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Trenton and Canadian Maritimes trip finally posted!


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Motorcycle Trip 2002: Canada


My motorcycle is trashed. Well, maybe trashed is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s certainly in need of a few things-a 30,000 mile service, new hand grips, a new windshield, painting or replacement of the side cases, and it’s almost ready for tires (again, the 3rd time this year). It’s not in the condition I would have hoped for after our trip, but what a time we had…


It all started last winter when I thought it would be a good vacation idea to attend the National BMW Motorcycle Owner’s Association rally in Trenton, Ontario. Ah yes, Candi, myself, my RT, a tent, and a few thousand others who are just a little too obsessed with motorcycling. Perfect! But the rally would end on a Sunday, which wouldn’t leave enough time to get home before work on Monday. We decided to take off the week following the rally also. Perhaps we would go to the BMWRT.com rally in Gunnison, Colorado. Ultimately that didn’t work out because it was going to require too much overall time away from work. I opened a map of North America, and there they were. The Canadian Maritimes. They were calling my name. They were taunting me, telling me I wasn’t capable of handling the saddle time that would be required to see them in just a few days. I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the Canadian Atlantic Ocean in the time we would have, but it was worth a try. It became a quest. Slowly that quest took over my consciousness. It became the reason I got out of bed every day. I was thinking, planning, and day dreaming about the trip almost every day. Finally there was nothing left to do except get on the bike and go. So we did!


We left the Lancaster, Ohio area around 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday, July 10th. It was raining, which has become usual and customary for our motorcycle trip departures. I would expect no less. We had the side cases and topcase full of clothes and personal effects, and one large sack tied to the top of each side case. One sack contained a tent and two folding chairs, the other sack contained two sleeping bags and camping pillows. I had asked Candi if she wanted a Thermarest mattress also, but she declined. Fortunately I was able to convince her to leave the hair dryer and a few other things at home. Once we were under way the mission was to get to Trenton, approximately 600 miles and one international border crossing away. A walk in the park compared to an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000 ride, something we are both veterans of. Our day was rather uneventful, other than being passed by traffic in Toronto even though we were going 110 miles per hour! No, I didn’t mean to say kilometers per hour. I’ve never seen a pack of traffic move so fast! I’ve always believed it’s better to move with traffic than to get run over by it, so I just stayed with them. Finally we arrived at the rally site as the sun was going down. We found the BMWRT.com camping area that had been so graciously reserved by Scott, set up camp, and went to sleep. (Scott's camping area) Scott.JPG


We got up fairly early Thursday morning Trentoncamp.JPG and took care of rally registration and a few other pertinent things. We saw and talked to Brian Peterson and Neal Walsh (whom we had met at the Mayhem rally earlier this year) briefly while waiting in line to register. I was disappointed to learn that they were actually leaving that day due to unforeseen circumstances. Brian, one of these days we’ll actually ride together! The weather was incredible. In fact the weather was incredible for the entire rally, which was an absolute blast. We ultimately hooked up with Jim (BMWGreenRT) and Maggie, ChrisNYC, Big-T, Steve, Bill, Jeff & Lynn, Ziggy, Ted, John and Leo. It was great to see so many of the people we had met at the Mayhem rally in May. It already felt as if we were re-uniting with old friends. By the way if you ever get a chance to spend some time with John “Cup O’ Soup” Harvey you won’t regret it. He has a quick, witty sense of humor and will keep you laughing for hours. Groups of us got together for lunch and/or dinner during the rally. On Saturday John and Leo took a few of us on a tour of the local area. It really is a pretty area of the continent even if it lacks any real hills or curves. The beauty is mostly due to the abundance of lakes and ponds.


We spent the rest of the rally doing all things BMW. I got to take 4 of the coldest showers I’ve ever had. Every morning I hoped the shower would be a little warmer than it had been the morning before, and every morning I was abruptly disappointed. I lined up at 5:30 Friday morning to secure a time slot on a demo KRS. You might think it was crazy to get in line that early for a test ride, but there were at least 8 people who were even crazier than I was because they were already there when I showed up. After standing in line for a little over an hour one of the others who had been waiting asked us to hold his place in line. He disappeared for about ½ hour and came back with coffee and doughnuts for everyone. He didn’t seem to want any money at first but I insisted that he let us all chip in. The thoughtfulness of some people amazes me as much as the thoughtlessness of others disappoints me. Fortunately I seem to meet only the thoughtful ones at these events.


We checked out all of the vendors. Even though the vendor turn out was not so great we saw many interesting things, including the set of J-pegs that Jim purchased. Towards the end of the trip I was wanting a set of these pretty badly. My only purchases were rally T-shirts and a power cord setup for my Garmin Emap GPS. Candi got to experience the magic of a Thermarest (thanks Chris) and I don’t think she’ll camp without one again.


Sunday and the end of the rally crept up on us all too quickly. It always seems to happen that way. I wish some of the wonderful people I have met lived close enough that we could get together for a day ride sometimes. Those of you who have that privilege are truly blessed, as you are all a great group of people. I was somewhat bummed as I was leaving the rally site, thinking about how little time we have available to get together to celebrate something we are all so passionate about. But at the same time the collection of phone numbers, email addresses, offers of assistance on the road if needed, beds (thanks Maggie wink.gif ), and almost anything else imaginable lifted my spirits. The time had come for the second, more challenging portion of our trip.


Life after Trenton


Somewhere near Belleville, Ontario I got passed by a couple on an R1150R. It was difficult to identify their bike, they were going so much faster than I was. Since it’s always best to let another speeder assume the role of decoy, I decided to follow them at somewhat of a distance. We made great time, riding at 90-100 miles an hour. However fuel gets used quickly at those speeds, so when the next gas station appeared I signaled to pull over. Fortunately the decoy needed gas too, and pulled in ahead of me. I noticed he had a Quebec license plate. We started talking. He and his girlfriend were French but both spoke surprisingly good English. He was glad to have me riding with him to break up what he referred to as a boring ride. I was glad to have a “local” take the speeding ticket risks for me. Their names were Daniel and Rachel, and they wound up being two of the nicest people we met on the trip. This runs contrary to much of what I had heard about some of the people from Quebec, and it was a welcomed surprise. They stopped at the information center with us when we crossed into Quebec. Then we followed them to their house, which was just inside the provincial border. We talked for a while, then headed out to a local restaurant for lunch. While we ate they told us the best way through Montreal (we weren’t stopping there), and what to expect during our stay in Quebec City. I invited them to camp and ride with Candi and I at the ‘MOA rally next year in Charleston. I hope they make it.


As we continued on to Quebec City I noticed that motorcyclists don’t seem to wave to each other in Quebec. I don’t think they are being rude but I got the feeling that waving is just not part of their motorcycling etiquette. We finally found a campground just across the water, south of Quebec City. We set up camp and went to have dinner. We found a Chinese restaurant, and I just had to pull in. I figured nothing could be more funny than trying to order Chinese food in English when everyone is accustomed to speaking French. I wasn’t let down. The waitress didn’t speak English. This is where I learned that Candi doesn’t really know any French, even though she told me she knew enough to “get by”. The food wasn’t quite like any Chinese food I’d ever had. It was not “Americanized”, nor was it Traditional, as might be found in some areas of San Francisco or Vancouver. We finished dinner and returned to camp as it was getting dark. Distance for the day was a little over 400 miles.


Sometime in the middle of the night I awoke to the sound of rain. Actually it was lots of rain. As I was falling asleep again Candi started screaming “the tent is leaking!” Leaking is an understatement. The tent was flooding! We rolled up the sleeping bags and headed to the campground Laundromat. Of course we didn’t have any quarters and there was no change machine. I asked Candi how to say “I don’t know French, do you know English” (in French, of course). 30 seconds later I knew all of the French Candi did, and I went off to find change. Unfortunately the girl at the gas station didn’t know any English, but I finally got my point across and got a stack of quarters. I went back to the Laundromat and went to sleep on a laundry table while everything was drying. When we got back to the campsite the tent was still too wet to use sleeping bags, so I just slept in my Aerostich Darien riding suit, and Candi slept in her Savannah suit.


Monday morning we packed up camp and went into old Quebec City to look around and have breakfast. It is truly a great place to visit. We could have spent days there. We saw the changing of the guard (I don’t know what they guard, but they were changing), had a great breakfast, walked around a bit, and then got back on the bike. Guardchanging.JPG We then went to the local BMW dealer. Quebecbmw.JPG I had heard it was a nice, big dealer, but I wasn’t very impressed. They Also had Kawasaki and some other stuff, most of which seemed to dominate their showroom. I tried to talk with a salesman a little but there was too much of a language barrier. We did manage to get the weather forecast from him, which was a big help. I was really starting to understand how a foreigner must feel when they come to the states. There were many things going on around me - people talking, laughing, riding in together in groups, and I didn’t understand any of it! It was time to go.


We continued on to the North East from Quebec City. At Riviere-du-Loup we turned to the southeast and rode into New Brunswick. I had been told that New Brunswick was boring, but Candi and I both agreed the scenery was quite pretty. We took route 108 to the east across the province. For almost 100 miles there was nothing. No gas stations, no houses, no turn-off, and almost no traffic. Sometimes there wasn’t even much pavement. The road was not in good shape, but it didn’t matter. There we were with a bike and a two-lane road cut through a dense forest. It was kind of foggy and misty, and it also rained at times. But it was utterly peaceful. If the weather had been better I probably would have pulled off and camped in the middle of all of the nothingness, but we didn’t want to spend another night in the rain. If you have never experienced such an escape from modern life I highly recommend it, even if you can only do so for a short while.


We arrived in Moncton, New Brunswick shortly before dark. We ate dinner and then stopped at several hotels before we finally found one that had a vacancy and a reasonable price. After sleeping on the ground for 5 nights a bed and a hot shower felt like true luxuries. Distance for the day was approximately 500 miles.


Tuesday morning we headed for Prince Edward Island. I don’t particularly like heights or motorcycling across long bridges, but I forced myself to ride across the 9 mile long, nearly 200 foot tall bridge that crosses the Atlantic Ocean between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. We stopped at the welcome center and found out I had grossly miscalculated the size of both Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. It was here that I learned we did not have nearly enough time to see everything we wanted to see. We chose to see the eastern half of Prince Edward Island. It was beautiful, but not spectacular. The roads were not in very good shape, so travel was a little slow. We went to the beach on the North Coast. Beach.JPG People were actually swimming in the 65-degree water. The sand dunes were up to 50 feet tall in some places. Dunes.JPG We finished off the day on a ferry from Prince Edward Island to Pictou, Nova Scotia. We got to see a Pilot Whale during the boat ride, and the sunset was fantastic. Sunset.JPG Rain was predicted again for that night, so we had a late dinner and found a Bed & Breakfast to stay at. During dinner the waitress gave us a great description of a typical winter in the Canadian Maritimes. It was good to hear because it helped squelch any thoughts of moving to one of these beautiful places. The Empty Nest Bed & Breakfast was nice and we had a great night’s sleep. Despite our long day of riding we covered the shortest daily distance of the trip after Trenton, covering a little less than 400 miles.


Wednesday turned out to be the highlight of the whole trip. Words cannot describe Nova Scotia. Pictures do a lousy job of showing the landscape. I guess you really can’t take it with you, no matter how hard you try.

(coming up on the mountains) mountains.JPG

(Rocky beach) rock.JPG

(Another rocky beach) rockybeach.JPG

We didn’t have time to see the whole province. We probably could have spent weeks there experiencing all there is to see. It’s not a tourist’s place. In fact much of the province is exactly the opposite. We headed north up the West Coast of Cape Breton Island (Northern Nova Scotia) to catch the Cabot Trail. The population was sparse. There were gas stations and restaurants occasionally in little villages and towns. There was one place that seemed more tourist-oriented. It had some shops and arcade stuff where kids could spend lots of their parent’s money. I can’t remember if it was in Cheticamp or Pleasant Bay, but it was somewhere on the West Coast. Since Candi and I don’t care about that kind of stuff we just rode through the town and kept going.


The Cabot trail was incredible. road1.JPG

No, actually it was beyond incredible. Again, the pavement sucked but the scenery was the best I’ve seen anywhere. The Cabot Trail should go on your “absolutely must see before I die” list. One mountain after another, often right next to the Ocean. water.JPG The road seldom goes straight, and is always climbing or descending. roadview.JPG

The only thing that could have made it any better would have been less traffic, but the traffic was tolerable. I quickly learned that the combination of a Cadillac, a Florida license plate, and a blue-hair driver would soon require a quick pass over the double yellow. I am not normally an advocate of double yellow passing, but there are very few passing zones and my RT would have overheated at 20-30 miles an hour as I waited for a legal passing spot.


We saw other Beemers but mostly we saw Harleys. In fact from Quebec to Nova Scotia most riders seemed to emulate the American biker in bike choice and riding gear. But the refreshing part was to see that many of them were actually travelling, instead of simply riding to the bar to hang out and drink. On the Cabot Trail we saw a Nunavut license plate on a R1100RS (Nunavut is the province above Quebec-their summer must be about 2 months long). We also saw a guy on a R1100RT that we saw again the next day in Maine.


Finally we reached the easternmost part of our journey, the Northeast part of the Cabot Trail. From there the remainder of our journey was taking us back home. We finished the Cabot trail and stopped in Moncton, New Brunswick (again). This time the weather was good, so we camped. We rode about 500 miles that day.


Thursday morning we rode a couple hours and said goodbye to Canada. Getting back in to the U.S. was long and torturous. We sat in line for about an hour, and finally crossed on highway 1 at the Maine border. We had been told how charming the Maine coast is, so we decided to see some of it. I guess it’s all relative, but we sure were disappointed. It just didn’t compare to Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail. We rode U.S. 1 down towards Bar Harbor, turned off and headed into the town. It took us an hour to cover the 20 miles into Bar Harbor because the traffic was terrible. Once there we walked around for about 20 minutes, wrote it off as a tourist trap and spent another hour getting out, this time in the rain. We rode up to and through Bangor, which I thought was a nice place. I had expected it to be an eerie place because it produced Stephen King but after seeing the city I have to assume he is just uniquely insane and has figured out how to channel his insanity into creative talent. We continued across route 2 through Eastern Maine, which was pretty. It also prepared me for the next day’s riding by showing me that in New England there is another town every 30 feet and the speed limit is seldom higher than 40. By the time it was dark we were just crossing into New Hampshire. Shortly thereafter we found a campground and pulled in. The lady there advised us that we were in heavily populated Moose country and we had better not leave. We had not had dinner yet, so she pointed us to a refrigerator that had bread and cold cuts. We purchased what we thought we needed, and she offered to give us more. The next day we would find a dead Moose less than 4 miles down the road. It could have been us, but I guess God was watching. Anyway we set up camp and had a romantic cold cut dinner by flashlight. The day’s distance was about 500 miles.


Friday morning we went to Gorham, New Hampshire and ate breakfast at “loafin’ around” bakery. The food was incredible, especially their breads. I could probably justify riding back to New Hampshire just to eat there again, it was that good. Their hours are very limited, so if you ever go there to eat you might want to call ahead and make sure they are open. From Gorham we headed south on rt. 16 to Mt. Washington. As we pulled up to the gate there were two signs. One said the weather at the top of the mountain was 50 degrees and visibility was 100 feet. The other sign warned that the road was very steep with no guardrails, and if you have a fear of heights you “will not appreciate the drive”. I asked the guy at the gate how bad it really was and he said he takes his Gold Wing up there often. We paid the required $16.00 and headed up the mountain. The first 4000 feet were easy. 4000feet.JPG They weren’t kidding - the road is steep, but the first 4000 feet are mostly in trees so it doesn’t look too bad. Shortly after the 4000-foot mark I came around a hairpin and stopped dead in my tracks. Just ahead the pavement disappeared and there was nothing but packed mud. The road got even steeper and there were no more trees to hide behind. Candi and I both got instant vertigo. I assessed the situation: Whatever road I went up I would also have to ride down. I was two up with camping gear; the bike was the heaviest I had ever had it. Also, I could see that the road had another hairpin farther up the mountain, and from that point it looked like it followed the spine of the mountain all the way to the top. That meant that I could fall off of either side of the mountain as I got closer to the top. dirtroad.JPG The picture really doesn't do a good job of showing what this road looked like. I decided to turn around, it just wasn’t worth the risk. Turning around was easier said than done. The road was steep enough that the bike would roll backwards against engine compression when parked in first gear. Candi stepped off and we removed the camping gear. It took both of us pushing against the low side of the bike to hold it up while I slowly backed it into the side of the mountain to turn it around.

(here is where we turned around-again the picture isn't very good at showing the grade of the hill) stopped.JPG We finally got it turned around and reloaded and went back down the mountain. I believe I would make another attempt on the F650GS if I were riding solo, but I don’t recommend it on a loaded street bike. Perhaps if the road were all paved I would feel differently.


We continued south through the White Mountain National Forest to rt. 112 (Kancamagus Highway) east. The mountains were beautiful, even if the travel was slow. newhampshire.JPG We picked up rt. 100 in Vermont and rode south. Travel was very slow. Even though the scenery was beautiful I became so frustrated with the slow travel I was ready to scream. I don’t think I would subject myself to that again. By the time we reached Southern Vermont it was pouring down rain with some lightning. We pulled over at a gas station and were told the storms were coming from the south and we were going to ride into worst of it if we kept going. It was suggested that we get a Hotel in town, but it was only around 5:00 and I wasn’t ready to stop. Candi zipped in her Savannah jacket liner and we headed out. I would have made better time in an ark. It rained buckets. We rode into Massachusetts and took rt. 7 south to Pittsfield, in Berkshire county. I figured it would be a good place to stop for the night. I didn’t realize the significance of Berkshire until I priced a Hotel room. $200 a night at the Super 8. It only got worse from there. Most hotels were full. The few that had vacancies were run by Hodgi and his family, and all of them cost an arm and a leg. When I said a room was too expensive it became a bargaining match. They didn’t seem to understand that they wanted $200, I wanted to pay $50, like I do closer to home. There was too much difference, we weren’t going to agree on a price. Apparently this was all caused by the wealthy New York kids who go to camp somewhere near there, and it was visitor’s weekend. Son of a b*tch I hate New York. Bad things happen to me any time I get within radar range of that city. I know that I was still in Massachusetts, but the hotel problem was caused by New York. Don’t hassle me about this, I’m allowed to blame it on them if I want to! I got determined. There was no way I was paying $200 for a roach motel. I pulled over for gas. The gas lid wouldn’t open. I pried and pried. Finally it came open with a loud “whooshing” sound. Not good. It’s raining, getting dark, and the gas tank is not venting like it should. The stuck gas cap and noise when it finally opened were due to vacuum in the gas tank because it was not venting. I gassed up and we started riding (again). I had brought a spare key with me, so I stuck it in the gas cap lock and opened the gas cap while riding every 10 miles to vent the tank. We stopped in Stockbridge and had some of the best Pizza I’ve ever had at 4 Brother’s Pizza Inn. Okay, New York has one redeeming quality. They’ve taught most people around them how to make great pizza.


It was definitely dark by the time we finished eating. Looking at the map I decided the closer we got to New York City the worse the hotel situation was going to get. So we started riding towards Albany. Just after 11:00 I was so tired I was starting to hallucinate, and it was raining again. It was difficult to open the gas lid to vent the tank during a rainstorm without getting water in the tank. Every hotel we stopped at was either full or wanted to financially rape us. Candi witnessed my nervous breakdown as I stopped at a gas station and started screaming about how much I f*cking hate New York, it’s the sickest, greediest place I’ve ever been to. Again, don’t hassle me about this - I’m entitled to my own reality, true or not. Finally 30 miles west of Albany we got a hotel room for 75 bucks. It wasn’t 50 bucks, but it was close enough. It was midnight and we had traveled 540 miles, the first 300 at a painfully slow pace, and the remainder in a downpour. The bed became my instant best friend.


Saturday we awoke to bright sunshine. I showered and went outside to see if I could fix the bike. I suspected the carbon canister was clogged, which was causing the vacuum condition inside the fuel tank. I removed the carbon canister and checked the vent line to the tank. It was clear. The canister itself was another story. It would pass some air, but I could shake bits of carbon out of it. I left the fuel tank vent disconnected, which might have made Uncle Sam and the emissions clan unhappy, but it would get me home.


The road was calling. We packed up, found some breakfast, and headed out. We had originally planned to try to see Jim and Maggie in New Jersey but our detour up to Albany last night cancelled those plans. We took I 88 almost to Elmira, took 220 south into Pennsylvania, then route 87 east just because it looked squiggly on the map, then back onto 220 to 22, which took us to Pittsburgh. From there we took a bunch of detours – Pittsburgh is currently shredded. Ultimately we found I-70 and took it home. We had not intended on getting home that day. It was a 640-mile ride and we were already tired. But we got a case of “get-home-itis”. Our final gas stop was in Zanesville, which is about an hour from home. As I left the gas station the sun was setting. It was quiet and comfortable outside, and there wasn’t much traffic. I had time to reflect on all of the wonderful people we met, places we saw, and I also had time to think about the places we had wanted to go but didn’t have time to get to. Halifax (and lower) Nova Scotia, New Foundland, Labrador. When will I ever find the time to get to those places? We were gone 10 days. We spent 7 of those 10 days riding pretty hard. I’d need another week to see the additional places I had wanted to go. Believe me, it was very tempting. But had I gone there I would have been looking for a job when I got home. Other thoughts crossed my mind. Where else could we possibly ride to that would be better than the trip we just took? We saw so much. The cultures, languages, landscapes, people, and architecture were so diverse, yet we never even left the North American Continent. It was all pretty incredible and overwhelming.


We got home at 10:30 P.M. My body ached, I was beyond tired, and all I really wanted was a bed. Despite all of that it was saddening to know that tomorrow would be the first day I wasn’t going to be living on my motorcycle. If I had an infinite supply of money and time I wonder if I’d ever grow tired of riding?


Right before I went to bed I walked out into the garage, slid a drain pan under the engine, and removed the oil filter and drain plug while the engine was still warm. It would sit there like that for 3 days before I had time to perform the 30,000-mile service. I checked the GPS. 4289 miles, 3500 of which had been ridden in the last 6 days. The rear tire I had installed at the rally 6 days ago was 2/3 worn out already. Summer vacation was over. What an amazing trip. What an amazing bike. Time to begin the clean up process.


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Great report, Buck. We missed you and Candi in Gunnison. I have spent a lot of time in Moncton, since I have a large client there. The first time I went was in January of 1998, and it was so cold I thought I was going to die. In response my client bought me a box of 24 Cuban cigars, which I foolishly slipped back to the US in my luggage. What a treat, though. They have a cool restaurant on the west side of town that has a wine cellar in the basement. You don't order your wine--you go pick it out!


I've spent lots of time in Quebec City, too, holding conferences at the Chateau Frontenac. What a magical place. We enjoyed the museum a bunch.


Next time explore the old, original part of Montreal. It's nothing like the tourist traps in "modern" Montreal.


Glad you made it back safely.

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What a great great trip. I'm kinda breathless after reading it, you two did so much in 10 days. I never made it out to Nova Scotia as planned last fall ( 9/11 kinda messed everything up), but like you say I gotta do that trip.


Gotta agree with you about MA hotel prices, I've been the victim of that also. Wasn't aware that it was a NY-thang, though wink.gif


Son of a b*tch I hate New York. Bad things happen to me any time I get within radar range of that city.


Oh, so thaaaaat's why I didn't hear from you on your return trip?! laugh.gif In trenton I remember Maggie pointing to a map of Jersey, offering you guys a waypoint should you need ... I also pointed out my location on The Isle Of Man(hattan), but you didn't seem very interested wink.gifroflmao.gif


Welcome back. Great post.



Chris (aka Tender Vittles),

Little '77 KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black '99 RT for Everywhere Else, such as...color=green>



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Glad to hear that you made it back safely. Looks like you had a blast too. Catch you on the road again (just be sure to have Candi look for that flag).



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Buck, one of the greatest benefits bmwrt.com offers is the ability for all to read fantastic reports like this. The pic just below your text "The road seldom goes straight, and is always climbing or descending" makes me want to change vacation plans immediately!

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