6/12/2014: Visit Carlsberg in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Hey Everyone! Welcome to another trip report from the Traveling Mr. Taylor! Today we’ll take a look back at when my friend Jeff Cohen and I went to Visit Carlsberg in Copenhagen, Denmark during our Cultural Pre-tour, before we would join other friends for the Theme Park Review Scandinavia Tour back in June of 2014.

Visit Carlsberg is the site of the original Carlsberg Brewery, which was opened by J.C. Jacobsen, and would be passed on to his son Carl, whom the brewery and company was named after. Carlsberg is to Copenhagen culturally what Budweiser is to the United States. Where ever you go around Copenhagen, there is a very good chance you will see advertising for it.

The attraction is just a few train stops and about a 15 minute walk from Copenhagen Central Train Station, and is one of the many attractions that is included on the Copenhagen Card, a pass that you can purchase for numerous days that will grant you free admission to many cultural sites and places throughout Copenhagen (definitely worth it!).

Here at Visit Carlsberg, you can learn about this history of the company and its beers as well as the beer making process. You can walk around the grounds and enjoy gardens while visiting the garage with old delivery vehicles including wagons and trucks. You can enjoy a meal at the onsite restaurant while enjoying samples of their different beers (which are included with your admission). You can also purchase Carlsberg branded merchandise and souvenirs. So let’s take a look and see what Visit Carlsberg is all about!

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Upon entering Visit Carlsberg, We would come upon the gift shop of Visit Carlsberg.

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After getting our tickets and sample vouchers, Jeff and I would begin our tour in the Old Brewhouse. Here is where you meet J.C. and Carl Jacobsen, and learn about their roles in the creation and growth of the Carlsberg Brewery.

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Just upstairs from there, we had a chance to see the largest collection of beer bottles from around the world (Certified by Guinness World Records as seen above). Most of them (if not all) are different bottles and labels of their various brands that they sell all over the world, and from different periods of time. The shelves were separated by continent, and the bottles organized by country in which it would have been sold. It was quite an impressive collection to see.

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Once you come back downstairs from the bottle collection, the next room you go into is where you learn about the history of beer, and more specifically the history of Carlsberg. Throughout this exhibit you can follow the timeline of history for beer and then when you get to the founding of Carlsberg, you learn more about the company and their different brews, you also can find old bottles that they used to be sold in along with a few other artifacts as seen below.

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But if you take a closer look at a few of the items, there may be something rather curious that you will see…did you notice it? Take a look at the close-ups below…

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That’s right. Some of the bottles and artifacts have swastikas on them

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Here Jeff shows his disapproval for their being a swastika on display at Carlsberg. The good news though is that they didn’t have swastikas on their bottles as a sign of support to the Nazi Party in Germany, rather it was once a part of their branding.

Back in 1881, The swastika was adopted as part of the Carlsberg logo because of its ancient Indian meaning of “that which is good”. However, Carlsberg would drop the use of the symbol in the 1940’s after the symbol became associated with the Natzi party of Germany.

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As you go into the next room, you learn about the beer making process and how they used to store it before the advent of modern tanks.

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You even learn a bit about what it was like to be an employee for the brewery, which included the perk of having a beer ration that you would earn as an employee. Apparently our friend above had his ration all in one sitting.

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Next we came out into the gardens of the brewery where several statues can be seen, including a replica of the famous Little Mermaid Statue located on the canal of Copenhagen. The Statue was commissioned by J.C. Jacobsen as a tribute to the story written by Hans Christian Andersen.

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Here I decided that I would do my best to replicate the statue…NAILED IT!

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Here Jeff is doing his best to blend right in. I don’t think anyone would notice the difference.

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From the gardens, Jeff and I would find ourselves in the stables where they keep the horses that pull their old wagons that they previously used to transport beer (They may still use them for promotional purposes like Budweiser does with their Clydesdales), as well as many of their old trucks.

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Some of the vehicles looked more practical than others, but I’m not gonna lie, I would be down for driving the keg truck down the highway!

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You could also pay a visit to the horses and see the wagons that once used to be a part of the transit of beer to various pubs and taverns.

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Jeff and I decided to try our hand at transporting beer, but as you can see, neither of us has the strength of a horse.

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So after enjoying the tour of the place, and trying to pull a wagon solo, it seemed like a great time to try some beer!

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The first beer that Jeff and I would try was the Jaconsen Dark Lager. This is the same recipe as the first beer that J.C. Jacobsen made when he first started his brewery. A while before this trip, I was not much of a fan of beer, as I usually stuck with hard ciders, or if I did have a beer, it was usually the weak stuff like Bud Light or Coors Light (the kind that people outside of the United States frown upon). As I went to Mexico the year before, I started to get to a point where I enjoyed others a bit more, and by the time this trip came along, I had gotten to more of a taste for different varieties. With that being said, I really liked the dark lager.

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While J.C. and Carl couldn’t verbally approve their sampling, Jeff and I knew in our hearts that they approved just as we did.

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That would lead to us having a grand old time with the two of them.

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We would venture outside for our second sample which would be the Carlsberg, which I believe is a Pilsner (like Miller Lite, but much better). I was a pretty big fan of this one as well, and it would become my go to beer for the rest of the trip when it was available. (I was pretty happy to learn that there is a pub about 10-15 minutes from where I live in Shoreline that carries Carlsberg).

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Back inside, you can visit the onsite restaurant where more of their beers were available, and you could watch the beer making and packaging process as seen below. The Dark Lager was the one being made onsite. I find this type of machinery fun to watch.

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And with that, we end our report of Visit Carlsberg in Copenhagen. If you make it to Copenhagen and are a fan of beer, this place is certainly worth a visit. Not just for the free beer samples, but for the history and cultural significance that it plays for Denmark. I certainly enjoyed it, and thank you all for checking out the report, and I thank Jeff for joining me on this adventure as it was a fun visit. But for now, I’ve got to ride off…..

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Take Care and Safe Travels

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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05/02/2015 – Opening Day of Boating Season at Lake Washington!

Hello everyone!

Yesterday the Traveling Mr. Taylor was on board the Bower Family Sailboat for Opening Day of Boat Season. This annual event features a parade of boats that takes place every year on the canal that connects Lake Union and Lake Washington right next door to the University of Washington Campus. Every year, hundreds of boaters, many from various yacht clubs, come out for the festivities, whether to tie-down to the log chain and watch the parade, or to participate in the parade itself.

I was able to join in on the festivities this year as my sister’s boyfriend’s dad owns a sailboat and was the representative in the parade for the Edmonds Yacht Club. The sun was out and the weather was great, making a perfect day to kick off boating season in the Pacific Northwest, so let’s check it out!

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For the parade, Richard’s dad, Marty, had his boat docked at the Queen City Yacht Club, which sits on the canal between Lake Union and Lake Washington. These lakes are also connected to the Pudget Sound by way of the Ship Canal and the Ballard Locks. The yacht club was also serving as storage for the U-18 Bucketlist Racing unlimited hydroplane. They are part of the annual Seafair festival that is held in Seattle, with the Hydroplane racing taking place on Lake Washington. For anyone who has never seen one of these in action, they can fly across the water like nothing else as they essentially glide on the surface of the water, and their turbine engines give them the ability to hit top speeds of 220 miles per hour!

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So as we head down the docks to our vessel for the afternoon, you can see that this is quite the popular club. This was the first time I had seen docks that were covered, but considering the amount of rain the area gets, it makes a lot of sense.

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And that brings us to the Brower Family Sailboat…or should I say, the Flying Dutchman!

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Every year, the parade has a different theme, as this year was Myths and Monsters, and the Bower crew chose to go with the Myth of one Davey Jones!

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Okay, so maybe that’s just Marty with a mask, but alas it was a fun theme for the boat. As you can see, they placed green ribbons all over to represent seaweed, added some makeshift black sails, and a skeleton or two for added effect.

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But what is a pirate ship without a crew? Well, Davey Jones would have a few on board with him for this voyage. Below you see Marty…err….I mean Davey Jones, along with Marty’s daughter Katie, and then there is Richard enjoying some grog before we hoist the anchor.

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We also had our real-life sea dog, Tobey!

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And of course, yours truly would also get in on the fun!

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Time to make final preparations for the voyage. Hoist the colors!

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Make certain yer costumes are all set!

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Find yourself a good spot to lay down!

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Aye! Now that final preparations are set, it be time to set sail!

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“Yo ho, yo ho, to the canal we go!”

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Before we would go through the parade route, we would drift around with other boats also awaiting their turn, which gave us an opportunity to see what other people had for their boats.

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We saw everything from fellow pirate ships to dragons, giant squids to Gandolf the Grey, and even the legendary Rainier Beers that were part of the old 1970’s commercials. There were also a few aqua cars. These were really cool to see!

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And now it’s our turn to ride through the canal and past the boat alley where other boaters wanting to watch could tie down their boats and enjoy the parade.

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And at the end of the parade route, we come into Lake Washington, where many other boats would await the ability to return through the canal. We even got to watch a seaplane take off. It was a glorious day to be out on the water!

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One thing I will always love about the Seattle area is the views you can get of Mt. Rainier. It never gets old to me.

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It would be towards the end of our boat ride that I saw what was my favorite boat (besides ours of course), and that was a tribute to old Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster!

20150502_151516Once all the other boats had gone through, we would be given the okay to return, and that would bring today’s adventure to an end.

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Thank you all for joining me on this adventure for Opening Day of Boating Season. I hope you enjoyed it!

Take Care and Safe Travels!

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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March 27-31, 2015: The Traveling Mr. Taylor Goes to Montana – Part 5

Hey everyone!

Today the Traveling Mr. Taylor presents the final update of the Montana Weekend as the Wolfpack went for a hike into Yellowstone National Park. For those of you who may have been following the previous updates from the Montana Weekend, we had been staying in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, which sits right on the western boundary of the park. From our hotel, you could actually walk right into the park through the main entrance, or, as we did, from a trail that starts in town. So let’s take a look at our adventure into Yellowstone!

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Our hike into Yellowstone would have us going down the Riverwalk Trail, and alongside the Madison River. It was a beautiful sunny day, and you could sense that it was the transitional time between Winter and Spring with the amount of snow left on the ground through the trails.

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Walking sticks in hand, our motley crew was ready to handle any terrain this trail would throw our way….which involved a lot of snow and slush.

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The majority of the trail we covered seemed like the forest version of the New Jersey Turnpike…strait with little to no curving and trees all to the sides. Not that this was a bad thing here as it was easy to tell where to go.

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Once we go past the first stretch of the Riverwalk Trail, we came to the portion that would involve a loop near the Madison River. This is where things opened up a bit and you could really enjoy the scenery!

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At this point, we would begin to make our way towards the river.

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The views along the way were just fantastic!

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And thus we would arrive to the Madison River. Just an absolutely gorgeous place!

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Of course, being a bunch of dudes, we did what any other guys would do…throw out our shoulders attempting to throw rocks to the other side of the river, and attempting to make them skip the river…..the success level was pretty low.

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Other than that, we just took time to enjoy the scenery, which if you couldn’t tell, is amazing! It’s no wonder people like Theodore Roosevelt wanted to ensure places like this were protected from development.

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 With that we wrap up the last update to the Traveling Mr. Taylor Goes to Montana. I would like to thank my brother Kellen for inviting me to join on this awesome trip. I also enjoyed getting to catch back up with Jason and Andrew again, as well as meeting Phil and Paul for the first time! I’m looking forward to seeing your guys again at the wedding in La Jolla in May!

For all of my readers, thank you for taking a little bit of your time to check out my reports from the weekend in Montana. if you missed any of them or would like to see them again, feel free to click the links below.

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Take Care and Safe Travels

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”


 (Pt 1: Travel to Bozeman) (Pt 2: Drive to Big Sky) (Pt 3: Big Sky Ski Resort) (Pt 4: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center) (Pt. 5: Yellowstone National Park)

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07/17/2011 – Scott’s Pizza Tour of New York City!

Hey Everyone!

Tonight, I present to you a retro trip report from a few years back when I was with a tour group in the Northeastern United States in the Summer of 2011. One of the days of our tour, we had a chance to take a pizza tour with Scott’s Pizza Tours (www.scottspizzatours.com). This particular activity is a rather unique one as it is host by a guy named Scott who is obsessed with pizza. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a great pizza, and am especially fond of good local places, but this guy knows different facts and history about pizza the same way that some Trekkies could tell you the life story verbatim of William Shatner. Especially the pizzerias in New York City. So let’s take a look back a couple of years ago, back when I was still teaching in North Carolina and on Summer Vacation with friends in this tour group…

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First of all, this is Scott! A guy who knows his pizza! He provided our group with a lot of historical background about the origins of pizza, how it became a huge hit in the United States, and even the difference of the experience of eating a New York style Pizza vs. a Chicago Style. Needless to say, when on one of his tours, you will know more about pizza then you thought possible.

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So after introductions and our history lesson about the pizza, we were taken to our first pizza restaurant destination…Lombardi’s!

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Reading the plaque pictured above, as well as based on what Scott told us, Lombardi’s is recognized as being the first pizzeria in the United States. One of the neat things that Scott was able to arrange for us was to get a view of the oven that is used for Lombardi’s. What I did not realize is that the temperature of the oven has such a huge effect on the way a pizza cooks and how the finished product is. Higher temperatures tend to be used for often for thinner pizzas (like those very popular in New York), and thicker pizzas are generally cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. Lombardi’s uses a brick oven that can get as hot as 800 degrees Fahrenheit!

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And with a red-hot coal fire like that, you get a nice looking pie such as the one seen here!

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Doesn’t this slice look great? It sure tasted great!

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So after having an opportunity to sample Lombardi’s, we took a walk down the street a little ways to our next stop, Arturo’s.

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Now it has been a couple of years since I was on this tour, but I want to say that it was at this point where Scott explained the difference of using fresh mozzarella vs. aged mozzarella. At Lombardi’s they used fresh, which is typically pulled apart from a ball and laid out onto the pizza, whereas aged is what they use at a lot of chain places where it is shredded up, and scooped then spread on top. My memory says that Arturo’s used aged mozzarella, but looking at that delightful pie, it makes me think that they too may have used fresh. Either way, Arturo’s was also an excellent place!

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The third stop is a wildcard for every tour as Scott will change it up for a variety of reasons, but for our group he took us to a place called Ben’s, which was more of a counter service place than the first two restaurants we stopped at. (Sorry, but I couldn’t find any pizza pictures in my archive).

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So if you ever find yourself in NYC, and would enjoy something that is unique and will please your taste buds as well as a pizza craving, definitely checkout Scoot’s Pizza Tour! It was a great experience and one that I feel has only further influenced my own personal love of pizza.

Take Care and Safe Travels

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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04/16/2015 – A Day at the Puyallup Spring Fair!

Hey everyone!

Today we bring to you a special trip report from the Traveling Mr. Taylor’s visit to the 2015 Puyallup (Pew-wall-up) Spring Fair! This was the first time that I had been to the Puyallup Fairgrounds in about 16 or 17 years, and since the last time I had been here, for the Puyallup Fair in the fall of 1997. Now known as the Washington State Fair, the annual Fall event runs about three weeks in September, and they also host a long weekend event in April known as the Spring Fair. While the Spring Fair is a bit of a lighter version of the State Fair, it is still a great way to bid farewell to the the Pacific Northwest winter, and welcome the Spring (which, being in the Northwest, may not always mean the start of more sunny days right away due to our notoriously rainy weather). This particular day was perfect as the sun was out, and I brought my nephew Kris along for the ride!

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Our visit would start with a walk towards the side opposite of the Midway area, and closer to the exhibition buildings. While the map below indicates that a good portions of the fairgrounds were closed off during the Spring Fair, there is certainly still much to see and do for a visit. You can also see information about the Washington State Fair in September, such as their annual concert series, which always brings fairly well known acts to perform. I am hoping to see Weird Al myself as I have enjoyed his music for some time.

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There is one ride that sits away from the rest of the midway which is their 1917 carousel, created by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, which is also known for their work in the field of roller coasters as a producer of trains for wood coasters.

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The fairgrounds is also home to many different kooky characters that you may run into at any point, including my personal favorite, the really tall grandma with an extra tall walker.

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Adding to the kookiness of the fairgrounds is this structure that was devised as a sort of giant musical instrument for fairgoers to play. It utilized everyday items that create different sounds and tones to form one giant percussion instrument. Very popular with kids and kids at heart! Although if more cowbell is the only cure to Christopher Walken’s fever, then this might only help as a treatment to it. Still a lot of fun though.

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Of course fair also includes unique shows, such as a good old fashion pig race!

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This year, they also had a show called Dock Dogs, which was a competition for long distance jumping by different dogs. I have seen these kinds of contests on TV before, but this was the first time I saw it in person, and man can these dogs fly! This also was Kris’s favorite show.

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While we are talking about animals, I have always felt that the Puyallup Fair was great for the high number of animals that would be on site to see. Granted, this was only the Spring Fair, so there were not really a whole lot of the different types, they help to fill some of the space with educational displays of life on the farm, and different aspects of the animals, such as demonstrations of wool sheering for sheep.

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But of course, no fair is complete without a visit to the midway for some rides! Now the Puyallup Fairgrounds is unique from others because of the fact that there are several rides that remain on site the entire year, including their three large roller coasters. They include the Wildcat (Top left), the Rainier Rush (Top Right) and the Classic Coaster (Bottom middle).

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Unfortunately the Wildcat was not open for the Spring Fair this year, so my chance to ride it again for the first time since my childhood will have to wait until the Washington State Fair this fall. Kris and I did, however, get to experience the other two, so let’s start with Rainier Rush.

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Rainier Rush is a steel roller coaster from the company Top Fun. This coaster had previously been known as Typhoon when it operated at Santa’s Village in Dundee, IL and at the Los Angeles County Fair. It was opened on the site of the former Kersplash water coaster that once operated in Puyallup.

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The Rainier Rush features several turning drops and a loop that is at an incline. To be entirely honest, I wasn’t a really big fan of the coaster as it was rough to ride and will do a number to you because of the jerkiness. Kris on the other hand was a really big fan, and it was also the first coaster that he rode which went upside down! (I was proud of him for giving it a shot, although it took a little coaxing to get him to ride).

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That brings us to our other coaster, the Classic Coaster!

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Built and open in 1935, the Classic Coaster (Also previously known as the Coaster Thrill Ride, or Giant Coaster at times in the past), this coaster originally opened as a side-friction coaster, and would later be modified to accommodate the current trains in the 1940’s when the owner of the coaster purchased them from Oaks Amusement Park in Portland where they had been previously used.

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So this was one of my first roller coasters, and to be honest I really did not remember a whole lot about what it was like to ride since it was back in 1994, and between that time and now, I have been on over 400 more coasters since. Since that time, the fairgrounds made a great investment to preserve a part of their history and one of it’s most popular rides as they spent about 4-5 years replacing portions of the coaster so that it could provide thrills for future generations. One of the neatest parts of the rebuilding project was the addition of a brick walkway where you could purchase a commemorative brick to be placed next to the coaster, with the proceeds going to the Washington State Fair Foundation to help facilitate educational programs and provide funding for fairground improvements and preservation projects like this one.

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Along the walkway, you can also find these different signs that give historical information about the coaster itself. Overall, it really adds to the look of the area near the coaster, and gives it more of a permanent amusement park feel that is normally not a part of fairs as many rides at fairs are part of traveling carnival companies.

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As for the coaster itself, it was a lot of fun! Even though it had been rebuilt recently, it still had the feel of an older wooden coaster. It provided some great moments of airtime, such as after the double down drop from the lift as well as the drop after the first turn. The back seat gave a few great moments of feeling like you were being whipped around the ride, and the turns gave you a moment to enjoy the scenery of the fairgrounds. It made me very happy to have been able to get another ride on this classic after having gone so long since the last time, because now my memory of what the ride is will stick with me better. If you do go to the Washington State Fair, this coaster is a must! For those owho consider yourselves coaster enthusiasts, it would be worth a trip to Seattle in September and make your way down to this classic!

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So that is going to wrap up this trip report of the Traveling Mr. Taylor. I hope you all enjoyed it and that you will come back again for my reports in the future. If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest in April or September and the fair is going, I highly recommend that you visit.

Take Care and Safe Travels!

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor

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March 27-31, 2015: The Traveling Mr. Taylor Goes to Montana – Part 4

Hello again everyone!

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Tonight we bring you the 4th installment of the Traveling Mr. Taylor goes to Montana. This update features our visit to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, which is a sort of miniature zoo that features bears and wolves. For $11.50, you can get a two day pass to see some of these animals up close without the risk of being attacked. They also have different birds of prey that they feature during the summertime, so we didn’t get to see it for ourselves, but it was still neat to see. So let’s go in and take a look!

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The center features a gift shop with many different items to choose from including shirts, hats, books, plush toys and more. There is even a couch to take a break, or for an awesome photo opportunity as the guys would demonstrate below!

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One of the first things that you encounter as you enter the main viewing area of the different animals is a display of bear-proofed equipment, such as trash cans, and safety info boards. The discovery center tries to promote safety and awareness when it comes to bears, whether they come to your area or you are out in the woods exploring.

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You will also find a display of the older and newer style of bear-traps that researchers and animal control will use, whether to help relocate a bear away from people, or to conduct medical examinations for the bear’s health and for research purposes.

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Obviously, being the fun loving guys that we are, we had to test out the bear traps and see how well they work. Sure looks comfortable doesn’t it?

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At this point, you might be wondering about if there were really animals at this place. Yes my friends, there were, so let’s start with the wolves! First, we have a Arctic Wolf that was just an absolute beauty to look at! She was pretty relaxed at the time while lying in the sun, and she made it easy to get some great pictures of her as you will see below.

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There were a few other wolves in the neighboring habitat including Grey Wolves that wasn’t quite as easy to see at first, but the habitat had some additional viewing space to the side giving a new angle to see them.

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So while the wolves are half of the attraction at this place, the bears are also very popular. Today, they were feeding a few Brown Bears, and by feeding I mean they had hidden food throughout the habitat for then to find.

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It was awesome to be able to see these large animals in a relatively close proximity. And looking at the claws on these guys, I wouldn’t want to get into a fight with them! So along with the exhibits that showcase the animals, there is also a small museum that discusses different topics such as the various species of bears, the research that they conduct about them, and the different dangers that bears face in the wild and from human interaction.

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So overall, we had an enjoyable experience at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. I would recommend a visit if you happen to be in the area, especially if you enjoy seeing animals up close without the need for a repellent. Thank you all for coming to check out this update to the Traveling Mr. Taylor Goes to Montana. I hope that you will come back for our last update, which includes a hike into Yellowstone National Park, and that you will continue to check out the website for additional updates in the future!

Take Care and Safe Travels!

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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March 27-31, 2015: The Traveling Mr. Taylor goes to Montana – Part 3

Hey Everyone!

It’s time for the next update to the Montana Weekend Trip Report! Today’s update will feature a glimpse into the skiing adventure that we had at Big Sky Resort.20150328_094726At a base elevation of 7,500 ft. and top elevation at 11,166 ft. above sea level, Big Sky is one of the largest ski resorts in America with an area covering 5,800 acres. It’s longest run covers six miles and there are over 200 different runs to choose from. Being a first timer to skiing, this was a heck of a place to start with, but alas it was a great time!

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The two days that we spent skiing would involve quite a drastic difference in conditions for the snow. On the first day earlier we would see a good bit of wind with snow that would add a small layer to what was already there. Later in the day as the sun came out, but the temps had dropped, it would almost become solid ice in spots. The second day would see an improvement in the snow quality as it had loosened up, making it easier to learn the technique. The base itself had several options for renting equipment, and a full day cost around $30-40 for skis, boots and poles. There was a restaurant that offered some good food and a variety of beers from local breweries. My personal favorite that they had was the White Noise Hefeweizen. In the same building there was also a shop which offered many items that you could find in a small market, and if interested in vaction property ownership, they had that covered as well.

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So as for the skiing itself, I am probably not the best person to ask how it compares to other resorts, but based on the comments of others in our crew, while the conditions could have been better, it was certainly a great place because of it’s large size. The long runs could provide several options of paths the take, with varying levels of difficulty.

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Photo Courtesy of Kellen Russoniello

Our more experienced skiers/boarders, which would include Jason, Phil, Andrew and Kellen, took advantage of the wide variety of path, event taking a run that started closer to the summit of Lone Peak, the highest point of the resort.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Bensel

Photo Courtesy of Jason Bensel

Photo Courtesy of Jason Bensel

Photo Courtesy of Jason Bensel

As for Myself and Paul, we would stick more with the green circle (a.k.a. easy) paths. But that isn’t to say that it was without great views!

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Having never been skiing before, it took me a good while to get comfortable with it. What I think may have aided me was my past experience with ice skating from playing hockey. I did have to get adjusted to the difference in slopes, but by the second afternoon, I felt pretty comfortable with it, and could complete a full run in about 20 minutes without a fall or stopping. Needless to say, I have become a fan of skiing now 🙂

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The first of the two above pictures comes from the top of the lift from the base looking towards other mountains of the area, and the second is a little bit into the run looking up towards the summit of Lone Peak. To give you a better idea of just how big it really is, check out this picture below that Paul took of me around the same time I took the right one.

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Photo Courtesy of Paul Parisot

Yup, that little dot closer to the bottom is me. I am still in awe of just how huge the mountains of the west are, and they are just as stunningly beautiful as well! Overall, my first skiing experience was a lot of fun! I am glad that I had this opportunity to try something new, and hope that I can get some more opportunities to do it again in the future! We still have more to come from our weekend in Montana with a visit to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and a hike into Yellowstone National Park. Thank you for reading this update, I hope you will come back again! To wrap up this update of the trip report, I present the Wolfpack! (Yes, we all baught awesomely tacky wolf shirts from a souvenir store in West Yellowstone for the occasion.)

Photo Courtesy of Jason Bensel

Photo Courtesy of Jason Bensel

Take Care and Safe Travels!

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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March 27-31, 2015: The Traveling Mr. Taylor goes to Montana – Part 2

Hey everyone!

This update of the weekend in Montana is focused on the drive to Big Sky Resort from West Yellowstone, as it is an absolute beautiful drive, and I felt like it was worthy of it’s own update. Having just driven across the country from Florida to Washington State for my move, I had a chance to see some great sites for natural landscapes, and this was certainly amongst some of the best that I have seen. These pictures were actually taken on the second day of our skiing adventures, but since it was how we got to the ski resort from our hotel, I figured why not?

Click on any of the pictures below in the gallery to see larger versions of those pictures.

Thank you for checking out this update! See you on the next one.

Take Care and Safe Travels!

Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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March 27-31, 2015: The Traveling Mr. Taylor goes to Montana – Part 1

Hey everybody,

A little while ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Southern region of Montana to celebrate the ending of bachelorhood for my brother Kellen and our friend Andrew. While many people may think of the Hangover when they think of epic Bachelor Parties, I am going to say that I was a bigger fan of the weekend that we had, which had a good amount of skiing at Big Sky Resort, a visit to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, a great hike through Yellowstone Park and some dining at a restaurant with a questionable name…..I’ll explain that later on. So let’s take a look back at the journey to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana.

20150327_103015Now before I begin about the actual trip, I would to take a moment to make a somewhat political statement in which I am a strong supporter of public transportation. Having been Europe and using the transit system in Copenhagen, Denmark, there are a lot of areas in the United States that could truly benefit from an improvement to their transit offerings. Some places have great benefits from these systems, such as Minneapolis where you can connect from the airport to the Mall of America. What better way is there to spend a long or extended layover than to take a 12-minute train ride to one of the nation’s biggest shopping and entertainment venues!

20150327_103728So as I prepared to make my way to Bozeman, MT to get to our destination for the next few days, I took advantage of the light rail system that is in place in Seattle that connects you to the airport from Downtown. While it is a bit of a longer ride (around 45 minutes one way), it sure beats having to pay $10-20/day for airport parking, plus it provides for some nice views like that of Downtown Seattle from the south (lower left picture), and a nice view of Mt. Rainer (lower right)

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 So after a ride on the light rail, we arrive to the airport for our flight from SeaTac Airport to Bozeman. This flight was courtesy of the good folks of Alaska Airlines. I have flown with them several times and have always been satisfied with their service. I’ll certainly be using them again, especially as I hope to make a few visits to California in the not too distant future

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If there is one thing I will say about flying over mountains in the winter/early spring, they are absolutely beautiful to see. The tall mountains were probably one thing that I really missed about living in the Pacific Northwest before I had moved back. I am hoping to explore the ones near home more often then I did as a kid.

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But as we get closer to Bozeman, we find the end of these mountains, and descend into the valley for our landing. We have arrived in Montana!

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The first thing that I noticed about this airport was not the small size as I kind of expected that since Bozeman isn’t a huge city, but rather the charming log cabin inspired design that it had. I always felt like airports were more or less the same as others because of their purpose, but with occasional design elements and displays that feature the cultural heritage of the city and/or country you have arrived to. Bozeman was the first one that felt like it almost had a sort of theme to it. Maybe I just had not noticed it as much with other airports because of how busy they are, but I really liked the design of Bozeman.

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Now as you walk around the airport, you will see tributes to what makes Montana a great, natural place to visit, from the information center for Yellowstone National Park (which is mostly in Wyoming, and a sliver of it is in Montana), statues of the wildlife that can be found in the state’s forests, and models of the fossils that have been found in the state.

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They also have these “tourist” bears that you could take pictures with, wearing signs suggesting that you tag the airport on different social media sites.

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Of course I couldn’t pass up on a picture with them…… 🙂

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And like any good airport, you can find an assortment of souvenirs to take home with you from your journey.

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But of course, there was one question that I wasn’t sure if I was satisfied with the commonly accepted answer, so I went to the source itself to find out exactly…..what does the fox say?

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So after a rendezvous with Andrew at the airport pick-up, we had a little time to kill as we awaited the arrival of Phil, another of our Montana Weekend Crew, so we decided to grab a drink at one of the local establishments, the Desert Rose.

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This restaurant had “mom and pop” written all over it, and was a nice cozy place. While we each only had a beer, they had a full menu including their own baked pies. From the looks of it, they also offered live music on occasion.

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So once we had a beer and caught up with each other, Andrew and I made our way back to the airport and picked up Phil. Thus we began our drive down to West Yellowstone, MT where we would be staying for the next few days. To say that it was a nice drive does not give it enough credit. It is absolutely gorgeous there. Take a look for yourself!

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Along the way, we spotted one of the largest roadside animals I have ever seen in the wild, a bison! It was something else to see such a large animal just roaming around, and also for him to be so calm as vehicles zoomed right past him.

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And with that, we would arrive to the little town of West Yellowstone, Montana! While we would be there at an awkward time since they were still in “winter mode” (i.e., half of the places were closed), there were still things to see and do that we will get to later on in a future trip report.

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And we will wrap up this update with an introduction to our motley crew for the weekend! Starting on the left we have Jason, Phil, Kellen, Andrew, yours truly the Traveling Mr. Taylor and Paul!

Photo Courtesy of Kellen Russoniello

Photo Courtesy of Kellen Russoniello

I would like to thank you all for checking out this first part of the Travelling Mr. Taylor’s trip report from the weekend in Montana. I hope that you will come back for the next update and for future updates on this website.

Take Care and Safe Travels!

Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

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Exploring Seattle’s Amusement Park Past

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000bFirst, a bit of background to today’s adventure. For those of you who are familiar with Seattle and Amusement Parks, you know that they are not very commonly part of the same conversation. Seattle had a small carnie-like park next to the Space Needle called the Fun Forest, which was part of the remnants of the 1962 Worlds Fair. Due to its lack of popularity and financial hardships, it closed in 2010. The other park most amusement park fans many know of in the area is Wild Waves, which is just about 20-30 minutes South of downtown in Federal Way. A decent water park and amusement park that works for the area, but no means on the same level of world renowned parks like that of the Disney Parks, Universal Studios or Sea World Parks. But back in the early part of the 1900’s there was a seaside park on a pier like many that were built in the time called Luna Park

000aBuilt on a Bardwalk over Elliot Bay and on the shore of Alki Point in West Seattle, Luna Park was only a ferry ride away from Downtown. Many people could see the lights of the park dance across the water, wanting to enjoy the offerings of this place of entertainment. Opened in 1907 featuring a carosuel with hand-carved horses, a figure-eight roller coaster, several dark rides and a natatorium for swimming year-round, the park was a big hit for the Seattle area, with offerings that rivaled other amusement parks of the time (Some of which, like Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, are still open to this day). There were some residents of West Seattle, however, who were not fans of the rougher side that came with the park as it hosted one of the largest bars on the bay. Several visitors also sustained injuries at the park due to falling from rides, and the park would see it’s demise in 1913 after new ownership failed to keep the park open.

The carousel has since been relocated to Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, where it still operates. The natatorium remained open until 1931 when it suffered damage from a fire that would lead to it’s demolition two years later, but the pools remained until they were filled and the plot was converted into a small park and pier with benches to enjoy the view of Elliot Bay and Downtown Seattle. Today, I went to pay a visit to Luna Park’s old site.


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Not knowing if there was anything associated with the old park, I had looked up the approximate location on the roller coaster database (rcdb.com) and it led me to the area shown above around the intersection of Harbor Ave. and Fairmont Ave. The area was not quite the location of the park, but they did have a sculpture (shown below) that paid tribute to the park that once entertained many.

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Upon further investigation, it was discovered that it was only a short drive a little further up to the spot where Luna Park once sat, and to my excitement, there were indicators of where it used to reside

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Above is the site that was once home to Luna Park. As indicated in the parkers shown below, the grassy area was one of the old pools of the Natatorium, and the rest of the park was built on a boardwalk over Elliot Bay towards the right and forwards from the current little park you see above.

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Now, while the park is no longer there, I stood in the little park and imagined for a moment what it would have been like if this park were still there today, even if it had changed over the years to become more modern, perhaps with a newer roller coaster built in it’s place, or more modern thrill rides that you can find in today’s parks. Could you imagine how awesome this park could have looked with a beautiful city like Seattle in the background? I would have absolutely loved it!

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But alas, there is no longer an amusement park in this spot, just the remains of the pier, some of which you can still see when the tide is low enough. While the tide wasn’t quite low enough today to see a lot of the remaining footers, you could still see some of them.

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Upon a closer look and you can see them in the open water here and there, as well as some under the mini park that remains

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With that, we bid farewell to the former home of Luna Park, and go on to a restaurant that I had no idea existed until today, the Luna Park Café.

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This restaurant was once a gas station, and is part of a bigger office and apartment building. It pays tribute to the park that once stood just north of it’s location. Home to the self-proclaimed best milkshake in Seattle as well as gourmet burgers, this place did not disappoint!

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The restaurant itself contains portraits and artifacts from the old Luna Park including signs, coin operated amusements and decorations. Some of the really cool items that they had included the mechanical band that sits above the door as you enter (It still operates, just without music)

An old coin-operated mechanical band sits above the entrance to the café, and can still be played.An old Luna Park Sign

As for the food, I had a French dip, and was surprised by how quickly it was prepared. I unfortunately didn’t try one of their milkshakes as I was too full, but it was a good meal.

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If you happen to be looking for an item to bring home to commemorate your visit to the restaurant, they have you covered! Everything from pint glasses and mugs, to books about the park and t-shirts. I had to fight the temptation to buy the book to add to my amusement park library. Once I start working again here in Seattle, that may be a different story

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Overall, I give my approval to the Luna Park Café, and recommend it to anyone who happens to be in Seattle, especially if you are an amusement park fan like me, who enjoys going to see old relics from the park. Plus they even give you a sticker for visiting 🙂

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With that, I thank you all for checking out my report of visiting Seattle’s Amusement Park Past. I hope that you will join me again for future updates here on The Traveling Mr. Taylor.

Take Care and Safe Travels!

-Gary Taylor

“The Traveling Mr. Taylor”

A look at what could have been!

A look at what could have been!

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