Archive for June, 2011

Sampling Oregon: Day 19-20, On the Move


Time to move on. Our destination today (Wednesday) is Delintment Lake, in the Ochoco National Forest. Today’s drive wasn’t long in terms of miles, but it was an interesting trip.

The caravan pulled out a little before 10 am on Wednesday morning. The views over the valley near Frenchglen were beautiful.

Leaving Frenchglen… a beautiful valley…

First order of business was to stop in Burns for fuel and food. Then, on we drove, up the mountain.

The roads generally were good, and the countryside views were of green rolling hills. As we rose in elevation trees started to appear, then abruptly stop. A roadside sign announced that there had been a huge wildfire here about 20 years ago. We found a turnout where the facts of the fire were displayed. It may be 100 years before the forest returns.


Pulling off the road to visit the fire overlook did give us the opportunity to see all the Airstreams at once…


Four Airstreams in a row… two more arrived later…

Upon arriving at the campground at Delintment lake we managed to commandeer an entire circle of campsites for our 6 Airstreams. Soon, relaxing and exploring the lake was underway, followed by happy hours.


Lynda managed to sneak away to the lake to catch a few pictures as well…

As we gathered around the campfire after dinner the air began to get cool. We turned in early to avoid using too much battery power for lights…

Thursday, June 30, dawned a bit chilly. It was 48 degrees in the Airstream. We dressed hurriedly, then found the campfire to warm ourselves.

Breakfast was served by Cathy and Bill Marshall. It was a great eggs and kilbasa sausage hash. Hot coffe was also a treat in the chilly morning hours.

Today’s activities included walking around the lake, canoeing, fishing, reading and relaxing…

Soon Happy Hours commenced, leading to dinner. Cathy and Bill prepared another great dinner of “Haystacks”; these are basically tostadas, except that a base of corn chips is used in lieu of the tortillas. Everyone enjoyed the dinner and the cobbler and ice cream for dessert. Well done, Cathy and Bill!

As the evening drew to a close, we gathered again around the campfire. Another beautiful day in a beautiful place. An enjoyable day was had by all.

June 30 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 18, More Exploring


Once again we awoke to a bright and sunny day. Today, after another fine breakfast, we headed out in 10 passenger vans to learn even more about this fascinating area.

Our driver took us through the marshlands, showing us the locks, dams, and canals that the ranchers used to control and utilize the scarce water. We even saw a beaver lodge… they build dams, too!

We saw a brood pond, where we were able to view two mule deer (5- point), as well as pintail ducks, a blue heron, spotted sandpiper, stilt, and a cinnamon teal duck; also, a red wing blackbird and pheasants.

Next we stopped at the P-Ranch, the headquarters for ranching in this area starting in the 1880s. Mr. French, in addition to his now famous round barn, built a long, rectangular, barn, named the Long Barn. Also on display are farm and ranch implements dating back over 100 years…

Once again, we offer our thanks to Bill Ferry for all his hard work researching and organizing these excursions at Frenchglen!

We were returned back to the campground, where the rest of the day was spent relaxing and lazing about. About 3:00 the skies turned ominous, black clouds formed, and the winds picked up. In fact, the wind picked up chairs, tables, and awnings – and anything else that wasn’t nailed down.

To appease the winds, we put down all the awnings, folded all the tables and chairs, took down the screened room, and put away all manner of camping items. Instantly, the winds stopped.

Then the rain started. Up went the canopies, as we tried to arrange a place for dinner…

Happy hours took place in an ad hoc fashion. In fact, there were 12 of us having a happy time in our trailer!


Dinner was finally ready. Walt had prepared a huge prime rib for our huge gathering. Mashed potatoes, too! We enjoyed the meal immensely, huddled under the canopies, keeping out of the rain…

As the light faded we were treated to a marvelous sunset over the Steens Mountains.

Once again, an enjoyable time was had by all.

June 28 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 17, Exploring


This morning dawned bright and sunny. For this coastal southern Californian, this always seems a little disorienting…


Walt and Lyn again prepared a fabulous breakfast, enjoyed without help from Mosquitoes. After a brief orientation by Bill Ferry, we carpooled up and left for a tour of the valley around Frenchglen.

Our first stop was the Krumbo Reservoir overlook. Stark but beautiful, the reservoir covers 150 surface acres and averages 20 feet deep.

Next on our whirlwind tour was the Buena Vista Ponds and Overlook. Again we overlooked the beautiful valley below.

Moving on, we headed for the Diamond Craters, with an exhibit on the volcanic activity about 17,000 years ago. Diamond Craters overlook was an almost 360 degrees view of vast volcanic formations of all kinds, showing both the pahoehoe type of lava as well as the a-a type of lava.

Onward we went – this time to a round barn built by Mr. French in about 1880. This one is named the Round Barn, and is owned today, again, by Mr. Jenkins


This barn was used for many years in Mr. French’s cattle operations as well in his horse-breaking operations.


Finally it was time for a break. We drove to the tiny village of Diamond, where we enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Historic Diamond Hotel.

We offer our thanks to Bill Ferry for all his hard work researching and organizing these excursions at Frenchglen!

The carpool caravan returned to the RV resort at about 1:30. There we met some additional rally and caravan folks.

Duane and Dianne Zollo are joining the caravan today, and will continue with us to our next stop, Delintment Lake. Duane and Dianne have an 1986 25’ Airstream – one of the few years back in the 1980s when they had the wrap- around read windows. These windows were discontinued in about 1990, until they were recently brought back in about 2006 with the front bedroom/rear living room plans that are so popular today. The Zollos’ Airstream has the rear bedroom to take advantage of the wrap-around view.

Julius and Patricia Scroggins also join us for this rally at Frenchglen. This is their first Oregon Unit Rally. They have a 2007 Airstream Bambi – just 19’ long.

Hal and Terry Warren join the Oregon Unit Rally here in Frenchglen for dinner. This evening, Rick and Carol Pollock prepared a fine burrito bar for all of us. After dinner, Doug Dill gave a presentation on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, which we will br touring tomorrow.

As the evening cooled, the mosquitoes didn’t subside, so a few hearty folks huddled in the screen room and watched the campfire long into the evening…

Larry and Deborah Owens are from Florida, and they are on a six month trip in their 31’ Airstream. They will also be at the Baker City rally to celebrate Wally’s birthday.

June 27 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 16, Looking for the “Desert”


Today was another travel day. We are headed east again, but this time we have mountains to get around or over. Since the road over the mountains is mostly unpaved, we had our choice of the southern or the northern route around the mountain. Since the southern route actually dips into Nevada, and the “Sampling Oregon” caravan never leaves Oregon, most of us (except a few renegades) chose the northern route, through Burns, OR.

The northern route runs northeast to Burns, then turns southeast to Frenchglen.

The route is US highway 395. It is a fairly good two lane road, very straight (mostly) and it travels through some of the most barren desert I have ever seen.

We drove along Abert Lake, Alkalai Lake, and North Alkalai Lake. The ONLY sign of civilization in this 100 mile stretch is Wagontire, which consists of a few run down mobile homes and a closed café and motel.

When we reached Riley, on Interstate 20, we turned east for about 20 miles to Burns. From there, we headed south/southeast towards Frenchglen.

This is most interesting terrain! Vast plains are broken by huge volcanic formations, looking like man-made dikes or dams.


Volcanic Action… these formations criss-cross the valley

We arrived at the tiny village of Frenchglen, then traveled the dirt and gravel road about three miles to the campground.

By 5:00 we had all arrived. Joining the caravaners today were Bill and Florence Grisso, from Woodburn, OR, near Salem. They will travel with us for five more stops, but they will then leave us to return home to prepare for their trip to Alaska. The Grissos have a 30’ Classic Airstream, being towed by a one-ton Ram truck, on which they also carry a 2,000 lbs. boat and trailer.

Also today, Jeff and Mary Chris Stangland join us. They are here as part of the Oregon Unit Rally; they will be joined tomorrow by more Rally-only folks… Stanglands live in Eugene, (where, I hear, is a college…) and have a 27’ front

There was a brief ad hoc happy hour, dinner on our own, then we gathered in the resort office for an orientation to this area.


Dick Jenkins spoke to us at length of the history of the area and his family’s connection to it. In the 1870s, Mr. French arrived in the area to establish a cattle empire, financed by Mr. Glen in California. He was very successful, until the late 1890s, when he was killed in a border dispute. In the early 1900s, Mr. Jenkins’ grandfather started buying much of the French property, including the historic Round Barn, which we will see tomorrow.

As the sun faded behind the hills it was time to return to the Airstream and make our big plans for tomorrow.

June 26 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 15, Relaxing in “Wine” Country


This morning started with a breakfast of bagels, toast, and steel-cut oats, plus abundant coffee and juice. The sun was out early and the skies were clear.

Today we have an optional, non- caravan activity, if we wanted to do it. Remember, the “Sampling Oregon” caravan does not leave Oregon… Our destination today: California!


Stringers Wild Plum Orchards and Distillery is about as far north and east as you can go in California, just a few miles from the Oregon and Nevada Borders. They are a family operation, started in 1984. The winery is nestled in the Goose Lake valley with rugged mountains towering to the east and the expanse of Goose Lake to the west. Freezing temperatures are possible at any time of the year due to the 5,000’ elevation. Not only is the view spectacular, the location is ideal for growing the region’s hardy delicacy, the wild plum.


The slightly tart taste of the wild plum is very interesting! The Pacific Plum, or Western Plum, is a native species that grows in only a few counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

We were met by the winemaker, Jim Stringer, son of the founder. (Mom was at the counter in the gift shop/tasting room…) Jim took us back to the winery itself, where he had set up a spread of wines and other things to taste.

We started with their off-dry plum wine, then the off-sweet wine. Then we moved to the good stuff! Plum jam was lovely, and the spicy pepper plum jam was great! After a demonstration of the bottling line, and a description of the wine making process, we tasted the Stringers’ latest creations: gin, plum gin, and plum brandy.


Wine tasting… the still is in the background…

The gin, predictably, tasted like a Christmas tree. The plum gin tasted like a Christmas tree with plums. The plum brandy was not your typical sweet fruit brandy; it is made in the European style, what the Italians call Grappa and the French call Eau-de- Vie. It was quite nice!

(I might mention here that tasting hard spirits is technically not allowed, but we were allowed to smell them, and sometimes, accidently, some of the liquid spills out to the mouth…)

The event was topped off by soft- serve ice cream with a plum sauce topping. An enjoyable time was had by all!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and walking some of the resort trails…

Remember… They call this a desert…

Dinner was a marvelous Cajun- rubbed Chicken, with potato salad and other sides, and brownies for dessert, all prepared and served up by Scott and Chris. It was great!

Dinner was followed by another lively chat around the camp fire… a perfect ending to a perfect day!

June 25 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 14, Back to Semi-Civilization


We took advantage opportunity for an early morning drive; we packed up quickly and quietly and left the Diamond Lake campground at 5:55 am. It was 31 degrees outside, the sun was just coming up, and we were all alone on the highway.

We headed south, then east, then south again, skirting Crater Lake. At one point the temperature hit 28 degrees. After about one hour we took the Chiloquin cut off…

After a brief stop for gas in Chiloquin, we had a beautiful drive along the Chiloquin River and through beautiful countryside. Steam (or is it vapor – John?) was rising from the river, creating an eerie, but interesting look.

As we approached Sprague River, and then further along the route as well, we noticed these odd stone pillars set into the fences along the road. We guessed that they had something to do with supporting the fences, but we wondered what was different about this part of the world that prompted these people to use this method of support…


We found out that these are called Rock Jacks. The reason they are used is that the ground is so rocky, and the topsoil is so loose and shallow, that driving fence posts into the ground is just not practical. Who knew?

We arrived at our campground, just outside of Lakeview, at about 9:00 am. The sun was hot, the shade was cool. Junipers Reservoir RV Resort is a very nice place, set about 1 mile inside the RK Ranch – an 8,000 acre working cattle and timber ranch. The drive along ranch roads gave us vista of cattle, deer, and antelope, signs warning of porcupines, and a lovely view of the Junipers Reservoir.

The countryside around here is green, with lush valleys and wooded hills – hardly what I would call a desert. It is dry, and the sun is hot, and the nights are cool. But it hardly qualifies as a desert in this Californian’s mind. It’s just another beautiful part of Oregon, where, just maybe, it doesn’t rain quite as much…

After arriving we set up camp, plugged into electricity, connected to the internet, checked email, took a hot shower, did some laundry… And it was noon! Shortly the next Airstream arrived. It belonged to “new” members joining us – Bill and Beth Ferry. Bill and Beth will be with us for the rest of the caravan. Bill and Beth hail from Brookings, Oregon, on the southern coast, in the area euphemistically referred to as the “banana belt”.

Eventually the other rigs arrived. They had left about three hours after we did. They actually travelled together for a portion on the time.


The rest of the day was left for various activities. Some took a walk or bike ride around the ranch, others caught up with email, others did laundry.

Dinner was on our own, but several of us shared a table and/or a little wine.

After a late stroll around the park, most of us turned in for the night. An enjoyable time was had by all.

June 24 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 11-13, Diamond Lake


Tuesday, June 21, was a travel day. The four rigs all left at different times; we traveled east about 165 miles and climbed up to an elevation of about 5,280 feet! Most of the trip was spent driving along the North Umpqua River. As it winds its way to the coast it glistens in the sun and ripples in the wind. It was truly a beautiful sight!


Umpqua River… very picturesque…

Diamond Lake is located between Mount Bailey to the west and Mount Thielsen to the east; it is just north of Crater Lake National Park.
(In fact, Crater Lake was to have been a possible day trip from here. However, the north entrance to Crater Lake is still closed due to snow!)


Mt. Thielsen… maybe volcanic action?

The outlet of the lake is at its north end. From there, water flows via Lake Creek into the North Umpqua River and ultimately to the Pacific Ocean. Diamond Lake was named for John Diamond, for whom Diamond Peak is also named. He discovered the lake in 1852 while on the summit of Diamond Peak.

By 4:00 pm we had all arrived, and were set up at Diamond Lake’s Broken Arrow Campground. This is a nice, woodsy campground, with large campsites… And large mosquitoes… Lots of large mosquitoes! Luckily, Scott and Chris brought a screened room. Thank you, Scott and Chris!

This being a travel day, we had dinner on our own, but we re- assembled in the screened room when Scott and Chris returned from their 4 hour saga to retrieve their trailer keys… (You’ll have to ask them…) The temperatures were in the high 80s, but as soon as the sun dropped behind the mountain, temperatures dropped as well. With no electricity at the camp sites, we were in for a chilly night…

Wednesday, June 22, dawned with a chill. Inside our Airstream it was 48 degrees; outside it was 44 degrees. Maybe I should have closed the windows… After all, there is still snow on the ground!

Lynda and I had volunteered for chef duties today, as it is our 37th wedding anniversary. We wanted to celebrate by eating what WE wanted to eat… Walt was kind enough to fire up his generator, so coffee was ready by 8:00; at 8:30 sharp I served my world- famous “Stuff and Eggs”. Along with fruit and croissants, no one went hungry…

Today’s activities included fishing. Unfortunately, today’s activities did not include catching. Other options were sunning, reading, and general lazing.


At about noon, I started preparing a Bolognese sauce for tonight’s spaghetti dinner. By 7:00 or so it was ready. Spaghetti Bolognese was accompanied by garlic bread and a Caesar salad. And red wine… A fine ending to our wedding anniversary.

Thursday, June 23, again dawned with a chill. But we’re used to it by now… Walt prepared a fine breakfast of eggs and onions, plus bacon and breakfast breads. Walt again headed out to fish, while the others drove back to see waterfalls along the Umpqua River.

Our first stop was Whitehorse Falls. We traveled a ways more and found Watson Falls. We hiked up the path following the river. There were many amazing sights along the way, but as we rose higher we could see the main event – a 272 foot free-fall of water… beautiful!

At the top of the trail the falls are thundering, and spray is soaking everything and everyone. An amazing, exhilarating sight! After catching our collective breathes, we headed back down the trail, and back to the campground. Lazy afternoon activities were in order. For dinner, in the screened room, Walt prepared a dutch-oven version of a lamb stew. It was fabulous! Lamb always calls for cabernet, so Cht. Montelena

Friday, June 24 is a travel day… More later…

June 23 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 10, Leisurely Stay Day


Today was a leisurely day to explore the nearby town of Bandon, to read or nap, and to catch up on emails and things. After a breakfast of cereals and breads served by the Webers, we were free to pursue our choices for the day.

Most of us chose to drive to Bandon to explore the knick-knack shops of Old Town. Since this is coastal Oregon, we had noticed many Tsunami warning signs posted along the roads. However, this sign had a new twist on the concept:


After we walked through the shops, we wandered along the harbor; eventually, Walt and Lyn, plus Scott and Chris ending up joining us at the recommended Fish and Chips house for lunch.

The air was brisk and cool, but the walk, the lunch, and the friends were pleasant.

Bandon is in Coos County, on the south side of the mouth of the Coquille River. It was named by George Bennet, an Irish peer, who settled nearby in 1873 and named the town after Bandon, Ireland, his native home.

Before 1850, the Coquille Indians lived in the area. Then, in 1851, gold was discovered at nearby Whiskey Run Beach by French Canadian trappers, though the gold rush did not have much of an impact on the area. In 1852, Henry Baldwin, from County Cork, Ireland, was shipwrecked on the Coos Baybarand walked into this area. The first permanent settlers came in 1853 and established the present town site.

Cranberries have been grown in Bandon since 1885, when Charles McFarlin planted vines he brought from Massachusetts. McFarlin had originally come to pan for gold in California. He did not make his fortune, or even a living, so he turned to what he knew best. He brought vines fromCape Codand planted them in the state’s first cranberry bog near Hauser. This bog produced cranberries for eight decades. His variety adapted to growing conditions on the west coast. The variety was named McFarlin in his honor and was the principal variety grown on the west coast until overtaken by the Stevens variety. Bandon is also the location of the first cranberry bogs to be wet harvested, which is done by building dikes around the bogs then flooding them.


Lunch! Fish and Chips, plus a little clam chowder


Coquille River Lighthouse… not currently operating, but an interesting, historic landmark…

The Coquille River Lighthouse was first lit on February 29, 1896. The station consisted of a 40-foot tower and octagonal fog signal room. The tower housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens. The oil house stood on an adjacent platform. The lighthouse was built on an island and connected to the mainland by a wooden walkway. The keeper’s residence was a duplex on the mainland.

Upon returning to camp, we found that the VonTagens had left early to attend to a sick dog. We wish them well.

This evening was spent once again enjoying Happy Hours, sharing a delicious shrimp chowder prepared by the Webers, and chatting around the campfire. An enjoyable time was had by all!

Tomorrow is a travel day. We head east 165 miles, and up 1 mile to Diamond Lake, just north of Crater Lake, elevation 5280. No electricity. No wifi. Not even cable! We will be roughing it big-time! You may not hear from me for a while…

June 20 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 9, Happy Fathers Day


We eagerly awaited the dawn, this Fathers Day Sunday, to see if the rain had finally stopped. It had! Things were still wet, but it wasn’t a bother at all.

After breakfast, it was time to break camp, pack up, and leave. We had a chance to tour some of the Oregon Unit’s Airstreams that had been restored and/or customized. These people have real talent! Their Airstreams are modern, yet respectful of the Airstream tradition. We enjoyed the tours immensely!

Breaking camp and packing was a breeze, and we were on the road by about 10:30. In contrast to our California “convoy” of Airstreams, our caravaning was left to our own schedules, so we had a leisurely drive south on 101. Once along the way, we caught up with the VonTagens; however, they decided to pull over and enjoy some scenery along the beautiful coastline. We continued on to Bandon, some 20 miles south of Coos Bay, where we pulled into Bullards Beach State Park.

One of the highlights of this Fathers Day was doing laundry. We have been on the road for 9 days, so it was time. Also, after Bullards Beach State Park, we travel to the mountains just north of Crater Lake, to a Federal campground at Diamond Lake. There are limited “facilities” at the campground, so we knew if we didn’t do laundry now we would be waiting many more days…

Luckily, there was a Subway sandwich shoppe right next door to the Laundromat in Bandon, as well as a Tony’s Food Place. So we could do laundry, shop for a few essentials, and grab a tuna sub for lunch, all in one place. Epic Fathers Day, indeed!

Upon our return to camp we found that our entire caravan contingent had checked in. Happy hours were soon going strong…


Happy Hours… at Bullards Beach State Park…

Now that we were “just us”, we got to know our caravan companions a bit better. Our caravan is lead by Walt and Lyn Weber. They live in Sherwood Oregon, south of Portland. Walt and Lyn have the distinction of carrying a boat and trailer atop their truck while towing their Airstream. Also traveling the entire 30 day caravan are Bill and Kathy Marshall. From Battleground, Washington, Battleground is about 25 miles north of Portland. Bill and Kathy tow a 1995 Airstream. Also traveling the entire 30 day caravan are Scott Prall and Chris Hudson. Scott and Chris are full- timers, traveling where and when they please. They are carrying a canoe atop their truck; we’ll find out more about that later. Scott and Chris have a 2009 27’ Front Bedroom Airstream – the newest Airstream in our caravan group.

Finally, on this stop, we are joined by Karl and Viki VonTagen, from Wilsonville, OR, also south of Portland. The VonTagens will drop out for a time, and others will join the caravan. In addition, we will rejoin the regular Oregon Unit’s rallies from time to time.

After Happy Hours, we each had dinner in our own Airstreams, then we regrouped again for chatting, arguing, and shouting until 10:00. Once we knew we had to be quiet, we all decided the fun was over, so we headed back to our Airstreams. Hopefully there will be more chatting, arguing, and shouting again tonight. Another day gone; an enjoyable time was had by all.

June 19 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

Sampling Oregon: Day 8, The Caravan Continues


We awoke this Saturday morning to a wet Oregon Rain. Gray skies, low clouds and mist, and rain.


Rain in the Oregon Woods… staying dry is job 1…

Our hosts for this Oregon Unit Rally are Brad and Susan Taylor. They had put up four canopies with side curtains so that we could all enjoy our breakfast under cover. In addition, there were three propane-powered fire pits to keep us all warm… Breakfast consisted of ham slices, scrambled eggs, and assorted fruits and breakfast breads. No one went away hungry!


Breakfast under the canopies…

After breakfast we spent time puttering around the trailer, reading, and catching up on emails and Facebook. We were invited to lunch by Walt and Lyn Weber, the leaders and organizers of this caravan. We drove, in the rain, to the docks in Newport, where we found Mo’s – a well-known seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor, the fishing boats, and the fish cleaning station. After a rather lengthy wait, we were seated at a front window table with a wonderful view of the bay. Clam chowder seems to be a popular dish here, so we enjoyed the chowder along with other entrees. The food and the company were very good.

After lunch we walked along the street, in the rain, sight-seeing a bit. Then it was back to the Airstream… but wait! There’s more!

Since we were already out in the rain, we decided to walk to the beach, in the rain. The path ran though the woods, then through the dunes.

Did I mention that it was raining?

To refresh our memories: This weekend rally (camp-out) is a regular Oregon Unit rally. But it is also the rendezvous location for the Sampling Oregon Caravan. While we were camping with 19 Airstreams this weekend, five of us will leave tomorrow (Sunday) to continue on our “Sampling Oregon” Caravan. Our caravan is lead by Walt and Lyn Weber. Also traveling the entire 30 day caravan are Bill and Kathy Marshall, and Scott Prall and Chris Hudson. This stop, we are joined by Karl and Viki VonTagen. The VonTagens will drop out for a time, and others will join the caravan. In addition, we will rejoin the regular Oregon Unit’s rallies from time to time.
So, from now on, we will be reporting as a caravan, with occasional interruptions with Oregon unit rallies. I trust this won’t be too confusing for you all…


Walking on the beach… in the rain…

So, about 1 1⁄2 miles later, we returned, wet and sandy, to the Airstream. NOW it was time to dry off, warm up, and just be cozy for a while. Dinner once again was under the canopies with Brad and Susan Taylor and the whole gang. Chicken and Shrimp on the BBQ, in the rain…

June 19 2011 | Caravans | No Comments »

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