… So, this year- I looked up a KFC that would be between Mammoth Cave and Madison before we got out of Kentucky and Dillon was thrilled. So, that is where we ate for lunch. And apparently KFC is very popular in Kentucky because we saw several other KFC’s, so I don’t know why we couldn’t find one last year…

This KFC had a Taco Bell inside with it, so the two little boys had tacos and the rest of us had chicken and sides. Dillon was disappointed that this particular location didn’t offer mac and cheese as a side; that was the first time I’ve seen a KFC not have mac and cheese- my kids love their mac and cheese….

After our lunch stop, we had a short 1.5 hour drive left. Crossing into Indiana, we were exiting a bridge and there was nowhere to stop for the welcome sign pictureL. I’m hoping we can get a pic of the sign when we exit the state; we did get a video of it as we drove by though. Also, entering Indiana- we crossed back into Eastern Time Zone.

I had wanted to stay at Clifty Inn- the hotel inside the park, but despite trying to book nearly six months in advanced they only had one single room available for our dates and the one room only had one bed. Had the room had two beds, I may have considered it since we have gotten one single room at times when hotels permit it and simply take an air mattress or two- but with one bed, I didn’t even ask if they could accommodate us and I simply ended up booking a hotel outside of the park.


We stopped for groceries at Kroger which was literally right next to our hotel. So, after loading up on groceries, we headed to check in.

They didn’t have any connecting rooms available, so we just got two rooms side by side. There must have been a cranky bug in the air because Wesley (15) and Austin (10) were both easily frustrated while we unloaded the van…. Wesley was griping and Austin ended up telling someone to shut up, not sure who. I felt they were acting like that because they were trying to hurry too much just so they could get on-line or watch the television in the room; so once we unloaded, we had a nice long no electronic break while we talked about how embarrassing their behavior was. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again…

Once in the room, I immediately noticed the windows had no curtains. So, once we got settled I inquired with the front desk and they let me know they were simply in the process of cleaning the curtains and would be putting them back on shortly which was no problem.

We spent the evening just lounging around the room; we had microwavable dinners for dinner which the kids just loved. We don’t even have a microwave at home, so this is literally something we only have once in a blue moon…

Madilyn was excited about a show that was coming on the Disney Channel- Ant Farm. The television was having commercial advertisements for it to come on at 9:30pm. I was shocked they had a show geared towards children coming on so late. At 8:30pm, I had everyone get in the bed and told Madilyn to turn the volume down really low and hopefully the little boys could fall asleep with it on. When 9pm came and the little boys were still awake, I told her she would have to turn the television off so they could get to sleep but that she could go in the big boy’s room and watch it with them. I ended up falling asleep myself along with the little boys once the television was off. Madilyn returned to the room around 9:45pm saying the show was only half over, but that she simply couldn’t stay awake any longer… I walked over and told the older boys they needed to turn everything off as soon as that show was over as we had a busy morning ahead of us.

I woke up at 4:30am and as I type this it’s 5am and I’m trying to be quiet and not wake anyone else up. The hotel breakfast opens at 6am, but I won’t start waking children up until 7am. However, I expect they will be up on their own soon… The park opens at 8am and I plan to leave here around 7:45am as the park is literally just two miles away…

The kids woke up just after 6am and by 6:30am we were enjoying the hotel breakfast which had a good variety including hot selections such as bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy…

After breakfast, we headed back to the room where we finished getting ready and I packed up lunch in the cooler to take with us to the park.

We were only a few miles from Clifty Falls State Park, so we were there in no time. The park opened at 8am and we arrived just as they opened. There was a $7 entrance fee to the park (only $5 for Indiana residents). We were given a map at the entrance as well.

We drove around for a few minutes trying to look at the map and the road signs to see which trail we wanted to take, but we were getting confused so I pulled over to take a good look at the park map.

Most of the time when we visit a park; state or national- I try to look thoroughly through the information and maps online and figure out ahead of time which trails we want to take taking into consideration the difficulty of the trails and the payoff (as in what views will be offered on the trail). Clifty Falls had a fair amount of information on-line, but not quite enough for me to decide on our trails ahead of time.

We were trying to figure it out quickly because it was set to be in the 90’s today and I knew we needed to get done with any hikes early before it got too hot. After looking thoroughly through the map; I decided there were two trails we would like to do. Trail 7 was labeled as moderately rugged and was a 1.25 mile hike with a view of Little Clifty at the end (and then you had to hike back). Trail 5 was labeled as rugged and was just under a mile with views of the Ohio River.

I decided we would just stop and do which ever trail we came to first. So, we drove through the park slowly looking for trail heads. We quickly spotted trail 7, got a parking spot, and headed off on our hike.

The trail was VERY rugged! There were a LOT of steps; both deck style steps and rock formation steps- the rock steps were slick and uneven with a drop off if you slipped. We had to climb/duck under overhangs through a section of the trail as well. About half way through the trail, I was concerned that if it got much more difficult I wouldn’t be able to do it. Winston (7)’s legs were too short for some of the rock steps; they were so steep and far apart. Madilyn walked behind him in case he fell backward. During the trail, we had several view vantage points that allowed us to see some smaller waterfalls. I think we were looking at Little Clifty, but can’t be certain as there was no signage.

We finally made it to the end of the trail and unfortunately it was truly a disappointment. While the waterfall is pretty, it wasn’t the best view and given that we have Amicalola Falls in our backyard- it just didn’t hold a candle…. On top of that, the view point was right off the road and we could’ve driven to itL. I was glad we took the trail though because the views *on* the trail were better than the one where the trail ended and we would’ve missed those views had we just drove to the trail end.

We then had to turn around and walk all the way back, but the walk back was easier. On the way back, we saw a sign saying trail 7- rugged to the left and moderate to the right. Had we seen that the first time, we would have taken the moderate option, instead we had already walked through the rugged section. But again, I’m glad we did it.

Next, we headed to the Nature Center that is inside the park. They had a few snakes that are common in the park on display as well as some informative displays and a short film on some of the wildlife in the park. We enjoyed it, but didn’t stay there too long.

Clifty Falls State Park has a swimming pool with waterslides inside of it. I had read about this on-line, but really couldn’t see paying $3 to swim when would be having several swimming options on the trip in general. But the kids spotted the pool and they were dying to swim.

Our pool bag was already in the trunk, as we hadn’t unloaded into the hotel since our current hotel doesn’t have a pool. We enjoyed our picnic just outside the pool at some picnic tables- sandwiches and chips. After lunch, we headed into the pool. They had a really big waterslide, a smaller water slide, and a diving board. The kids loved it! Winston was desperate to ride the big water slide, but was too scared. We found out an adult could ride with him, and they allowed Wesley to count as an adult so Wesley rode down with him and Winston loved it! (I didn’t ride with him because my eyes are really sensitive and I try to avoid getting the chlorinated water in my eyes)

Winston wanted to ride by himself, but was too scared. He kept whining off and on because he was having inner conflict about wanting to ride the slide, but being too scared. I kept encouraging him to ride, and he finally did. I stood near the end of the slide just in case he needed me, but he did great! After that he rode the slide over and over again- literally that is all he did the rest of the time we were at the pool- just ride the slide again and again. I was so proud of him!

Once we left the pool, we headed back toward the hotel. Unfortunately, our current hotel doesn’t have a laundry room and we really needed our laundry done. We spotted a coin laundry just a mile from the hotel. So, we put our laundry in the washer and ran to the hotel for showers. After showers, we headed back to the laundry mat to finish up the laundry after stopping by Dairy Queen to get some Blizzard’s to enjoy while the laundry finished. The dryers only ran in 8 minute increments which mean we were constantly re-starting it. Eventually the laundry was done, and we headed back to the hotel for the night.

Back in the room, we had microwavable dinners again for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening just chilling out in the room.

**On the way out of Indiana, we were able to make a u-turn and get a picture with the welcome signJ**
Here are the pictures for this portion of the TR:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNuJt8aRIhk
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:04 PM   #33
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Glad the path at Clifty Falls turned out well in spite of its ruggedness. Great idea to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky! Being from Kentucky I had never thought about that.
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:21 PM   #34
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Great update. Sorry to hear the rugged trail was so tough - but the pool and waterslide sounded like a great reward for all that hiking.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:35 PM   #35
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Bravo for hiking up the rugged trail! Too bad the waterfalls were disappointing. The kids look like they wer having a blast at the pool. The photos of Winston coming down the slide are so cute!
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Old 06-14-2013, 02:02 AM   #36
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Sorry that trail was so tough! Sounds like you're having a great time so far.
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:26 AM   #37
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Glad you had a great time despite the hard trail! Great video!
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Old 06-14-2013, 03:42 PM   #38
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You've already done a lot in the early part of the trip. Great Videos/Photos.

I chuckled when reading about eating KFC in Kentucky being on Dillon's "bucket" list. It is so entertaining to see what kids come up with.

Looking forward to more.
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Old 06-14-2013, 07:57 PM   #39
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You've already done a lot in the early part of the trip. Great Videos/Photos.
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Old 06-15-2013, 02:58 PM   #40
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Sorry the trail was so rough! I love that you had KFC in Kentucky! That reminds me of a road trip my sister and I took many years ago where we ate cheese in Wisconsin!
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:43 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Cam22 View Post
Glad the path at Clifty Falls turned out well in spite of its ruggedness. Great idea to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky! Being from Kentucky I had never thought about that.
Thanks for following along... I'm still glad we went on the trail... And I'm glad Dillon achieved his goal

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Great update. Sorry to hear the rugged trail was so tough - but the pool and waterslide sounded like a great reward for all that hiking.
I'm glad we went through with the trail and the pool definately cooled us off!


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Bravo for hiking up the rugged trail! Too bad the waterfalls were disappointing. The kids look like they wer having a blast at the pool. The photos of Winston coming down the slide are so cute!
I'm still glad we did the trail just for the sake of having done it.... I loved that Winston ended up loving the slide!

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Sorry that trail was so tough! Sounds like you're having a great time so far.

Thanks for following along; We *are* having a great time so far!

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Glad you had a great time despite the hard trail! Great video!
Thanks!!

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Originally Posted by shazza View Post
You've already done a lot in the early part of the trip. Great Videos/Photos.

I chuckled when reading about eating KFC in Kentucky being on Dillon's "bucket" list. It is so entertaining to see what kids come up with.

Looking forward to more.
He's been talking about eating KFC in Kentucky for a year now, so I'm just glad we got to do it

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You've already done a lot in the early part of the trip. Great Videos/Photos.
Thanks!

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Originally Posted by KMB733 View Post
Sorry the trail was so rough! I love that you had KFC in Kentucky! That reminds me of a road trip my sister and I took many years ago where we ate cheese in Wisconsin!
That's funny.... When we make it to Wisconsin, we will definately have to eat some cheese!! LOL
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:47 PM   #42
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Thursday June 13th
No alarm was set this morning and we woke up around just before 7am. We got ready quickly and headed down for the hotel breakfast.

After breakfast, we started packing for the day뭩 drive into Richfield, Ohio where we would be visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

While packing up, I sent Madilyn and Austin to do a quick sweep of the van; check for any garbage and such that may need to be picked up before we start loading it with our things. At that time, I realized we couldn뭪 find the van keys. We looked and looked, went to the front desk and asked had they been turned in, shook out the blankets, unpacked things that had been packed. This went on for about a half an hour and I was truly getting worried Finally, I found them in my purse.

Madilyn and Austin returned from checking the van for garbage, saying that it was sprinkling and thundering in the distance. So, we rushed to get the trunk loaded up before it down poured. Within seconds of getting the trunk loaded, it poured like crazy with the wind blowing like crazy and sirens going off. We asked the front desk about the sirens, but they said it was just sirens for severe thunderstorms. Where we live, they only set off sirens if there is a tornado warning, so this was odd to me.


We stayed put in our rooms for about a half an hour until the storm subsided, then we loaded up the middle of the van and headed out. With the weather situation, I figured it would be best if I continued to drive for now

I had in our itinerary that we were set for a 5.5 hour drive today, so we were all thrilled when I plugged the address in the GPS and showed us as just having a 4.5 hour driveJ. We stopped to get a bag of ice for the cooler right away, and then we got going

Crossing into Ohio, the sign was on an overpass and we were unable to get our picture token with the sign, which was a disappointment. However, we did take this opportunity to make a U-turn and take our picture with the Indiana sign that we had missed out on when we entered Indiana.
Getting out of the van in Ohio, we immediately noticed the weather change. It wasn뭪 exactly cold, but it was a little chilly especially given it was the hottest part of the day I was concerned we hadn뭪 brought proper attire given that the weather would only get cooler the further north we drive. Last summer we didn뭪 pack 뱖inter clothes either and I regretted it; I can뭪 believe I뭭e made the same mistake again this year.

Hopefully we will have the same opportunity with the Ohio sign when we head into Michigan.
We stopped for lunch at Steak and Shake. I had the Fresco burger with onion rings and it was delish! Dillon had a chili dog, Austin had corn dog nuggets, and the other three had chicken tenders. Three of the kids had milk shakes as well and they were huge milk shakes, but to my surprise two of the three finished them off

We stopped off at a rest area for a bathroom break. I offered/encouraged Wesley to take over driving since the bad weather seemed to have made way to clear skies, but to my surprise he didn뭪 want to drive. So, I continued on driving
Once again, we are staying *outside* of the park which I generally tried to avoid. The lodging in the park was very limited and had age restrictions on young children- it뭩 set up more like a boarding house than a hotel the few options that would have accommodated us were very expensive and in the long run I just decided on a hotel 2.5 miles from the park


We arrived at our hotel around 4pm. Once again, there were no connecting rooms available so we are just side by side which is fine but less than ideal.


I packed our griddle and brought it with us on the trip. For dinner, Madilyn made bacon on the griddle and I sliced up lettuce and tomato- so, we had BLT뭩 for dinner and it was delish.
This hotel has an indoor swimming pool. The oldest two boys didn뭪 feel like swimming just yet, but the three younger ones were dying to get in the pool. So, I took them down to the pool for about an hour. We literally had the pool to ourselves. The pool itself was very warm which was nice and it also had a hot tub. The kids and I both enjoyed our pool time.


Once back in the room, we took turns showering and just relaxed for a few hours before turning in for the night. Its 8:30pm as I write this and I뭢 about to get the little kids in the bed

We got up around 6am the next morning and quickly got ready for the day before heading down to breakfast. The hotel offered a continental breakfast with limited selections; yogurt, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, cereal, toast, and waffles.


After breakfast, I made up sandwiches to pack into the park for a picnic lunch later in the day.
We are only a few miles from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, so we left around 7:50am and were easily there by 8am.


The weather was a little cold this morning; low 50뭩, but once we got to moving on the hikes it was a very comfortable temperature. But if you sat still for long it was pretty chilly and we probably could뭭e used jackets

But once in the park, things got confusing. The park has a very weird layout. The park is spread around and you drive through residential areas to get from one part of the park to another, making it very confusing to navigate.


We started out heading to the Boston Visitor Center with a plan to get a map and junior ranger books before hitting the trails.

The weather was chilly this morning; with high뭩 barely getting to the 60뭩- but we still wanted to do the trails early.

Unfortunately the visitor center was closed until 10amL. Thankfully we spotted a ranger walking the sidewalk and asked for directions to Brandywine Falls Trailhead.

Turns out we were nearly 15 minutes from Brandywine Falls due to the layout of the park. Once we found the Brandywine Falls trailhead, we took off on the trail. The trail was moderate; it was certainly not rugged but due to having a ton of stairs, I would label it as moderate. It was a 1.5 mile trail and we really enjoyed it. The trail offered two great overlooks of the beautiful Brandywine Falls! Seeing the falls was well worth the hike!

Next, we headed to the Ledges Trailhead. There was signage up saying that Icebox Cave was closed due to efforts not to spread white nose syndrome. I was hesitant to walk the over 2 mile trail knowing that the cave was closed, but went ahead anyhow. I am SO glad we did! My kids proclaimed this the best trail they have ever walked! And I am inclined to agree with them The ledges were simply amazing and words do them no justice! It was like a giant maze in there! We would think we were at a dead end and then we would see a small opening that you either had to squeeze or crawl through! It was amazing to see and soooo much fun to experience! We took our time and spent a considerable amount of time working our way through the Ledges.
Next, we headed to the Everett Road Covered Bridge. I was under the impression this was a scenic drive and you drove under the bridge. Turns out they no longer allow cars to drive over it and we had to park and hike to it; it was a very, very short hike and easy peasy to do. They had some information posted about the bridge and how they used to have thousands of these covered bridges in Ohio due to the wooden flooring- the wooden floors/roads were hard to replace, so they covered the bridges to protect the floor. But once bridges started being made of metal that lasted much longer than wood, there was no longer a need to cover bridges in general. I thought that was pretty interesting

Up next, we found a picnic spot for lunch. We had sandwiches and Cheetos.


After lunch, we headed for the now open visitor center to pick up Junior Ranger badges. We spent a bit of time in the visitor center working on the ranger activities and watching the park film.
At 1pm we headed toward the Peninsula Train Station that is inside of the park; Cuyahoga Valley NP offers a scenic train ride and I had purchased tickets online.


Our train was to leave at 1:35pm. We had a little bit of time to spare, so the three youngest children got sworn in as Junior Rangers. It timed out perfectly that the train pulled into the station as they finished being sworn in.


We quickly boarded the train and got situated in our seats. We left the Peninsula Station and headed for Akron. The views were only so-so. It was fairly scenic for part of the trip, but at least half of the trip went through residential type areas and overall I was less than impressed. Once leaving Akron, we headed back to Peninsula. After Peninsula, the train heads to Rock Head and then back to Peninsula. I asked what kind of views we could expect heading to Rock Head and was told basically the same type of scenery we had seen between Peninsula and Akron; so we opted to get off the train and call it a day. I have no regrets doing the train, but I would not do it again. There was a lady on the train reading a newspaper, this should have tipped me off that it wasn뭪 going to be a super scenic ride.

I absolutely loved Cuyahoga Valley National Park! It is the tenth most visited NP in the country and I can see why!! We probably should have stayed in the park longer, because I have a feeling there were more wonderful things to see; our experiences in the park were absolutely wonderful minus the train ride and even that was enjoyable, just not as breath taking as the rest of the park had left us.


Once back at the hotel, we made chicken fajitas on the griddle for dinner. I sliced up the left over tomato and lettuce from last뭩 BLT뭩 to go with it and they were delish and every last bite was eatenJ.
We swam again in the indoor pool for a bit. Winston has been on the cusp of swimming for a bit now, but something clicked this evening and he is now officially swimming; yay! He still needs lots of practice, but he *can* swimJ.


After the pool, we took showers and got ready for bed

Tomorrow, we head into Michigan!

Here are the pictures for this leg of the trip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUB_JrxTu3E
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:06 PM   #43
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Awesome update! Sounds like you all had such a good time. Especially since the weather was so scary when you started out.

Your griddle meals do sound delicious. That's a good idea to take the griddle. Also, thanks for the report on Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I've put it on our list.
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Old 06-15-2013, 11:06 PM   #44
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Another great day! These trails sound wonderful! I'm actually wondering why my parents never took us here as kids as we traveled annually when I was growing up to visit my mom's family in Ohio. We usually used national parks as additional vacation points.
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Old 06-15-2013, 11:43 PM   #45
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That park looks wonderful! The falls are beautiful and the ledges trail looks challenging and fun. I love the moss-covered ledges.
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