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Author Topic: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite  (Read 9783 times)

DeeJay76

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Hi I am new here and have been reading around for some info.

My family and I are planning a trip to the USA in September/October this year. We plan to hire an RV and drive from LA to the Grand Canyon, then onto Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite and finish up in San Francisco. We have checked out a few RV companies and they vary so much in price but will keep investigating. We need to find one that doesn't have a huge one way drop fee!

We are new to the RV world but thought it would be a better way to travel as a family. (we have 4 kids aged 15 months to 11 years).

I was hoping to get some advice on RV parks. I am looking for some recommendations for RV accommodation at the Grand Canyon (south rim), Bryce, Zion, Death Valley and Yosemite NP that is clean, well located and family friendly.

Also is it practical to be able to drive an RV around these places with the terrain?

What size RV would be the best for our size family? I have been told that the RV's over 30 feet can be restrictive and not allowed in some RV parks.

Any other RV tips, advice or suggestions would be appreciated. We don't want to tackle this type of trip without any knowledge.

Thanks and will keep looking around the forum.  ;)

Ian

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2009, 01:43:32 AM »
Glad to see a fellow Aussie in here DJ, welcome to the RV Forum. Here you will find some of the friendliest folks in the RV world and I am sure you will find all the answers to help you have a memorable trip.

While waiting don't forget to look through the extensive Library, there is a lot of information and knowledge held there and perhaps some of it will help your planning.

To help with getting the right info back, why not share with us the kinds of things you are hoping to see, your rough timetable and also the things that you really are not interested in seeing. That will help the Framily help you.

And all the best with your trip, one day I hope to be doing similar journeys with my family. One day...
Cheers, Ian - from Adelaide, South Australia. GMT+0930 +1 for Daylight Robbery - Oct to Apr
A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles. Tim Cahill
A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. John Steinbeck

LspTpr

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2009, 03:24:00 AM »
I just came back from a trip to the grand canyon last week.  we stayed at the grand canyon railway park and rode the train up to the canyon.  it was a pretty good deal on the train.  We left the rv in the park, rode the train to canyon and stayed in the lodge for the night and then rode the train back the next day.  Went to yosemite two years ago.  There is a nice rv park in jackson hole near the national park if you want to stay in a town area but there are also a couple of real nice rv parks in the national park itself.  we stayed at both and enjoyed both.  I have a 40ft rv (diesel) and no problems around the grand canyon area.  What i would recommend if you stay for awhile is maybe stay in sedona rv park and drive up to the canyon.  sedona is a place that just has to be seen, i enjoyed it more than the canyon.
2002ultimate advantage 40E
New Orleans La

Marsha/CA

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2009, 08:09:38 AM »
LspTpr,
Just to keep things on track, Jackson Hole, Wy is NOT close to Yosemite, CA.  It's close to Yellowstone N.P.

DeeJay76,
Here are some suggestions/thoughts.  I'm assuming you are flying into LA and renting the RV at that point.  There are very few RV parks in Los Angeles.  Expect LOTS of traffic and congestion.  It's a very big city.  The best time to drive out of or into LA is between 10 am and 3pm or during the night... :D

As far as camping: 

Bryce try "Ruby's Inn". 
Zion, you could try "Watchman" National Park campground that has only electric; but is a beautiful park and has a shuttle for transportation.  Here is a lengthy discussion on Zion & Bryce.
Las Vegas will be a bit warm if not somewhat HOT.  There are several choices there, but most seem to like "Oasis RV Park"
Death Valley will still be HOT.  Here is a discussion on Death Valley.

I'm not as familiar with the Grand Canyon.  I'm sure someone will jump in with info.

We have a 35' motor home pulling a small car and we can fit into a lot of National parks and even state parks.  Something that may help is to pick up a camping book such as:  Trailer Life or Woodalls.  They will list most campgrounds by cities, and will give you information as to lengths of RVs that the  campground can handle.  You can also find tons of information by looking at websites for each of the areas you are planning to visit.  In Sept our schools start, so you probably will not need reservations.  However, you may need them in LA.

There are several of us from California on here so we are somewhat familiar with the hassles of LA.   ;)

Marsha~

2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2009, 08:40:26 AM »
Since you are going to be driving the RV itself around the National Parks as well as cities and towns, smaller is better. But with a family of 6, bigger is definitely better. I think I would opt for the 29-31 foot size and accept the inconvenience of a larger vehicle in places where parking may be limited or awkward. You won't have any problem finding campgrounds for that size - that  is not considered large in the US.
Gary
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2009, 09:36:17 AM »
The train to the Grand Canyon runs out of Williams, AZ.  It's a fun trip if you're into trains and they do things the kids will enjoy like having masked gunmen rob the train, etc.  But unless you stay overnight in one of the hotels or lodges at the Canyon itself your time at the Canyon will be limited.

Grand Canyon Railway

Mather Campground and Trailer Village are the two main campgrounds inside the park itself.  If these are full, Camper Village in Tusayan is only a mile or two outside the entrance to the park, and if you buy a multi-day park entrance pass you can bypass the entry lines. Grand Canyon Campgrounds

Once you're in the park, they have a network of trams and busses that loop through the congested part of the South Rim so you don't have to mess with moving the RV.

Like Marsha said, L.A. traffic can be horrendous.  I think it would be very stressful to go directly from a 12 hour flight, through customs, then pick up the RV and head out.   A better plan would be to book a hotel room near the airport and get a good night's sleep before heading out.

If you have the time, Calico Ghost Town is a fun stop for the kids, either as a break in the trip or to stay overnight in their campground.   The townsite is within easy walking distance of the campground and admission to the town is included in the camping fees.   Calico is about 5 miles northeast of Barstow on I-15 (the highway to Las Vegas) but afterwards you can take a county road directly south to re-join I-10 towards the Grand Canyon so it's not too far out of your way.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 09:47:27 AM by Lou Schneider »

Wendy

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2009, 12:02:08 PM »
If you're going to visit several National Parks, be sure to get the America the Beautiful Annual Pass. Cost is $80 but you'll save more than that in just 3 or 4 parks (Grand Canyon entrance fee is $25). You can buy one at the first federal park you visit.

Even in September, Grand Canyon may be very busy....it's a popular place. And the NPS has gotten weird about the campsites at Mather campground. They have some that are for tenters only, others for RVs and they have a 30-foot size limit. Trailer Village has hookups and will hold larger RVs. Both are close to shuttle stops. The shuttles in Grand Canyon and fabulous. You jump on and off at the different stops and don't have to try to find a parking place.

Death Valley in September is going to be way too hot for anyone not used to 100+ temperatures and 5% humidity. October isn't so bad. When we hosted there two years ago, we got there October 15 and the high every day from then until mid-November was over 90 degrees. Nice night time sleeping temperatures, tho. There are several campgrounds in Death Valley, most with no hookups, some with shade, spread throughout the park.

You might want to check out reserveamerica.com to see if there are spots available in the parks you want to visit. Not all federal campgrounds use this reservation system but Mather at Grand Canyon and Watchman at Zion do.

Enjoy your visit and ask away with any other questions you have.

Wendy

« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 12:06:38 PM by Wendy »
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Carl L

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2009, 03:07:25 PM »
Hi I am new here and have been reading around for some info.

My family and I are planning a trip to the USA in September/October this year. We plan to hire an RV and drive from LA to the Grand Canyon, then onto Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite and finish up in San Francisco. We have checked out a few RV companies and they vary so much in price but will keep investigating. We need to find one that doesn't have a huge one way drop fee!

If you cannot dodge the fee, consider returning to LA, dropping the motorhome, renting a car and driving the one day drive to SF.  Motorhomes are next to useless in SF which has worse traffic conditions that LA for RVs and no decent campground nearer the town than an hour away.   Rental car oneways from LAX to SFO are cheap.  Take two or three days and enjoy the CA central coast.

Skip Death Valley!   September-October is transitional weatherwise on the Pacific Coast.  Death Valley could be blisteringly hot with dangerously low humidity -- below 5%.  Adults are bad enough, little kids will be at real hazard for heat stroke.   Vegas will be hot enough for you all.  Schedule extra time for Yosemite or add Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP or the California Gold Rush Country.

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I was hoping to get some advice on RV parks. I am looking for some recommendations for RV accommodation at the Grand Canyon (south rim), Bryce, Zion, Death Valley and Yosemite NP that is clean, well located and family friendly.


Since you have time, order yourselves a copy of the Trailer Life Campground Directory.   The book gives pubilc and commercial CG listings, descrptions, and reliable ratings. 
Click HERE.

Other that that, if you decide to do SF in the motorhome, consider the San Francisco North KOA in Petaluma as base camp for SF.   It is about 1 hour north of the City across the Golden Gate.  The place is über kid friendly with a huge playground, petting zoo and flocks of chickens.  Woodsy too.

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Also is it practical to be able to drive an RV around these places with the terrain?

Well yes.  However, some routes, especially to places like Death Valley and Bryce do warrant some thinking about.  Another handy book for your travels is The Mountain Directory.  Order a copy at www.mountaindirectory.com.   You want the western volume.

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What size RV would be the best for our size family? I have been told that the RV's over 30 feet can be restrictive and not allowed in some RV parks.

Listen to what Gary says.

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Any other RV tips, advice or suggestions would be appreciated. We don't want to tackle this type of trip without any knowledge.

Yeah.  In the matter of LA, try to pick up your RV near Anaheim, Norwalk, or Santa Fe Springs all LA suburbs near Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm.  Camp for a few nights at an RV resort nearby and treat the kids to a geniune plastic experience which they will treasure and you will survive.   ;D   A decent travel or booking agent should be able to set you up.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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DonTom

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2009, 04:46:55 PM »
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Motorhomes are next to useless in SF which has worse traffic conditions that LA for RVs and no decent campground nearer the town than an hour away.

Not true. Just to the South of SF there is the Pacifica RV Park.  It's 15 minutes to SF and traffic into SF  isn't bad at all in that direction, but it's a bit farther to downtown, where you would be better off in a car and even that will be difficult to park. The only down side is that I hear this RV park costs some $. One of the more expensive RV parks in the country. But everything is more expensive in the SF area as property values are higher. We also have the highest gasoline prices in the country.

Parking a car on the street anywhere in SF where there's a meter is 25 cents per every ten minutes (except Sundays). There are many parking garages (for cars) in SF that charge about $2.50 per hour, but some, such as in the B of A building on California Street, are ridiculously expensive.

LA is supposed to be the easiest large city in the world to park. But that's not true with SF. However, there are places where I often see RV's  boondock for the night, such as a block off Sunset Blvd on the side where there's all trees and no homes on that side. We often let our doggies run around there off leash during the night after going to various restaurants in that area. So it's a good place for RV'ers with doggies too.   Plenty of parking in that area, even for a large RV.  Might not be legal, but is rarely enforced, just like many other small things in SF, where cops usually have better things to do. 

-Don- South San Francisco, CA

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Carl L

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2009, 07:31:54 PM »
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Not true. Just to the South of SF there is the Pacifica RV Park.  It's 15 minutes to SF and traffic into SF  isn't bad at all in that direction, but it's a bit farther to downtown, where you would be better off in a car and even that will be difficult to park. The only down side is that I hear this RV park costs some $. One of the more expensive RV parks in the country. But everything is more expensive in the SF area as property values are higher. We also have the highest gasoline prices in the country.

That is one park and as I remember it is a bit of a parking lot.   The other park, over at Candlestick Point is not only a parking lot but in a scary neighborhood besides.   There is a long thread on SF RV parks elsewhere on the forum and neither were particularly recommended.   I would recommend the SF North KOA in Petaluma over either -- most especially for kids.   

As for SF traffic, I stand my ground.  I once lived in SF, drove in SF, and have visited SF many times since.  My proudest moment driving in SF was finding a parking spot in front of the Buena Vista for a GMC Suburban in the morning on a weekend and later that night finding a parking space on Grant Avenue in front of the Golden Dragon Restaurant.   When I got ready to pull out of the Grant Avenue spot, I needed a break in the solid line of glacially moving traffic.  Loading wife and kids in the Burb I walked up the line of stalled traffic and found a likely car one with a  family in it.  I told the driver, a Chinese American with his family, that I was about to pull out and, if he would give me a break in traffic, he could bag my parking space.   He immediately agreed, and then told me that he had been born on Grant Avenue but this would be the first time he had ever gotten a parking space on it.   ;D
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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DeeJay76

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2009, 08:40:10 PM »
Thank you all so much for your input. It has given us a lot to think about.

Thinking maybe we might skip Death Valley if it is going to be THAT ??? hot. We are used to pretty hot summers here in Aus, just came through a summer of one week constantly above 105, and the remainder of that hot month varying between 95 and 100 wasn't pleasant so probably will give it a miss especially with the younger kids.

We are planning on having 5 nights in LA near Disneyland before we venture off and then when we get to San Fran will be ditching the RV immediately, staying three or four nights and then just hiring a car to go down the coast back to LA.

Will do some more research and look into everyone's suggestions and will let you know what we decide. You have all been most helpful, thanks again.  ;)

Tom

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2009, 09:05:16 PM »
Sorry that Carl has unnecessarily scared you off San Francisco. The traffic there is nothing compared with Los Angeles.

An RV park north of the bay would allow you to take the passenger ferry from Vallejo into San Francisco and take public transport from there to tour the city. We've lived in the greater SF Bay area for roughly 30 years, and the Vallejo ferry is now our (my wife's) favorite way of getting to the city. Occasionally we get visitors that she wants to give a city-drive tour to; She gets out her crying towel and puts on her best "please Honey" tone, and I get to drive. I'd do it a heartbeat rather than fight LA traffic.
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Carl L

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2009, 09:14:25 PM »
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Sorry that Carl has unnecessarily scared you off San Francisco. The traffic there is nothing compared with Los Angeles.

Nertz, Tom Jones.  I have driven my trailer all around LA for years including the dreaded 405 and the 10 thru downtown.   I have experienced no terror there like the terror of crestiing Pacific Heights on Fillmore St heading to the Marina.   Or, for that matter heading with no brakes down a street on Russian Hill -- backwards.  (That was in a car even.  I stopped by crashing into a house.

At least most of LA is flat and the streets are wide.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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DonTom

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2009, 11:18:50 PM »
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That is one park and as I remember it is a bit of a parking lot.

Of course. Like I said property is expensive here, compared to other areas. They are not going to waste any space.

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The other park, over at Candlestick Point is not only a parking lot but in a scary neighborhood besides.

Yep. I would not recommend that area to anybody.

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I would recommend the SF North KOA in Petaluma over either -- most especially for kids.

I don't consider Petaluma to be all that close to San Francisco. You certainly will get more for your money the further you can get away from this area.

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My proudest moment driving in SF was finding a parking spot in front of the Buena Vista for a GMC Suburban in the morning on a weekend and later that night finding a parking space on Grant Avenue in front of the Golden Dragon Restaurant.

In the day time? That's almost impossible! We always park in one of the several garages in the ChinaTown area. There's a fairly new one across from the other parking lot next to SF's Central Police Station on Vallejo Street which never seems to be full. When's the last time you've been here?

-Don- San Francisco, CA
 
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 11:24:27 PM by DonTom »
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DonTom

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2009, 11:34:22 PM »
Thinking maybe we might skip Death Valley if it is going to be THAT ??? hot. 

Don't even think about it. Visit DV in the middle of winter. 

At least see this before you go.

-Don- SF, CA
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Carl L

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2009, 11:40:25 PM »
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In the day time? That's almost impossible! We always park in one of the several garages in the ChinaTown area. There's a fairly new one across from the other parking lot next to SF's Central Police Station on Vallejo Street which never seems to be full.


I said it was a proud moment.   And I mean right in front of the BV.   Our table looked out on the Burb.   ;D  

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When's the last time you've been here?

September for a week.  Stayed in a sort of crummy, overpriced place on Lombard St.   Drove a Toyota Camy.   Relied on cabs for the night spots.
Seriously tho, I have no idea what you would do with a motorhome north of Geary St.   I have towed the trailer straight from the Gate straight south down 19th and out of town.  That works.

The trip was a combination anniversary get away and a memory lane tour of the Presidio.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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DeeJay76

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2009, 08:05:36 PM »
Well I think we are ready to book today! Going with Road Bear Rentals and planning on following:

Pick up LA then to Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Las Vegas, Bakersfield, Yosemite and then to San Fran. Still working out which nights where, but we have the time frame down and will work out travel hours and what is most interesting at each place (hard yes!) and take it from there.

The RV is a 30ft and looks quite spacious (for an RV I guess). Now have to look into the parks/campgrounds that you have all suggested.

And we haven't been scared of San Fran with the RV, we had always planned to only use the RV from LA to San Fran and then stay a few nights and hire a car back down to LA along the coast.

Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated. If I have any more Q&A's will be back  ;D

geffers

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2010, 01:34:22 PM »
Hi, we are coming over to the US in July and are renting a cruise america RV from LA doing a grand tour and dropping it off in San Fransisco.

How did your trip go, would love to hear.

We intend to stay around LA for a couple of days and then travel to San Diego then off to the Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Los Vegas, Sequoia, Yosemite and then on to San Fransisco. All in 25 days (phew).

If anyone out there can give me advice on where to park up at night at sites that aren't exorbidant prices, I would love to hear from you.

Happy RV'ing.

Wendy

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Re: Aussie Family RV trip LA to San Fran via Grand Canyon & Yosemite
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2010, 08:30:20 PM »
The national park campgrounds are very nice and scenic but mostly "rustic" with no hookups. They might be the best deal depending on what your RV rental charges for running the generator.
 
You probably won't find anything inexpensive in San Diego but it's a fabulous place.
 
In Las Vegas, if you want to be in the middle of everything, walking distance to some of the sights, and easy access to bus routes, Circus Circus KOA is probably the best....not cheap and really just a big parking lot but strategically located.
 
Enjoy your trip.
Wendy
 
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
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