Avoiding seasonal depression when faced with the “Dark Months” - Portland to Panama!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 0theories, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
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    Glad to see your doing okay and not over doing it:rofl

    I will be heading into the office soon, thinking about your relaxing days in paradise.

    I hope you get a good laugh picturing traffic chaos and steamy exhaust spewing about in the cold morning.:lol3

    Great pictures.
  2. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
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    Lowell, OR
    Home sweet home (although someone stole my toothbrush here).
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    I thought this town would be a great opportunity to catch up on the ride report. Alas, the internet is so slow here that I cannot upload pictures at any kind of tolerable rate. This is both a good and a bad thing. Bad for obvious reasons, good because it gives the place a certain sense of remoteness. The idea was to do a series of entries labeled “Doing nothing at the beach – day x.” but seeing now that I would have to go all the way up to “day 9” with every day being very much similar to the one before, I decided to just summarize them all in one entry and spare you the boredom.

    Mazunte beach.
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    View from a cafe with excellent coffee.
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    I met a lot of good people, some may well be friends for life. I had a lot of amazing conversations and learned many things, some even about myself. I explored the beach, from the rock with the window, to the local Discotheque; some of those places even left me with a hangover. I lay out on the beach and got a tan, or maybe even a little bit of a burn. I watched movies not yet released on video and some made in the 1930s. I played volleyball and walked a slack-line. Mostly I just was and the days slipped by one after the other. The hardest part about being here is leaving.

    Exploring the surrounds.
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    The Jacuzzi.
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    An interesting coincidence: My friend was talking to a girl sitting near us. When introduced and after a short “usual traveler conversation” (including questions like: “Where are you from?”, “How long are you traveling?”, “Where are you going”, and “Where have you been?”) I found out that she is from the same home town as me in Vermont! (It's a very small place) She had the same teachers in school and even taught my nephew! The town has about 10,000 people and most of them don't leave. Small world.

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    Sea turtle.
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  3. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    love the beach pics!!!
  4. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Stunning photos! I think I speak for the majority here and say that you are living the dream! Enjoy the moment as you appear to do and PLEASE keep taking pictures
  5. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

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    Thanks for the kind words eakins and woodley! :freaky
  6. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
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    With all my new friends gone to distant lands and my appetite for beach satiated, it was time to move on with the plan. My next major destination was San Cristóbal which should by now be less rainy and cold then when I was originally supposed to be there. The ride there is over 600 Kms and will take more than a day. Packing up took a bit of time since I'd made myself pretty comfortable over the last 9 days, so I left Mazunte mid morning after a nice breakfast with lots of coffee.

    Leaving Mazunte.
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    After being out of the saddle for such an extended period of time, it was surprisingly difficult to get back into it. The bike felt sluggish and off balance (okay, it IS a KLR) for the first few hundred Kms, but eventually I settled into the ride and once again began to fully enjoy the experience. I followed Mex 200 along the coast as far as Salina Cruz, which I heard was a resort town, but all I saw was a port. The ride was off the coast and took me through brown, dry desert.

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    Entering Salina Cruz.
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    At Salina Cruz I turned inland towards La Ventosa (which I was told was very windy with some people having their bikes knocked over and broken by the wind). Luckily for me the wind was mellow that day, but the place is completely surrounded by wind farms (more than I've seen in any other place) so I can see it being extremely windy at times. The roads were pretty straight and the landscape was uninspiring, so I made good time until I reached Cintalapa and decided to try and find a place to stay for the night.

    Wind farms.
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    I rode all over town and didn't see a single hotel sign. The town is not what I'd call touristy, and I was perhaps the only gringo there, but I still expected there would be a hotel or two. After searching until it began to get dark, I decided to head down the road to the next town, hopefully one with a hotel. Luckily I didn't get more than ½ a kilometer before I saw a hotel on the side of the road. I guess I just didn't range wide enough in my search. I stopped and called it an early night at the hotel with a name I don't recall.

    Gaining elevation.
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    Unknown hotel.
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  7. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    From Cintalapa to San Cristóbal the road wound it's way through the mountains cultivated with corn and coffee. You can see right away that Chiapas is somehow different from Oaxaca. The mountains seem smaller, the roads are windy, but less so and the villages are populated by a different people. The clothing is brighter and more colorful and there are more smiles on faces and more waves from the children I pass, even while the work they do appears brutal.

    Through the mountains.
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    Daily bike pic.
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    By early afternoon I arrived in San Cristóbal. I rode around town for a bit in the hopes of blindly running into the hostel I was looking for; Rossco Hostel. They're offering a promotion where if you arrive by motorbike, you get your second night free. I didn't randomly encounter the hostel so I stopped at a coffee shop (of which there are many here) to find the address online. While drinking a coffee with Irish Cream I learned that the hostel was only a few blocks away, so I rode over and checked in. The place is really nice and I saw myself being there for the duration of my stay, but things didn't quite work out that way (more on that later).

    San Cristóbal.
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    After checking in I went to wander town, once again forgetting my camera (as is tradition). San Cristóbal is very touristy with some familiar faces from Mazunte. Apparently there is a big hippie/rainbow population here competing with indigenous people for tourists' pesos. Despite this, I really like the look and feel of the town. My preliminary explorations covered most of the central downtown area and I now had a good idea of where I wanted to return for photos later. Despite this I think I need to make an effort to remember my camera in the future.

    Rossco Hostel.
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    In the evening, after eating some local street food I returned to the hostel to find a great group of travelers hanging out around a bonfire. Several interesting conversations and a bottle of Posh (a local moonshine [illegal]) later I went to bed, very cozy, under 10 centimeters of blankets (as it gets rather cold here at night). Unfortunately late in the night I was awoken by a couple having loud sex not two feet from me in the next bed over. If I was to make a list of things that are inappropriate in a dorm room with other guests, loud sex in an adjacent bed would be towards the top of that list. Get a room! (rant over)
  8. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Thank you for sharing the amazing scenery and tales of adventure. :clap I just got caught up after being out of town and away from the interwebs for a week. It sounds like your still having a great time and living the dream that most of us in the colder climates wish for throughout the winter months. The beach sounds lovely this time of year as I'm growing tired of seeing the snow and ice that are still covering parts of my front yard. The twisty mountain roads look like a lot of fun as well and inspire me to layer up and get out and ride.

    Things are looking up around here since my gravel driveway is no longer a solid sheet of ice and now more the consistency of settling concrete. This confirms were getting closer to summer and almost through the annual winter dry spell before the start of the spring snow dump. :rofl

    Keep having fun and enjoy the journey! I'm looking forward to tagging along for the rest of the ride. :beer
  9. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

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    Hey Wander, the dream continues. I can relate to cold weather in a sense... It was almost freezing in San Cristóbal for a while. I had to wear long sleeves... :rofl Actually even a jacket at times...

    I'm in the land of SLOW internet so updates are taking a while. Once photos are uploaded the report will continue :deal

    Sneak preview: I took a small motorboat up a river and crossed into Guatemala. This may be my favorite country in CA... Will have to see the Yucatan and Belize on the way back. :clap
  10. srad600

    srad600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Chino Hills, CA
    Great report, and thanks for posting up! Those pic's of Mazunte really took me back. I spent about three weeks in the area split between Oaxaca, Puerto Angel, Mazunte, Zipolite and Puerto Escondido a few years back. I rode around on a rented 125cc motorcycle with my girlfriend at the time on the back, really fun times! Glad you're enjoying yourself and rock on man. :freaky
  11. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    San Cristóbal
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    San Cristóbal is the kind of place I can see myself living for a while. It's laid back, but with all the amenities one would need to live a happy, fulfilled life without too much hustle and bustle. There is a huge variety of food, from Mexican street stalls to excellent Thai. The markets and stores are full of everything you could possibly need. The surroundings provide all the nature one could want including (nearby) the last (mostly) untouched nature in Mexico in the Lacondon Jungle. Although it can be cold at times, the weather is close to perfect during the day, and cold enough at night to make sleeping cozy.

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    I spent several days making good friends, seeing familiar faces from places past, exploring the town and some surrounding villages, hiking in the hills, discovering unmarked ruins and caves, drinking the best coffee I've had in Mexico, partying and listening to good live music. One morning I woke up at Rossco Hostel and went to pay my bill for the day, only to be told that my bed was already booked (out from under me [literally]) and I had to move. This left me with a bad taste for Rossco as there was no warning, just “get out” (but not quite so rude). It turned out well though as I had another place in mind recommended by a traveler in Oaxaca. The hostel is called Puerta Vieja (old door) and it was probably the best hostel I've ever stayed in (in my life). Beautiful facilities. Very friendly staff. Good breakfast. It's a new hostel and the only thing lacking there were other guests (there were a few). It was pretty empty, so despite moving out of Rossco, I still spend a good amount of time hanging out there (including the big Superbowl party).

    Hostel Peurta Vieja.
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    Some highlights of San Cristóbal de las Casas:

    The Hills above. After moving out of Rossco Hostel, I returned and organized a group of people (Laura, who was to join me later was one of the participants) on a hike through the hills north of town. We went to Moxviquil Orchid Botanical Gardens (which were quirky and cool) and took a trail back into the hills. I heard earlier that there were unmarked ruins on the top of the hills, so we turned off on a spur trail and went exploring. We found some squared off rocks and some holes in the ground. Were these the ruins? No se. Continuing along some side trails we found some caves full of bats, some rocks that could have been ruins, and some rocks that could have been ancient tools. As it turned out later, despite our jokes that we discovered new ruins and artifacts, we were indeed surrounded by Mayan ruins (although previously discovered and documented).

    Moxviquil Orchid Botanical Gardens.
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    Hiking crew: Laura, Haymitch, Tom, Sander and I.
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    Undiscovered ruins? (no)
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    First cave (not too deep).
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    Second cave (much deeper).
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    Bats.
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    Heading home.
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    Exploring town. A couple of days were dedicated to exploring the town proper. I wandered to the Mayan Medical Museum and learned about medicinal plants and western bio-piracy. Just walking down random cobblestone streets and through narrow alleys was a pleasure. Some time was spent in the Mayan Cultural Museum where I learned that the rocks we discovered on the hill during the nature hike were actual ruins and not just our imagination. Apparently the hillside was an old burial ground with terraces and chambers, although at the time we could not tell for sure. While looking at yet another church, I had the privilege to witness the filming of a music video by a local band. Very funny and interesting.

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    Guadeloupe Church.
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    Laura.
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    Street art.
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    Color.
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    Cultural Museum.
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    Band filming video.
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    San Juan Chamula. A few kilometers to the northwest is the Mayan village of San Juan Chamula. The main attraction is a church that mixes, in a unique way, Catholicism and Mayan tradition religion with various additional tidbits. The place is interesting, with pine needles covering the floor (to bring it closer to nature), thousands of burning candles (as prescribed by shamans for healing various ailments) and shamans sacrificing chickens (personally witnessed) to heal the sick and purge the devil from the soul (with the help of Coca-cola and Posh). No photos could be taken inside the church.

    The church.
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    The market.
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    They said 5 pesos for the photo, but then wanted 5 each...
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    Useful information.
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    Superbowl party. After several days in San Cristóbal I found myself a part of a large group of friends (of the moment). We decided to throw a huge Superbowl party at Rossco Hostel to celebrate USA culture (I was one of three Americans there, but the biggest fans of football were Quebecois and Scottish). Conveniently there was a professional chef from Chicago and the feast he prepared for the event was immense and fantastic. It was a great party with lots of drinking, shit-talking (we randomly picked teams to feverishly support) and general good cheer. My team won, but if they didn't I could have blamed the power-outage and was fully prepared to do so.
  12. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
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    Yeah srad, that place is great. I can see coming down and just hanging out for the whole winter. But I do wonder what it would be like without all the rainbows hanging out. Probably even quieter if that's possible. They really set the vibe while I was there. Having a scooter or some kind of bike is really helpful there (although I barely left the beach). So much to see and all very accessible... :1drink
  13. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    Mmmmm...Laura...
  14. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

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    To that woodly, I intuit her reply would look something like this:

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  15. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    HA! That's great! CRAZY chic! She's still cute, but not like that! :evil
  16. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

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    Location:
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    Goodbye San Cristóbal.
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    There are many routes to and from San Cristóbal and a major one is to Palenque. To make the adventure more fun, I was joined for a short time by a German girl named Laura. She's on her way to Costa Rica to work with sea turtles for the next six months to a year, on a beach reachable only by boat. Once we decided to travel together for a while, a major undertaking (although it seemed simple at the time) was to find her a helmet. I don't know if there is a helmet law in Mexico and many locals ride without, but I insisted that she have one (of course). We spent a full morning wandering around town, following many diverse directions (mostly all wrong, as is tradition), looking for a store that sold helmets. We eventually (after a couple of hours) found ONE with a small selection (I think it was a holiday so many places were closed). Luckily there was one that would work (although it was too big) and the mission was a success. It was time to leave San Cristóbal for warmer weather, jungle and ruins.

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    The KLR is a mule, so it was no problem strapping Laura's backpack on top of my top-case and with the two of us comfortably seated (thank you Corbin), take off into the mountains. I didn't notice much loss of power and the suspension actually felt a lot better with more weight on the bike. I think I may need to do some adjustments once Laura's gone. I've been strongly considering changing up bikes for something smaller when I returned to the states... something like a DR350, but this experience weights in against that option.

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    The ride to Palenque was pretty straightforward via highway (signed even) leading us there with almost no turns. The roads were smooth (for the most part) and quite curvy, but nothing too scarey for my passenger. When nearing the town of Palenque, the roads became quite potholed with many topes. At first I would slow down to almost a stop at each one, but eventually we developed a system where we would stand up as we approached one and go over it at speed. Laura was acting as photographer so I didn't take any photos, however, she didn't take many photos either. (Some photos to follow [and some previous] credited to her)

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    Daily bike pic. :evil
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    We arrived at Palenque towards evening and found a small hostel village near the ruins called El Pachan. El Pachan is a collection of hostels and restaurants in the jungle just outside the entrance to the National Park. It's occupied mostly by hippies and rainbows, with a smattering of more mainstream travelers who want to stay closer to the ruins as opposed to in town, several kilometers away. The place is "rustic". If you want clean and tidy (or a pool or more than a couple of stars) this place is not for you. Upon arrival and a quick look around we booked a couple of beds at the dorm in El Jaguar hostel.

    Trail to El Jaguar.
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    The dorm bungalow.
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    In the evening we met the Quebecois we celebrated the superbowl with and spent the evening eating good food and listening to live music at Mucho Don restaurant. It was a nice evening, ended early so as to get a fresh start in the morning to explore the ruins of Palenque.
  17. SavannahCapt

    SavannahCapt Long timer

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    Laura is obviously too cute for you. She must be attracted to the KLR.:rofl:rofl
  18. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

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    It's got nothing to do with me... :shog The KLR is an irresistible machine. :evil

    Mmmmm... KLR... :tb
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  19. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
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    The ruins at Palenque are the most famous in all of Mexico. When I was stuck in Phoenix waiting for my paperwork, I watched the news reports of all the hippies gathered there for the Dec 21st end-of-the-world/age-of-new-enlightenment. I originally had hopes of being there as well to see what would come, but after watching the news and hearing some first hand reports from fellow travelers, I'm glad I wasn't. Not only was it far from the vibe I was looking for, but it would have been a major rush to get there in time and I would have missed some of the more amazing and remote parts of Mexico. Now, after a long wait and many adventures, the time had come for me to explore this famous Zona Archeologica.

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    To keep it simple; the place is beautiful and amazing. The ruins are extensive and I was in good company for exploration. At the ruins we met up with a Chinese guy named Tao and an Argentinian named Carlos, both of whom were at the superbowl party. I couldn't have asked for better company. We spent the day wandering around, seeing what there was to see. As the day was really hot and we weren't in a hurry, we went slow and took several naps along the way.

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    They had an aqueduct.
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    Okay, in case you're getting bored...
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    My favorite area of the ruins was on the trail down from the main plaza. You follow a path through the jungle to an amazing little waterfall that cascades under a suspended bridge. We ended up spending quite a bit of time just hanging out on the bridge and napping. It's a truly beautiful area, and the complete lack of other people lent a sense of peace and seclusion to an otherwise very touristy place.

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    All of the napping and chilling resulted in us leaving the ruins rather late. By the time we came out at the end of the trail the museum was already closed. We convinced Tao and Carlos to move over to El Pachan from town and spend another night hanging out. While they took a cab into town, Laura and I walked back along the road (it's not far). When we got back we met up with the Quebecois and spent the evening hanging out and drinking. It turned into a very late night with many funny moments.

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  20. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Out Standing Member

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    You Bastard.

    You are having tooo much fun.