Archive Page 2

02
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Snowed Out

Up early, the surface of the water was like glass, I unloaded the fly rod and headed back to the water with the dogs.  Knowing that the prolific Utah Chub was a major food source in the reservoir, I tied a bunch of white and gold streamers in the weeks leading up to departure.  I tied one on and made a couple casts, still targeting stumps and their roots.  Just as the fly neared shore, a cutthroat shot out from under the stump and grabbed my fly.  Unfortunately, it was a short lived fight as the fish shook its head and gained its freedom.

The reservoir’s water was so clear, anything cruising near shore is visible.  I saw a couple cutthroat swimming back and forth and shortly thereafter a musky, about the size of the one I caught the night before, was on the prowl along the shoreline looking for a meal.  Very neat to see!  Another of the reservoir’s resident aquatic life was slowly crawling from the shore looking for deeper water, a large crayfish I named Pinchy.  No wonder the fish get big in this reservoir, the food sources are large and plentiful!

Pinchy, my new crayfish friend.  WARNING:  Doesn’t like hugs!!13151555_10103133460207635_4257204435007531465_n

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With the dogs again wet and muddy, it was time to make our way to the day’s intended final destination, the Escalante area.  Thankfully, since we were sleeping in the Jeep, it didn’t take much time to break down camp and be on our way.  Driving south on UT-72, the winding road and scenery were beautiful, eventually opening to the alfalfa fields and pastures of Loa.

Panorama of the view to the east of UT-72image

Our first stop of the day would be to a panel I had recently read about, the Fish Creek Cove Panel.  While the panel has some visible vandalism, it’s still very nice with large headless elk in a procession, dual color shields, hunters bearing bows.  Nobody was in the parking lot when we arrived, so the dogs and I wandered the area, looking at the amazing images.

The road in to the panelimage

Mira relaxing in the cool sand under the elk procession on the panel13100748_10103133442463195_7935185213939966467_n

Procession of headless elkimage

Hunterimage

Additional images on the panelimage

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There were a couple of geocaches near the panel, so we hiked the surrounding terrain, looking for them.  We found the first, after a bit of searching, I chuckled when I finally noticed it.  As we were heading to where I thought the other cache was, a group of people arrived at the panel.  The dogs were wound up at the surprise appearance of strangers, so I decided to save the second cache for another time and hightailed it back to the Jeep.

Found it!13094249_10103133698959175_8296038805328287261_n

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I’ve hit all kinds of weather traveling over Boulder Mountain:  fog, bright sunshine, hail (on a motorcycle) and this time heavy snow.  I hoped this wasn’t a sign of how the rest of the day would end up.  Part way across the mountain, I drove down into Lower Bowns Reservoir to take a look, the snow stopping as I left UT-12.  Last year, we didn’t have any luck at this reservoir so I didn’t break out the rods, just driving through the campground and heading back up.

The road into Lower Bowns with the Henry Mountains in the distanceimage

Took Lower Bowns road rather than end up in Tartarus eternally chasing fruit I could never eat 🙂image

Back up on UT-12 over Boulder Mountain heading west toward Boulderimage

 Once down off the mountain and into Boulder, the heavy snow turned into rain and continued on and off, all the way to Escalante.  I stopped at Head of the Rocks, as I always do, because I love the different colors of rock layers segmented by the winding road below.  Over the Hogback and past Calf Creek campground we pulled into Escalante.  I hoped to head up to Posey Lake for a couple of days to fish brookies and rainbows and enjoy the solitude of the mountain.  Unfortunately, weather wasn’t our friend and the mountain was shrouded in snow clouds.  After a bit of thinking, I decided I’d make a quick trip over to Beaver for the night and come back the next day for a night at Posey Lake.  I made a quick stop out on the outskirts of Escalante to fish North Creek Reservoir for a few minutes, but after one hookup, heavy rains and stormy clouds again pushed me back into the safety of the Jeep.  The nasty weather would follow be all the way to the night’s motel where a rainbow awaited.

Head of the Rocks panoramaimage

North Creek Reservoir panoramaimage

Bad weather all the way to Beaver, UTimage

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The rainbow at the end of the dayimage

01
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Joe’s Valley Reservoir

My furry navigators snoring loudly, I was thankful I didn’t need help finding my way to the reservoir.  I drove the windy scenic road that heads through Straight Canyon to the reservoir.  There were vehicles at nearly every pullout for Cottonwood Creek, either bouldering or fishing, so I decided to forego fishing the creek this time and head right to the campground.

As it was last year, the campground was empty, only a small portion of it is open during the spring with no water available.  After driving the short loop, I decided to pick site 7, the same site we had set up on the previous year’s trip.  A cute little ground squirrel was checking us out from the fire pit as I was getting the dog tie outs, camp chair and dog beds laid out.  I was anxious to wet a line so loaded up the dogs and started driving toward the channel where Seely Creek enters the reservoir.

Our little squirrel buddy – thankfully Yukon didn’t notice it 🙂image 

Last year we neglected to check out any of the small creeks that dumped into the reservoir, so I pulled off near the bridge over Seely Creek to take a look.  The smell of creosote and sulphur were strong as a I walked down to the water.  The creek a milky white-blue color, I tossed some spinners out in a couple of likely looking places but came up empty.  Back to the Jeep, I drove down to the parking lot near the boat launch to start fishing the reservoir.

It was pretty windy, so I grabbed my fly rod and spinning rod, leashed up the dogs and made my way down to the rock breakwall.  With the wind blowing directly in my face, I selected the spinning rod from my arsenal and hooked a size 2 Mepp’s spinner and started working my way down the shoreline.  I found an interesting stump with a root system reaching out into the deeper water so tossed the spinner out, counted to 20, then started to slowly reel in. WHAM!  Something violently hit the spinner, when it surfaced the first time I could tell it was not a small Splake like we had caught a number of last year. After 4 times surfacing and the diving back down, I finally was able to, with difficulty, net the fine fish. A beautiful male Cutthroat Trout, bigger than all three of the big Yellowstone Cutts I’ve caught in the past and those were 20″, 22″ and 23″.  My best guess was a thick 24-25″, unfortunately the photos don’t do its size justice.  If this was the last fish of that I caught on the trip, I’d still be happy!

Gorgeous male cutthroat trout, this photo makes him look tiny, but he was a beast!image

After working the shoreline for a little while longer, it was time to wear out the dogs a little more.  The boat launch was gated off and the water at its base quite shallow, so I tossed out a stick for the dogs to retrieve.  Up until that point, Yukon was losing his mind because I wouldn’t let him swim in the 20 foot deep water.  He would swim forever if I let him, Mira waiting in the shallows so she could try to snipe his stick 🙂

On the walk back up to the car, I was keeping an eye on the ground and saw a round track, 4 toes with no claw marks about the size of my hand.  It appeared as though a big cat had been prowling the area recently!  My mom loves getting photos of tracks with the caption “Here kitty, kitty!”, it really sets her at ease about my solo travels.

Swimming!!image

Here kitty, kitty 🙂image

Worn out again (and wet, and filthy)image

We made it back to the campsite without being eaten by a mountain lion (one of my life goals-don’t get eaten) and after getting two seemingly starving dogs fed, I started making food for myself.  Now, I’m not a horrible cook, just lazy, especially in camping situations.  Compound my laziness with the fact that everything I seem to cook in the desert ends up having an appreciable amount of sand in it, I usually just end up eating sandwiches. I could happily survive on PB&J tortillas (tortillas survive road trips with dogs better than bread).  For this trip however, I’d put my trusty old Jetboil to work.  I found some Mountain House meals on sale and bought enough for a week; just add boiling water and wait sounded about my pace.  The dinner selection for my evening at Joe’s Valley would be beef stroganoff.  Considering that it came from a pouch, it was pretty fantastic!

Dinner Time!!image

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The wind had picked up after I finished my food and I seriously considered scrapping a second round of fishing for the evening.  Thankfully, I fought my urge to sit around the campfire and went back down to the reservoir.  I worked down the same piece of shoreline I had earlier, quickly catching a bright 14″ cutthroat.  Before leaving on this trip, I looked at the contour map of the reservoir and noticed that the depth dropped quickly from 20 feet near shore to 60 just a little bit offshore.  Again, I cast a spinner out (copper this time), let it sink for about 30 seconds. As I started to reel in, it was like a hammer hit. I started fighting whatever was on the other end of the line and was thinking to myself “If this is a trout, it’s huge!”  When I finally got it to the surface I realized it wasn’t a trout but a tiger musky.  A totally unexpected catch that made my night!

Joe’s Valley Reservoir Pano – the stump where this musky was caught is visibleimage

TIGER MUSKY – such a beautiful fish!!image

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Figuring my fishing luck had all been used up for the evening, I loaded up the dogs again and headed back to camp.  A nice campfire and a beer, one dog in my lap and another at my side, the evening finished as wonderfully as it started.

Mira, the 40 pound lap dog (really, she’s just a little scared of popping embers from the fire)image

Fancy beds a few feet away, these two weirdos curl up on on the hard ground 🙂image

Upslope IPA and the first campfire of the tripimage

 

01
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – The Hunt for Rock Art

The alarm sounded, waking me from a very deep sleep, Utah was waiting and it was time to  continue westward. Being a dinosaur nerd, I’ve always wanted to get a photo of the Fruita, CO grain elevator featuring a huge mural of a T-Rex.  Immediately after snapping a shot, I thought of the terrible joke I told to coworkers a couple days before vacation.

Q:  What do you call a guy who sticks his right hand in T-Rex’s mouth?

A:  Lefty

Groan…

Pushing toward the border, the La Sal Mountains came into view to the southwest; their appearance always feels like coming home.

Fruita grain elevator

Tricera-van?

Made it!

My ultimate destination for the day was Joe’s Valley Reservoir west of Orangeville.  We camped there last year, and along with being nearly alone in the campground, we caught a number of decent Splake from shore.  Before making camp, however, I wanted to explore around the Moore area, looking for rock art.

The San Rafael Reef, a fantastic monocline that I-70 cuts through, is one of my favorite features in Utah.  The dogs and I made a quick stop at the rest stop just east of the Reef to take a couple of photos, stretch our legs and breathe in the dry Utah air.

Camera is over here dogs!

Westbound I-70 cutting through the San Rafael Reef

Moore Cutoff road was waiting, so I eased the Jeep back onto I-70 and continued westward.    I-70 through the Reef always impresses me, it’s hard to fathom the massive amounts of work that went into that short stretch of road.

I turned onto the Moore Cutoff road with Short Canyon as my first intended stop.  After a couple of misturns (and some pretty bumpy two-tracks), I found my way to the mouth of the canyon.  I loaded my pack with camera gear and water, got the dogs ready and started the hike into the canyon.  We made our way down the trail until we reached the location of the geocache we were searching for.

Bumpy drive to Short Canyon

Michigan shaped pothole and Molen Reef

Strike a pose

After the GPS jumping around, trying to find the cache’s coordinates, I located the geocache in a crack in some boulders.  I knew there were pictographs and petroglyphs in the canyon so we continued hiking a bit to try and find them.  We didn’t go far before high up on the canyon wall I spotted a pictograph.  While I knew there was additional rock art further into the canyon, we were running low on time and I had another panel I’d been looking for the past couple of years.  The rest of the canyon’s rock art would have to wait for another trip.

We turned around and headed out of the canyon, the dogs running and wrestling, burning off some of the energy they stored up on the trip out.  We reached the Jeep and started the short drive back to the Moore Cutoff road.

Found the geocache!image

Pictographs high on a canyon wallimage

Heading back to the Jeepimage

Pent up energy from the long drive from Michigan


 Back on Moore Cutoff road I headed west to the Molen Reef petroglyphs to walk around a bit.  It seems as though every rock holds an ancient image, one can find new figures on every visit.

Molen Reef Petroglyphsimage

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Moving on, again westward, I was looking for a panel that I’d wanted to find for several years.  I had written down clues I found in blog posts and forum trip reports, pored over maps looking for likely places and spent far too much time on Google Earth.  I was pretty confident that I had it this time.  The dogs and I started off up the steep slope to where I thought it was, this asthmatic flatlander and her flatlander dogs sucking wind as we went.  After a bit of searching, I decided I was thwarted again, which was fine – the view was pretty fantastic and it gave me another reason to visit the area and explore more next time.

Moore Cutoff Roadimage

Mira is still a little mountain goat, even at 10 yrs old!image

Mira and I (and my four chins – not the most flattering photo LOL)image

Spanish Bayonet (I think) – take care, very stabby!!image

We made it back to the car, Yukon barking like a doofus at the cars as they went by below, and started toward our destination for the evening, Joe’s Valley Reservoir and what would turn out to be a great night of fishing!

Rarely seen in the wild, a sleeping Australian Shepherd 🙂image

29
Apr
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Anticipation

Anticipation is always high right before heading out on another roadtrip. My plan was to come home from work, finish loading up the Jeep, then snooze with the pups for a few hours prior to beginning our annual pilgrimage to the desert. I’m sure I managed a couple of minutes of sleep, but Red Rock fever had even reached the dogs, they were convinced that 9PM was long enough to sleep and it was time to leave!

Mira ready to roll after spending all day sleeping – glad someone was well rested!

On I-196 by 1030PM, we were set to glide through Chicago traffic with ease, the middle of the night being a much better time to tackle the madness south of the Windy City. Both dogs were pretty impressed with our stop at the toll booth on I-80 when the lady in the booth handed them each a dog cookie!

Cookies!!!!

As the night made way for dawn, it became very clear that this trip would be fueled by copious amounts of Mt. Dew, SweetTarts Mini Chewy candies, 5-hr Energy Drinks and girl rock sung at the top of my lungs, much to the chagrin of my dogs (I challenge you to sing “What’s Up?” By 4 Non Blondes quietly).

Rain turned into snow in central Nebraska making my eyelids droop uncontrollably. I gave in to exhaustion and pulled into a rest stop, crawled into the back of the Jeep with the dogs and took a quick nap.  The heavy snow would continue to cause problems for quite some time, slowing progress all the way through to western Colorado.

Western Nebraska

West of Denver


Silverthorne, CO looking west toward Frisco

My original goal for the first day was to stop for the night in Green River, UT so we’d be close to our destination the next morning.  Unfortunately, the Motel 6 was booked solid for the night.  I checked Grand Junction and not only did the Motel 6 have rooms available, but it was $20/night cheaper than Green River.  Over the years of traveling with my beasts, I’ve decided that Motel 6 best fits our needs.  Not only are they exceptionally dog friendly, but also very reasonably priced (dogs stay free at most which saves a lot) – they may be a bit spartan for some but fit our travel needs very well.

After 24 hours on the road, 2-one hour naps included, the dogs and I were happy to arrive at our home for the night.  Yukon quickly claimed one of the beds and Mira immediately fell asleep on my pillow.  I was amazed that I was able to make the push from Michigan to western Colorado in one day but it was time to rest up for our first day in Utah!

Making themselves at home for the night

21
Jan
14

The Birth of an Obsession

I’m an expert at procrastination and less than spectacular with keeping up with this blog (which is likely obvious to anyone that has visited). Just as a reinforcement, I intended to write this post on New Year’s Day. Yeah, I’m a little late. Her On Wheels originally started as a way to share my first long solo motorcycle trip (one month cross country in 2010) with friends and family and while I still ride, interests shift and life changes.

As a whole, 2013 was decent, with perhaps a bump or two along the road, but when is life without those? A new interest, OK obsession, began after receiving a fly rod and reel from a friend on my spring trip to Utah. On a 2011 motorcycle trip through Yellowstone, September 13th to be exact, I saw a fly fisherman standing in Firehole River. As I watched the beauty and serenity of the activity, I told myself that someday that’d be me – I’d stand in one of Yellowstone’s iconic rivers, fly fishing surrounded by the park’s beauty. That newly obtained rod and reel started a downward spiral – spending every available moment on the river, pouring over guides about the area’s hatching bugs, visiting fly shop after fly shop asking endless newb questions and ultimately learning how to tie my own flies.

As it turns out, I fulfilled that 2011 prophecy – September 11, 12 and 13th of 2013 were spent fishing in Yellowstone: the Firehole, the Madison, the Gallatin and my favorite, Soda Butte Creek. It was as magical as I hoped. The preceding week and a half were spent fishing Rock Creek, southeast of Missoula while sleeping in my Jeep (and avoiding showers). I learned a great deal on that trip and look forward to returning in October of this year.

Once again, the pups and I (along with some company) will be heading out at the end of April for our annual Pups Go West trip to southern Utah, northern Arizona and Colorado. Fishing some mountain lakes and small streams in addition to the traditional sight seeing and hiking will be a welcome addition. It’ll be great to have someone along to share it with (not that the dogs aren’t great company). I’ll do my best to overcome my extreme case of procrastination and post along the way (as internet access allows of course).

Birthday Float on the Pere Marquette River20130823-103923.jpg

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Beautiful morning at the Dalles on Rock Creek – Montana20140121-113225.jpg

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout from Soda Butte Creek20140121-113700.jpg

A bit blurry , but I was a excited when I caught this fella20140121-113709.jpg

Winter Steelheading this past weekend

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First fly caught steelhead, from Saturday on the Pere Marquette

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11
Apr
13

Pups Go West 2013 – Begin Again

After weeks of anticipation, the morning was finally here, time to leave for vacation with the dogs to Utah. Since I worked a late shift yesterday evening, I packed the remainder of my gear and clothing this morning…that, extreme weather in the area and two overexcited dogs underfoot delayed departure a bit. It was cold, wet and gloomy, which would continue throughout the day and across five states (with a little snow an sleet thrown in).

I made my traditional stop in Davenport, Iowa to grab the amazing sub that is Capriotti’s Bobbie (shredded turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo). During the time I was in the sub shop, Mira, the crafty little Aussie that she is, figured out how to open the cooler and had dragged a 2-pack of vacuum sealed New York Strips out. Thankfully she didn’t have time to get the package open. I think my future dogs will need to be stupid, that speckled little nut is always a step ahead of me 🙂

The Bobbie
Rain and cold were a constant throughout the day
Wet weather = muddy paws 🙂
Mira was enjoying the windy day (so much that she forgot she was out to potty)

My original destination for the evening was North Platte, Nebraska but between battling the Jeep in the heavy crosswind and dealing with the rain and snow I was very sleepy and stopped short. One thing that always appeals to me about driving rather than flying, are the amazing things you see while on the road. In the last hour before stopping for the night, I saw hundreds of Sandhill Cranes – I must have lucked out and hit Nebraska during the crane migration. What an absolutely amazing thing to see!

Tomorrow…Utah or bust!

03
Apr
13

Pups Go West 2013 – Pre-Trip Prep

 

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Mira testing out her new ABO Travel Dog Bed (my Big Agnes Lulu bag behind her).

The time is upon us, time for the second annual ‘Pups Go West’ hiking and camping trip. Aside from some mishaps, dehydration and doggie seizures, the dogs and I had a great time rambling around Utah for a couple of weeks last spring so I decided I needed to make time for it again.

I’ve made a few changes to our sleeping accommodations: a curtain between the front and back seats instead of Reflectix, thinner more travel friendly dog beds (that can also be used outside at the campsite), an ENO Hammock and my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent. We’ll be sleeping mostly in the Jeep but I wanted some additional options in case we wanted to sleep under the stars (without the risk of rattlesnakes and scorpions). The dogs still don’t quite grasp the concept of the mesh tent but we all fit it fine and have spent several nights in it.

We’ll be heading out bright and early on April 11th, hoping to hit Western Nebraska our first evening and Utah the next afternoon. For the better part of the vacation, we’ll be spending time exploring the San Rafael Swell/Reef area, Escalante and if road conditions permit Cottonwood Canyon Rd. This year my goal is to be a better blogger and not wait and entire year to start my trip report. Any followers have suggestions on good hikes (with dogs) or must see features in the areas above?

13
Mar
13

Hitting the Wall AKA Learning to Climb

Climbing has always been a sport (art form) that has intrigued me. There are various reasons that until recently I hadn’t tried it – intimidation, bad shoulders, location and so on. Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago, a friend informed me that Grand Rapids Hiking Meetup group was heading to the local climbing gym, Inside Moves, all experience levels welcome. I instantly signed up for the Meetup group and RSVP’d – YES!!!

After a night of learning the basics of belaying, bouldering, climbing and knot tying we spent the evening navigating routes and socializing. Not only did I meet some really nice people, I realized that I would be able to climb and the intimidation was all in my head. The next day, I picked out some basic gear and anxiously awaited its arrival. Weather and work (Ok, I’ll admit – very sore muscles) kept me from trying again until this past Thursday night.

Since I had already been to one of the local gyms, I thought it would be interesting to see what another had to offer. Unfortunately, their bouldering wall had all the holds removed for an upcoming competition. All day, the one thing I could think about was how anxious I was to get back in the climbing gym so I headed back to Inside Moves. One of my big concerns was getting in an experienced climber’s way but while paying for a day pass I was assured that being an absolute beginner was not a problem.

I donned my shiny new (very tight) climbing shoes and made my way over to the bouldering walls. Apparently I not only didn’t know I was doing, but I looked like I didn’t know I was doing because after a few minutes of struggling, an older gentleman came over and started chatting with me and giving me tips (beta as I would come to find out). Joe told me he started climbing 12 years ago at 75 years old looked like he was going strong and would be for quite some time! It just goes to show, you’re never too old to try something new!

Over and over, with the help of Joe and another kind woman who had been climbing for 2 years, I attempted to less-than-skillfully muscle my way up the various routes/problems.  At last, I was able to complete one of the easiest problems…I was elated! After working on that same problem until I ripped the skin off of four of my fingers, I tried a few other problems before packing up my shoes, thanking everybody and heading home with a big grin on my face. The following day, I had a hard time tying my own shoes, but that didn’t matter I was hooked!

Easing the pain of my skinned fingers with a Big Sky Trout Slayer

03
Mar
13

Daily Prompt: No, thanks! (No more!)

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Prior to 2011, the Indian subcontinent held little appeal in my mind. The heat, the crowding, the trash, the pollution – I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to spend 30 hours flying to be miserable. This all changed when my younger sister made the announcement that she would be moving to southern India, Chennai to be exact, for a couple of years. Having my little sister 10,000 miles away for that length of time was a bit difficult to process so I immediately decided I should plan a trip to the land of spices. Tickets purchased, passport and visa approved, I would be arriving in Chennai on October 25th of 2012.

After 3 weeks in the country, my mind was changed. Though there were some frustrations, I left knowing that I would be back again. The people, architecture, culture and religions were all beautiful – despite my short stay, I left a different person than when I arrived. Never again will I say I’m uninterested in visiting someplace – every destination presents an opportunity to learn and grow.

The Daily Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/daily-prompt-no-thanks/

01
Nov
12

Wrath of Nilam

Well, I haven’t been in India a week and I’ve already experienced my first tropical cyclone. Melissa and I were out and about yesterday and decided it was time to hightail it back to her house. The winds were picking up and the sky angry. On the auto trip from Alwarpet to Besant Negar, we saw many trees down and streets starting to fill with water. The winds increased in intensity shortly after reaching the house and the power cut. We could hear glass breaking, people yelling and trees cracking as the storm made landfall south of here (near Mahabalipuram). The extent to which the wind bent the coconut trees around the house amazed me, how were they all not snapped in two? This morning, aside from a bit of wind it’s hard to tell a storm went through, we’ll be leaving soon to see the damage to the neighborhood, and check to see if they rescued the large diesel tanker that ran aground at nearby Elliot Beach.

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