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  1. #1
    EJP
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    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)

    Yet again, better late than never.

    Each year the story is just a little different. That's part of what keeps us coming back. As usual for me, the story begins with CU's spring graduation ceremony. It's always emotional to see off the students that I have gotten to know over the years. I usually feel a lot of pride, tempered by the wistful realization that they are off to new chapters in their lives. Once the ceremony and reception were finished, I headed home to finish packing the car and headed off to Grand Junction. My friend there was unfortunately out of town, but she very generously offered her house to me anyhow.

    I got these carrots in my winter CSA share and wanted to get a photo before I ate them.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-01-2014-05-09_17-32-46_0.jpg

    The weather was a little bit questionable driving through the mountains, but at least the snow wasn't really sticking to the roads.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-02-2014-05-09_17-57-06_469.jpg

    I had a restful night in Grand Junction and finished up a few things before heading off to Moab. I had a really nice ride at the Brands and then headed to camp to meet my brother, who came into town from California. This was his first time in Moab and he arrived just in time for dinner. The forecast for Saturday night and all day Sunday was ominous and we heard thunder rumbling as we got ready for bed. Fortunately, the rain held off until we were snug and cozy in our tents. It did rain steadily all night, but aside from one bathroom break that led to re-staking my tent, I slept well. The rain stopped early in the morning and we woke to mixed clouds and sun. We took the opportunity to dry and clean our gear before heading off to Arches. He originally had a bike reserved for Sunday, but the shop was more than happy to postpone that until Monday, so we decided to hike instead of ride. On a whim, we stopped in at the Arches' Visitor Center to see if any spots had opened in the Fiery Furnace hike. This is a ranger-led hike into an area of the park with no marked trails. It's interesting and fun, but with the increase in visitation, it's been more difficult to get a reservation. I checked a week before we arrived and the next available ticket was for July 2!

    The rainy forecast had apparently dissuaded a few folks so we happily claimed their spots. Just as we exited the Visitor Center, the heavens opened! It was a brisk dash to the car. While the pouring rain wasn't conducive to hiking, it made for spectacular and very rare waterfalls.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-03-p5111571.jpg

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    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-08-p5111584.jpg

    We were feeling brave, so suited up in rain gear to do some of the shorter walks. The trail around balanced rock is only 1/4 mile, so I tried the rain coat, shorts, and Chacos strategy. It was way too cold for that (the car thermometer read 46) and I scampered back to the car.

    By the time we got to The Windows, the rain had abated slightly and wisps of mist rolled through. I wised up and geared up with pants and proper shoes for the one mile loop. This was much more enjoyable than freezing my feet in sandals.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-09-img_9285.jpg

    We headed up to Fiery Furnace and met our ranger guide. The rain had resumed and we had a small, hardy group.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-11-img_9289.jpg

    Water, water everywhere!

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-10-img_9296.jpg

    We had a wonderful time scrambling around and learning about geology (mainly) as well as ecology and botany. Near the end of the hike, the sun came out and we had a stunning view of The Windows.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-12-img_9297.jpg

    The clouds opened up to give us some fantastic views.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-13-p5111599.jpg

    The forecast for Sunday night was cold and windy and I had looked around for somewhere to stay indoors. Moab has gotten so expensive (the Motel 6 is now $159 a night) that the only reasonable place I could find was the hostel. All they had left were two bunks in a coed dorm, which seemed less than ideal. I thought it would be better than freezing our butts off in our tents, though. We arrived at dinner time and cooked a nice meal before we unpacked anything else. It was Mother's Day, so we also called Mom and then our stepmother. When I got off the phone, my brother announced that he didn't want to stay at the hostel. Too crowded and busy and run-down. He thought he had found a room on Priceline for $120 but of course when he called the place to confirm, it wasn't actually available. I offered to take him up to Sand Flats to see what we could find for a campsite. I wasn't too excited about the wind, but with dinner already made, we just had to get tents pitched and then hunker down for the night. We went up to my favorite loop at Sand Flats. Lots of sites were open--definitely a function of the sketchy weather! One of my very favorite sites was available but completely exposed to the prevailing wind. The others were equally windswept, aside from one little spot with a couple of small junipers at the edge of one site. It was just enough shelter, so we grabbed it. We pretty much just had time to set up tents and go to bed. I was happy to have two sleeping bags to stay warm and a set of earplugs to muffle the wind, but I was cozy and slept well.

    Monday morning was clear and dry! Still a bit windy, but perfectly fine for riding. We headed off to the bike shop to collect my brother's rental bike. The first bike they gave him was more trail/all-mountain and was total overkill for the ride we had planned. It didn't fit him very well, either. He traded it for one that was better for the dirt road we were riding and off we went to Hurrah Pass. Neither of us brought a camera; this didn't break my heart since I have an extensive collection of photos from this ride. It was a very nice ride and a good warmup for more rides for the rest of the week. He was blown away by the scenery!

    We hit the library and the grocery store before heading back to camp. It was still cool and breezy, but much more pleasant than the previous night. I was making dinner in camp when I noticed the gorgeous moonrise. I alternated between stirring dinner and running around with the camera.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-14-p5121605.jpg

    Even without the moon the La Sals were beautiful!

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-15-p5121606.jpg

    Incredible light on the slickrock.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-16-p5121609.jpg

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-17-p5121610.jpg

    Lots of snow up there!

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    We had a good dinner. My brother had carted the makings for s'mores all the way from California and we experimented with different strategies of toasting the marshmallows using the camp stove rather than a fire. It was quite a delicious set of experiments :-).

    (more to come...)
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    I like 'em either blond and fruity or dark and chocolaty

  2. #2
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    Beautiful pics! Is slick rock actually slick when it's wet?

    Ooops!
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  3. #3
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    Beautiful pics!!!

  4. #4
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    Wonderful story and stunning images. Kudos!

    Having been to most of these spots, I can truly appreciate your presentation.

    You should consider a re-post in the Landscape thread.
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  5. #5
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    Awesome.... great story, cant wait to see and hear more... No great story starts of with SALAD
    Lefty For LIFE!!!!! To have lived without passion, adventure, and thrill, is to never lived at all!!!

  6. #6
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    Stunning landscape! Nice writeup

    Gotta love the sexy carrot porn which should be posted in the Food Inadvertently Shaped Like Something Else thread
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  7. #7
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    Nice post. I agree with your brother on the hostel, 11$ a night is a steal but that place is run down and shady!
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  8. #8
    EJP
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    My brother and I took care of business in Moab on Tuesday morning before heading up to Dead Horse Point and Island in the Sky. Moab was slowly warming up but our destination was 2000 ft higher and I knew that it wouldn't be quite as warm. It was still a fine day for a ride and we really enjoyed the trails at Dead Horse Point. The views are acceptable, as well.


    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-01-img_9299.jpg

    Fortunately, he had packed some sustenance for us.

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    The La Sals are a lovely touchstone almost anywhere you go in Moab.

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    New trail! I was tired and a bit sore from the previous days' adventures, so I just had a brief sample of the new trails before I headed back.

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    Getting lost would require real effort here.

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    I had time to check out a nice photography exhibit at the Visitor Center while I was waiting for my brother to finish riding. Then we continued our excursion to Island in the Sky. I've been up there for the full or nearly full moonrise before and was hoping for some good photographs.

    My brother conked out on the drive and, not wanting to wake him, I drove all the way to the Grand Viewpoint without stopping at any other viewpoints.

    We enjoyed the views there for a while and then headed back to the Buck Canyon Overlook.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-06-p5131641.jpg

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-07-p5131644.jpg

    The La Sals were looking quite nice.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-08-p5131654.jpg


    Finally, the moon rose, but not quite exactly where I hoped it would be.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-09-p5131656-001.jpg

    We made a quick stop at Mesa Arch on our way back to Moab. It had definitely cooled off by then and I was bundled up in my down jacket and warm pants. Mesa Arch is more famous for sunrise photos, but we still enjoyed the scenery.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-10-img_9327.jpg

    The sunset itself also ended up being very pretty.

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    We made the trek back to camp and fell into bed!

    Wednesday morning we headed out for a ride at the Moab Brand Trails. It was a beautiful day! We stopped for lunch at a spot with a nice view of the La Sals.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-12-img_9347.jpg

    We could also look into Arches and see The Windows.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-13-img_9348.jpg

    The cacti were quite lovely.

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    2 bikes and 1 brother.

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    He really liked how the trail went under this rock.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-16-img_9357.jpg

    We were planning to meet my photographer friends in Moab and then go up to Arches to see the sunset from Delicate Arch. By the time we got coordinated, we were in Moab and they had already been in Moab and were back in Arches. So we made a plan to meet at the trailhead and we boogied out of town.

    I was very happy to find a parking spot (it can be crazy busy and impossible to find parking) and my friends were right there! We took a short detour to the nice rock art panel near the trailhead.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-17-p5141661.jpg

    Yet another view of The Windows.

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    My friend insisted that my brother and I go for the tourist shot under the arch. I like how he got us exactly in stride here.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-19-p5141667.jpg

    We took a slightly adventurous route back to the car and were about halfway there when the moon finally rose. It was too dark to catch the moon plus scenery, but we quickly got my camera onto my friend's tripod and nabbed this photo of the moon. I am still amazed by the detail that is visible here!

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-20-p5141718.jpg

    The rest of the return to the trailhead was uneventful and we headed back to Moab while my friends went to find a place to sleep.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I like 'em either blond and fruity or dark and chocolaty

  9. #9
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    Excellent, and thanks for taking me back there. I haven't been in that area for 20 years.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    Wonderful story and stunning images. Kudos!

    Having been to most of these spots, I can truly appreciate your presentation.

    You should consider a re-post in the Landscape thread.
    Just in case he wasn't sure what thread to repost them in.

    "The Landscape only thread"
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  11. #11
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    ^^^ Exactly what I was thinkin' DJ!
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  12. #12
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    ^^^^ Exactly what I was thinking DJ, except that I have never been there. But I want to go there.
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  13. #13
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    An Opposite View

    These images are from the La Sal's looking down towards Arches and the surrounding area.


    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-img_7652-002-c2l-watermark.jpg

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-img_7647-001-i.jpg
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  14. #14
    EJP
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    Wednesday night was our first truly warm, calm night in camp. It was quite pleasant! Thursday was my brother's birthday and we began our celebration with a wonderful bike ride in the Klondike Bluffs area. We saw this really cool collared lizard.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-01-img_9368.jpg

    We really enjoyed the trails there. This area has seen a lot of trail development in the past 2-3 years and the riding is really fun! My brother really liked these purple flowers (Scorpion Weed).

    They were ubiquitous!

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-02-img_9374.jpg

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    Purple flowers with La Sal Mountains backdrop.

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    After our ride, we hit the rec center for showers and then I headed off to the library while my brother went to return his bike. We met my friends at Miguel's for a wonderful and celebratory birthday dinner. Each platter at Miguel's includes a roasted jalapeno, a tasty but very spicy garnish. My friend Phil can actually eat those jalapenos, so I saved the ones we couldn't eat. We were just walking out when we ran into Phil and Penny on the sidewalk, so I was able to hand over the jalapenos right there.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-05-img_9392.jpg

    My friend and I headed to the grocery store to pick up a cake for my brother, while my brother wandered around downtown a bit more. We all met up at Sand Flats for dessert and sunset.

    It was quite lovely.

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    Afterward, my friends headed to Island in the Sky and Mesa Arch and we fell into bed after yet another fantastic day in the desert.

    It was another incredible warm and peaceful night at Sand Flats.

    Friday morning we packed everything up and headed to Arches. We just took my brother's rental car and I carefully took the orthotics out of my bike shoes so I could wear trail shoes on the hike. Unfortunately, I did not manage to then put them into the bag that went into my brother's car. :-( So we arrived at Devil's Garden and I realized that I was going to be hiking in my Chacos. I knew that would be fine for a short hike, but probably wouldn't work for the full loop on the primitive trail.

    It sure looks like this arch collapsed very recently. The exposed faces have almost no weathering.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-12-img_9419.jpg

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    The broken pieces of the arch lie below the trail.

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    I love the colors of this penstemon.

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    We made it out to Double O Arch and it was time for me to turn around and for my brother to hit the primitive trail.

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    The trail passed below my resting spot and we got a couple of cute pictures.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-17-img_9440.jpg

    The claret cups have incredible, striking flowers.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-20-img_9445.jpg

    On my way back, I ran into a Swiss couple that I recognized from Delicate Arch on Wednesday evening. We were going the same pace and ended up having a really nice conversation. They were on a long road trip and their next destination was Monument Valley. I recommended that they stop and hike in Needles and we had a look at the guidebook when we returned to the parking lot. Really nice people!

    I had a bit of time to kill before my brother got back and pretty much just lounged around. We headed back to Moab to run a few errands before it was time to go to Green River.

    I was going to Green River for the San Rafael Swell Mountain Bike Festival. Sadly, my brother was headed back to CA the next afternoon. Boo.

    The intro and first dinner for the festival were both fun and Phil won a bike in the raffle! It was a kid's bike, so he passed it on to the five year old boy who was there with his mom. He'll need a few years to grow into it, but they were both stoked!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I like 'em either blond and fruity or dark and chocolaty

  15. #15
    EJP
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    Just in case he wasn't sure what thread to repost them in.

    "The Landscape only thread"

    "He?"

    You should go back. It's busy on Main Street in town; you will be shocked by the changes. But the rocks are not going anywhere.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I like 'em either blond and fruity or dark and chocolaty

  16. #16
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    Fantastic stuff EJP!!!
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  17. #17
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    I think the collapsed arch you're pictured is Wall Arch. It collapsed in 2008. It's collapse temporarily blocked the Devils Garden Trail.
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    Thank You! EJP I love the area and haven't been there since '92. Your photos and words really brought a visceral memory up for me, thanks. I moved to South Florida (from N. Nevada) back in the 90s and really miss traveling in the west. You mentioned a Swiss couple, here we have the Everglades Natl.Pk and sometimes I meet up with foreign travelers there. That is something I really enjoy about being in our famous Parks, visiting with those travelers. Thanks again for your great pics!

  19. #19
    EJP
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    Thank You! EJP I love the area and haven't been there since '92. Your photos and words really brought a visceral memory up for me, thanks. I moved to South Florida (from N. Nevada) back in the 90s and really miss traveling in the west. You mentioned a Swiss couple, here we have the Everglades Natl.Pk and sometimes I meet up with foreign travelers there. That is something I really enjoy about being in our famous Parks, visiting with those travelers. Thanks again for your great pics!
    I'm glad that you are enjoying them. You need to get back! It is worth the trip, for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    I think the collapsed arch you're pictured is Wall Arch. It collapsed in 2008. Its collapse temporarily blocked the Devils Garden Trail.
    Yes, you are exactly right. It was very cool to see in person.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I like 'em either blond and fruity or dark and chocolaty

  20. #20
    EJP
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    Fourth and final installment:

    The last leg of my journey in the desert......I bade my brothera sad farewell on Saturday morning and headed off to breakfast. The Tamarisk puts on a great spread and the cinnamon rolls are worth several days' gluten allowance. Yum! I was super cranked up on sugar and happy to hitch a ride to the parking spot for our ride. I opted for the "medium" ride, which was actually quite easy this year. No worries, I had plenty of miles in my legs from the last week! We had a very chill spin around some dirt roads in the San Rafael Swell. Some feral burros were the scenic highlight.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-01-img_9451.jpg

    Jim, Karen and I opted to not sit and eat lunch during the ride so we got back to their car fairly early. I pulled out the map and realized that we were fairly close to the Head of Sinbad petroglyph panel and Dutchman Arch. Their Rav 4 was totally up to the dirt roads and we headed off on an adventure. We found the Head of Sinbad without any trouble. Here's the view to the south.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-02-img_9453.jpg

    And the very cool panel.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-03-img_9454.jpg

    I remembered some really nice claret cups and they were actually blooming!

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-05-img_9463.jpg

    Overall, a spectacular area.

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    The last time I was here, I skipped Dutchman Arch, since I was on my bike and had a ways to go back to my car. This time, we found it and had a good time exploring around a little.

    We got back to town in plenty of time to veg out before a delicious BBQ dinner. I was really glad that I hadn't gone on the advanced ride. They did a lot of driving and got back around 6! I needed that afternoon r&r.

    Sunday morning we went back to Black Dragon Wash. This is the traditional Sunday ride and it's a lot of fun! The wash itself is quite spectacular in its upper reaches.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-09-2014-05-18_11-29-57_933.jpg

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-10-2014-05-18_11-30-07_877.jpg

    Then it was time to head east. Sigh. It had been a wonderful vacation and I was beat!

    I did take the time to hit Sego Canyon and Thompson Springs.

    Sego was its usual beautiful self. There's been some action at the cafe in Thompson.

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-11-img_9471.jpg

    It would be cool to see it be able to reopen.

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    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-14-img_9475.jpg

    The motel is still looking dilapidated, rose bushes notwithstanding.

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    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-16-img_9484.jpg

    Then it was time to head to Colorado! Fortunately I was able to stay at a friend's place in West Mack. I was definitely toasted after all of that fun in the sun (mostly sun, anyway) and it was a blessing to break up the drive.

    Monday morning I went for a gentle spin in Loma and then got myself home to Boulder, just in time to do laundry, get in a couple of days at work, and head out on the next adventure :-).

    Still lots of snow at Loveland!

    Always Ride, 2014 edition (xpost Front Range)-17-p5191722.jpg
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I like 'em either blond and fruity or dark and chocolaty

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