Montana’s Clark Fork River — so cool!

I sit down to write a post when lightning flashes.

That was yesterday, Friday, August 9, around nine in the evening.  Quickly I download a book for my kindle, shut down the laptop, pull the plugs, make some popcorn, and settle on the bed with the crew for a good read.

Rain pelts the rooftop.

It almost sounds like hail.  I look out the window.  All is dark.  I’m the only one with lights.  Oh, how I love my solar panel and batteries!

If I were asked to list the ten most important items for full-timing . . . I know, you didn’t ask, but anyway . . .

Here’s my List of Favorites.

Everything necessary for solar power, electronic communications (air card, laptop or iPad, inverter, Wilson antenna, cell phone), Benchmark atlases, emergency air compressor, Kindle reader, pen for canine prisoners, big patio mat, lounger and camp chairs, anti-sway bar for hitch, and a good camera!  I could add lots more, but these are my favorites.

So where are we camped?

Our latest camp on this journey west is called Slowey.  It’s perched on the bank of Clark Fork River a few miles from St. Regis, Montana.

1-P1060487 We didn’t leave our last camp, Quartz Flat, until mid-morning. 

After a leisurely breakfast and a walk-around with the crew, I take care of routine tasks — filling water jugs, filling the fresh water tank, dumping the waste tanks, and dumping trash.  I chat with the camp host.  He’s helpful and friendly, as are most of the camp hosts I’ve met.

A few miles up the interstate, we exit at the town of Superior.

I stop at the IGA store for groceries and across the street buy gas from a co-op station.  By now the day is hot.  We still don’t have air conditioning.  I don’t feel like driving all afternoon. We need a place to “hole up” for the weekend.

There are another hundred miles of road to Coeur d’Alene.  I figure it’s risky trying to find a camp without reservations in a popular area at this time of year and at the beginning of the weekend.

That’s why I choose Slowey Campground for the day’s destination.

1-P1060489(Photo taken early next morning.)  Slowey Campground is only a few miles from Superior and not far off the interstate.  It has a camp host.  Her presence means we won’t spend the weekend listening to loud music of somebody else’s choosing, nor the obnoxious combustion engines of joyriders.

Soon after claiming a campsite, the crew and I trot down to the river!

We take the narrow trail through brush from our campsite (behind picnic table in photo).

1-P1060490Before Spike can plop down for his typical soak in one-inch deep water, I carry him further out and set him in water up to his neck. He doesn’t protest.  In fact, his eyes glaze over as he luxuriates.  (I don’t have photos of this blessed event.  I didn’t bring the camera for fear it would get wet.)


I set my camp chair in the water next to him. 

I’m holding Bridget on-leash which forces her to go out into water up to her belly.  (Sometimes Bridget needs to be nudged to try new things.)  She seems to enjoy herself for a few minutes.  When she whines I let her run back to shore where she shakes and rolls in the grass.

1-P1060495-001 Spike and I are in no hurry to get out.  The cool water does feel good on this hot day!

Trains go by on the other side of the river.

The wail of their whistles wakes me a few times in the night.  The sound this close, along with the deep rumbling, is loud and exhilarating.


I’d like to be a train conductor for a day. 

Spike and Bridget would ride along with me, wearing grey-and-white striped railroad-style harnesses, of course.  I already know the whistle… two longs, a short, and a long.

My parents, two sisters, and I lived in a house next to railroad tracks.

I remember waving to the conductor.  He always waved back with a big smile for the little, red-haired girl who was me.  Gee, talk about getting off-track.  How’d I get on this? 

Warning:  Quick topic change ahead . . .

1-P1060494The Delmoe Lake duck has nine babies.  This Clark Fork River mama has ten!

1-P1060496The camp host lady comes by.

She’s making her rounds, checking site posts for receipts.  She cheerfully makes a few announcements:  “No campfires are allowed, and no smoking either.”

She asks if I’ll be fishing.

I tell her I won’t and she says, “Well, I don’t need to tell you about that then”  and moves on to the next site.  I already know the third announcement:  If you catch a bull trout, you must release it because their numbers are dwindling.

1-north_idaho_bull_troutNo, no one here caught that fish.  Some kid caught it not far from here.  (I got this photo from free internet images.)  I insert it here so you can see what a bull trout looks like.  Well, to be honest, I want to drive my readers who fish absolutely crazy.

My work here is done.  Y’all have a great day!



See a few of the products recently ordered through my blog . . .
KIND Nuts & Spices Bars
FURminator deShed Tool
Portable Electrical Management System
TravelJohn Foldable Commode/Chair
Battery Filler Rubber Bulb
Portable Fold-Up Travel Stand for the new iPad, iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.0, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch

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80 Responses to Montana’s Clark Fork River — so cool!

  1. gingerda says:

    The second to last picture (above the fish) is another perfect post card picture. All the pictures make me wish I was there. I think it must be all the “green” after being in the desert so long. Have fun.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ginger . . . That’s not smoke rising on the mountain. It’s morning mist. Stay with us… It’s gonna’ get even greener!

  2. Mick says:

    And I lived 1/2 mile north by the same railroad tracks and never met that cute redheaded girl.

  3. Donna in CT says:

    Wow. That is some fish. There are trout in the river near me but nothing like that! Another beautiful site. You do have the knack.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      If you like to fish or float, this is paradise.

      Give me a river to camp by and I’m happy and so is the crew.

  4. Rita from Phoenix says:

    What a beautiful camp! Ducks to boot! I think prob Spike needed to soak to the neck…he looked kinda dingy from the black dirt/mud LOL! Of course Bridget is Miss Clean. I’ve never been past Missoula, Montana so it’ll be fun to ride along. Already I’m enjoying the pics posted. Have a wonderful day.

    A joke: A cab driver runs several red lights telling the flabbergast rider not to worry he (the cab driver) is a professional. Later, the cab driver stops at a green light, the rider asks why. The cabby says to wait for other professionals to drive thru.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I gave Spike a bath and we went down to the river again for a second rinse. He looks a little better but not much. You know how white-haired, old ladies used to put “blueing” in their hair to take out the yellow? I think Spike’s fur is yellow because he’s an elderly gent.

  5. Sierra Foothill Mama says:

    I have a question Sue.

    We are in our long term planning phase for retirement and a few years full timing planned in about 6-8 years. We are working on our down-sizing plans and our pups need to be part of that plan. We have almost always had two large dogs. Right now we have an 11 year old lab and a 1 1/2 year old catahoula leopard dog.

    We camp as often as we can. Sometimes we go in our 5th wheel toy hauler that we bring our Suzuki 4X4 to run mountain trails and go to historic sites far off the beaten path. We also frequently tow a small off-road trailer with the Suzuki and tent camp all over the Sierras, Nevada and Utah. Of course our pups always go with us.

    Lucy (our lab) is getting old and her hips give her a lot of trouble. When we lose her we will want to get high energy Pepper (our catahoula) a friend. I have been researching rat terriers (I wonder where I got that idea?) and they interest me. Since we have always been big dog people I am not sure how a blended family (large and small dogs) would work. Pepper loves every body, people and dogs. Would a rat terrier be happy with a big, bouncy, goof-ball of a dog? Smaller, and lower energy is part of our plan, but we will have to do it over a 10-15 year time period.

    What do you think?


    P.S. When I grow up I want to be Sue…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Terry . .. You’re so cute. 🙂

      Would a rat terrier be happy with a “big, bouncy, goof ball of a dog?” Boy, what a tough question. It’s tough because rat terriers are not what I consider a “narrow” breed. In other words, they come with a wide variety of temperaments. I suspect they all have terrier spunk. Other than that… some are fun-loving and playful. Others are reserved and more interested in being with their owner than other dogs. Then there are the mixes like my crew and Lord knows what you’ll get. 🙂

      If you are truly interested in the breed, I suggest reading rat terrier rescue sites and rat terrier breeder sites. There are also rat terrier forums. Bridget and Spike are bigger than a lot of rat terriers… Spike looks more like a Decker rat terrier (a larger rat terrier, a sub-breed).

      In short, if you choose a rat terrier, try to find the personality and energy-level you want.

      You’re wise to choose a dog to fit your future full-timing lifestyle. Good luck and best wishes to your present crew.

  6. AZ Jim says:

    That’s a lot of trout and that’s no bull. I know, corn is my middle name. What’s the latest on Rusty?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Rusty’s fine, living in his new home. Scott Craven of Arizona Republic interviewed him, photos were taken, maybe a video (don’t know the latter for sure). Now we’re waiting for the article to appear.

      Are you sure that’s not a corn trout… and that’s no bull?

  7. ronaldesears says:

    the more I read of your adventure out there the more I hate you!!!! All of those great places to fish! And I am stuck here for another month or so.. I’m sure you give thanks everyday to be as lucky to be where you are and doing what you want….be safe Ps…I really don’t hate you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Haha! I knew that photo would drive someone who fishes absolutely crazy… and it’s you, Ron! Here I am in a fisherman’s paradise and I don’t fish! The injustice!

      Yes, I breathe thanks throughout each day.

  8. skiMore says:

    Can you run your trailer AC from batteries? Do you have a generator for it or is it just for when you have an electric hook up?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      To run the A/C from batteries would deplete them in short order. I don’t have, nor do I want, a generator. The A/C comes standard with the Liberty Deluxe Casita (if my memory serves me well). I only use it when I have electric hook-up and I can’t remember when I last had that.

      I cool by these methods: camp on a mountain, park in shade, open windows, run Fantastic Fan in the ceiling and/or the 12 volt desk fan (See Shopping Links page), and sit in a river.

      • Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

        Sit in the river would work for me! We had 4 weeks of heat waves (90 and up with high humidity) during July and I made do in my house with fans. I don’t like AC if I can do without.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Lovely spot again you are in…love that part of the country!! Love reading what you are doing too…hubby wants me to read your latest entry every day, even before we go to some of my other blogs!!
    ENJOY your lovely location!!
    Elizabeth now working for free in WA state (ha…helping our daughter still)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It still amazes me that somewhere a wife is reading my blog post out loud to her husband because he’s interested in what the crew and I did on that day. Give him a hug from me and I send one to you, too, Elizabeth!

  10. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Love your list of favorites. Seems like the solar panel has already paid for itself!

    We have a generator for when the power goes out. It’s tied into our electrical panel and keeps the “must haves” working. Our best investment to date and we refer to it as “peace of mind.” People up here don’t think that far ahead.

    Your site looks peaceful and quiet! Yay! Your trip down memory lane was cute. City girl needs translation…The morse code of the train’s whistle means…..?

    Great that there is a camp host present.

    Ewwww..that is one ugly fish! Spike and Bridget would be walking on water if one of them swam up close while they were soaking. I can see you too…grabbing that blue chair and high tailing it out!

    What’s for dinner?

    • cinandjules (NY) says:

      Newsflash: 2.8 million RV locks have been recalled.

      Check and see if your Casita is affected!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      What train whistles mean:
      2 longs… Release brakes. Proceed
      1 short… Apply brakes. Stop.
      2 longs 1 short… Approaching meeting points or waiting points of trains.
      1 long… Approaching Station.
      2 longs, 1 short, 1 long… Approaching public grade crossing. Used as an alarm for people or livestock on the track. (Hearing this several times a day and during the night)
      3 shorts… When train is standing, back up.
      2 shorts.. Answer to any signal not otherwise provided for.

      I don’t have a clue what’s for dinner. 🙂

      • Connie & Mugsy (ND/MN/AZ) says:

        Been off line and just getting caught up with you three… I bet that train went by my place too. Looks like a BNSF engine.

  11. Tesaje says:

    Do your rat terriers ever catch vermin? My collie does.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Bridget would not engage in rat-chasing behavior. She finds the entire idea repellant. Chipmunks are fair game, though. Spike catches mice and flying insects.

  12. Ladybug says:

    I just want to know one thing…..did he use a net to catch that fish??

    *runs and hides*

  13. Glenda says:

    Yes Sue I am having a great day here in my neck of the woods…………beautiful Adelaide hills South Australia………….the sun is shining and the doggies have been out for a brisk morning walk. I needed to walk out the stiffness from yesterdays ride. I have not ridden for some weeks and I count my self fortunate that I can actually walk this morning Ha! Love your photos…………such a beautiful place…………look at the crystal clear waters………so clean! One has to go into wilderness here in OZ to find such clean waters! I was surprised by the camp hosts comment about not smoking………I know the risk of forest fires is very high, we call them bush fires here. Camp fires would not be allowed during that season, but I have not heard of a ban on smoking……..hard to police I would think. Enjoy your day……..I know you will!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Maybe Australian smokers know how to put out a cigarette. Here in the U.S. tossed cigarettes have caused wildfires. Previous to the camp host’s visit to our site, the crew and I walked past a campsite where both the woman and the man were smoking. That was before the host talked to them. If they confine their smoking to inside their rig, then that’s better than flicking live ash into the dry grass.

      I assume by a ride you mean on horseback. I can imagine you, wearing a hat, very Aussie woman, on a horse with your dogs tagging along…

      • Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

        Glenda, I drove though South Australia on the way from Sydney to Uluru though I didn’t make it as far south as Adelaide. Your country is very beautiful! I never thought I’d like desert areas but the outback was phenomenal! Love at first site. Now I want to see my own country’s desert areas.

  14. Alan Rabe says:

    Hi Sue, You do have a knack for finding excellent campgrounds. Trout that size might actually get me back into fly fishing. Any progress in determining your destination, Shasta does sound nice. I went past it a few times when I drove big truck and always wanted to get back and stay for a while. Like six months maybe.
    Actually, you do have a generator, the PTV. All you need is a set of jumper cables. Then if the need ever arises you can recharge the batteries by running the PTV for a bit at a high idle.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Alan… Actually I did charge the batteries that way once, I think in Oregon, when it was cloudy and very little sunshine was coming through the trees.

  15. I like your top ten list, I already have a few of them. I’m wishing I had taken notes of your best camping spots, maybe you can write a top ten list of those some time. For some reason Sunglow sticks in my mind, I guess it’s an easy name to remember. Seems like just about the whole state of Utah was a winner! Anyway, I have plenty of time to compile a list before I go anywhere.

    Aww, no “Spike soaking” pic today! At least yall got a nice soak, that’s the main thing. Your camp looks and sounds lovely, and the trains too….a duck train and a choo choo train! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Linda…

      One thing you can do is look at the monthly Money reports. Each one has a recap of where we camped that month including cost. It would be tough to make a top-ten list because almost every camp has something great about it!

      Stay tuned for Spikey’s soak pics! (I have to have them for every body of water we visit.)

  16. Dawn says:

    You find the most beautiful places to stay! The photo above the train photo is just breathtaking. Love the train photo too. Actually love all of them. I’m so excited each time I check and find a new post from you. It’s almost like I get to go along. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Dawn… That’s the scene I looked at while sitting in the river with Spike.

      I love to hear how people enjoy my posts. Thanks for writing!

  17. Spike and Bridget would ride along with me, wearing grey-and-white striped railroad-style harnesses, of course.

    LOL! I saw it. Red bandanas and all.

  18. Nancy (Idaho) says:

    Looks like the Superior fire must be out, then. We went by there about a month ago and it was incredibly smoky–the fire was on the hills to the northeast of town. Did you notice any blackened landscape? Next time you head west through Idaho, try highway 12 along the Clearwater–lots of pretty NFS campsites and probably lots of boondocking,too. Enjoy your time in the PNW

  19. Laurie says:

    Hello Sue, I would be interested in your other List of Favorites. Since you have been camping for a while I am wondering what options on your Casita you would or would not get.
    As I have been enjoying your posts and pictures but I have not noticed you use your “awning”.

    My 2 dogs, my spouse and I will be traveling to Utah in the winter time. We will be camping along the way. I have to deicide on the Casita. or the Aliner (better gas milage with the pop-up). I would appreciate your thoughts.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Laurie,

      Here’s my opinion re: the Aliner: Saving on gas is a small benefit when weighed against the monumental hassle (in my opinion) of having to fool with a pop-up. (A solo traveler has to consider the possibility of becoming ill or exhausted…. yet the dang pop-up has to be put up before you can hit the sack.) Many times I’ve pulled off the highway to make lunch, use the bathroom, change clothing, get something I need while driving, etc. If I had a pop-up, I wouldn’t have that convenience. My gas mileage is somewhere between 15 mpg city/mountains and 17 mpg. highway… with a V-8 engine.

      A Casita isn’t designed for winter camping. I doubt an Aliner is either so I’d compare the insulation of the two.

      After more than two years I’m not sure what were options and what was standard on the Casita Liberty Deluxe. I think I ordered all the options except the furnace and electric jack. (Look at list at I’m happy with those decisions. A furnace would be too noisy for me (my Wave3 catalytic is noiseless) and I like the exercise, albeit brief, and simplicity of the crank jack.

      The least used of the BLT’s options is the outdoor shower, but I’m glad I have it as I may use it more if my style of camping changes.

      Essential options for me? — high lift axle with larger, heavy duty tires . . . and vinyl flooring!

      • Laurie says:

        Thanks for all the good information. You make a lot of excellent points. Lunch on the road being one of them. : )

        I looked at the Wave3 and like it although space might get a little tight with 2 45 pound dogs in the trailer at night. I’m assuming you have yours on legs.

        I have a 6 cylinder Toyota Highlander Hybrid that can tow 3500 lbs. which is a smaller car then yours. I am wondering how much sway I will get in high winds. Have you had any problems?

        Everyone I talk to loves their Casita. I have only seen the Spirit Deluxe. What made you chose the Liberty Deluxe? Did you take the table out so there would be more room for the dogs? thanks again for all your input.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Hi Laurie,

          Re: Lunch on the road… Another idea — Gas stations along interstates often have a Subway in their convenience store. Buy a footlong… half for lunch and the other half when you’ve set up camp. Makes the day easier . . .

          Re: Wave3… No, my heater is mounted on the fiberglass channel opposite my bed. Take a look at this post: Catalytic Heater Installation

          Re: I don’t drive in high wind and haven’t been caught in any so far. I never tow without the anti-sway bar on the hitch. To me that’s an essential item. I haven’t felt any sway.

          Re: Choice of Liberty Deluxe. To me it’s a more flexible design than the Spirit Deluxe. I didn’t want space wasted on a dinette designed for two people.

          Re: Table… I took out the large table. I have the small table set up at the very back of the BLT under the back window. It’s the perfect size. I sit here to type on my laptop and eat meals when I’m not eating outside (my usual practice).

          Hope these answers are helpful!

          • Laurie Spear says:

            Interesting. I hadn’t thought of moving the small table in the back. Do you sleep on the “twin” on one side of the trailer? I suppose both sides can be used as twin beds. I can see from looking at the schematic that would give you a lot of room in the trailer for the dogs.

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              Yes, I have it set up in the twin configuration. The crew and I sleep on one bed. The other side isn’t a bed. I put storage drawers the full length which also gives me a full-length of countertop… Very convenient!

            • Laurie says:

              Thanks for your reply. I like how it sounds although I would need to use both twins when my spouse is along but I think there is more room the way you have it. I would love to see a photo of how you set that up. I am a visual person. If you prefer you can send it to my e-mail. I like the awning.

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              I posted a photo of the interior quite some time ago. I’m in the middle of writing a new entry right now, but I’ll try to find it for you. I’ve been thinking about putting a link in the sidebar to take readers to a post from the past, and changing the link frequently. So look there in the next few days.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      About the awning… I often take photos in the morning before the awning is needed. In other words, I use it more than blog photos show. It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t seem important until you need it… and then it’s very important! My opinion, of course . . .

      • Cathy S says:

        Hi Sue, we love our awning and use it often. We always stake it down on the ends just in case of sudden wind. We are also full time and totally agree with your top ten list. After 15 months of full time we are even more pleased with our choice of Casita. We have been on the east coast for several months and are just now making our way west once again. Looking forward to many more boon docking possibilities!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Hi Cathy… I feel the same way about the BLT… “even more pleased.”

          I imagine fulltiming isn’t as easy in the East as in the West. Welcome back!

  20. rvsueandcrew says:

    Hi Jool . . . One of the great things about rat terriers is the combination of small size and toughness . . . even the tiny ones.

    I fostered dogs, too — all breeds. A pack of rat terriers would be an ongoing comedy skit! The antics reported on that forum I linked above are hilarious.

  21. Micky says:

    Thanks for the ‘favorites’ list Sue, I’m always looking for that kind of information as I plan for the future. (354 days, but who’s counting?) 🙂

    And….I’m really glad you don’t fish!

  22. Pauline says:

    I used to think the bank from the tracks to our yard was so steep!! I go by that house when I go back to Cambridge….not so steep anymore. BTW, got a card from Marlene Davis, our neighbor, asking about us 3 girls.
    Love you, travel safely and give Spike and Bridget a hug from me

  23. AZ Jim says:

    I fished for years. All waters, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and of course the ocean. In looking back at those days I am struck by the reality that the fish I caught, and there were many, were never near as big when freshly caught as they were in my telling of their capture later.

    • AZ Jim says:

      PS: As a young boy we had train tracks at the end of our 10 acres of crops. They always fascinated me. Mom would have been mighty pissed if she caught my brother and me up on those tracks, head down on rail listening to approaching (albeit miles away) trains. We used to put a penny on them once in awhile (a big sacrifice since a penny then bought candy) to watch how the train would flatten them out. Dad had some of those two headed nails, used to make a temporary attachment as they could be removed easily. We used to lay them on the tracks and then with just a little file work they came out as little swords when the train came by. Gawd, I’m old.

      • Nancy (Idaho) says:

        Gee, Jim, I have the same memories–pennnies and nails! Only thing is, we were always afraid the train would tip over because of them-LOL. (I think someone–older brother, perhaps–told us that to get us to stop)

  24. rvsueandcrew says:

    The crew and I are at a new, riverside camp. The signal is almost nothing. With the Wilson antenna I can get online but it is very slow. I doubt I’ll be able to post. Tomorrow (Mon.) I’ll try again.

    Just wanted you to know I haven’t forgotten you!

  25. Diann in Montana says:

    Hi, Sue!
    I have really enjoyed following you since I discovered you a few weeks ago. I want to let you know how grateful I am to read about your adventures. I sit down at the computer each morning, and it’s like communing with an old friend. HAHAHA
    My husband and I will become part-timers when he finally retires. We live in a cold yet gorgeous part of Montana–Absarokee, just north of the Beartooth Range. We want to escape for the winter and tour just like you and your crew. So, your tales of travel (get the pun!) truly offer an abundance of insight. Thanks so much, rvsue, for you!
    Continued beautiful adventures!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Diann . . Welcome to my blog! I’m happy you enjoy stopping by. I try to make it a fun and comfortable place. 🙂

      I want to see your part of Montana. I’ve read books set in that area and the descriptions are compelling. You will have a wonderful life, split between the beautiful area around your home and travels to warm winter places.

  26. Alan Rabe says:

    Hi Sue, good to know your still there. When you are planning your next stop you could look at the verizon coverage map to see what kind of reception you will get. The area you are in now is kind of spotty until you get to CourD’lene. Here is the url if you want it. there is a coverage map at the bottom of the page that you can zoom in on.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Alan. . . I’ve bookmarked the page.

      I look for new camps based on location, elevation, seclusion (when practical), and beauty. Being able to post on this blog is important, too, but I admit it’s rarely a primary consideration.

      I will cut our stay short at a camp without signal. After a day or two I have to get back online!

  27. Hi Sue,
    I ordered some things through your link. I hope you get credit for them. It was so easy, it felt like it didn’t work. LOL.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m sure it worked, Susan. Thank you very much for remembering to shop through my links! I appreciate your support.

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