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A DIY Nomad Charts Her Own Course

“Conventional” has never been part of this RV traveler’s vernacular. After selling all her personal belongings and hitting the road in a 1978 Dodge Commander, Jessy Mueller set off on a solo RV journey that doesn’t seem to be losing any steam. Since 2017, her approach to deliberate living has slowly taken her around the country, living in the moment while sharing the joy, humor, and unfiltered moments of nomadic life along the way on her blog and on Instagram.

Before her great escape, Jessy was a 30-something single from Minnesota who was looking for a change. After 14 years working pizza delivery and later in marketing and branding, she began saving money for her future rolling digs. Following a solo vacation to Colorado, she came home inspired to make her daily life more centered around nature, travel, and living with less. For her, RV life was the answer.

Jessy Mueller carries out repairs on the RV’s wooden walls (left) and renovates cabinetry in the kitchen.

Renovation Rejuvenation

Without experience in renovations or even RV travel, she scoured Craigslist until coming across her vintage Dodge Commander motorhome. With extensive water damage in the back, she spent over a year rebuilding the walls and ceiling, while also remodeling the rest of the RV. With intentions of mostly boondocking, she installed solar panels and ditched the original toilet for a compost toilet. For many, this kind of a project would seem overwhelming, but Jessy doesn’t shy away from challenges.

Before and after dining area: Staid cushions and table (left) are replaced by a new configuration with a swivel tray table.

Before and after images of a kitchen nook
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Experience New Mexico Enchantment in USA RV Park

Take the “highway that’s the best” to USA RV Park in Gallup, New Mexico. The highly rated campground lies on Route 66 (following Interstate 40) and offers a host of amenities to guests. From the Gallup campground, visitors are just a short drive to iconic Desert Southwest attractions, from Native American trading posts to world-famous archeological sites. 

If the name, Gallup, sounds familiar, you may have heard the town mentioned in the iconic tune, “Route 66.” A half-century since Nat King Cole’s version of the hit song first started spinning on turntables, Gallup still gets plenty of love from travelers looking for “kicks” along the fabled Mother Road. The John Mayer version played on the hit 2006 Disney movie, “Cars.”

Enchanted Park

The 136-space USA RV Park has sites as long as 80 feet and most sites are full hookups. Several pull-through sites accommodate guests, with ample shade trees and room for slideouts. Most sites in the four-season campground offer WiFi and almost all are all-weather sites. Dog owners can turn their pooches loose in the enclosed dog run, although there are some restrictions for canines. 

USA RV Park pool

Guests have lots of amenities at their fingertips, including a restaurant, groceries, and RV supplies. Also entertaining visitors are a heated pool, putting green, and playground. A game room keeps the fun going. Guests can take advantage of the laundry facilities, restrooms, and showers. With a 10/10*/9 Good Sam rating, the campground meets high qualities of cleanliness. 

Statues of bears gathered around a travel trailer.
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What to Expect in the First Five Years of RV Ownership, Part 2

Two weeks ago, we looked at repairs related to recreational vehicles with a focus on those items that pertained to the house portion of the unit. But problems can also occur to components and systems that make up the vehicle chassis.

What to Look For

Many RV repair issues start with the chassis, which supports all the vehicle’s accessories, components, and rolling ground equipment. This includes a frame, towing tongue, axle(s), suspension assembly, leveling jacks, and possible battery and propane tank mount for a simple tent trailer rig. At the extreme end of the spectrum, a motorhome’s chassis may support multi-axles, a prime mover, transmission, complex suspension assemblies, vehicle braking systems, steering configuration equipment, and much, much more.

Photo: Peter Mercer

Needless to say, there can be a lot of components and complexity, depending on the RV type and model. When it comes to chassis repair, a simple trailer or smaller motorhome chassis can generally be serviced by most RV dealer service shops. However, some of the larger vehicles use custom-manufactured chassis such as Freightliner, Spartan, or Roadmaster. These may have specific warranties and services in addition to those of the coach builder.

Mind the Chassis (and Related Components)

So, what are some of the more common chassis-related issues that occur within the first five years of ownership?

Jeep towing Airstream trailer
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Get Covered: Selecting the Right RV Insurance for Your Needs

You don’t realize the urgency of having the best RV insurance you can afford until things go sideways. This fact became clear to us on a cold night in Texas, when a mysterious cracking noise woke us up. We stayed there in silence for a few minutes, listening and wondering what it could be. The noise grew louder, almost like the crackling sound of hot flames leaping up from a roaring campfire. “FIRE!” I yelled while jumping out of bed. But when I ran into the living area, there was no orange glow or heat to be found. That’s when I saw the cause. The tempered glass on our dinette window was shattering into a mosaic of tiny pebbles, and falling all over the cushions and table.

RV Insurance Comes Through When You Need It

Most of us accept RV insurance as a necessity. Anything can happen when moving from place to place. But as my husband covered our window with cardboard and I cleaned up the mess, we were flummoxed. Our fifth-wheel had been stationary for a month, sheltered from the effects of potholes, bad drivers, and icy roads. At least we thought it was safe. At breakfast, we remembered seeing a campground worker wrestling with his weed whacker near our gravel site. At one point we thought we heard a rock hit our window, but shrugged it off.

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Later, when the claims adjuster visited, he found a tiny hole in the glass. Upon inspection, he surmised that our fiver had been hit by a flying rock. When hot afternoon temperatures gave way to a steep, unexpected hard freeze at night, he deduced that the weakened window lost its integrity and shattered to pieces. We will never really know if that was the real cause. But what we do know is that getting the best RV insurance coverage we could afford is why we had a new window installed in less than 72 hours.

Your Lifestyle, Your RV Insurance

Insurance is something you never want to use. But the peace of mind that RV insurance can provide in a bad situation is priceless. Our shattered window was a minor incident, but now I know that if we ever had a bigger problem, our policy will help us get our life back in order. But just don’t ask me what kind of plan we have, because, after all, my RV is not your RV. I can’t guarantee that the coverage we selected for our RV is the best protection for yours. We all have different RV insurance needs, but we can learn how to shop for RV insurance from each other. Here are some of the things I considered when I was looking around for a policy.

A truck camper parked at a site with towering mountains in background.
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What To Know About RV Insurance


RV owners typically have a lot of questions surrounding RV insurance. It can be an overwhelming topic, and it’s not always clear whether you need it for your type of RV, how you’re covered under a given policy, and what you need to have covered.

Here we’ll break down each of those issues and more. Because the more you understand the options and legality — and price — the more informed your decision-making will be.

Legal requirements exist for having RV insurance, and most states require a minimum form of liability insurance for RVs to travel legally. But there’s more to the issue than legality. Your RV is an investment. And you should have a broad understanding of how to protect your investment with products like roadside assistance, extended warranties, tire protection, or even RV insurance.

And as RV rentals have gained in popularity, owners now have additional questions about RV insurance and what’s covered for those renting their RVs out.

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First Time Camper’s Tool-kit

If you’re looking to go camping for the first time this year, you’re in for a great experience. And you’re certainly not alone, considering camping accounted for about 40% of recreational trips last year. Camping continues to be one of the most affordable and enjoyable ways to unplug and reconnect with the people and things that matter most.


But if this is your first time getting out there, it might be a little daunting knowing where to begin. Do you need to make a reservation, and if so, what’s the best way? What’s the proper etiquette when staying at a campground? What kind of camping gear will you need?


To guarantee a great first experience, here’s a first-time camper’s toolkit to keep in mind.

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The True Cost of RV Towing Service


RVing requires more forethought than a typical trip by car because more components are involved, and you have more to plan for, especially in the case of roadside recovery. Factors like RV size, terrain, distance, type of towing vehicle, and type of towable can each make a mechanical problem more difficult to address and more expensive. That’s especially true in the case of towing.

As RVers, we’re used to self-reliance, and RV ownership means we tackle many problems on our own. But when it comes to getting towed, the best way you prepare for a trip is by being informed:

What is the cost of RV towing?What influences the price of a tow?What are cost-saving services I can invest in?What is the best roadside assistance?What affects the price of towing?

Not only does RVing require more forethought than a typical car trip, but the costs of certain services often come at a heftier price tag, like roadside towing. While the typical towing incident for an automobile averages about $109 total, RV towing by a professional service provider can cost between $135-$150 an hour. And the more complications, the higher the price tag.

Knowing what to expect makes a difference, and if you choose to travel without a roadside service plan, better to know the risk than be surprised by the cost of your particular setup. Here we break down a couple of the factors that could increase the price tag of a roadside breakdown tow.

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Your Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Campground

So you’re looking to go camping, and for good reason considering that 8.3 million people had the same idea last year. Taking in the beauty that our country has to offer and cultivating community on the road are just a few of the many upsides the outdoor lifestyle brings.

But if you’re a first-time camper, knowing where to start can feel a little daunting. Where should you camp? What kind of campground is the best fit for you and your crew? How much should you expect to pay, and what should you expect to bring?

To eliminate any guesswork and to improve your odds of finding a spot you loves, here’s a comprehensive guide to finding the right campground, along with some helpful resources.

Plan your trip

Collect notes and zero in on the right campground. There’s no need to go into your trip blindly, especially when the odds are that there’s been plenty of ink spilled on whatever campground you’re looking into. 

Know what experience you’re looking for

Knowing the type of experience you’re looking for is the key to finding the right campground. Do you want something a little more remote and scenic? Do you want to stay at a park that will keep your kids (mostly) occupied? Something more friendly for dogs?  These preferences will help narrow your search. Rank what’s important to help you create a starting point.

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5 Romantic Ideas for a Destination Valentine’s Day

As you’ve probably heard, Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. And while it might be little more than a “greeting card” holiday, it’s still fun to get swept up in the pageantry. What if this year you treated your significant other to a little more than chocolate-covered strawberries and whatever reservations are left on Opentable? What if this year you got really adventurous and planned a last-minute, romantic getaway?


To get kickstart your creative process, here are 5 romantic ideas for a destination Valentine’s Day.


Charleston, SC

Image vis Shutterstock

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Super Bloom Civility — Look But Don’t Crush the Flowers

Super Bloom civility — this dazzling event attracts huge crowds and big trouble for fragile flowers. 

Days are growing noticeably longer with Spring’s impending arrival. Flowers have begun to bloom, and in California, the timing of the winter rains set off massive blooms of poppies and other blossoms. Seeing these blooms from a satellite image is one way to appreciate the size of the spectacle while getting caught in a massive traffic jam of flower seekers that shuts down an interstate highway is another way.

Indeed, social media has brought the phrase “Super Bloom” into our lives and captured the attention of people from all walks of life. Hundreds of thousands of travelers have descended on locations where the flowers are blooming, and more crowds gather with each beautiful image shared online. Unfortunately, these throngs of flower seekers tend to forget that when they recklessly step into a flowery field, they’re crushing the plants and preventing the vital seed production that brought them there in the first place. Appreciating nature’s bounty without trampling it in the process — is it possible?

Flower tourists land a helicopter in California’s Antelope Poppy Reserve. Photo courtesy of Antelope Poppy Preserve.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not?

In recent years, California put on an amazing flower show, thanks to the perfect timing and quantity of winter rain. And when nature gets it right, we sense beauty and awe, and we find a way to memorialize this experience. Cameras are pressed into use. Pen, ink or paint trigger the coordination of mental and physical muscles in an attempt to render overwhelming visuals.

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What to Expect in the First Five Years of RV Ownership, Part 1

Recreational vehicle travel seems to grow in popularity in North America each year. Whether getting a versatile tent trailer, travel trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, or motorhome, countless people and families will be joining the RV lifestyle in the coming months. However, once beginner RV owners first get their RV home, the learning and ownership experience begins. What responsibilities will be required, what type of maintenance is needed, and how much overall effort and expense goes into the yearly upkeep?

Unfortunately, when it comes to cost or ownership, many RV buyers focus mainly on the monthly payments of the vehicle loan. While this is certainly an important factor, it should not be thought of as the only cost. RVers also need to consider vehicle insurance, possible storage charges, required maintenance based on time or mileage, after-warranty repairs, winterizing costs, amortized wear and tear, consumable items, etc.

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Hands-on Learning

Financial obligations aren’t the only concerns for new buyers. There are a whole lot of learning and hands-on experiences that are free. When RV travelers slow down and take the time to learn about their new ride, it may even help reduce some of the ongoing ownership costs.

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motorhome with dinghy and class C driving on a road
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Over the Fire Cooking: Gaucho Grilling


Viral chef Derek Wolf of Over the Fire Cooking has championed the art of cooking over an open flame. On his Instagram page and Youtube channel, he leans on his many years of experience to offer plenty of outdoor-friendly and imaginative recipes for even the most novice of cooks.

Whether you’re a full-time RVer or a weekend warrior, cooking can be a challenge. Kitchen space, cooking equipment, and ingredients can feel limiting, making it hard to imagine preparing anything that adventures beyond hotdogs or hamburgers.

Recently Derek sat down with Good Sam RV Rentals and shared his affinity for the art of gaucho grilling, a kind of over-the-fire cooking, and how it’s among his “favorite ways to cook.” Derek says, “[since] a lot of the flavors are fresh and simple,” it’s easy to understand.

To better help you experience more flavor during your next outdoor meal, here’s a breakdown of gaucho grilling at your campground, as well as one of Derek’s go-to recipes.

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Camp Under Spacious Skies at Lake Olancha RV Park in California

Do you crave outdoor adventure? Then, you’ve found paradise! Death Valley, Mount Whitney (the tallest mountain in the U.S. Lower 48 at 14,505 feet), the gorgeous Sierras, and other California attractions are all within reach. Visit Alabama Hill plus nearby lakes, trails, and rolling rivers. Welcome to breathtaking views from our 100-acre RV retreat, settled along a one-mile circumference around beautiful Olancha Lake. From your campsite in Lake Olancha RV Park, you’ll find the majestic, snowcapped Sierra Mountains to the West and Death Valley to the East. Enter a 400-foot, rock-walled entrance to our serene, lakeside surroundings.

Olancha Lake


Olancha is a cozy mountain town with a population of around 200 residents. Surrounded by the Sierra Mountains to the West and Death Valley to the East. There are so many adventures waiting for you for day trips from our park!

Hiking Trails of the Sierra Mountains and Death ValleyMount Whitney / Mt. Whitney Gold Club (tallest USA mountain – 14,505 feet)Alabama Hill’s beautiful rock formation with excellent rock climbingMuseum of Western Film HistoryOlancha Lake, Lone Pine Lake, and Lone Pine TrialDirty Socks Hot SpringsWhitney Golf ClubCerro Gordo Mining TownAlabama Hills, shooting location of various filmsFossil FallsDiaz Lake recreation areaLone Pine Film MuseumMammoth Lake 2 hours away

RV Sites, Tenting or Glamping Cabins

Our intimate campground hosts 50 spacious, pull-through RV sites equipped with full hookups, 30 and 50-amp electric, cable, and Wi-Fi — all at affordable rates. Prefer tent camping? Camp among 10 tent sites nestled in the heart of nature. Our family-friendly, pet-friendly grounds offer five fully furnished cabins ranging from one to three bedrooms at affordable rates — perfectly suited for extended stays! If you love camping with your favorite creature comforts, you’ll love our cabins! We offer short and longer-term stay rates, so whether your adventure is brief or extended, you are welcome.

Olancha Lake

A house behind wooden fence and shielded by tall, leafy trees.
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54 New Good Sam Campgrounds Add Value and Savings to Camping


Planning that epic RV trip across North America? Good Sam has added 54 new campgrounds to its network for RVers eager to jump into the camping life. Good Sam members save big with the 10 percent discount. While exploring, discover all of the RV campgrounds in the Good Sam Network.

If you’re not a member, joining is simple: Purchase a membership at any Good Sam Campground, or sign up online. Before making reservations, check each campground’s seasonal information to determine availability.


BV Overlook Camp & Lodging, Buena Vista

With stunning views of the Collegiate Peaks, this getaway has access to hiking and biking trails, fishing, rafting, and hot springs. Tiny homes, yurts, and tent sites are available.

Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs. Getty Images

Sun rises over rocky landscape.
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What Travelers Need to Know About Medical Emergencies


Successful travelers are prepared travelers. They plan for what happens when things go wrong as much as they plan for things to go right. Because, in general, travel raises the stakes. Manageable situations at home can morph into the unmanageable when on the road and without a plan. And that’s especially true for medical emergencies that occur while traveling. 

Some types of travel activities expose us to more risk than others. And it’s easy to think we aren’t at risk if we avoid dangerous activities. A snowboarding accident in a remote location conjures images of medivacs, Coast Guard helicopters, and Hollywood rescues. But primitive tent camping or RVing at a campground? Not as much.  

Incidents on seemingly risk-free trips do occur. And these medical emergencies look different when far from help. So how do you best prepare for a medical emergency situation while camping, RVing, or traveling? Here we dive into unlikely situations we hope never to encounter as travelers. But if you do, now you have a game plan. 

What makes medical emergencies while traveling different? 

Photo by CWH

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RV Icebreaker: Plan Your Spring Break Now

After a long dreary winter, spring break is often the first chance to take an extended vacation with your kids. Depending on where you live, better weather may be within easy reach — or, you may have to book a road trip to chase the sunshine with your RV to a spring destination. 

My husband and I are both teachers, and we’ve been lucky to have the same break as our children, up until our older son left for college. We usually take shorter trips close to home but know many RVers who take cross-state treks.

Planning for Spring Break Weather

While the word “spring” might conjure up images of blue skies and gentle breezes, the weather can vary greatly depending on your timing and your destination. My family’s break is usually early in March, a time when Midwestern weather sometimes serves up surprise snow storms. 

Photo: Kerri Cox

Most U.S. students have spring break at some point in March or April. For many regions of the U.S., the weather this time of year might best be described as “persnickety,” with temperatures and precipitation varying greatly, sometimes changing dramatically from day to day. 

closeup wet asphalt road after a rain
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9 Spring Break Getaways that Beat the Big Crowds

Spring break is just around the corner — are you ready?

The perfect Spring Break can be elusive. You’ve got one week to melt away those winter blues before the big work and school obligations return with a vengeance. The pressure’s on to find the right place — free from cold weather and rowdy college spring breakers — or you’ll have to wait until summer for your next big family excursion.

Fortunately, travelers can find lots of places across North America that welcome campers with moderate crowd sizes and reasonable temperatures (current weather conditions notwithstanding). Take advantage of the spring season to visit popular destinations long before they’re overtaken by summer crowds.

Hiking in Sedona’s Loy Canyon. Photo Courtesy: Sunfellow.

Sedona, Arizona

The crisp spring air makes Sedona the perfect place for mountain biking and hiking amid the iconic red rock formations that dominate the horizon. Cyclists of all levels can experience stellar trails that wind through rocky landscapes. Start at the Bell Rock Pathway (for beginners) and work your way up.

A couple lounges on the grass with Half Dome in the distance.
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From Cheap to Pricey: 7 Common Repairs to an RV’s Living Area

Recreational vehicles, like automobiles, require repairs from time to time. However, the RV has an additional assembly apart from just the vehicle, and that is the house and all the components that go with it. Because of the growing complexity of RVs today, these repairs can become commonplace over the years of ownership. Keep in mind, the need and frequency for many repairs is reduced by timely maintenance.

So, let’s look at some of the more common repairs that may be encountered on many travel trailers and motorhomes.

Replacing Burned-out Halogen Bulbs

Photo: Peter Mercer

These were, and are, used in mini ceiling pot lights as well as other wall-mount fixtures. They are 12-volt DC bulbs that tend to run quite hot and have a relatively short life. Adding to the reduction of life is improper installation procedure. Rubber gloves or a rag must protect the bulb from being contacted by a person’s fingers or hands as skin oils on the lamp will cause early failure. While these little halogen bulbs are quite pricey themselves, it may be worth spending even more by replacing them with the LED (Light Emitting Diode) types. These run cool and have a life that’s 25 times longer than halogen bulb and do not require the more cautious handling. LED replacements may be less costly in the long run.

RV Features Failing to Operate

This can be due to several reasons, including a tripped breaker or fuse, a wiring or component fault, or a mechanical issue.  However, it may be a condition that is becoming more common: poor contact of a switch or connector due to oxidation. The correction of this may require replacing a switch or disconnecting an electric contact and re-connecting it.  A contact cleaner aerosol should be applied to plug-in connector contacts to help renew their connectivity.

RV window with raindrops gathering.
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Sweet Southern Camping: Celebrating Dixie at Fun Winter Events

America’s Deep South never got the memo that winter meant huddling inside with a pile of blankets. In the Southeast snowbird region, the sun shines through much of the winter (although there may be a slight chill in the air) and locals welcome snowbird travelers with exciting festivals. Hoist a microbrew or feast on chili at fun-filled gatherings in the South.

Looking to catch some beads? You can find Mardi Gras celebrations throughout the region, not just in New Orleans. Looking for something less boisterous? Treat your snowbird sweetheart to Valentine’s Day treat with legendary Southern cuisine.


You’ll find a range of environments in Alabama, from the 150 miles of untamed inland waterways to high-tech rockets in the city of Huntsville. Visit towns like Mobile, the original home of Mardi Gras, or Birmingham, where steel is king.

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A mardi gras flag hangs in the wind
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Spring Trip in Iowa: More Than a Field of Dreams

Known for its cornfields and rolling hills, Iowa is often overlooked by campers who are planning cross-country road trips. However, this underrated destination is up to its ears with unexpected surprises. From caves and state parks, to historic towns and quirky roadside oddities, the Hawkeye State offers something for adventurists, historians and culture-seekers alike. While exploring the heartland of America, follow the ribbons of highway to the Midwest’s unsung cream of the crop.

Photo: Cate Battles

Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption

Photo: Cate Battles

The iconic line, “If you build it, they will come” — from the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams,” set in Iowa —certainly holds true for this Hawkeye State gem. For those who appreciate artistry, prepare to be blown away by this otherworldly treasure tucked away in West Bend. The shrine, spanning an entire city block, contains the largest collection of minerals in any one place on Earth. Every square inch is bedazzled with crystals, fossils, stalactites, gems, shells and petrified wood. The largest man-made grotto in the world was created by German immigrant, Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein. After arriving in the states at age 20, he studied for priesthood at the seminary of St. Francis near Milwaukee and was ordained in 1897.

Photo: Cate Battles

Colorful Airstream trailer as viewed through a grotto arch from within grotto.
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