Reviews written by idive
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February 10 - 16, 2011
We have come here at least once every year for the past seven years. I posted an extensive review back in October 2007, so this is just a brief update on some minor changes. My star ratings tell you I still think this is a great place. Recently the new base commander instituted a policy that when the MWR folks check you in to the campgrounds, you must show them a valid vehicle registration and proof of insurance for your RV and toad. So have those documents with you when you go in to register and save yourself a trip back outside to get it. Another surprising change, having nothing to do with camping, is that the Sunset Lounge (at the Sigsbee marina, for those not in the know) has closed and emptied out the indoor portion of the restaurant. It now operates ONLY on the back deck area, with overflow under a canopy next to the deck. This being a cold and windy day, we decided not to dine there because it was like a refrigerated wind tunnel on the deck. The camp host tells me the building was closed by the base fire marshall because it didn’t meet fire code standards (thatched roof, not enough exits). He said there was no word yet on whether MWR would ever rehab the building to meet code. Just food for thought while contemplating another day in paradise here in the beautiful Trumbo Point campground.
December 18 - 21, 2009
This is a fine campground for long or short stays. My first and best impression was of Mr. Wooley, the guy running the office--competent, friendly, and he answered all my questions about visiting San Antonio as well as providing appropriate maps and directions to the places we wanted to go, on base and off. All the premium FHU sites were taken, but there were plenty of water/electric only sites available. These sites are nicely leveled, pull-throughs with a gravel surface, but have no picnic tables and no grills, which might be nice to have. The bath house was modern, clean, and heated. The free laundry is a bonus, and the room is spacious, clean, and all the machines are fairly new and well-maintained. The campground's WIFI signal is pretty weak out in the non-premium sites, and provided only sporadic connection to the internet. Lucky for us we carry our own wifi hotspot with us. SPRINT Broadband Card users will get a good 3G EVDO signal. The one downside to this campground is the unceasing highway noise from US90/I-10 which permeates an otherwise tranquil setting. Of course you do get the occasional jet noise from Kelly Field, next door, but it's not constant like the highway sound. I'm sure that the longer you're here, the less you notice it, kinda like the chimes on our grandfather clock at home. For those of you over the age of 62, there is a particularly good transportation deal that the city of San Antonio offers. They have a wonderful bus and trolley system called VIA, which is a great way to get to and around the city. If you go to the central VIA Information office downtown, they will GIVE you a "Reduced Fare Card" which, on weekends reduces the fare to ZERO for seniors. On weekdays each bus ride will cost you twenty-five cents (and don't forget to ask for a transfer for route changes). We were there for the entire weekend, and the only money we spent for transportation was $1.10 (55 cents each) to take the bus from Lackland AFB to the downtown VIA office to get our card. The card is good for five years. No downtown driving or parking hassles. No fumbling for bus or trolley fares...just show the card to the driver. San Antonio takes good care of its seniors.
December 17, 2009
On a weekday in the winter, the Lake Amistad campground (and the lake itself) is very quiet and peaceful. The campsites are level, with concrete pads. In the lower five back-in sites (where we stayed), the water hookup is on the "wrong" side of the pad, but still close enough for a normal 25 foot hookup hose. The bath house is clean and adequate. The toilet part is open, but the showers are behind a cypher locked door, the combination for which is available at the office or from the camp host when you check in. The laundry has a different combination for its door. As for the laundry, the machines are old and beat-up and leaky. Another reviewer below mentioned the leaks, but a woman in the laundry room (apparently a long-time regular here) said that they've been leaky for years. The whole laundry could use some new equipment and maintenance. There are a few minor snack items and bagged ice for sale at the office, but if you need to do any serious resupply, you'll have to go to Del Rio, Texas about 10 miles down the road. The rental boats are engine-powered only...no canoes or kayaks. The cheapest one is $13.50 per HOUR. Happily for us, the dreaded Texas wind wasn't blowing, so we spent a pleasant afternoon hiking the shoreline, watching and photographing the abundant wildlife, the sunset, and generally enjoying ourselves. With the mild winter weather, this is a great place to spend some time (but then we like the quiet and the critters). For Sprint Broadband card users, we had excellent 3G EVDO signal for internet access.
December 11 - 14, 2009
Edwards AFB is a huge base, but the services and facilities are all fairly close and convenient to the famcamp. Check-in is a self-service thing like you find in many national and state parks, with forms and envelopes in a weather-proof box. First pick out a vacant site, then do the paperwork. Put one copy of the completed form, along with check or cash together in an envelope and deposit it into the locked metal post-box adjacent to the campground sign. You take another copy for your receipt, and the white copy goes into the "occupied sites" slots on the back of the c/g welcome sign. There is a camp host, but he is not involved in check-in or site assignment. All the FHU sites are level, paved pull-throughs. The bath house is clean and heated (it's a chilly winter in the high desert). The laundry room is also clean, and has fairly new machines. The commissary, exchange, and shoppette pretty well cover all your travel/camping supply needs. The base gas station also sells propane. Andy, the camp host, is a peach of a gentleman, and was helpful and caring about the campers. One annoying thing about this campground is that the kids from the base schools use it for their shortcut to/from school. In the process, they cut right through the individual campsites, and several of them went into the clubhouse and bath house, and just generally loitered there. A number of them passed through our campsite between our RV and the picnic table, all the while being generally rowdy and loud as groups of school kids tend to be. Andy said he knew this was a problem and, to illustrate the point, another group came rambling through as we were speaking. He said he's working with the schools to find some equitable solution. He also intercepted the kids and explained the rules to them. There's work in progress to cover the barren ground around the bath house and picnic shelter with a thick layer of crushed desert rock. It will be a significant improvement to the appearance of the area and minimize dust on windy days. Andy says other improvements in the works are: WIFI for the whole camp (the contract has been let and he's expecting installation very soon); A new flat panel TV and cable hookup for the club room (there is no TV now except for a small analog set connected ONLY to a DVD player); A new, fenced dog play area; four shuffleboard courts will be added to the existing tennis courts adjacent to the c/g; and an expanded tent camping area. When all these projects are done, it will be worth the $15/night price. So, contrary to the opinion expressed by the May 2009 reviewer, it appears the services squadron folks care a great deal about the success and appearance of this famcamp and that it'll be here for a long time to come. For Sprint broadband air card users, we had good 3G EVDO signal for our internet connection.
December 7, 2009
We arrived at Gila Bend in the afternoon, shortly after a rain shower had passed through. We figured that was good because it would keep the dust down. No sooner had we checked into the c/g and gotten all hooked up, than the power to the base went out. We walked over to the billeting office and asked if this was a scheduled outage or some such. The lady there said it almost always happened after a rain, to be patient and they'd have power back before too long. Sure enough, in about an hour, all was well...or so we thought. While the electricity remained on for the rest of the night, Mother Nature threw her second punch about 7pm and through the rest of the night with extremely high winds with gusts well over 60 mph. It was a full-on desert sandstorm and visibility in the c/g dropped to a few feet at its peak. That earlier rain meant nothing because the winds were so fierce they were picking up not just sand and dust but large gravel as well. Fortunately for us, we were parked in the wind shadow of a 45 foot mother ship RV (we're just a little class B), which kept the sand blasting on our vehicle to a bare minimum. Others with unsheltered exposure took the full brunt of the sand blasting, I'm sure. By 3am or so, the winds had abated to a more normal 10 to 15 mph. We were up before dawn and outta there, so we didn't stick around to survey the damage to others. As to the c/g itself, it's just desert dirt with small concrete pads next to the parking places for use as patios. The hookups had 50 and 30 amp plugs. The water is NOT a hookup, but a cabinet in which a filtering mechanism allows you to put clean water into a container and bring it into your RV. Each one has a picnic table. The laundry room has several washers and dryers available, and was kept neat and clean. There's a book swap shelf available, and chairs to use while you wait for your laundry. The sign-in process is pretty relaxed and the woman at the billeting desk didn't know which sites were empty. She just assigned me one she though might be. It was full, so I moved on down the row to an empty one on the leeward side of the aforementioned mother ship. The grounds are regularly patrolled by security police. This is an adequate place to stop over for the night if the weather cooperates, but not a place I'd care to spend any time. ---- UPDATE: The brutal sandstorm I reported in the above review did some serious damage to the Visitors Quarters when it ripped the entire roof off in the middle of the night. The RVers faired somewhat better. None tipped over in the wind, but there was a lot of sandblasting of exterior paint and finishes. We're back eight days later, headed east, and all is calm. Now folks have some new tales to tell about the big wind in the desert. This time we spent a pleasant evening, and were on our way the next morning. As I said before, a good stopover place, but not a particularly great campground for an extended stay. I've also changed my star ratings to reflect further thought on the place.
December 5, 2009
The last time we were here was springtime of 2007, and this was a great campground then. I'm pleased to report that in the winter of 2009 it's still a great campground that is poorly situated immediately adjacent to a major freeway. The only noticeable differences since our last visit are that the mountains to the west have snow on them, the trees are a bit bigger but with fewer leaves, and the large population of roseated finches that occupied the trees have gone to Mexico for the winter. Otherwise, the place is still well-kept, generally well-managed, and a nice place to spend a couple of days to break up another long drive from Florida to California. The descriptions of the facilities on this website, above, and in the reviews, below pretty well cover the quality of this RV park. There was one annoyance. We paid for three days but, because of impending weather concerns along the route to our next destination, we had to leave a day early. When I went to the office to get a refund, I was told NO REFUNDS. The clerk then reached UNDER an in/out box and pulled out a sign that should have been on clear display, and had the temerity to tell me that the policy was clearly posted. He said he would give me a one day camp credit in "the book," so that if we should return we would get one day of camping at no further charge. I took the credit and we left. If you take credit cards, and are running a good business you should bend over backwards to make the customer happy. After all the above fine words on this place, that left a sour taste. But all-in-all it's a pleasant place to spend some time. Of course, now I know the policy and will be much more circumspect in my dealings with the business end of the park.
December 4, 2009
The campground itself is very nice with large concrete pads, picnic tables, and comfortably heated bath houses (it was a cold night). We arrived after business hours on a Friday afternoon, and the host took us over to the office and signed us in and took our credit card. This Army RV park does not give a discount for Golden Age passholders, as do some other Army campgrounds. The host was pleasant and helpful in getting us settled and oriented. Another reviewer, below, spoke of the train noise which, we can confirm is fairly constant. The c/g is immediately adjacent to a very active RR track. Fortunately, we are sound sleepers after a long day on the road. But then, the sound is probably something you get used to (like the chimes of the grandfather clock in our house) so you don't notice it quite so much as you did at first. The c/g has some nice outdoor art sculpture, and historical displays. We only stayed one night and left before dawn the next morning on the way west, so we didn't evaluate much else. For Sprint broadband aircard users, you get good 3G EVDO connection there.
December 3, 2009
We arrived late afternoon without a reservation. Host said they only had overflow available. In this case, overflow meant pulling up next to another camp site and hooking into their electric/water. The electric box had both 50 and 30 amp connections. The other guy had the 50 and we got the 30, which was fine, since our power demands are small. The water had two separate spigots on a tee. Our spot was a short walk to the bath house, which was clean and adequate, and the doors were secured with cypher locks. The charge for w/e hookup was $10/night...recently raised from $8...about right for our requirements, and we were pleased to get a spot at all because the place was really full. Last time we were here was about a year after the last big hurricane, and the whole coast looked like a war zone. Now things look normal again in the neighborhood...the c/g is in great shape, and the adjacent family housing is all brand new. Highway 90, from Biloxi to Gulfport is all newly paved and free of construction. But the host says it's still best to come to the c/g via Pops Ferry Road. We only stayed one night on our way west. Probably stay again on the way back to Florida. For Sprint air card users, internet connection was OK, but NOT 3G EVDO speeds.
May 26-27 2009
We arrived early afternoon of Tuesday after the long Memorial Day weekend...very quiet with only about five RVs in the campground. No problem finding a site. The manager was friendly and helpful. What a beautiful setting...a large, hilly recreation area sprinkled with tall pines sitting on a sparkling lake. And did I mention quiet...peaceful...serene? Glorious after a day on the road. But the size and capacity of this recreation area is such that I don't think we'd like to be here on a major holiday weekend. The manager said it had been a very busy Memorial Day weekend with all the cabins full, tenters, and RVers, not to mention lots of day-trippers out for water activities, a picnic, or BBQ. The concrete pads are not level but, on site R11, we leveled up with only about three inches of lift on the back wheels. Other sites looked as though they might be about the same amount off-kilter. Each electric box is set up for 50/30/20 amp connections and was 124 volts ac at the power post. The bath house was clean. There are adequate toilets but only one shower each in the mens & womens sides. This is the only bath house to serve a large recreation area so, on a busy weekend, there might be a few folks standing in line for the facilities. This was a one night stop for us on the drive home from West Virginia, but I could definitely see spending some quality time here to do some lake fishing which, the manager said, is pretty good here. I did throw a lure into the lake around dusk and got one little small mouth bass and a sunfish for my efforts. But I think a serious effort from a boat might yield some good results. Oh yes, they do rent boats...both self powered and motor powered. The boat pier in front of the office is a floating dock made up of plastic modules. Many of those modules have broken tops (the walking surfaces) which can be dangerous, both as a trip hazard and a cut/scrape/puncture hazard to barefoot or flip flop wearing folks. Considering how well-kept everything else is, the poor condition of the dock was a surprise. I hope MWR will put this at the top of their maintenance list before someone gets hurt. Our Sprint cell phone and 3G EVDO Internet Access Card both had great signal, so we had high speed Internet.
May 23 - 25, 2009
We arrived on Friday afternoon of the Memorial Day weekend. All three of the W/E hookup sites were open, but one of the electric boxes was out of service. If you're here, it's because you specifically wanted to be here. It's pretty far from anything but the beautiful backwoods country of West Virginia. This base supports radio telescopes and other radio listening sites in a 35,000 square mile "radio quiet zone" of WVA. The CG is small and rustic. The concrete pads for the w/e sites are only large enough for the wheelbase of a large van, and larger rigs wouldn't do well here. Since we have a GTRV pop-top van, we were a perfect fit. The electric connection for each site is a single 30 amp type plug--no 20 amp "appliance-type" plugs--so I had to get out my adapter for the electric hookup. Good voltage reading of 129 volts ac at the power post. However, checking the water we found that none of the water hookups in the CG was functioning. I went to the MWR office at the auto hobby shop and found an outstanding customer service guy in the person of Ralph Parker. He called the public works folks and got the water turned on in short order...it seems we were the first RVers to come since the water had been shut off for winter, and they just hadn't turned it back on again for the spring and summer. A little while later, he came by just to make sure we were all set and that the water had been turned on. Great service, and a friendly, helpful guy. There is no bath house in the CG, but we were advised that the base gym serves the CG. It's about a 100 yard walk from the CG, and it's open 24 hours a day, every day. The gym is a very nice facility, and includes all manner of exercise equipment, weights, a bowling alley, and a full-sized hardwood basketball court. The shower and toilet facilities were clean and well maintained. The NX/commissary is a short walk away and is small but well-stocked and very well organized. It's open every day. There's a single, unleaded regular gas pump next to the gym, which will take a credit card. However, the price, by law, must match the local prices which, in the backwoods areas are relatively high. If you even think you'll need gas while here, stop in one of the larger towns like Harrisonburg or Franklin to fill up. But it's nice to know it's available in a pinch. There is a dining hall on base and, happily, retirees are welcome to eat there. They serve only breakfast and lunch, every day, and the cooks & cashiers are friendly and welcoming. It's such a small and isolated base that they know the individual troops that eat there by name, and make strangers like us feel completely welcome. There is also a community center/all-ranks club that has a good variety of dinner dishes and sandwiches on its menu. It also has a nice bar. This facility opens at 4pm each day. The bar stays open later than the restaurant side. The community center has a wi-fi hot spot if you want to use your own laptop for internet access. Cellular service here only functions if you are an AT&T customer. We found this out from the folks stationed here. Sprint (our service) has no signal here. There is a pretty creek running alongside the CG, but it's on the other side of a chainlink/barbed wire fence. I was longing to find a way to get to it and do a little fishing when, lo and behold, a security policeman escorted a family down to a gate in the fence, unlocked it, and let them have access. I spoke to the SP, and he told me I can do the same if I go to the SP desk, fill out an access form, and give them my driver's license. When I'm done fishing, I return to the SP desk, get my license back and they come down and lock the gate. The stream is lively and I had a couple of good fishing days, including a two pound largemouth bass. Good deal all around. Speaking of the Security Police, they were very helpful, pleasant folks, led by the daytime watch commander Lt. Lawrence. They're good to get to know, and they're a great source of info on the base facilities and the surrounding environs.
May 17, 2009
We arrived late on a Sunday afternoon with no reservation. When we came into the back gate, the guard directed us, but only partway. The famcamp turn sign from the main road was where she said it would be, but the next required turn was not marked at all, so we drove right on by. Eventually, we stopped at the paintball combat clubhouse and a nice lady told us the exact road to turn on. They really need better guidance to get from the gate to the CG. Later, when I went to S-J AFB famcamp's own website, they had a map indicating what street to turn on which, by the way, is Fickel Street. There is no camp host. The sites have large concrete pads, while the road around the CG is hard sand and pine needles. As noted in other reviews, the CG is small, and in a remote, wooded area of the base. As we made a pass-thru look, we came across the rig with the three yapping little dogs mentioned in another review. We made a point of moving on around to site #10 with w/e only, since we were only staying one night. Sunday night was pleasantly quiet...in fact, we heard no "sounds of freedom" at all from the air ops side of the base. Totally silent, but for the songs of birds...lovely (the yapping dogs were on the other side of the CG and since it was raining, they were always inside). The bath house is a two-holer: one for men, one for women. That means one at a time for showers & toilet. Since the CG wasn't full, this wasn't a problem, but it could be during peak summer with overflow and tenters added in. The bath house was clean and well supplied. Interestingly, the bath house is a modular prefab that sits up high off the ground. To make it handicap accessible, they built a deck with a ramp. Inside, the bath and space is configured for accessibility. The problem is, whoever built the deck completely lost sight of the accessibility rationale, because the deck is a full ten inches below the threshold of the doors. Wheelchair access therefore stops at the doors to the restrooms, unless you have a strong assistant to haul you over the big step up. The BX and the commissary are mid-sized facilities that are well-stocked and quite adequate. The base gas station had a surprisingly large, well-stocked shopette and Class VI store. Unless you have relatives or some specific reason to be in this area of North Carolina, it's probably not a destination kind of famcamp, but was fine
for a one-night stop on our way north. As for internet access, we have a SPRINT AIR CARD and 3G EVDO reception here was excellent for high speed access.
December 4 - 8, 2008
Since our last visit here this past September (see review below), the MWR folks have done a good thing by having campground office hours seven days a week. It certainly simplifies check-ins and plan changes on the weekends. And, once again, kudos to the hosts and office folks here for outstanding customer relations. We showed up this first week of December 2008 with no reservations, and had our pick of several sites (w/e only). It seems the tough economy has slowed down the southward migration. The sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular.
September 14, 2008
Patrick AFB's Manatee Cove in the summer, like most Florida campgrounds, is not crowded...but it was especially uncrowded after the base had been evacuated a couple of weeks earlier for an approaching hurricane. Probably only eight or ten rigs in the whole place when we arrived just before sunset, Sunday afternoon. The off-duty host saw us peering at the signage by the closed office and came right over to help. He immediately took us to a prime spot, and checked us in. That included taking our credit card info as payment. In the not-too-distant past, the host was not allowed to take payment, but instead would direct you to pay at the office in the morning. This is a GOOD change! And speaking of the host, he was friendly, courteous, and above all, there to help, even though he wasn't officially on duty at the time. Great guy! We were there only for the overnight, since we were at Patrick this time to catch a ride on the weekly rotator bird down to Antigua (a lovely Caribbean island out in the West Indies chain). The physical condition of the CG hasn't changed much since we were last there for a night shuttle launch at Canaveral last year. It's still a great camping spot on the Banana River (intracoastal waterway), whatever the season or your reason for being there. Regarding internet connections, if you don't want to use the plug-in connections in the laundry room, the base library, about a mile away, has a WIFI zone, and also PCs you can use during normal hours. Another wifi zone is in the lobby of the billeting office which has much better hours than the library. They also have three PCs you can use. If you're staying for a while, the library has a pretty good dvd collection, and last year issued me a library card even though we don't live in the area. If you're in the tourist mode, go to ITT down the street from billeting. They might have some good deals. They certainly got us a great resort to stay at in Antigua with a military discount. They also do cruises, and local attractions. The only reason for the fours in my ratings, is that they still have dirt/gravel roads that can be less than wonderful under the wrong weather conditions, especially when you're walking to the bathhouse, or anywhere else in the campground. It would be good if they used some of those flow-thru pavers to pave the roads which would still allow the rainwater to seep into the ground. Food for thought for MWR. It would make for some happier campers, too.
May 29 - 30, 2008
Our planned stop at the US Military Academy was during graduation week, so we made a one night reservation a couple of days in advance. When we arrived in the early afternoon, they had our paperwork all ready -- no forms to fill out, and no credit slip to sign. The staff here really has their act together. Unlike many Army recreation sites, the Golden Age pass is NOT ACCEPTED here. And with no sewer hookups for any of the sites, that makes the value for the dollar on the poor side. The natural beauty and convenient location help, however. We were in a shady pop-up site (U-1) on a wooded knoll with a view of the pond. We had water & electric. The bath house was clean, modern, and well-appointed. There's a camp store adjacent to the office space where you can get a few basics if needed. Compared to the US Naval Academy RV park, this place is heaven (although, I hear USNA is finally going to make some desperately needed improvements...I'm an Air Force guy, so I have no axe to grind for either side. I just like nice campgrounds). There is a hiking trail that circumnavigates Round Pond that was well marked, and an overlook spot off the beginning of the trail. The trail was free of trash, as was the pond shore...more evidence of a staff that has pride of place, even if a few cretins try to mess it up with their littering. (Note: there´s another pond behind the CG, as well). From our campsite, we had adequate SPRINT PCS cell phone reception. We also use the SPRINT PCS air card for internet, and got minimum internet connection and low speed only. NO EVDO. But at least we could get connected. As soon as we left the CG and went over the ridge, and down into the Academy grounds, we had solid EVDO connection. When you're in the PX parking lot, the cell tower is on the hilltop behind the exchange. There is a very nice, commissary, PX, and gas station/class VI/shoppette complex on the Academy grounds. The graduation parade was a stirring sight.
May 21 - 26, 2008
Since Fourth Cliff is such a small CG, we called a few days in advance to see what the Memorial Day weekend booking situation was, and were told that all the hookup sites for that long weekend had been booked for months, but that we could get into overflow. However, when we arrived the Wednesday before the holiday weekend, there were five hookup sites still available until Friday. We took #4 which has water views to the north and west. We noticed that the bath house was completely boarded up, asked why, and were informed that they board it up over the winter, and that it doesn't open until Friday of the Memorial Day weekend. If tenters show up before then, there are a couple of porta-johns set up adjacent to the tent areas, but no showers. They did open the bath house a day early, and we found it clean and functional, if a bit run-down. The laundry house has four new washer/dryer combos and a couple of older models that I assume still work. Friday morning, we unhooked and moved to the grassy overflow area situated on the highest part of the CG for the remainder of the weekend. This area also had a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and a long stretch of the beach directly under the cliffs. You can hear the surf lapping on the shore below and, when the wind is right, you can hear the bell buoy chiming from about a mile off the entrance to the South River inlet. The overflow area isn't level, so expect to do some leveling. The hookup sites include CATV, but even without that, there are 28 local TV channels available if you hook up your antenna. For internet, we use the SPRINT PCS air card and had maximum EVDO signals and great high speed connections. You can see two cellular towers rising above the landscape across the bay to the west. If you like re-enactments like Williamsburg, VA, you can go to Plimouth Plantation, and the CG office has some special passes that are DEEPLY discounted. Not our thing, but what a deal. [And yes, the Plantation is spelled Plimouth, while the town is spelled Plymouth.] Check with the office. This is a family-oriented recreation area with many more cottages than RV campsites. The cottages appear to be very nice and spacious, and most of them have at least some water views. For folks with young children, there is an elaborate playground across from the overflow camping area. This holiday weekend, there were lots of kids using it from sunup to sundown. There's interesting wildlife here too, if you keep your eyes open. Early Friday morning, low tide, we saw a couple of deer frolicking on the west sandbar of the inlet. Then, suddenly, they plunged into the water and swam all the way across to our shoreline and came out right in front of us. The beach and the South River inlet are great walking places. As with Key West, the facilities may be a little run-down, but the location and ambience more than makes up for most shortcomings. Friendly, helpful staff. Nice place.
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