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Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's blog is my mini-journal about GaryJWolff.com. It...

  •  lets you know whenever any new pages are added to GaryJWolff.com
  •  allows me to periodically share some interesting stuff about Japanese culture  
  •  keeps you up-to-date on any other postings or news regarding GaryJWolff.com


Enjoy...

Cheers, 
Gary


Recent website updates (at bottom of the page)
Feel free to share your comments below.


Feb. 18, 2018 - 7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018 (the video)

My favorite video clips are the aerial view of Mt. Fuji, the crazy Turkish ice cream magician, the 3D optical illusion art exhibits, the motorcycle-driven mobile women's bra and dress shops, the amazing acrobatic smoothie server, the 105-meter-long tunnel at Underwater World Pattaya, and of course, the 3 timelapse sunsets. smiley Enjoy!



7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


0:00 Stunning aerial view of Mt. Fuji from plane
2:17 Timelapse sunset #1, Pattaya Beach
2:41 Magical dancing water fountain, Royal Garden Plaza shopping mall
3:29 Crazy Turkish ice cream magician
5:42 10-ft-tall walking skeleton
5:59 Bali Hai Pier
7:01 Panorama of Pattaya Marina
7:55 Big Buddha
8:45 Water fountain statue at Siam Bayshore Resort
9:07 Pedestrian signal countdown timer (nighttime)
9:47 Rotisserie grilled fish
10:02 Open-air grilled seafood restaurant
10:21 Dr. Fish spa
10:40 Dancing girls, ORN Group Entertainment
12:38 Riding in a songthaew
13:49 Hen & chicks, I Zoo, Sanctuary of Truth
14:36 Turkeys, I Zoo, Sanctuary of Truth
15:28 Waterfall, Sanctuary of Truth
16:06 Cute goats, I Zoo, Sanctuary of Truth
17:38 Colorful rooster, I Zoo, Sanctuary of Truth
18:02 3D optical illusion art exhibits, Art in Paradise museum
18:54 Panoramas inside Art in Paradise museum
20:37 Pedestrian signal countdown timer (daytime)
21:16 Panorama of Pattaya Beach
22:19 Motorcycle-driven mobile sticker/decal shop
22:38 Timelapse sunset #2, Inn House Hotel rooftop
23:06 Motorcycle-driven mobile women's bra and dress shops smiley
23:42 Panorama of Jomtien Beach
24:57 Panorama of Pattaya Floating Market
25:19 Amazing acrobatic smoothie server, Pattaya Floating Market
26:23 Goat feeding, Pattaya Floating Market
27:08 Goldfish feeding, Pattaya Floating Market
27:41 Longtail boats, Pattaya Floating Market
28:35 Grilled yakitori, Pattaya Floating Market
28:57 Live music, Pattaya Floating Market
30:40 Johnny Depp (a.k.a Capt. Jack Sparrow) performs wine glass music, including The Beatles' "Hey Jude"
34:43 Koi pond, Underwater World Pattaya
35:08 Turtles, Underwater World Pattaya
35:31 Various sea creatures in the 105-meter-long tunnel, including sharks, rays, tuna, eels, yellowtails, clownfish, plecostomuses, and more, Underwater World Pattaya
42:06 Car store animated blow-up advertising doll (Come on in!!)
42:16 Sunset panorama, Pattaya Beach
43:35 Magical dancing water fountain, Royal Garden Plaza shopping mall (reprise)
45:06 Parasailers, Pattaya Beach
46:07 Timelapse sunset #3, Pattaya Beach
46:30 VW van cocktail bar
46:56 Rainbow Festival live music, Central Festival shopping mall
47:50 Amazing wall-mounted red car, Walking Street Red Car Pub




Feb. 16, 2018 - 7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018 (the pics)

It was a grrrrreat 1-week escape from Tokyo's brutal winter this year, the coldest in 48 years. 7 days of sun & surf in the Royal Kingdom of Thailand's beautiful coastal city of Pattaya. I'm in heaven, man. smiley

Don't miss my 237 pics at Flickr, the one below a sample of from the amazing, magical 3D illusion Art in Paradise Museum. Video coming soon!

Art in Paradise Museum, Pattaya, Thailand
Art in Paradise Museum, Pattaya, Thailand




Feb. 3, 2018 - Super Blue Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 31, 2018

This amazing pic was taken by my Facebook friend Berndt Otto in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo on Wed. night with his Nikon P900, 2000mm lens. WOW! Good job, Berndt, and thanks for sharing! smiley


Super Blue Moon Total Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 31, 2018
Super Blue Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 31, 2018, as seen from Tokyo, Japan

2018's first lunar eclipse on Wednesday, Jan. 31 was a rare celestial phenomenon. A blue moon (the 2nd full moon in a calendar month), a super moon (when the moon is unusually close to Earth, making it bigger and brighter) and a blood moon (a moment during an eclipse when the moon appears red) all coincided, creating a lunar trifecta.

The last supermoon total lunar eclipse was in September 2015 and the last super Blue Moon total eclipse happened on December 30, 1982. But the rare spectacle which occurred on Jan. 31 and which NASA is calling a "Super Blue Blood Moon" is the first time all 3 lunar phenomenon have coincided since 1866. Wow.




Jan. 16, 2018 - The "Dear Wolff" ​thank you picture book

Today I received what is without question one of the most magnificent presents I’ve ever received in my entire life. It was the last day of this semester​'​s English ​Communication ​2B class, and after all ​3 ​of my university students had ​finished their final exams and left class​, 5 minutes later they reappeared and presented me with a​ cute little 18​-page​, scrapbook-style​ ​​thank you picture book​. It had ​been ​prepared by hand​,​ complete with photos, stickers​,​ seals​,​ handwritten thank you notes​, and ​even ribbons.

It also included ​​amusing rankings for (1) which student came to class late the most often​,​ (2) which one spoke the most Japanese in class​,​ and (3) which one had the best English communication skills. ​Ha-ha, how CUTE! ​It also included a photo gallery ​of Chi​hiro's European travels​ last year​.

I can't begin to tell you how much this ​spectacular act of love has profoundly touche​d my heart and soul. I just can't imagine how many HOURS and HOURS they spent on this, right at the end of the semester when they're SO busy with tests, reports, writing graduation theses, part-time jobs, etc. Simply amazing!

Thank you very much​,​ Yuki​,​ Kenji​,​ and ​Chihiro. ​Best wishes ​to you ​always! Love you guys…​​

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Jan. 11, 2018 - "GW’s August 2017 Alaska Adventure" (the eBook)

GW's August 2017 Alaska ebook cover image
Hot off the press! It was a gargantuan process, but the eBook project I started on Dec. 30th to document my amazing August 2017 Alaska adventure... 10,190 words(*), 58 pics, and links to the 31 video clips in my Alaska YouTube video... is finally complete. YAY!

Come join me in reliving the sights, sounds, and magic of my 16-day, August 2017 Alaska adventure, one of the most magnificent vacations of my entire lifetime!

Highlights of the adventure include ​hiking in and exploring Denali National Park for 4 days, a day trip to the Arctic Circle, a visit to the famous Chena Hot Springs, sitting on Santa's lap at the North Pole, visiting Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (America's largest), a 5-hour ranger-guided wildlife boat cruise in Seward's Resurrection Bay, and most notably, catching 2 HUGE silver salmon in the Lower Kenai River! 

My latest eBook is now available for only 99¢ in the US Kindle store, or ¥112 in the Amazon Japan store (アマゾン日本). If you don't have a Kindle (neither do I), you can download the free Kindle app (Kindle無料アプリ) to read my eBook on your PC or mobile device.

I hope you enjoy my latest publication and that you will find at least part of it informative or interesting, just as if you were taking the Alaska trip with me! smiley

(*) an estimated 107 pages if it were a physical book




Jan. 1, 2018 - 1st Sunrise of the New Year - 初日の出 Hatsuhinode 2018

Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the Japanese custom of viewing the 1st sunrise of the New Year. It's almost as exciting as watching paint dry, smiley but here's a 22-second timelapse of the first sunrise of 2018 in Tokyo which occurred Jan. 1 at 6:50 am (Universal Time + 9 hrs.). Don't blink, or you'll miss it! smiley



1st Sunrise of the New Year - 初日の出 Hatsuhinode 2018
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Dec. 27, 2017 - "2017, THE YEAR IN PICTURES!!" (a video!)

A 3-min. movie of 2017 highlights, created with the "Memories" feature in the iOS Photos app. Many of the pics are of my Feb. trip to Ao Nang, Thailand, my Aug. trip to Alaska, & my many wonderful Tokyo musician friends. Enjoy!

It's been a great year, and thanks for being a part of it! Best wishes for a super-duper 2018, the Year of the Dog! (woof, woof) smiley



2017, THE YEAR IN PICTURES!!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Dec. 25, 2017 - NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2017

Here's NORAD's offical video of Santa's 2017 visit to Japan, captured in real-time by a Santa Cam. Don't miss Santa flying over the cone of Mt. Fuji! This is a FIRST!!


NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2017 (NORAD video)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


On Xmas Eve 2017, Santa visited Japan around 11 pm local time. The main cities visited include Sapporo, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, and Naha, Okinawa. Here's the video I made on my home PC. Don't miss Rudolph's RED NOSE!  smiley



NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2017 (my video)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Dec. 17, 2017 - Tokyo Midtown Christmas 2017 Illumination

Without question, the Japanese are true masters of Xmas illumination, and so, despite the bitter cold, Tokyo is a VERY delightful place to be in the holiday season!

Completed in March 2007, Tokyo Midtown is celebrating 10 years with their incredible 510,000-light "Midtown Christmas 2017" illumination event. Don't miss the illumination "fireflies" in adjacent trees at the 4:48 min. mark.

The illumination can be viewed every night from 5-11 pm until 12/25. More details on the Tokyo Midtown website: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/



My video of Tokyo Midtown Christmas 2017 Illumination
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Dec. 7, 2017 - Merry Xmas 2017 from Santa Mickey (サンタミッキー) in Tokyo!

​Happy holiday season, everybody! Eight years ago, the world-famous Santa Mickey (サンタミッキー) made his very lively debut in a Tokyo karaoke box, singing some of the most famous Christmas carols. Since then, Santa Mickey has been thrilling kids worldwide with Xmas carol karaoke practice. [Santa Mickey's original 2009 performance of 5 Xmas songs is in this playlist.]

Well, back by popular demand, here he is again, this time in a somewhat more subdued manner, but still full of Christmas spirit, sharing with you his favorite Christmas songs. So please grab a drink, sit back, and enjoy the magic of this 2017 holiday season. smiley
​​


Merry Xmas 2017 from Santa Mickey (サンタミッキー) in Tokyo!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 Opening greeting
0:46 Jingle Bell Rock
3:02 White Christmas
6:08 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
8:33 Blue Christmas
10:53 Silver Bells
13:57 I'll Be Home For Christmas
17:00 Winter Wonderland
19:28 We Wish You A Merry Christmas
21:06 Closing greeting




Dec. 3, 2017 - Massive tornado destruction special effects

​Despite a claim on the ​internet that National Geographic paid $1 million for this video​,​ according to Snopes​,​ ​the video is in fact computer​-generated special effects that originally appeared in the ​2014 ​Hollywood movie ​"Into the ​Storm.​"

Nonetheless, it’s absolutely mind​-blowing to see ​​​the destructive ​effects of these make-believe tornadoes. Don't miss the jumbo jets being tossed about like children's toys at the 3:15 mark. Wow!


Massive tornado destruction special effects
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Nov. 26, 2017 - My video of Caretta Illumination 2017

In its remarkable 15th season, Caretta Shiodome's illumination theme this year is the Disney movie "Beauty & the Beast." Shows run every 15 minutes from 5-10 pm between Nov. 16, 2017 & Feb. 14, 2018.

Shiodome is located near Tokyo's Shimbashi Station. More details (in Japanese) including access map are here: http://www.caretta.jp/Illumination/

My other Caretta Illumination videos, going back to Year 2007, can be viewed in this playlist.



My video of Caretta Illumination 2017
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Nov. 19, 2017 - My President Richard Nixon mask

Last week my longtime friend and former coworker Tom Kilbride (far right in the pic below) sent me this amazing reminder of a very fun Halloween party we had 30+ years ago at our former employer, Success Motivation Institute, in Waco, Texas.

WOW! As I told Tom, and as my college roomies can surely confirm, I was quite the Nixon impersonator in my younger days (Imagine me shooting the peace sign with both hands while chanting "FOUR MORE YEARS, FOUR MORE YEARS"... ).  smiley

I definitely got a lot of mileage outta that very fun Richard Nixon mask...

Richard Nixon mask halloween costume
My Richard Nixon mask halloween costume




Nov. 11, 2017 - Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner

This is without question of the cutest things I think I've ever seen.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan welcomed President Donald Trump & first lady Melania Trump at Beijing's Forbidden City on Wednesday Nov. 8, on a tablet computer, Pres. Trump showed Xi and Peng video clips of his 6-year-old granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, singing in Mandarin and reciting part of the Three-Character Classic and several ancient Chinese poems.

WOW, how precious! The video has gone viral & Arabella is now a child star in China.


Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Nov. 4, 2017 - Houston Astros -- World Series Champions!

THEY DID IT! My most heartfelt congrats to the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros! I'm now on Cloud 9, as are millions of other fans in my hometown, America's 4th largest city. YAY! smiley

Houston Astros World Series Champs
(photo credit: http://ftw.usatoday.com)




Oct. 28, 2017 - Go Astros!​ smiley

​After the World Series start​ed on Tuesday​,​ I had a panic attack when I realized I no longer had ​a Houston Astros ​baseball​ cap​ ​in my home. Because I wanted to wear one to support my hometown team, on Thursday night I purchased ​a new ​cap at the ​"Selection​"​ American sporting good​s​ shop in Shinjuku.

Before leaving​,​ the shop staff asked if he could take my picture wearing my new cap and I said ​"Of course.​" He then gave me the shop's business card with a QR code linking to their ​"​snap​ photo" blog pa​​ge​​.

​So here I am wearing my new​ cap​. Go Astros!​ smiley

 new Astros cap
Caption on Selection blog page: ヒューストンからお越しのお客様です!アストロズのキャップ購入頂きました♪キャップを被ってアストロズを応援して下さい\(^o^)/
Translation: This customer comes from Houston! He bought an Astros cap. Please support the Astros by wearing the cap.
(Selection snap photo blog page: selection-j.com/blog/snapphoto)




Oct. 24, 2017 - Quote of the Day

"Don't complain. Eighty percent of the people you complain to don't care and the other 20 percent are glad you have problems."

--Legendary college football coach Lou Holtz--




Oct. 23, 2017 - Glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars!

My glow-in-the-dark ceiling star project is now nearly complete. While taking a break from helping my family recover from Hurricane Harvey last month, I slipped over to Houston's Museum of Natural Science gift shop one day to pick up a pack of 60 glow-in-the-dark mini-stars for only $6.95.  

glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars
My glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars


I really like this method of stargazing… no mosquitoes, rainouts, bears, or snakes. smiley I've been a big fan of the sky since I earned the Boy Scout ​Astronomy merit badge at age 13​, thanks to our wonderful scoutmaster Paul Caillet.

For the first couple weeks after returning back to Japan ​(​while I was getting my new university fall semester kicked off and in motion​),​ there were only ​2 constellations on my ceiling… ​my two favorites​...​ ​the ​Big and ​Little ​Dippers, because of the pointer star configuration for locating the Nor​th Star​....​ very useful ​when lost in the wilderness at night​. smiley

But within the past week or so​,​ I've managed to add the ​4 latest constellations: Orion​,​ ​Cygnus, Scorpius (my zodiac sign)​,​ and Sagittarius, at the 3​:00, 5​:00, 7:00, and 8​:00 ​clock ​positions​, respectively,​ as I gaze up at my ceiling.

So what to do with the final ​4 stars, that is the question. Although there ARE ​some obscure ​constellations with only ​4 stars, I’m not a big fan of any of them. If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop me a note in the comments section below!




Oct. 14, 2017 - Texas ​Trash!!

Sometimes I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on the planet because of this wonderful snack mix that ​Mom ​has been ​​making ​now for nearly a ​​remarkable​ ​​half​-​century.

Every time I visit Houston​,​ she cooks up a ​c​ouple of batches​ of Texas Trash​​,​ using her own special recipe, and prepared with a lot of tender loving care. As a result​,​ I always come back to Japan with 15​-20 bags of this amazing concoction to share with my friends​,​ neighbors​,​ and coworkers.

Y​ummy, yummy!

Bless you​,​ ​Mom! I fe​​el your love​...​ smiley


Mom's Texas Trash
Mom's Texas Trash


Mom's Texas Trash recipe
Mom's Texas Trash recipe




Oct. 3, 2017 - Good morning from Tokyo!

This is the amazing sunrise I awoke to yesterday on an early Monday morning to begin my workweek:

red sky morning
Red sky morning, Tokyo, Japan
Mon. Oct. 2, 2017, 5:33 am

"Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." smiley



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Website Updates

Feb 18, 2018

7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018 (the video)

My favorite video clips are the aerial view of Mt. Fuji, the crazy Turkish ice cream magician, the optical illusion art exhibits, the motorcycle-driven mobile women's bra and dress shops, the amazing acrobatic smoothie server, the 105-meter-long tunnel at Underwater World Pattaya, and of course, the 3 timelapse sunsets. :-) Enjoy!

(click link to view video!)

Continue reading "7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018 (the video)"

Feb 18, 2018

Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's blog keeps you up-to-date with my everyday life in Japan, as well as recent additions/changes to the GaryJWolff.com website.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog"

Feb 16, 2018

7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018 (the pics)

It was a grrrrreat 1-week escape from Tokyo's brutal winter this year, the coldest in 48 years. 7 days of sun & surf in the Royal Kingdom of Thailand's beautiful coastal city of Pattaya. I'm in heaven, man. :-)

Don't miss my 237 pics at Flickr, the one below being a sample from the amazing, magical 3D illusion Art in Paradise Museum. Video coming soon!

Continue reading "7 Magical Days in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 7-14, 2018 (the pics)"

Feb 12, 2018

Hiking Japanese mountains in the winter

Gary, I have never been to Japan, I would like to come over this year (2018.) I am experience hiker and mountain climber. Would like to hike, not climb.

Continue reading "Hiking Japanese mountains in the winter"

Feb 12, 2018

Can I buy a fully stamped Mt. Fuji walking stick?

I had one when I did the climb back in 1989 but mine was stolen from me and I would Love to have one so I can remember the good old days. To me it was

Continue reading "Can I buy a fully stamped Mt. Fuji walking stick?"

Feb 02, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 31, 2018

This amazing pic was taken by my Facebook friend Berndt Otto in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo on Wed. night with his Nikon P900, 2000mm lens. WOW! Good job, Berndt, and thanks for sharing! :-)

2018's first lunar eclipse on Wednesday, Jan. 31 was a rare celestial phenomenon. A blue moon (the 2nd full moon in a calendar month)...

Continue reading "Super Blue Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 31, 2018"

Jan 27, 2018

Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake (奥穂高岳) & Mt. Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳), Japan's 3rd & 5th Highest Mountains

Pics, maps, trail description, & elev. profile of my Aug. 1994 climb of Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake & Mt. Yari-ga-take, Japan's 3rd & 5th highest mountains.

Continue reading "Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake (奥穂高岳) & Mt. Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳), Japan's 3rd & 5th Highest Mountains"

Jan 27, 2018

Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

At age 20, Ben Franklin developed & followed a plan of 13 virtues to help himself constantly strive for moral perfection for the rest of his life.

Continue reading "Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues"

Jan 26, 2018

Fall Colors in Yoro Keikoku Valley (養老渓谷)

Pics, maps, & trail description of my Dec. 5, 2010 hike to view the gorgeous fall colors in the Yoro Keikaku Valley on the Boso Peninsula, Chiba.

Continue reading "Fall Colors in Yoro Keikoku Valley (養老渓谷)"

Jan 26, 2018

Quizlet Live: The Classroom Game Now Taking the World by Storm

Quizlet Live is a new in-class, team-based learning game which allows students to use their mobile devices with any of the millions of Quizlet vocabulary study sets.

Continue reading "Quizlet Live: The Classroom Game Now Taking the World by Storm"

Jan 26, 2018

"The View from the Top of Japan" book

The View from the Top of Japan book details Gary’s 2-decade-long journey to the summits of the 25 highest mountains in Japan, including pics and maps.

Continue reading ""The View from the Top of Japan" book"

Jan 26, 2018

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2

Page 2 of the most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, weather, and climber stories.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2"

Jan 25, 2018

How can I avoid the crowds when climbing Mt. Fuji?

In short, to avoid the crowds when climbing Mt. Fuji, don't climb on the weekends or holidays (especially Saturdays), late in the afternoon or around midnight, during the 3-day Marine Day (海の日, Umi no Hi, 3rd Mon. in July) weekend or the Obon holidays in mid-August (usually around Aug. 10-15), or on the main Yoshida route. :-) Click link to view some interesting charts compiled by the National Parks of Japan, showing statistics for Mt. Fuji climbers by route over the past several years.

Continue reading "How can I avoid the crowds when climbing Mt. Fuji?"

Jan 25, 2018

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, traffic stats, weather, and climber stories.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)"

Jan 24, 2018

Mt. Kita-dake (北岳), elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Oct. 1993 hike to the top of the easily accessible Mt. Kita-dake, elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd highest mountain.

Continue reading "Mt. Kita-dake (北岳), elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain"





Alaska ebook cover
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Summer 1974 hitchhiking trip ebook cover
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