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Two Way Radio Recommendations


Guest BigJim
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Guest BigJim

My caching team and I sometimes separate for various reasons. I would like to get some two way radios to keep us in contact better than yelling at each other. Any recommendations?

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I have a pair of Motorola FRS Talkabout 250 and like them alot. Good range. They claim that they have a 2 mile range with line of sight. I have found that I get about 1.5 range reliably with line of site and about a mile in heavy tree cover. My father has a pair of the Motorola FRS 60 radios. They have similar perfomance but a few different features. Both units run for at least 24 hours of standby time on three AA batteries.

 

The Talkabout 250 can use voice activate hand free system were the 60 you must still press the button to talk. The 60 has a call feature were each person can pick a unique call tone.

 

There are a few newer version out there that might have other features. I have not used the other brands but a friend had a pair audiovox unit and they seemed to work well with my Motorola units on a day of skiing. Just remember that Motorola developed the FRS radio system for what that's worth. But for the price, range and unit size you get with the FRS radio I would suggest the FRS radios over a handheld CB.

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Guest geoark1

We use both the Midland 75-515 FRS and the Audiovox GMRS 1525. The GMRS requires a license however the first 7 frequencies are the same as FRS HOWEVER the range is greater both units will do 2+ miles with the GMRS doing over 3+ miles unless you are in valleys and hills both units are line of sight.

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There are safety concerns re. someone getting lost in the woods. Everybody in your party won't have radios or GPS's either one. They could each have an inexpensive whistle though, that carries much farther than shouting. If you are caching in dense woods, in the boondocks, and maybe if darkess overtakes you, and you're separated, whistles (and flashlights) would be nice to have. I have a couple of Motorola "Talkabout" radios (that I like) I sometimes use when wife and I are at a mall or something. If we get separated, the radios help us get back together. Don't know just how that would work in the woods though if you didn't both have GPS's also. Whistles would get you back together.

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Guest Chris Juricich

Whistles! That's a great idea, as I sometimes have my son disappear some distance from me. So does my dog, but he's not good at blowing.

 

Where in heck do you buy a whistle these days, anyway?

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Guest k2dave

quote:
Don't know just how that would work in the woods though if you didn't both have GPS's also. Whistles would get you back toge

 

How 'bout - Hey I'll shake a tree - do you see it moving. or - head back to the stream where we refilled out water.

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Guest ClayJar

I keep my whistle around my neck right by my compass. I figure it's a lot more difficult to go hoarse blowing a whistle for help than it is from shouting, especially when you eventually get hurt somewhere remote enough to actually need help. I've even left some fresh ones in caches.

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Guest brokenwing

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Juricich:

Where in heck do you buy a whistle these days, anyway?


 

Just about any sporting goods store should have them. Look in the camping/hiking section, there should be some cheap whistles. I bought one not too long ago and I think it was only about 2 bucks.

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Guest Gliderguy

I have three of the Radio shack mini FRS radios (catalog number 21-1859) that I absolutely love. they go for well over 24 hours on 3 AAA rechargables. Me and my wife use them with Autocom motorcycle headsets when we go out riding our streetbikes. these things are about the size of a pager with a 2 inch antenna on it. Like all the other FRS radios, the range depends on the conditions. I once talked 8 miles line of sight to a kid on a nearby mountain top. they get about a mile in the suburbs - vehicle to house.

 

Midland has a new tiny FRS radio that I would love to get my hands on: the F-10. it is in the Cabelas catalog. I cant find it on the midland site or anywhere else though.

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Guest vinced

quote:
Originally posted by BigJim:

My caching team and I sometimes separate for various reasons. I would like to get some two way radios to keep us in contact better than yelling at each other. Any recommendations?


 

I have to agree with the FRS radios. My wife and I traveled from Va. to Ms in to seperate cars over a three day period. I only had to change out the batteries on the third day.

 

Now for the shameless plug icon_smile.gif you all could get your ham licences which would give you better range for the most part.

 

Sorry could resist. icon_biggrin.gif

 

Vince

AKA KD5NVO

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Guest vinced

quote:
Originally posted by BigJim:

My caching team and I sometimes separate for various reasons. I would like to get some two way radios to keep us in contact better than yelling at each other. Any recommendations?


 

I have to agree with the FRS radios. My wife and I traveled from Va. to Ms in to seperate cars over a three day period. I only had to change out the batteries on the third day.

 

Now for the shameless plug icon_smile.gif you all could get your ham licences which would give you better range for the most part.

 

Sorry could resist. icon_biggrin.gif

 

Vince

AKA KD5NVO

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Guest Baudzilla

Recently, the FCC dropped the licensing requirements for certain VHF "dot" frequency radios. They call it "MURS" which is an acronym for "Multi Use Radio Service". They make a nice alternative to FRS in certain situations.

 

What's cool is the range on these radios is substantially better than FRS, as more power is allowed (2 watts ERP versus 500 milliwatts for FRS), and you are transmitting into a much more efficient antenna. (The FCC requires FRS walkie-talkie antennas to be deliberately inefficient) I can as a matter of routine get as much as 4-5 mile range in moderately open areas with one of these radios. The downside is that there are only five frequencies, which can be a bit congested in the more metropolitan areas.

 

You can find them at Rat-Shack and most of your larger electronics chain stores.

 

Another idea for more range is to get a GMRS license. GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service, and also has much better range than FRS for the same reasons outlined above. FRS actually shares GMRS frequencies on FRS channels 1-7, at the FRS maximum power output of 500 milliwatts.

 

One thing to be careful about is there are some stores out there selling combination FRS/GMRS radios. Some GMRS operators are quite rabid (no offence to the GMRS folks ? I completely understand the reasons, being as I am a ham icon_wink.gif ) about protecting their bandwidth from pirate operators, so make sure you fill out the included paperwork or go to the FCC?s website and apply for a relatively low-cost 5-year GMRS license if you happen to get one of these radios.

 

FRS is great, IMHO for short-range communications on the trail, but I most definitely would not depend on it for my primary means of communications in remote areas.

 

OR, like Vince said ? You could also get an amateur radio license and not have to worry about crowded channels! icon_wink.gif

 

Wow ? sorry for writing a book? too much caffeine at 3:00 A.M.!

 

-Phil

aka KC4UVU

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Guest Baudzilla

e if you happen to get one of these radios.

 

FRS is great, IMHO for short-range communications on the trail, but I most definitely would not depend on it for my primary means of communications in remote areas.

 

OR, like Vince said ? You could also get an amateur radio license and not have to worry about crowded channels! icon_wink.gif

 

Wow ? sorry for writing a book? too much caffeine at 3:00 A.M.!

 

-Phil

aka KC4UVU

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Guest Baudzilla

e if you happen to get one of these radios.

 

FRS is great, IMHO for short-range communications on the trail, but I most definitely would not depend on it for my primary means of communications in remote areas.

 

OR, like Vince said ? You could also get an amateur radio license and not have to worry about crowded channels! icon_wink.gif

 

Wow ? sorry for writing a book? too much caffeine at 3:00 A.M.!

 

-Phil

aka KC4UVU

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Guest Baudzilla

Recently, the FCC dropped the licensing requirements for certain VHF "dot" frequency radios. They call it "MURS" which is an acronym for "Multi Use Radio Service". They make a nice alternative to FRS in certain situations.

 

What's cool is the range on these radios is substantially better than FRS, as more power is allowed (2 watts ERP versus 500 milliwatts for FRS), and you are transmitting into a much more efficient antenna. (The FCC requires FRS walkie-talkie antennas to be deliberately inefficient) I can as a matter of routine get as much as 4-5 mile range in moderately open areas with one of these radios. The downside is that there are only five frequencies, which can be a bit congested in the more metropolitan areas.

 

You can find them at Rat-Shack and most of your larger electronics chain stores.

 

Another idea for more range is to get a GMRS license. GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service, and also has much better range than FRS for the same reasons outlined above. FRS actually shares GMRS frequencies on FRS channels 1-7, at the FRS maximum power output of 500 milliwatts.

 

One thing to be careful about is there are some stores out there selling combination FRS/GMRS radios. Some GMRS operators are quite rabid (no offence to the GMRS folks ? I completely understand the reasons, being as I am a ham icon_wink.gif ) about protecting their bandwidth from pirate operators, so make sure you fill out the included paperwork or go to the FCC?s website and apply for a relatively low-cost 5-year GMRS license if you happen to get one of these radios.

 

FRS is great, IMHO for short-range communications on the trail, but I most definitely would not depend on it for my primary means of communications in remote areas.

 

OR, like Vince said ? You could also get an amateur radio license and not have to worry about crowded channels! icon_wink.gif

 

Wow ? sorry for writing a book? too much caffeine at 3:00 A.M.!

 

-Phil

aka KC4UVU

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Guest ClayJar

Okay, I've read a lot of random stuff about hamography. (I'm getting my wisdom teeth out in an hour and a half, so I can make up any words I want. Okay?) What I want to know is what kind of license I should be wanting to get; in very general terms, what will it cost (including a device of some sort), and where do I look to get started. (Now, back to thinking about excruciating pain. icon_frown.gif)

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Guest ClayJar

Okay, I've read a lot of random stuff about hamography. (I'm getting my wisdom teeth out in an hour and a half, so I can make up any words I want. Okay?) What I want to know is what kind of license I should be wanting to get; in very general terms, what will it cost (including a device of some sort), and where do I look to get started. (Now, back to thinking about excruciating pain. icon_frown.gif)

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I would have to second the suggestion to get a amateur radio license. The equipment is of much higher quality than FRS and there are better people populating the bandspace. You do have to take a license exam, but I think it is well worth the study time. The exam keeps most of the yahoos and crazy folk off the air and out of your way. I've heard some pretty stupid/scary things on an FRS radio of my friend's. One caution though about ham radio... it could very easily become your next hobby. It's addicting to say the least!

Nate Thames

KC0KCN

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Guest raptorrider2001

n1nig-Just visited the aarl web site. It mentioned 3 levels of licenses. Which one do you need to use the type of radio you mentioned in your post? What can you do with just the technician lic.? Thanks

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Guest Tek465m

Technician- Is the first license class. You take a moderately easy test that is 35 questions long. Once you pass you'll be able to use the VHF UHF and Microwave bands. (these are the bands for most handheld radios. And you can usually find used/new radios from about $25-400 $100 being average for a good single band radio) The range is usually line-of-site or about 4-5 mi flat terrain on 5 watts. With a repeater you could easily go 30 mi depending on the repeater.

 

General/Extra- These are the next two classes, if you decide to go on. These will give you HF privliges. You would then be able to communicate globally. Without the use of satellites or phonelines. Testing is a bit more difficult (35 for general/ 50 for extra plus 5WPM morse code)

 

But, to stay on topic for geocaching . You would probably want to stick with the Tech class for basic communication. You could then try APRS which would send your location to anyone that happens to be monitoring. Or you could set up a multi-cache that would require the use of Fox hunting (Direction finding using a small beacon) to find the next cache.

 

Just a thought,

William, KD7JJY

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Guest Gliderguy

Some of the forums I have read regarding FRS vs CB were inconclusive which could range further. Of course, a CB back at your vehicle with a well tuned whip antenna is going to beat the socks off of FRS. But for general handheld use the difference isnt supposed to be too much. The smallest handheld CB radios I am aware of use at least EIGHT AA batteries, versus either 3 or 4 AA or AAA batteries for FRS. I used a 300mw (not even full power of 500 mw) pager sized FRS radio to talk to a kid more than 8 miles away. I was in the middle of Albuquerque and he was on nearby Sandia Peak. That is about the best case of line of sight you can get. I think I could have been twice that distance from him and still been able to communicate, he sounded like he was in the street in front of my house. It all depends on the density of the terrain. But even in heavy woods I havent heard much less than 3/4 mile reported from people with high quality FRS units.

GMRS is much more powerful and has better than double the advertized range of FRS, and those units are getting smaller all the time. The prices are in line with high end FRS radios. But the smallest GMRS is still more than twice as big as the FRS radios I am using now, so I doubt I personally will bother to switch any time soon.

here is a link to lots of user reviews on FRS radios:

http://members.tripod.com/~jwilkers/review.html

 

Here is a general overview on the same site:

http://members.tripod.com/~jwilkers/choose.html

 

 

[This message has been edited by Gliderguy (edited 13 August 2001).]

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Guest geckoguy

I got two BellSouth FRS radios at WalMart for $29 plus tax. They have 14 channels, a call feature, and a cool scan feature. When you hit the scan button to stop scanning, it will go right back to the channel you started on. Unless you are going to search for caches in separate parks, or miles apart, ignore what these people are saying about getting some HAM or GMRS license and save your money. I'm sure that could be a fun hobby but a couple of cheap FRS radios will suit your needs for spreading out in a park or driving two or more cars in a caravan just fine.

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Guest bob_renner

quote:
Originally posted by Gliderguy:

... I used a 300mw (not even full power of 500 mw) pager sized FRS radio to talk to a kid more than 8 miles away. ... That is about the best case of line of sight you can get...


The current record for distance using FRS is a little over 120 miles. This was done between 2 mountain tops in North Carolina. This was an extreme case - normal distances are 1-2 miles.

 

Bob

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Guest Gliderguy

That just goes to show with any radio operating in this frequency band, Terrain is the major factor. Too bad there isnt an ultra low freqency FRS that isnt line of sight limited.

 

(I would hate to see the size of the 1/4 wave antenna!)

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Guest tedoca

I use the Cobra Micro Talk two way FRS radios out on the trail and have been very pleased with them. I also have a no-code-tech ham license and can attest to the adictabilty (is that a word?) of that hobby as well. The two meter band is very popular with motorists and outdoorsy types in my area and if you really need help out in the woods there will always be someone monitoring the frequency who can send aid.

 

Good luck,

N3YKX

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Guest CaptHawke

A few weird FRS stories from the American Radio Relay League: http://www2.arrl.org/arrlletter/00/0929/

 

Another long-distance FRS rescue: An 11-year-old Marysville, Washington, girl helped rescue a stranded and injured hiker 100 miles away on September 24 when she picked up his call for help on her Family Radio Service UHF H-T. Mikayala Whitley was playing Sunday with the little transceiver outside her home in north of Seattle when she heard the call for help and responded. She was able to keep in contact with injured hiker Michael Wyant, 49, throughout the afternoon. The girl's parents called authorities, who launched a rescue with the youngster acting as a communication relay between the hiker and rescuers. Wyant was picked up by a helicopter later that afternoon, treated at a hospital and released. He also called to thank his radio rescuer. The FRS units--which operate in the 462-MHz range--have a typical range of a couple of miles. In June, two young Oregon brothers were credited with quick thinking after they intercepted a plea for help transmitted via an FRS UHF transceiver by

some injured mountaineers more than 80 miles away. Those hikers also were rescued as a result. REACT International has suggested the adoption of FRS channel 1 (462.5625 MHz) with the CTCSS tone disabled as a national call channel. REACT says it came up with the idea after lost hikers in Southern California spent 40 minutes calling on 14 different FRS channels using 38 different tones. In that case, an 11-year-old boy, Kristofer Moore, heard the distress call on his FRS H-T while camping with his family.--news reports; REACT

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Guest BX Tale

They have some Cobras sets on sale at places like K Mart and Wal mart that comes with rechargable batteries and charger and TWO radio for like $50. But try to get the rechargable batteries they save you so much money. But if you live in a very well populated area try to get a radio that has sub cannels. Here in the city you really need sub cannels. I am about to upgrage mine. So if you are interested let me know these are brand new Cobra FRS 110 will part with both. These are in MINT cond.

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Guest 300mag

I also have a couple of motorola talkabout 250. I like them a lot.They use AA batteries which run longer then AAA.Keep this in mind when shopping for radios.1.5 miles in the bush is quite a distance.especially if youre meeting at a certain spot these will work great.

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Guest The Jester

Don't know if this beats the record listed above - the exact distance wasn't listed - but there was a case earlier this year where a young girl in Granite Fall, WA heard a group on Mount Stuart calling for help. They are over 100 miles apart, and when buddies got out to call for help, it was all ready on the way.

BTW, I have a couple of Kenwood FRS radios that have a remote mic. I can stuff the radio in my pack or pocket and have the mic clipped to shoulder strap or shirt for ease of use.

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Guest Snowtrail

I also have two of the Walmart FRS versions. I've never been seperated from my party over two miles, but I have been on the other side of the top of the mountain.

 

On a side note, I've also used my radios more in household maintenance than hiking. It helps to have one instead of yelling to my husband through the ceiling when he's in the attic doing repairs...

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Guest MNMartian

I just picked up a couple Audiovox FR1400's from Target today...on sale for about $20 each. We'll see how they work out.

My sister and I went caching the other day and were a couple hundred feet apart but there was a hill between us and I whistled (used my mouth)but she didn't hear me, that was kinda scary. So from now on we'll take the FRS AND a survival whistle with us!!

 

What type of batteries do you use for your FRS? Are heavy duty ones ok or do you have to have Alkalines?

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Guest k2dave

Alk's are recommended. Heavy duty batts are not worth it unless you get them for free. Nimh or NiCd works great in them too since the radios require a great deal of power to transmit and the Nixx batts are more then willing to comply. If you have a batt gauge on your FSR it will be inaccurate using anything but alks.

 

I have gotten a full ski day 7+ hrs on a set of NiCd's

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Guest Gliderguy

Since we are talking about longevity dont let AAA using radios automatically scare you away. The radio shacks I am using (model # 21-1859) got 32 hours with just run of the mill 550mAh NiMH batteries. That was just sitting there with them on, scanning, doing a fair amount of recieving. About every hour I would key them up for the equivilant of a short conversation (except for the hours I was asleep!)

 

I have some larger Radio Shack FRS's that take 4 AA batts also. They lasted longer, but come on, how many times are you going to need more than 52 hours of standby time?

 

Some radios are battery hogs though. Look at some of the reviews on this site:

 

http://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=2283928&m=0&p=0

 

[This message has been edited by Gliderguy (edited 20 August 2001).]

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Guest k2dave

I like the AA batts over the AAA batts because almost everything I use use (and ALL my geocaching gear) the AA's and it's just easier to carry/recharge one type then 2.

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Guest MNMartian

Does it hurt the FRS to run them with heavyduty AA's? I couldn't find anything about it being bad in the manual if they weren't alkalines. I was just wondering because I got 16 Rayovac heavyduty AA's for a little over $3.

I do put alkalines in my GPS though.

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Guest MNMartian

Thanks k2dave!

I'd hate to ruin my new toys! icon_biggrin.gif

 

By the way, they now have homes in those 2 armbands I got from radioshack!

I like to carry my gps in my hand instead.

 

[This message has been edited by MNMartian (edited 21 August 2001).]

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Guest MNMartian

Thanks k2dave!

I'd hate to ruin my new toys! icon_biggrin.gif

 

By the way, they now have homes in those 2 armbands I got from radioshack!

I like to carry my gps in my hand instead.

 

[This message has been edited by MNMartian (edited 21 August 2001).]

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Guest YaesuMan

well you could all get your ham radio ticket.

you can do anything with ham radio.

if anyone wants to know more.

you know.

 

------------------

I do radio.

Anything that is radio.

Yes, GPS is radio.

GO HAM RADIO!

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Guest phantom4099

quote:
Originally posted by Gliderguy:

I have three of the Radio shack mini FRS radios (catalog number 21-1859) that I absolutely love. they go for well over 24 hours on 3 AAA rechargables. Me and my wife use them with Autocom motorcycle headsets when we go out riding our streetbikes. these things are about the size of a pager with a 2 inch antenna on it. Like all the other FRS radios, the range depends on the conditions. I once talked 8 miles line of sight to a kid on a nearby mountain top. they get about a mile in the suburbs - vehicle to house.

 

Midland has a new tiny FRS radio that I would love to get my hands on: the F-10. it is in the Cabelas catalog. I cant find it on the midland site or anywhere else though.


 

I have the same radio shack radio as you do and I also really like it (except that it does not give any warning before it the battery low indicator comes on and I can't talk).

Did you get one of the early black ones or do you have the silver one? I have the early black one from when they first came out and I think it looks neater being black than silver.

 

Wyatt W.

 

------------------

The probability of someone watching you is directly proportional to the stupidity of your actions.

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Guest prv8eye

quote:
Originally posted by ClayJar:

I keep my whistle around my neck right by my compass. I figure it's a lot more difficult to go hoarse blowing a whistle for help than it is from shouting, especially when you eventually get hurt somewhere remote enough to actually need help.


 

Remember, three short, three long, three short = SOS

Otherwise, others will think you're just some pesky kid .

 

Gus Morrow

Oceanside, CA

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Guest prv8eye

to go hoarse blowing a whistle for help than it is from shouting, especially when you eventually get hurt somewhere remote enough to actually need help.


 

Remember, three short, three long, three short = SOS

Otherwise, others will think you're just some pesky kid .

 

Gus Morrow

Oceanside, CA

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