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10 socially distanced adventures near Denver

By Grace Klaus
July 28, 2020
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©Marina Poushkina/Shutterstock
We're here to help you stay Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.

Currently, Colorado is at a Stage 2 in opening procedures, what the state is calling "." Although this summer is looking to be on the more lowkey side, there still are things to do in Colorado especially for those who love the outdoors.

If the pandemic has you stir crazy for some adventure, here are some social-distance friendly activities to do around the Denver area. Remember to check the Colorado Department of Health before you embark on any adventures to make sure you are doing so safely.


Explore a Modern Day Castle

Dragons and knights may be a part of the past, but in 2020 modern castles are still in existence. Built solely by one man, Jim Bishop, Bishop’s castle is an incredible creation that is not to be missed. With multiple floors, a climbable tower, great hall, maze of a basement and a sky bridge, this wonder is the incredible combination of fantasy and reality. Furthermore, the entire experience is completely free to the public although donations can be made to the architect.



shutterstockRF_1150914110.jpg?mtime=20200728153647#asset:108777Photo by ©Kit Leong/Shutterstock

Pursue the outdoor art gallery

Many of Denver’s museums are closed due to the pandemic, however, that does not mean art lovers must suffer. The River North Art (RiNo) District has plenty of street art to browse whilst staying safe. From dumpsters to walls and fences, some streets are completely covered in art. The district boasts of many famous artists like Shepard Fairey who is best known for his OBEY work and Barack Obama HOPE poster, as well as local artists like Meeg Conroy.


Sip buna in Colorado?

Even if your international trip was cancelled, there is still hope for an international experience. Pre COVID, the Whittier Cafe performed an Ethiopian coffee ceremony every Sunday. The breezy black owned cafe is still open for business and servers delicious espresso nonetheless. Definitely one of the most comfortable patios on which to enjoy an afternoon pick me up or morning brunch.


Don’t miss the missile silo

If you are more of an urban explorer and do not mind bending the rules a bit, there is an abandoned missile silo ready to be explored. Originally sealed shut, it has been vandalized just enough to usher in those who dare. The trail can be found with a little research 60 miles east of Denver in Deer Trail Colorado.



GettyRF_529794440.jpg?mtime=20200728153839#asset:108778Photo by ©Blaine Harrington III/Getty Images

Cruise Colfax

If you’re on the road, you might want to visit this famous street repeatedly mentioned in Jack Kerouac’s famous book. As the longest commercial avenue in the United States, one can get a great feel for the Denver culture by simply driving its expanse. Whether for a snack, souvenir, or photo opp, there are plenty of places to stop on the 49.5 mile road.


Fear for your life

If traveling during a pandemic does not scare you, you need to find something that does. White water rafting trips continue to run this summer. In order to prevent the spread, they are following strict guidelines. Boats are limited to two families plus the guide. With four major rivers running through the state, there are plenty of companies and locations from which to choose. Even so, the closest location for rafting near Denver is 30 miles away in Idaho Springs.


Get Steamy in Idaho Springs

As of June 8th, Idaho Springs’s Indian Hot Springs are now open for business. Due to the virus, however, they are functioning at limited capacity. In order to get a spot, it is recommended that patrons come early as they operate on a first come first serve basis.


GettyRF_173443580.jpg?mtime=20200728154010#asset:108779Photo by ©John Kieffer/Getty Images

Run for the hills, or rather mountains, in Chautauqua Park

Get out of the big city and escape to Boulder’s most accessible mountain, Flagstaff, located in Chautauqua Park. Only 30 miles from downtown Denver, Chautauqua park has a wide variety of trails to explore. With a variety in terrain, hikers of all skill levels are able to experience Colorado’s natural beauty.


Substitute planes for boats

Although air travel has become a little tricky, traveling by boat is no problem in Pueblo. For those who love water sports or simply feeling the wind and the waves, Pueblo Reservoir offers pontoon and jet ski rentals. Grab the crew to cruise around and catch some rays.


Stroll Through the Gardens

The Denver botanic gardens strive to showcase both local flora and that from throughout the world. They have several gardens including a Japanese tea garden, cactus garden, and a terrarium. Additionally, there is an entire sculpture garden for the art lovers. It features sculptures from Craig Ponzio, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Patrick Dougherty, and several others. Tickets cannot be purchased onsite and are sold in at limited capacity. Patrons purchase a specific time slot. Tickets are sold two weeks in advance.


Grace Klaus is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.


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10 Social Distancing Getaways In or Near Atlanta

Some days, you just need to escape, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health or safety to do so. To help you get out of the house while still social distancing, I’ve compiled a list of 10 mini vacations within three hours of Atlanta. 1. Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon Visit one of Georgia’s most unique parks: Providence Canyon State Park. Hike between the towering walls of the canyon and wonder whether you’ve been transported to Utah. It’s recommended you visit this park during the week in order to properly social distance. Weekends can be exceptionally busy. Once you’re done hiking for the day, head to the campsite you’ve reserved at the nearby Florence Marina State park. COVID-19 information: Providence Canyon is currently open; however, it has been experiencing a high number of visitors. Before you go, check the GA State Parks’ site to ensure the park has not restricted access due to high visitation. 2. When in doubt, kayak Go kayaking on Lake Allatoona for up to five hours by renting kayaks from Lake Allatoona Kayaking. To give you an idea of price, $70 will get you a two-person kayak, life vests, and pickup and delivery of the kayak. Afterwards, head to the campsite you’ve reserved at Red Top Mountain State Park and find a private spot to enjoy the sunset. COVID-19 information: Red Top Mountain is currently open; however, some parks have experienced a high volume of visitors. Before you go, check the GA State Parks’ site to ensure there is not restricted access due to high visitation. Photo by Bill Rubino 3. Ice cream and the Savannah River Travel to Augusta, Georgia to experience a dynamic city. Grab lunch at the Sno-Cap Drive-In but be sure to save room for dessert! The one they’re most known for is their root beer float. Once you’re done stuffing your face with ice cream, walk it off by hiking a few of the short trails at the Phinizy Center & Nature Park. Afterwards, get settled in your unique houseboat Airbnb located on the Savannah Riverwalk. COVID-19 information: The playground, restrooms, water fountains, and visitor center at the Phinizy Center & Nature Park are all currently closed. Additionally, the park’s adjusted hours are from 7 am to 7 pm. 4. Scenic Byways and German towns Head out early towards the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway via Alt US-75. Once you reach the byway, turn left to travel clockwise around it. It takes approximately three hours to drive the whole thing, so stop and eat your picnic you packed when you find a scenic overlook you like. Then head to the quaint guesthouse you rented in Helen, Georgia. It’s walking distance to downtown, so you can easily explore the German charm Helen is known for. COVID-19 information: The byway is open, but the spur to Brasstown Bald is closed. Most businesses in Helen have reopened, and even more will be opening by mid-June. 5. Where there’s a wine, there’s a way Many people don’t know this, but northern Georgia encompasses wine country. Grab a standard guest room at the Barefoot Hills Hotel to put yourself right in the middle of it all. Once you’ve gotten settled in your room, head to one (or more) of the award-winning wineries nearby. One that’s suggested because of their strict COVID-19 measures is Montaluce Winery & Restaurant. A tasting for one involving a choice of five different wines will cost you $30. COVID-19 information: The hotel and much of wine country is located in Dahlonega, Georgia. The city appears to be following Governor Kemp’s phased reopening process. For updates before you travel to this community, take a look at the city’s COVID-19 news page. Photo by @montaluce_winery 6. Experience Atlanta's quirkiness Explore Atlanta by seeing some of its quirky side. First, head to the hotel that you never would have imagined seeing in the city: The Social Goat Bed & Breakfast, a small farm. Check into the Yellow Room located in a 1900 Queen Ann Victorian. Then head outside to spend some quality time with the five goats on property! Once the sun begins to go down, mosey over to the Starlight Drive-In Theatre. Get your nostalgia on by watching a double feature in your car for just $10 a person. Afterwards, take the quick 7-minute trip back to the B&B and dream of the next morning’s complimentary breakfast. COVID-19 information: The Starlight Drive-In is enforcing social distancing rules. Patrons must watch the films from inside their vehicle, and they may not park within 10 feet of another vehicle. 7. Blueberry picking (and blueberry eating) It’s just about blueberry season in Georgia, so take advantage by heading to DJ’s U-Pick Blueberry Farm. Their blueberries will be ripe for the picking by mid-June, but take a look at their Facebook page before heading over to make sure they’re open. Take a full gallon of blueberries back to your Airbnb for just $20. On your way there, pick up sugar and puff pastry (and maybe some ice cream) so you can make this blueberry cobbler recipe. The Airbnb we suggest has a full kitchen, so you should have no problem whipping it up. COVID-19 information: It is up to the individual to social distance while at the farm, but you should have no problem as it has over 700 blueberry bushes. Photo by @jahi._ 8. Embrace the spooky Embrace the side of you that loves creepy things on this adventure. Explore Oakland Cemetery by purchasing either a self-guided tour map or scavenger hunt in one of three difficulty levels. For lodging, book a room at The Highland Inn, a hotel believed by some to be haunted. In particular, try to book room 130, one rumored to be a paranormal hotspot. COVID-19 information: While the cemetery is open, the visitor center and restrooms are currently closed. Hummingbird mural and photo by Marcus Fetch 9. Get artsy in Birmingham Head to Birmingham, Alabama, just about two hours from Atlanta. There you’ll find a city abounding in street art. See over 30 murals by following a 13-mile route either by foot, bike, or car. If you want to see even more murals, take a look at local muralist Marcus Fetch’s map of his artwork. Your lodging for the evening is a downtown loft that brings you fantastic views of Birmingham, a hammock chair, and a shared rooftop deck with, you guessed it, more incredible views of the city. COVID-19 information: Birmingham is slowly reopening, but there is a city ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn through June 12th, 2020. This ordinance has been extended multiple times, so take a look at Birmingham’s coronavirus updates before heading to the city. 10. Discover your love for yurt life This final mini vacation is simple. Rent this incredible yurt on Lookout Mountain. Suggested activities include playing a few board games you’ve brought, eating dinner while sitting on the large deck, stargazing, drinking a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, and simply disconnecting. COVID-19 information: Thorough cleaning procedures are implemented between each guest’s stay. Martha Anderson is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of Kennesaw State University.

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10 Social Distant Activities To Do To Get You Out Of Your Nashville Quarantine Funk

There are a multitude of places to go in and around Nashville, Tennessee during quarantine. Below is a list of available activities to do and places to go to get you out of your quarantine funk. 1. Percy Priest Lake: Campgrounds, marinas, picnic areas, and fishing, the lake gives plenty of room for social distancing. Take friends and your family to go kayaking, bring your boat out and spend time in the water playing around. Percy Priest Lake is located in Nashville and has campgrounds and spots for RV camping. If you’re planning on hiking around the lake don’t go after it rains, the lake water rises and the trail gets washed out, unless you’re looking to raise the level of difficulty on your hike. 2. Disc Golf: If you’re looking to get into a new activity disc golf could be it. Nashville has five free disc golf courses in Metro Parks that are open from dawn to dusk except for tournament days. The disc golf parks are located in Seven Oaks, Two Rivers, Shelby Park, Cider Hill and Cane Ridge park. Grab some friends and some disc golf discs and head over to these parks to enjoy some time outside. 3. Foster Falls: Located an hour and 45 minutes outside of Nashville and a short hike from the parking lot you’ll reach a beautiful waterfall and a large pool to swim in. All can enjoy time at Foster Falls, it is also home to some of Tennessee’s most popular climbing. On weekends prepare to see climbers fill up the parking lot to take a crack at routes or even climb up the rock behind the waterfall. 4. Rock Island State Park: Located in Rock Island this state park is just an hour and 40 minutes away. This park features a swimming hole, cliff jumping, many waterfalls and rapids good enough to kayak. Rock Island is full of water activities to keep everyone entertained just a short drive away from Nashville. Rock Island State Park. Credit: ©kneverett/Getty Images 5. Kayak the Cumberland River: Take a friend and have one car located near Nissan Stadium and the other drop the kayaks off at Shelby Park. There is a boat ramp at Shelby Avenue and 20th Street within Shelby Park. Start the kayak there and paddle your way to an incredible view of the Nashville skyline. Pull off near Nissan Stadium for a short, fun, kayaking trip or take your time on the water to really soak up the view and enjoy the time with your friends. 6. Meeman-Shelby Forest: A state park in Millington, Tennessee sits along the Mississippi River. It is said to be haunted by Pigman, who has a pig-like face and haunts the wooded area of the park after dark. Over 200 species of waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey and songbirds also come out after dark. There are hiking trails and campsites available that sit on more than 13,000 acres. 7. Centennial Park: Located on West End in Nashville, this park is home to Nashville’s full-scale replica of the Parthenon. The park has a few paths to take to walk around, along with different statues, benches, a pond and plenty of grassy and shaded areas to take a picnic. Centennial Park has free parking available within the park and has a nice city feel if you want to picnic and pretend you are having a getaway in New York City’s Central Park. 8. Radnor Lake: Is a protected Class II Natural Area in Nashville and this park is wonderful for those who love nature. There are opportunities to observe owls, herons and waterfowl along with many species of amphibians, reptiles and mammals, including minks and otters. You can view the wildlife from a hike on the trail or a ride in a canoe.Radnor Lake. Photo by ©Malcolm MacGregor/Getty Images 9. Tennessee River Park: Located in Chattanooga this trail extends about 13 miles along the Tennessee River. It is perfect for those looking to have an urban park experience because the trail takes you through paths in downtown Chattanooga. The Riverwalk also has sections for biking, fishing areas and boat launches. 10. The Hermitage: President Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage home has opened a new tour “In Their Footsteps: Lives of the Hermitage Enslaved Tour.” This tour is currently available to 10 people at 1 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The Hermitage asks guests to wear their makes during their tour to create a safe experience for staff and other guests. This tour shows the harsh reality of those enslaved until they gained their freedom. The tour also shows how the enslaved men and women lived, worked and died. Tickets are $35 per person which also includes all General Admission amenities which include tours of Andrew Jackson’s Mansion, audio tour unit and access to the exhibit space. The Hermitage. Photo by ©Zack Frank/ShutterstockSam War is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a student at Middle Tennessee State University.

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5 Quarantined adventures near Jacksonville

Traveling in a post-quarantine, but still COVID world is daunting. It was obvious to me that one of the easiest ways to travel right now is to go camping. Just you in the woods with no one around for miles. This used to be the start of a good scary story, but now it seems we live in a world where “living in the city surrounded by everyone” is scarier. I wanted to know what it would be like to travel to a city I’ve never been to. Here is what I did when I went to Jacksonville, Florida. To start, I live with someone at a higher risk for complications of the coronavirus. This is important because I took social distancing very seriously, making this an account of someone really considering what this new world looks like. Before the Trip: Traveling in today’s world takes some research. I looked up the top things to do in Jacksonville in a normal world, made a list of the things that interested me the most (already considering what would be most social distancing friendly), and then cross-checked them with what was open and what their policies are. I came up with an itinerary of five activities to occupy our day. Already this felt very different from my typical, spontaneous travel mindset. What to Bring: I brought a bottle of 75% alcohol hand sanitizer and 75% alcohol sanitizing wipes Facemasks. Ours have interchangeable filters. A full bottle of water. Snacks because we weren’t sure what we would find. Our itinerary. Our IDs in case we stopped at a coronavirus checkpoint Amelia Island: We drove two hours from Savannah, Georgia at 7am to just outside Jacksonville. Amelia Island offers many public beach access points and felt like the perfect place to start our day. Further south on the island, higher traffic spots like the American Beach and the Amelia Island State Park would likely have more crowds. We entered beach access 39 from following South Fletcher Avenue all the way up to several more low key beach spots. There was definitely a comfortable distance between us and anyone else on the beach. We got to splash in the water and play in the sand carefree and without masks. We did go in the morning, so it could become a lot busier in the afternoon. Overall, this was a great find. We even saw people riding horses on the beach if you were looking for something a little more adventurous. The beach at Amelia Island. Photo by Kylie Ruffino. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: Their social distancing policy required you to purchase an online ticket in advance. You have to select one of two times: 8am or 1pm and you cannot show up between them. This helps to regulate the amount of people in the zoo and limit interactions between you and the staff. It was super easy. Once inside, there were pathways laid out to direct us as we moved through the exhibits. One of the exhibits was closed for the protection of two older monkeys with geriatric conditions that made them at risk for the coronavirus. They were moved off-site to a safe place for quarantine. I will say, it was very hard to keep a mask on because we were outside and it was extremely hot and humid. This made walking around very difficult to breathe. I ended up constantly putting on and removing my mask as I entered spaces with more people. This was really frustrating, but the overall experience was still really nice. Bold Beans Coffee Roasters I made space for this one my itinerary, but wasn’t sure if this was going to happen. Nothing makes me happier than finding a really cool local coffee shop to pop in, rest a bit, and enjoy a latte. We were already outside for so long and desperately wanted some air conditioning. I haven’t dined anywhere since quarantine and was nervous to do so in another city. After some searching, the best looking option was Bold Beans Coffee Roasters in South Bank, Jacksonville. My experience couldn’t have been better. It was a large space that only made half of the seating available. Once we ordered we were given a card saying “This table has been recently used. Please find a staff member for us to sanitize.” When we left, we would place this on the table for future goers. It was great to know the table we had found had already been sanitized (of course, I sanitized it again just to be safe) and I reluctantly removed my mask. No one was sitting within a six-foot radius. Riverside Arts Market: Under a huge overpass by the river lived a thriving market. This was highly recommended in Jacksonville and I can see why. As per their social distancing policies, they only allowed farmers, packaged health and wellness goods, and food trucks. I imagine how fun it would’ve been to see a huge collection of artists and people walking around, but I am glad it was limited. The booths were spread out with enough space to remain six feet in distance from others. While I wore a mask the entire time, many others didn’t. I would again recommend going in the morning. We were there around 11:15am and noticed it getting busier as we left an hour later. Another social distancing friendly aspect is they offer an online shopping experience for the market and pre-order for food trucks. We shopped and walked around, bought some food, and found a place along the river to sit and eat without being near other people. We sanitized everything and enjoyed! Riverside arts market. Photo by Kylie Ruffino. Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville: One of the other most important things to me when it comes to exploring new places, especially big cities, is to find and explore local art museums. Unfortunately, all of them are still closed and preparing for reopening. To conclude my day trip to Jacksonville once I returned to the safety of my house, I explored the virtual experience offered by the MOCA. While it definitely wasn’t the same as attending in person, it was a great effort to still showcase and teach about the art it holds. On their site, they had everything from pre-recorded virtual tours or artist talks to LIVE art lessons and projects to do from home. This could definitely be something someone did in their hotel room. Things to note: Wearing a mask for the majority of the day gave me a major headache. Next time I’m going to bring some Advil. It is really hard to breathe through a mask in the humidity and we were there during a hot, drizzly day. Weather doesn’t usually slow me down, but it is worth thinking about. As we were leaving we noticed a huge line of cars entering Florida as they went through a COVID checkpoint. We had missed it because of our exit to Amelia Island. I don’t think this would have been possible without a car. We drove between each destination and that extra time in air conditioning made it easier to stay outside during all of our activities. Overall, I had a fantastic time exploring a city I’ve never been to. It was especially fun to just get out of my house and out of my head, but it definitely isn’t the same having to stick to a more rigid itinerary. During a day trip, it felt like there was plenty to do. If we had stayed the entire weekend, I think we would have done another day trip to some hiking grounds a couple hours outside of Jacksonville. I will definitely consider going again, even in these conditions. Kylie Ruffino is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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11 social distancing adventures near New Orleans

In New Orleans, the famous strip of bars and restaurants dubbed Bourbon Street holds some of the most active nightlife, but in March, everything was turned upside down by the arrival of COVID-19. New Orleans was hit dramatically at the start of the stateside pandemic. The city has progressed through the reopening phases slower than the rest of the state of Louisiana. Louisiana is currently in phase two, allowing for restaurants to open at 50% capacity among other restrictions. Considering that case counts remain low, among other requirements, New Orleans plans to move up phases every two weeks. Even so, tourist trips to New Orleans are still possible. Here are ten ways to explore this hub of culture and history while waiting for the city to fully open up. 1. Audubon Park Take a walk through the wild and reconnect with nature at the Audubon Park. Located in historic Uptown, Audubon Park offers countless outdoor adventures. Rent bicycles to ride through the trees. Walk along the Mississippi River, Or take a look at the planetarium to see the history behind the famous draping trees. Masks are required. Photo: Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock2. Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge Lace-up your outdoor shoes and head to the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge to walk among wildlife like alligators, deer, and unique breeds of birds. The refuge is located just northeast of New Orleans. The refuge requires you to maintain social distancing guidelines as there are no closures at this time due to COVID-19. 3. The Fly “Tucked behind Audubon Zoo across the Mississippi River levee, this waterfront portion of Audubon Park is a great spot to relax and take a breath from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans. Known to locals as ‘The Fly', folks come out here to hang out, toss a frisbee, have a crawfish boil, barbecue, or watch the sun go down over the river,” according to their website. 4. Bayou St. John The banks of Bayou St. John neighborhood provide an off-the-beaten-path chance for adventure. Rent a kayak at Bayou Paddlesports to let out the water sports fanatic inside. Explore firsthand one of New Orleans’s most famous waterways on a kayak or a paddle board. 5. Crescent City Connection Bridges Take a walk overlooking the city skyline, especially beautiful at dusk. These bridges connect over the Mississippi River and provide countless beautiful views. Photo credit: Allard One/Shutterstock6. Fontainebleau State Park 43 minutes North of New Orleans, in Mandeville, lies this multifaceted state park. Only a few of the many activities include riding bicycles through the Tammany Trace, staying in lakefront cabins in the style of old fishing camps from the 1930’ and even laying on the white sandy beaches of Lake Pontchartrain. 7. New Orleans Botanical Gardens Explore ten acres of gardens in the heart of New Orleans. Founded in the 1930s, these gardens have been cultivated for 90 years and features over 2,000 different plants. The gardens offer educational and inspirational experiences. Reserve your ticket online here. 8. St. Louis CemeteryBecause New Orleans is built on swamp land, cemeteries have to be built above ground. The result is a myriad of eerie, historic "cities of the dead." St. Louis Cemetery is home to over 100,000 dead. Wander around the cemetery and imagine the lives of the people interred there. ©John Wang/Getty Images9. Couterie Forest The Couterie Forest is the highest point of elevation in New Orleans. It is a perfect way to escape the city without ever leaving. Home to a Bird Reservoir and countless paths through swamps and ancient trees, the Forest transports you to another land. This outing is perfect for bird watchers too. “Couturie Forrest was named New Orleans’ top bird-watching destination, and it’s not uncommon for birders to see 40 species or more in a single outing,” says their website. 10. Bike Ride through River Road River Road is the home to the grandest homes in New Orleans. However, these homes were once plantations, making their wealth off of the labor of slaves. Even so, learn about the history of the city and the meaning behind its founding through a bicycle tour. It is the perfect combo for history buffs and bicycle lovers. ©Chris Moore - Exploring Light Photography/Getty Images 11. Saint Bernard Parish The parish is the perfect spot for history buffs. An hour out of New Orleans, this was the location of the Battle of New Orleans. Walk where soldiers from the 1800s once walked. Learn more about the battles and histories behind the founding of the city. Then take an exclusive boat tour through the surrounding bayou while you’re at it! Ann Florence Brown is a Budget Travel intern for summer 2020. She is a Senior in Journalism at the University of Mississippi.

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