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Road trip suggestions

Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
Hi all, I’m looking for some advice from some seasoned model 3 road trippers.

I’m going to be driving from Los Angeles to Orlando in about 2 weeks.
I’ve done the trip in two and a half days earlier in the year in a ICE car, yes we were pushing big time with 12-14 hour days.

I’m currently planing on a 4 day trip, I think the worst day will be the first since I sort of need to make El Paso (830 miles) to make the rest of the trip work. Day two will be to Houston, day three to mobile, and then roll home with a short final day to Orlando.

I have booked hotels with destination charger so I can hopefully start the days with a good SOC.

Is it a feasible plan? Do I need to plan in a fifth day?
 
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steve907

New Member
Nov 8, 2020
1
9
Lawrence, KS
I purchased a 2019 Model 3 Performance (used) from Tesla in late October. The following week, my wife and I took a 3,000 road trip from KC to Arizona (and back).

My thoughts:
  • Set your battery display to % rather than 'miles remaining'. I think it's a more realistic of your remaining range.
  • The Energy display is more trustworthy for remaining range than anything else. Especially the Trip chart.
  • Trust that you can safe arrive at a charger with a 5% charge. We started out assuming we should always have a 20% buffer. This is unnecessary and will cause unneeded stress.
  • Always max out your charge (whatever your preferred max % may be). This practice saved us a couple of times.
  • There are not enough superchargers along southern interstates for the number of Teslas out there. Twice, on I-40, we arrived to find all chargers occupied and 7 Teslas queued up. Since all the bays were full, charging rates were very slow. This situation can cause a multiple-hour delay. (See previous bullet.)
  • I think 830 miles in a day would be too much. We did a 730 mile day (requiring 2.5 hours overall charge time) and it was brutal. And that was with two drivers.
  • The pandemic makes Tesla travel more difficult. Many of the supercharger locations (hotels and restaurants) have NO public restrooms available. Very troublesome to drive around after charging looking for a toilet.
All that said, your trip is quite doable. Stay flexible, assume there will be delays, have a backup hotel planned, be willing to go 10 mph under the speed limit to make it to the next charger.

Good luck to you.
 

Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
I purchased a 2019 Model 3 Performance (used) from Tesla in late October. The following week, my wife and I took a 3,000 road trip from KC to Arizona (and back).

My thoughts:
  • Set your battery display to % rather than 'miles remaining'. I think it's a more realistic of your remaining range.
  • The Energy display is more trustworthy for remaining range than anything else. Especially the Trip chart.
  • Trust that you can safe arrive at a charger with a 5% charge. We started out assuming we should always have a 20% buffer. This is unnecessary and will cause unneeded stress.
  • Always max out your charge (whatever your preferred max % may be). This practice saved us a couple of times.
  • There are not enough superchargers along southern interstates for the number of Teslas out there. Twice, on I-40, we arrived to find all chargers occupied and 7 Teslas queued up. Since all the bays were full, charging rates were very slow. This situation can cause a multiple-hour delay. (See previous bullet.)
  • I think 830 miles in a day would be too much. We did a 730 mile day (requiring 2.5 hours overall charge time) and it was brutal. And that was with two drivers.
  • The pandemic makes Tesla travel more difficult. Many of the supercharger locations (hotels and restaurants) have NO public restrooms available. Very troublesome to drive around after charging looking for a toilet.
All that said, your trip is quite doable. Stay flexible, assume there will be delays, have a backup hotel planned, be willing to go 10 mph under the speed limit to make it to the next charger.

Good luck to you.

Thanks for your reply

when you say maxing out your charge saved you, do you mean it was saying you would make the next charger but you decided to charge extra and wouldn’t have made it with the original scheduled charging time?

interesting that you had to wait in line, I’ve been keeping an eye on the charger availability on the route and it seems there has always been bays available, that could put a real kink on the trip if it happens a lot.

ive been planing out the trip on a better route planner, did you just use the Tesla navigation?
 

TBone2112

Member
Oct 28, 2020
28
28
Nevada
you will be fine with the chargers all along IH 10. I am assuming that you will take I 10 90% of the way unless you go up thru dallas toward houston then back on 10. BYpass New Orleans
 
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Dayreg

Member
Jul 22, 2016
35
69
USA
Since you did this trip earlier in the year, you're probably accustomed to long drives. Our longest single day drive was 670 miles, and that is about as long as I prefer. Autopilot definitely helps, though, as do the stops to stretch our legs.

We tend to trust the Tesla navigation, and only charge past the time it says to leave if bad weather, especially wind, is in the forecast. We often arrive at Superchargers with 7-12% left.

Make sure your hotel reservations have a good cancellation policy in case you change plans. Also, I'd call the hotel the day before and make sure the destination chargers are reserved for you. Some hotels will even set out a cone to ensure no one else parks there. Also, bring rags and window cleaner for the windshield, and a premixed bottle of Optimum No Rinse in a sprayer to keep the front of the 3 clean. For safety, we also bring a tire repair kit and our mobile charger in the frunk.
 
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animorph

Active Member
Apr 1, 2016
2,134
1,529
Scottsdale, AZ
We road trip with our X, AZ to the East Coast or California.

#1 watch the charge remaining at destination. It's at the bottom of the nav directions list.
#2 if that charge remaining at destination keeps falling (below 10% for us) slow down. Maybe just a few MPH will be enough, but slower if conditions are bad. Going slower increases your range. Heavy rain/snow or headwinds can cause this.

I'd never "max out" a charge if you are ready to go. That just adds extra time. However, if you are not waiting for the car to finish charging let it add extra charge.
Nor would I use just a 5% charge remaining at destination. That just invites the occasional slow drive to save range and doesn't allow for detours.
We prefer about 15% charge remaining at destination. If conditions look adverse, like rain starting, we'll add a little (or significantly) more. Generally the car will say it's ready to go at around 15% charge remaining at destination and you'll find it fairly accurate. This margin allows for detours or mild adverse conditions without slowing down. Traffic naturally slows you down and has not been a problem.
If conditions are OK and you can't reach your destination with more than 5% charge remaining you can give it a try. Be ready to go a little slower. If you find a semi going a nice speed just follow it to gain a little more efficiency. I don't think that will be the case for your trip.

I usually don't bother with destination charging. Many Superchargers are located at hotels, which works for us most of the time. The other times I usually just use a hotel that is nearby, with an extra 30 minutes sitting in the car. Similarly, eat at a restaurant within walking distance of a Supercharger to keep your trip time down. I use Google Maps to check out what's close enough to each Supercharger and plan out meals and hotel stops.

I plan with ABRP. When traveling I enter the next Supercharger as the destination and generally leave Superchargers when the car says it's ready.

If you avoid the biggest cities most of the Superchargers should be almost empty, though I have not taken I10 all the way east. Southern California is a different story, but we haven't had to wait to charge. We have had the rare slow charge. Try different chargers, but sometimes it doesn't help.

Most of our driving days end up a little shorter than ABRP predicts if we don't eat too slow and traffic is light. We sat in stopped traffic (due to Interstate construction) for an hour during our last trip a couple of months ago. Every state seemed to think it was a great time for construction during the pandemic. No problem with the range, but it killed our arrival time to the next hotel.

We love traveling in the X. Not sure it would be as nice in the 3, but easily accomplished. We usually max out at about 10-11 hours of driving and charging per day, four driving days from AZ to North Carolina or Maryland. Nice and easy with Autopilot, especially if you have Automatic Lane Change.
 

Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
you will be fine with the chargers all along IH 10. I am assuming that you will take I 10 90% of the way unless you go up thru dallas toward houston then back on 10. BYpass New Orleans

Yes planing on sticking on the 10 all the way

Since you did this trip earlier in the year, you're probably accustomed to long drives. Our longest single day drive was 670 miles, and that is about as long as I prefer. Autopilot definitely helps, though, as do the stops to stretch our legs.

We tend to trust the Tesla navigation, and only charge past the time it says to leave if bad weather, especially wind, is in the forecast. We often arrive at Superchargers with 7-12% left.

Make sure your hotel reservations have a good cancellation policy in case you change plans. Also, I'd call the hotel the day before and make sure the destination chargers are reserved for you. Some hotels will even set out a cone to ensure no one else parks there. Also, bring rags and window cleaner for the windshield, and a premixed bottle of Optimum No Rinse in a sprayer to keep the front of the 3 clean. For safety, we also bring a tire repair kit and our mobile charger in the frunk.

I think autopilot will help a lot on the long stretches through Texas, I have been toying with 17% left at charging stops on ABRP, I’ve been keeping an eye on the windy app and I will plug that into the calculation once I get closer and on the road, good idea to give it a little extra juice if there are headwinds on the next leg

tire repair kit and pump are in the frunk already, I will make sure to get some good rags and cleaner.


We road trip with our X, AZ to the East Coast or California.

#1 watch the charge remaining at destination. It's at the bottom of the nav directions list.
#2 if that charge remaining at destination keeps falling (below 10% for us) slow down. Maybe just a few MPH will be enough, but slower if conditions are bad. Going slower increases your range. Heavy rain/snow or headwinds can cause this.

I'd never "max out" a charge if you are ready to go. That just adds extra time. However, if you are not waiting for the car to finish charging let it add extra charge.
Nor would I use just a 5% charge remaining at destination. That just invites the occasional slow drive to save range and doesn't allow for detours.
We prefer about 15% charge remaining at destination. If conditions look adverse, like rain starting, we'll add a little (or significantly) more. Generally the car will say it's ready to go at around 15% charge remaining at destination and you'll find it fairly accurate. This margin allows for detours or mild adverse conditions without slowing down. Traffic naturally slows you down and has not been a problem.
If conditions are OK and you can't reach your destination with more than 5% charge remaining you can give it a try. Be ready to go a little slower. If you find a semi going a nice speed just follow it to gain a little more efficiency. I don't think that will be the case for your trip.

I usually don't bother with destination charging. Many Superchargers are located at hotels, which works for us most of the time. The other times I usually just use a hotel that is nearby, with an extra 30 minutes sitting in the car. Similarly, eat at a restaurant within walking distance of a Supercharger to keep your trip time down. I use Google Maps to check out what's close enough to each Supercharger and plan out meals and hotel stops.

I plan with ABRP. When traveling I enter the next Supercharger as the destination and generally leave Superchargers when the car says it's ready.

If you avoid the biggest cities most of the Superchargers should be almost empty, though I have not taken I10 all the way east. Southern California is a different story, but we haven't had to wait to charge. We have had the rare slow charge. Try different chargers, but sometimes it doesn't help.

Most of our driving days end up a little shorter than ABRP predicts if we don't eat too slow and traffic is light. We sat in stopped traffic (due to Interstate construction) for an hour during our last trip a couple of months ago. Every state seemed to think it was a great time for construction during the pandemic. No problem with the range, but it killed our arrival time to the next hotel.

We love traveling in the X. Not sure it would be as nice in the 3, but easily accomplished. We usually max out at about 10-11 hours of driving and charging per day, four driving days from AZ to North Carolina or Maryland. Nice and easy with Autopilot, especially if you have Automatic Lane Change.

thanks for all your tips, no auto lane change for me which I find a pain on day trips as it is...
 
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Candleflame

Active Member
Mar 9, 2015
2,743
1,270
QLD, Australia
dont listen to people here. 1300km is easy in a day with superchargers and certainly not brutal. if you are struggeling with long disance between chargers id set display to km/miles not % as you can better gauge how quickly your miles shrink compared to the miles you have driven.
 
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Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
dont listen to people here. 1300km is easy in a day with superchargers and certainly not brutal. if you are struggeling with long disance between chargers id set display to km/miles not % as you can better gauge how quickly your miles shrink compared to the miles you have driven.

I think different people just have different opinion on what long driving days are, We did over 950 miles in one day on our last drive with the ICE car, and I spent a lot of my younger days towing a car transport trailer through Europe for work with an underpowered bmw 5 series. Once the trip is over I’ll make sure to do a short write up on how it went.
 

GHammer

What a long strange trip its been.
Feb 1, 2016
900
2,087
Wren, Oregon
I think your plan is doable, the first two days are going to be long but not terrible. The longest day i've done in the 3 is 770 and it wasn't bad took 14 hours. I've done over 800 in my S (which doesn't charge as fast) twice, taking about 18 hours now those were long days. Your last two days are easy, I've done both those exact legs in my S. I dont know what other constraints you have but you seem to have heavily front loaded the trip, If it were me I would lengthen the last two to shorten the first two.
 
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Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
I think your plan is doable, the first two days are going to be long but not terrible. The longest day i've done in the 3 is 770 and it wasn't bad took 14 hours. I've done over 800 in my S (which doesn't charge as fast) twice, taking about 18 hours now those were long days. Your last two days are easy, I've done both those exact legs in my S. I dont know what other constraints you have but you seem to have heavily front loaded the trip, If it were me I would lengthen the last two to shorten the first two.

Yeah the first two days are tough, I guess I could end day 1 in Willcox AZ at the supercharger which is next to a holiday inn (580 miles) but then day 2 I can’t really go much further than San Antonio which is still a pretty long day (790 miles), which might be ok for day 3 and 4, it’s an option I will consider once I get into the day 1 drive.

no real constraints, if I have to take an extra day it’s ok, we are moving to Florida so it’s not a sightseeing trip where I have to hit certain places.
 
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crackers8199

Active Member
May 31, 2015
1,266
581
lake elsinore, ca
Hi all, I’m looking for some advice from some seasoned model 3 road trippers.

I’m going to be driving from Los Angeles to Orlando in about 2 weeks.
I’ve done the trip in two and a half days earlier in the year in a ICE car, yes we were pushing big time with 12-14 hour days.

I’m currently planing on a 4 day trip, I think the worst day will be the first since I sort of need to make El Paso (830 miles) to make the rest of the trip work. Day two will be to Houston, day three to mobile, and then roll home with a short final day to Orlando.

I have booked hotels with destination charger so I can hopefully start the days with a good SOC.

Is it a feasible plan? Do I need to plan in a fifth day?

we just did the LA area to eastern PA (just northwest of philly) and back, 4 days each direction. to orlando would be roughly the same distance (your trip might be even a little shorter), so i'd say 4 days is more than do-able. some of the days were pretty long, but nothing really crazy IMO.

for reference, on the trip east our stopping points were albuquerque, tulsa, indianapolis. on the way back, michigan city IN, lincoln NE, glenwood springs CO. so, roughly somewhere between 600-700 miles a day on average...longest day was about 750 aside from the last day on the way home (850+ because we just wanted to get home and pushed through the tired).
 
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Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
we just did the LA area to eastern PA (just northwest of philly) and back, 4 days each direction. to orlando would be roughly the same distance (your trip might be even a little shorter), so i'd say 4 days is more than do-able. some of the days were pretty long, but nothing really crazy IMO.

for reference, on the trip east our stopping points were albuquerque, tulsa, indianapolis. on the way back, michigan city IN, lincoln NE, glenwood springs CO. so, roughly somewhere between 600-700 miles a day on average...longest day was about 750 aside from the last day on the way home (850+ because we just wanted to get home and pushed through the tired).

That sounds very similar to what im doing, i feel more and more confident this will be a pretty easy trip.

Did you ever have to wait for chargers to free up? did you use the onboard navigation to plan charging stops etc?
 

Lexdysic

Member
Aug 5, 2020
119
105
Gaithersburg, MD
Last month I drove from the Washington DC area down to The Villages in Florida (a little north of Orlando), and back.

It's 850 miles each way, and I did the round trip in 3 days. A bit tiring, but as others have said, autopilot/NOA relieves a lot of the physical and mental workload of driving. I'd say the car was in NOA 98% of the time, so it was more like being a passenger on a long drive. Podcasts and Audible make the time go by incredibly fast.

A few things I did along the way:

- Changing to battery percentage is definitely more useful. Your stops will be based on battery remaining percentage, not miles.

- I used A Better Route Planner. I chuckled when I saw another poster mention the 20% buffer- I started out doing that also. Then I realized ABRP and the energy app are remarkably accurate. Take it down between 5-10%. Charge to whatever it says- for the most part for me it was 60-70%.

- I didn't have any issues with superchargers being busy. Made 5 stops each way and I only remember once where I had to park next to someone. This was along I-95 through VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

- I work for a major airline and fly for free. Yet, I drove. I'd never do it in an ICE car. But with the Tesla, and stopping to charge, it becomes a true journey/experience. Sure, some SC's have more options than others, but they all have a little local flavor and add to the enjoyment of the trip. In Brunswick, GA, there's a bowling alley about 50 yards away from the chargers. (not sure if town name of Brunswick has any relation to the bowling equipment company) Bowled a couple frames while charging. Started to wonder why driving has always been about making good time.

- It's fun meeting other Tesla owners along the way. Most were not local. Some were on very long trips.

- Check out ABetterTheater.com to add HBO Now, You Tube TV (watch live TV), Hulu, Plex, and a lot of other cool stuff. It goes full screen. Gives you more entertainment options during charges.

All in all, it was a terrific experience and I'll do it again. Hopefully soon. Funny- the first question a lot of us get is "how many miles will it go?" Range anxiety. But it's this Tesla, not my last car that would go 600+ miles, that I want to take out on long trips.
 

GHammer

What a long strange trip its been.
Feb 1, 2016
900
2,087
Wren, Oregon
That sounds very similar to what im doing, i feel more and more confident this will be a pretty easy trip.

Did you ever have to wait for chargers to free up? did you use the onboard navigation to plan charging stops etc?
I just got back from road trip Oregon>LA>Houston>Chicago>Oregon with some detours and 90% of the time I was alone or just one other car at the chargers with the exception of Austin TX which I hit at lunch hour and had to wait <5 minutes for a spot. In 5 years of road tripping in Tesla and visiting over 600 different locations I have only ever waited 6 times, all in urban areas, all 5 minutes or less.

My restroom strategy has changed in the COVID era. I've done four 2000+ mile trips during COVID and have altered my restroom strategy to not necessarily use my charging stops as biobreaks as many hotels have altered their policies to restrict to guests only and many Superchargers in remote rural areas are at hotels with not much else near. My preferences now are in order:

Hwy rest areas: Clean (many have attendants now), largely uninhabited, quick on-off so doesn't add much time.

Home Improvement stores: Also clean and relatively unused, these stores have a large volume to customer ratio and are well ventilated, often located close to chargers.

Grocery stores: Typically more crowded but still pretty safe and clean, lots of chargers in the Midwest are located at grocery stores.

Malls: Many superchargers are located at malls and they have been hit or miss as to whether they are open, many have or shorter hours or are closed entirely. When open they have been sparsely populated however with holiday shopping that may change.

Strategically located bushes: Not always available but as a male it is quick and safe for no. 1

Lastly, truck stop, travel center, gas mini mart: More crowded, not always as clean although the larger chains are pretty good.
 

Raro

Member
Jul 23, 2020
67
66
Los Angeles
Last month I drove from the Washington DC area down to The Villages in Florida (a little north of Orlando), and back.

It's 850 miles each way, and I did the round trip in 3 days. A bit tiring, but as others have said, autopilot/NOA relieves a lot of the physical and mental workload of driving. I'd say the car was in NOA 98% of the time, so it was more like being a passenger on a long drive. Podcasts and Audible make the time go by incredibly fast.

A few things I did along the way:

- Changing to battery percentage is definitely more useful. Your stops will be based on battery remaining percentage, not miles.

- I used A Better Route Planner. I chuckled when I saw another poster mention the 20% buffer- I started out doing that also. Then I realized ABRP and the energy app are remarkably accurate. Take it down between 5-10%. Charge to whatever it says- for the most part for me it was 60-70%.

- I didn't have any issues with superchargers being busy. Made 5 stops each way and I only remember once where I had to park next to someone. This was along I-95 through VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

- I work for a major airline and fly for free. Yet, I drove. I'd never do it in an ICE car. But with the Tesla, and stopping to charge, it becomes a true journey/experience. Sure, some SC's have more options than others, but they all have a little local flavor and add to the enjoyment of the trip. In Brunswick, GA, there's a bowling alley about 50 yards away from the chargers. (not sure if town name of Brunswick has any relation to the bowling equipment company) Bowled a couple frames while charging. Started to wonder why driving has always been about making good time.

- It's fun meeting other Tesla owners along the way. Most were not local. Some were on very long trips.

- Check out ABetterTheater.com to add HBO Now, You Tube TV (watch live TV), Hulu, Plex, and a lot of other cool stuff. It goes full screen. Gives you more entertainment options during charges.

All in all, it was a terrific experience and I'll do it again. Hopefully soon. Funny- the first question a lot of us get is "how many miles will it go?" Range anxiety. But it's this Tesla, not my last car that would go 600+ miles, that I want to take out on long trips.


Thanks for good tips. I also prefer the % VS miles. I was going to start the trip with 15-17% left at charger arrivals, I will start there and build some trust in the car / ABRP and might cut that down
 

crackers8199

Active Member
May 31, 2015
1,266
581
lake elsinore, ca
That sounds very similar to what im doing, i feel more and more confident this will be a pretty easy trip.

Did you ever have to wait for chargers to free up? did you use the onboard navigation to plan charging stops etc?

i don't remember having to wait for any to free up, but i do remember that we had to sit a little longer than i would have liked at 2 or 3 of the SCs in western colorado / utah (i think it was grand junction and green river). they were particularly slow even without many cars there, for some reason...and the SCs on that stretch are pretty spaced out, so i was worried about not making it if we hadn't stuck around for a little while longer (my worries were justified, we ended up arriving at richfield, UT with 2% left i think).

we used a combination of the onboard nav and ABRP. onboard nav for the most part during the actual drive, and ABRP occasionally each evening to give us a basic idea of where we thought we should be stopping the following day. ABRP is awesome, but the car itself is pretty good at this point at telling you when you need to stop and for how long.

also, if you can find any of the new SCs along your route...take advantage. we pulled into michigan city at the end of night 1 with about 5% or so left, and i didn't realize it was a level 3 SC. i think my eyes about popped out of my head when i sat back down in the car after plugging in...we gained i think 30 miles in literally about 30 seconds. we were the only car there, so that helped...but it was still pretty crazy to see.

edit: building upon what the last poster said, definitely don't try to pull into a SC at 20%. there's no need to. my goal with the onboard nav is usually to wait at a SC until it would tell me i was getting to the next stop with 10%-15% left, sometimes less if it was having me skip a stop. example, back to green river again: it was trying to have me skip richfield and go straight to beaver, but with green river being as slow as it was i didn't feel like sitting there any longer. we left when the car told us we would make it to beaver at 5%, figuring we would have to stop at richfield instead (considering the speed limit in utah is 80mph and you can pretty safely do 90mph in certain spots without worry, which uses up a ton of energy). the onboard nav seems to be estimating your usage at the speed limit, which isn't always practical.
 
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Sans-gas

Member
May 1, 2019
119
51
NW WA
Hi all, I’m looking for some advice from some seasoned model 3 road trippers.

I’m going to be driving from Los Angeles to Orlando in about 2 weeks.
I’ve done the trip in two and a half days earlier in the year in a ICE car, yes we were pushing big time with 12-14 hour days.

I’m currently planing on a 4 day trip, I think the worst day will be the first since I sort of need to make El Paso (830 miles) to make the rest of the trip work. Day two will be to Houston, day three to mobile, and then roll home with a short final day to Orlando.

I have booked hotels with destination charger so I can hopefully start the days with a good SOC.

Is it a feasible plan? Do I need to plan in a fifth day?
Do you have a 2nd driver? Have you tried out ABRP and played with your route planning? It may give you some insights.
 
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