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Category Archives: Travel

You’re NOT in Control

Why do we let things bother us when God is in control? Of course, there are things that we feel are out of all control… like the flight I am on this morning. (I’m typing on the iPhone as we fly)

There is a line of thunderstorms moving across the country and they are meeting my flight near the Atlanta airport. Air Traffic Control (ATC) still has the skies open, so there has to be some not-so-rough air around. Hopefully the pilots, their navigation and their skills can find it.

Nervous? Yes. I am. I travel a lot and it never gets easier. You have the smooth flights but they don’t make up for the ones where weather is not on your side. I trust the system that they would not put planes in the air if it were an unsafe situation. However, that doesn’t help my heart and breathing rates!

My life is about short prayers. My longest prayers are right before bedtime and they are not that long. Those are the ones where I thank God for the day and everything He provided. Most of my other prayers are quick thank-yous.

These thank yous are for the things God has given me (or got me out of in some cases!). They are thank yous for blessings he has bestowed upon me and my family. They are, at times, personal. I believe in short prayers because I am not a professional at this, by any means. Add to that a good dose of ADD where my mind starts to wander… eh, you get the picture!

Right about now my legs are glued to the floor and my CrossFit squatting muscles are pushing against the seatbelt and I try to counteract the forces of nature and a multi-ton MD88 aircraft. This must be the line of storms the pilot said we had to cross!

I can honestly say that I have been through some harrowing situations… another flight that was 10x worse when we hit a snowstorm at 30,000 feet… emergency landings due to fires in the cockpit… gear lights not indicating if we have landing gear. But through it all I knew that God was in control.

He gives us these instances to knock us back down so we will realize it’s not about us. He also gives us these instances to kick me in the behind for not writing blog posts as often as I should! (I write on airplanes to pass the time and to alleviate stress from the unknown).

Funny… literally, as I wrap this up, the lights of western Atlanta appear below.

No one said you had to be a pastor, reverend or preacher… say short prayers for what you have been given! If nothing else it will keep the lines of communication open with the Man upstairs!

Post your thoughts below…

Darron Meares, MBA, CAI, MPPA, BAS
Asset Appraiser/Auctioneer/Speaker

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Just Me, Motivation, Travel, Writing

 

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Labor Day is always surreal to me…

Labor Day is always surreal to me…

Living close to the coast gives me the ability to go whenever I have the time.  I actually should go more than I do, but sometimes life gets in the way.  You never can get enough of the coastal air, the sand, the waves, the water… it’s a cleansing for the soul.

Labor Day always feels surreal to me… you know it is the official end of summer.  You stand on the beach and watch the crowds begin to thin out as they pack up and start their travel back to reality.  They’ll have to wait in eager anticipation for school to end and vacation time to being anew.

It’s always given me a sad feeling, like it’s hard to breathe when you think about the scene unfolding.  Not sure why. It’s like you don’t even want to see it happen… It’s funny, I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear Don Henley’s Boys of Summer. I guess I am one of those that wishes summer would never end.  Nostalgic even.

Jimmy Buffett sums it up quite well here:

When The Coast Is Clear

Lyrics to When The Coast Is Clear :They’re closin’ down the hangout
The air is turnin’ cool
They’er shuttin’ off the superslide
The kids are back in school

The tourist traps are empty
Vacancy abounds
Almost like it used to be
Before the circus came to town

That’s when it always happens
Same time every year
I come down to talk to me
When the coast is clear

Hello mister other me
It’s been a long time
We hardly get to have these chats
That in itself’s a crime

So tell me all your troubles
I’ll surely tell you mine
We’ll laugh and smoke and cuss and joke
And have a glass of wine

That’s where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear

It’s the only place he knows
Where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear
They’re closin’ down the hangout
The air is turnin’ cool
They’er shuttin’ off the superslide”
The kids are back in school

The tourist traps are empty
Vacancy abounds
Almost like it used to be
Before the circus came to town

That’s when it always happens
Same time every year
I come down to talk to me
When the coast is clear

Hello mister other me
It’s been a long time
We hardly get to have these chats
That in itself’s a crime

So tell me all your troubles
I’ll surely tell you mine
We’ll laugh and smoke and cuss and joke
And have a glass of wine

That’s where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear

It’s the only place he knows
Where it always happens
Same place every year
I come down and talk to me
When the coast is clear

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Just Me, Travel, Writing

 

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There’s No Button for That!

I travel a lot… for me, that is. There are people that spend more time in the seat of an airplane than any other and I am in no way envious of them! Last year I’d say I was on 30-40 different airplanes taking me to all points in the US – to me, that is a lot of seat time.

Over the past four to five years I have noticed that common sense is gone… vaporized into thin air. Of course I have seen this around the places I frequent at home but, as I travel more often, I see the problem is all over. My biggest joke is, “there’s no button for that!”. Hence the name of this post.

Go to any fast food restaurant and give the cashier an overage of money… say, $10.25 when the meal is $7.25… and watch the reaction. Or try this – give them additional coins with the currency – you know, so you can get a quarter back instead of a pound of coins. I love it when I get the “you gave me too much”, to which I respond, “you’re right.” This just muddies the water even more, but I love it!

Now, I will say the restaurants have gotten smarter and trained their cashiers to ring in the amount tendered so the register shows the amount to give back (it’s all part of accounting, they say). IT IS TAKING THE COMMON SENSE OUT OF THE WORLD.

My second grader can make change. He does it because he likes math problems and trying to figure things out… Oh I hope his generation helps to change the path we are on!

So, back to buttons. I am a picky eater and will pay more for service when a waiter/waitress “makes it happen”. The worst thing about a meal is when you can’t get what you want. “Ribeye, medium rare to medium, Caesar salad with dressing on the side and water with lemon to drink.” Sounds easy, right? At most places, yes… but where is the button for ‘medium rare to medium’? There isn’t one, which requires COMMUNICATION with the chef instead of pushing a button… communication is another skill that is quickly going to way of the dodo.

The path of least resistance tells the waiter to say, “we don’t have that” or “it has to be done this way” or, better yet, “we can’t do that.” Why? Because there is not a button for it.

Why, as a society, have we allowed this to happen? We are a part of a free-thinking society, last I heard. Are employers really handcuffing their people this much or has common sense alluded these folks and they have no way of thinking for themselves?

I’ll leave it to you to decide.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Just Me, Travel

 

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The weekend before vacation

Mr Work, whoever and wherever you are, I appreciate you making yourself known right before I take a vacation.  My vacation is already shortened due to my second nephew getting married at the end of the week… now this!

The four auctions I have this weekend benefit ultraworthy causes… a church, JDRF and children’s programs in South Carolina, so I am not wholly complaining.  It’s just a pain in my butt that you decide to stack all of this right before I head out of town.

And to top it off – I drive to Charleston on Friday, then back home on Saturday to conduct auctions before driving BACK to Charleston for the vacay on Sunday…

Mr Work, you are an evil man.  I will forget all about you next week.  Promise.

Love you, mean it,
Darron

PS – I am glad to have you and know you even though I hate you from time to time!

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Just Me, Travel, Writing

 

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My Four Corners is COMPLETE!

With a travel trip last week, I have completed MY version – yes, Darron’s version – of visiting the four corners of the United States. Here is how I see it… we have four corners of the contiguous United States, right? These are Washington, California, Maine and Florida. At least in my non-geographical I-am-a-visual-person mind.

So, here goes:

I visited Seattle, Washington for a board meeting a few years back. I rode the roller coaster under the Space Needle, visited the Experience Music Project (saw Kurt Cobain’s Blue Mustang guitar he used in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and some SWEET Jimi Hendrix video and concert footage) and some other cool stuff.

Visited San Diego, California for a convention a few years back… went to the shore, visited La Jolla and a Padres game.

For my honeymoon in 2000 I visited Key West and the southernmost point of the US. Key West is one of my favorite places that it have visited… Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, the wreckers, Duvall Street, Kelli’s Flight Club… It’s all good!

And to finish up… Maine. Portland, to be exact. Live. Lobsters. Yep, I had them. Two to be exact. I cannot say I enjoyed the work. The lazy-man’s lobster the second night was so much better. But, when you go to Maine you have to try it at least once.

So – that concludes MY four corners of the US. I’m sure some travel expert has latitudes and longitudes to be exact… who cares? I had fun!

Oh yeah, for good measure… I added Cabo san Lucas to the mix to complete the Baja peninsula! That’s another story for another post!

Have fun wherever you go, whenever you get there!

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Travel

 

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Comps, gift cards and tipping

As you can see from the tagline of my blog, I travel a lot.  In doing so, I have been afforded some very nice comps along the way… in addition, I have been given gift cards as thank-you gifts for various items where I have donated time or expertise.  These are great to have and use, but they come with a price.

I was in Las Vegas for my 40th birthday a few weeks ago and stayed at The Cosmopolitan and fell in love with the place – I highly recommend it.  Being my 40th birthday, the hotel gave a few comps here and there – better seating at restaurants, credit for meals, etcetera.  Las Vegas is the land of comps (short for complimentaries) and many people talk about them on websites, blogs, Facebook and the list goes on.

One of the first comps you think of in Las Vegas is a free drink when you gamble at the casino (no, those standing behind the gamblers don’t get one, so don’t get cheap and ask).  Gamble a little more and you may get a comped dinner or show.  A little more may get you a free night on a return visit… all the way up to comped rooms AND airfare.  But, you have to gamble a lot to be the next Nick Papageorgio!

It takes some heavy gambling to be here!

Still, these are not totally free… even if you DO gamble like a World Poker Tour ace, someone has to take care of you.  In speaking with people in the service industry members of the public, in general, are cheap and feel like they deserve something for free.

Yes, the drinks are free in the casino… however, the cocktail waitress is working.  Making money.  So, that means you need to get off your cheap butt and at least give a few bucks to the cause.  I saw waitresses at several casinos when I went to bed AND the next morning when we went out to breakfast.

Sure – free casino drinks are easy enough… how about that waitress handling your table at the restaurant where you received the comp?  You live it up and order $200.00 worth of food and walk out… yes, she IS getting paid for her services (a measly $2.13 plus tips), but not much more when you walk out.  I’m not getting into the area of good or bad service – YOU GOT THE FOOD FOR FREE!  You should at least give the customary 15%, or $30, for that $200 worth of food you just gouged yourself on.

Free hotel rooms?  Someone has to take care of you during that time as well.  How many times have you left a tip in a hotel room?  If they bring you towels… do you tip?  Forget your toothbrush and someone brings you one, do you tip?  I personally feel it is customary to do so… so do most in the hospitality industry.

The bellman carrying luggage.  The taxi stand operator that hails a cab and opens the door.  The cab driver that gets you there early.  If they do their job – or go above and beyond – they are serving you… and should be compensated.

Have you ever been on a cruise?  For some reason, the cruise lines make sure to give guidelines on good service tips…

Gift cards are another area where I see people being cheap.  Just because the meal was $100 and you had a $35 gift card doesn’t mean you leave a tip on the $65 you had to pay out of pocket.  I applaud the waiters and waitresses that give the original receipt with the new one minus the gift card… educate the people, I say!  Quit being so freaking cheap!

As to tipping, everyone has their own “philosophy” about how to do it: before the tax, after the tax, I start at 100% and work my way down, give the customary 15%.  Whatever.  Just do it.  Personally, I give 20% because I like easy math… it also gives me the opportunity to reduce to the customary 15% if the service is bad for some reason.  Many times it is out of the server’s control and they get gigged for it… think about the old adage and don’t shoot the messenger!

Just think about it the next time someone offers you something for free.  You may live it up at someone else’s expense… just make sure to take care of those around you!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Travel

 

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Knockin’ on 40’s Door

Bob Dylan and Guns N Roses had their time with Knocking On Heaven’s Door… For me it’s knocking on 40’s door. A 39 year journey that many people thought I would never complete- actually, as the years ticked off, there were people losing bets year-in and year-out!

To frame this, the first 25 years were tough with losses of family members, divorces to contend with and my wild, push-the-envelope nature. I’m sure there were those that thought this was a sure bet. Which leads me to where I am today. Sitting in The Cosmopolitan is Las Vegas. Literally. I just checked in and am doing the touristy thing of exploring the hotel. The place is worlds different than the Venetian/Palazzo (I have been there since Thursday attending/speaking at the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees Spring Seminar).

The tag line Just the Right Amount of Wrong fits the hotel and sort of works as a tag line for my life.

I chose to come to Las Vegas because I was already here for the seminar, the date fit with Spring Break on the calendar and it was just time to come back. St Maarten was on the list, but we chose otherwise – Orient Beach and hanging on the fence at Princess Julianna airport are still on my to-do list.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still have the celebration on April 10 when I actually cross the line, but this will serve as the jump-off point.

As I finish this quick post I have to think back… I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things. I feel my greatest accomplishments are being a good husband and father. As long as I can continue to live up to those two titles the next 40 years will be a breeze.

More to come… A. Lot. More.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Just Me, Travel

 

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Out of my “Comfort Zone”

Those that truly know me know that I cannot stand being comfortable.

A tough statement, I know.  Of course, on a physical level, I like cool air on a hot day and a warm house on a cold day.  I’m not talking about that kind of comfortable.  I guess I am pointing this toward – stagnation – a failure to progress, develop or advance.  When people get comfortable, they stop DOING.  This can be in a job, with your family or just in life itself.

The Dirt Spot analogy:  Picture a pond.  Water flows into the pond.  Stirring oxygen.  Providing for the living things inside.  Then, for some reason, the water stops flowing into the pond… the oxygen begins to deplete and the water becomes stagnant.  As the water becomes stagnant, life dies.  The water starts to evaporate away and the depth goes away… the pool becomes shallow.  Then, at some terminal point, the pond is gone and all that is left is a dirt spot marking the area that once held vibrant life.

It is a dismal picture and one that happens day in and day out in PEOPLE.  For some reason the water stops flowing in to spur the oxygen and the life is drained from the body.  People get comfortable.  They think the water of life will always flow in to keep the motor running.  And then… nothing.

I cannot stand being comfortable.  Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”  I call it switching seats on the Titanic – it doesn’t matter where you sit, the ship is still going down.

So, to combat this, I do something every so often to restart the life flow into my body… I’ve changed jobs.  I’ve rappelled upside-down off a waterfall.  I’ve run races of varying lengths – 5k, 10k and three 13.1 mile half marathons.  Stood in front of an audience of 2600 people to raise money for various charities… all to keep life alive within myself!

Sure – the stagnant ones around me all say, “You’re crazy” or “How do you do it all?” or simply, “WHY?”.  The simple answer – God gave me a body and I am going to make use of it.  I feel it is a sin to waste away.

So my latest endeavor?  The Spartan Sprint in Charlotte, NC.  A four-mile obstacle/mud run built to take you completely out of any comfort zone you have ever had…

Just a few of the obstacles… 4′, 6′ and 8′ climbing walls, stone pull, hoist a 5 gallon bucket of concrete up 25′, climb a steep incline with only a rope, traverse the edge of a river for approximately 1/4 mile (in the water), throw a spear, jump a fire pit… all while running on a muddy trail through the ups and downs of the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Correct… a four mile run WITH obstacles! Exactly what I needed to strip my comfort level back to zero.  Now, of course, you could say this would raise my comfort level.  Sure.  I can see that as a positive result of the experience as well.

Up next… the Spartan Beast in October.  I’ll be comfortable again by then.  Medical condition?  Psychosis?  Mid-life crisis?  Eh, whatever.  Figure out what you need to reenergize your life and GO FOR IT!

Here’s a little something to get you on the right track… enjoy!  (By the way, I turn 40 on April 10th… it’s not a mid-life crisis… I’ve only lived 1/3 of my life!)

The Rocky Balboa Speech to his son:

It was great just watchin’ you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started lookin’ for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know.The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Just Me, Motivation, Running, Travel

 

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Sunday in the South

What a great time to be in Atlanta!  Last Saturday night we conducted an auction at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead… one of my favorite hotels in the city.  The auction was a rousing success with some of the most spirited bidding we have seen this year… but that was not the special part of the weekend.

The next morning was even better.  For some reason, Atlanta flips a switch as it moves from Saturday night to Sunday morning… the city transforms itself from a bustling metropolis to ‘Sunday in the South’.  It’s one of my favorite times in the city – nothing going on, quiet streets, stillness… if you have never experienced this, you would not believe it happens every weekend in the 9th largest city in America!

Oh, Atlanta… well, you can drop me off on Peachtree, I got to feel that Georgia sun… (Little Feat)

This reminds me of Shenandoah’s song of the same name… I have never seen this in any other place I have visited in my travels.  I am sure there are others, but this past Sunday absolutely “fit” – no other way to say it!  No offense to the North Carolinians reading this post, but Charlotte runs neck and neck for second place in this category!

Shenandoah – Sunday in the South

Writer: BOOKER, JAY

Mill worker houses lined up in a row,
Another southern Sunday morning blow
Beneath the steeple all the people have begun
Shakin’ hands with the man who grips the gospel gun
While the quiet prayer, the smell of dinner on the ground
Heals up the morning air, ain’t nothin’ sweeter around

I can almost hear my mama pray:
“Oh lord forgive us when we doubt,”
Another sacred Sunday in the south

A ragged rebel flag flies high above it all
Popping in the wind like an angry cannon ball
The holes of history are cold and still,
But they smell the powder burnin’ and they probably always will

And on the old town square under the barber shop pole,
They sat me up in the chair when I was four years old

I can almost hear my papa say:
“Won’t you hold still son, stop squirmn’ around
Another sacred sundays coming down”

I can almost hear the old folks say:
“You’ll make it big one day, you’ll leave this town,”
Some other lazy Sunday you’ll come back around

I can feel the evening sun go down,
And all the lights in the houses one by one go out
Softly in the distance nothing stirs about
And the night is filled with the sound of a whipporwil

On a Sunday in the south

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Just Me, Travel, Writing

 

Travel… and naming rights

So, here we are… 38,000 feet above the Arkansas/Oklahoma border on a flight to Las Vegas. We are flying out for the Barrett-Jackson Collector car auction. Most of you know I am an auctioneer and love seeing other events in action – this helps me to write my auctioneer Continuing Education (CE) classes and prepare for my auctioneer consulting clients.

Anyhow, this is more about travel than business… even though they go hand in hand for me. We are seated First Class on AirTran flight 775 from Atlanta to Las Vegas. Great seats that were picked up at a fundraising auction I conducted in February 2011… Anyhow, we are seated behind a lady that we will name Stoli for her love of vodka drinks. Of course, nothing wrong with that if it is your choice of alcohol.

Stoli started her flight early (from a drinking perspective, that is). She and her date were two drinks down before the wheels left the ground. Vodka and cranberry with a splash of orange juice, to be exact. Once we were above 20,000 feet, the flight attendants began beverage service and she and date were tugging at the bit ready for round three…

So, for the record, here is the scorecard:
Two drinks before wheels up
Two drinks in flight up to this point… 1:20 into flight
One Bloody Mary for her and Jack and Coke for date… 1:44 into flight

Stoli made a very prolific comment a few minutes ago… “damn, I’ve drank more today than I have in a month”. Shocking? No, not from where I am sitting.

So, the stage is set… Stoli updates will be added as she adds more revelations to our flight.

A few months ago, I began a saga with a man we will call BBQ Sandwich. Yep. Him. That guy that feels the need to bring a full-on barbecue sandwich onto a flight from Atlanta to Greenville, SC. For those of you out of the loop, the flight is 28 minutes wheels up to wheels down. So, this guy had to scarf this thing down just to finish it before the flight ended. He did his best… and won in the BBQ Sandwich World Finals.

THOUGHT: Do they have a BBQ competition like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Challenge? If so, my $$$ is on this guy!

When you travel as much as I do you pray that BBQ and hot dogs don’t make their way onto your flight. Seems my luck is in the gutter as I have had to experience both. Memphis, with their barbecue, and Cincinnati, with their Skyline Chili, are the two worst for unplane-friendly meals… at least in my opinion.

UPDATE: Stoli is nursing the Bloody Mary like an infant on the teat

Where am I going with this? Who knows. This is like people watching at the mall or on a crowded street. You know you want to say something, but you stand back and just revel in the sights you see… or experience. Air travel has changed over the past 11 years since 9/11. Security measures, bag checks and other requirements have made people feel they are entitled to something… What are they entitled to? We all buy tickets. We choose where we sit. However, I guess in all of that, the entitlement comes in due to the hoops we have to jump through for our seats on the cylinder with wings hurtling us to our destination at 500 miles an hour.

I my opinion, this is the world we live in. The problem is, when we travel, we are now confined to a small area with the people we hear about (the one’s your mother warned you about). I think it is that confined space that gives us the ability to see the humor God gave all of us – if we choose to see it. Otherwise, our world comes to an end when the flight is delayed or our bags get rerouted or a myriad of other issues.

My thought is this… I’ve said it before… A smile in an airport, or on a flight, gets you more than a stack of bills or the price you paid for your first class seats!

UPDATE: Stoli and her date are discussing the intricacies of mini bottles. Yep. I think I will sign off, lean my head over the seat and see if I can pick up some gems for my next blog post!

UPDATE #2: Stoli has puffed on her inhaler more on this flight than I have this month on mine! Maybe that is like the alcohol-reducing pill Lambda Lambda Lambda used in Revenge of the Nerds!

UPDATE #3: Stoli and date are discussing mixers… As in the difference between seltzer and tonic… Stoli: there isn’t a su-uuu-uper big difference, but you can taste it (elongated super to emulate her speech at this point).

Love ya, mean it!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Travel

 

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