Posts Tagged travels

Christmas 2017 in Seattle…with an 8ft tall snow Olaf-Zilla!

28 December 2017

On our way to Seattle trying not to catch anything else! Did you know that the airport Menchies Frozen Yogurt just got Dole Whip 2 days ago?!? The sign says Dole Pineapple Sorbet but it is creamy just like at the Tiki Room!

We were picked up at the airport in style with a furry welcome! Made it to Grandma’s house and unloaded all the luggage and presents before dinner!

Merry Christmas from Diagon Alley in Ballard! Impressive amount of work in just a driveway and a constant line of people! We did our best Azkaban escapee faces, took advantage of the mistletoe at the “moving bricks” entrance, inspected the construction behind the scenes, spotted a holiday R2-D2 near a spare dragon, and even peeked through the window into his garage shop in back and spotted some new details in progress. Congrats to them for having creative fun and raising so much money for a good cause! #diagonalleyproject

It’s snowing just in time for a white Christmas! 😃No need to dream anymore! ❄️🎄🎁⛄️

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Lutefisk, lefse, pickled beets & Swedish meatballs for our Christmas Eve dinner, all while snow continued to fall and a couple snowballs were thrown, then fun opening all our presents, including some challenging puzzle boxes for Glen that required group effort! 😉

Merry Christmas! Do you wanna build a snowman?!? Our Olaf-Zilla is 8ft tall! I hadn’t built a snowman since I was 9, but Glen was on a mission to go big! Thanks to Diane for taking photos, thinking of the sweet potato nose, and mason jar rings & cut out leaves for eyes!

Our 8ft tall Olaf-Zilla is already leaning so some last photos before he melts away! Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas Day!

Great to see my Peterson cousins today and the big brothers were all smiles! Thanks to Kathleen & Brian for hosting at their new house only one week after moving in! A bit of stress when we couldn’t get the van up the hill in the snow, so they drove us up in shifts…whew!

Singalong carols around the piano like the old Clouston Christmases! Of course we had to sing White Christmas this year with all the snow still on the ground!

Glen inspected the last pieces of Olaf-Zilla, we packed the RV, and said goodbye to Grandma out the back door for another snazzy ride to the airport as Gary & Diane keep driving to California! The Spaceneedle was peeking through the melting snowdrops on the window, but Mt Rainier was out today!

Home again! We got lucky with an open seat in our row, and Southwest has smartly moved the magazines to the top of the seat and plenty of knee room even for my long legs! When we disembarked, Glen immediately headed the opposite direction from baggage claim with a sneaky grin…it took me half the walk to figure out he was headed for some Dole Whip to go before we left the airport…hahaha! Even though there was no lid that fit, that giant container is now safely in our freezer. Both kitties are fine but Obsidian somehow lost both his normal collar AND his Christmas collar!

Beetle House LA in Hollywood & Disneyland 2017

20 November 2017

Since we had already been to Disneyland Hong Kong, Disneyland Shanghai and DisneyWorld in Florida all in 2017, Glen & I decided to use our only free weekend between Halloween and New Years for a quick road trip down to the original Disneyland to make it an even FOUR Disney Resorts in one year! On the way we had dinner at Beetle House LA, a Hollywood Blvd nightclub run by Tim Burton fans, complete with decor, themed menus, costumed actors, and even a freak show in the dining room that was all really fun!


We made it straight from Santa Clara to Beetle House LA on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and made it into 10pm dinner! The first actor I saw was a pitch-perfect Edward Scissorhands and Catwoman photobomed us! I’m drinking a Big Fish complete with dry ice and Swedish Fish candies and Glen is enjoying a fall spiced This Is Halloween cocktail! So many compliments on our Jack Skellington shirts from guests and employees alike! More photos after dinner…

Dinner at Beetle House LA was fun and we saw two rounds of the freak show!

We strolled to Hollywood & Vine where the Apollo moon landing crew’s “star” and the vintage round Capitol Records building are, and saw that Alec Baldwin’s star was one door over from Beetle House and Bela Lugosi’s star was across the street. Sadly Grauman’s Chinese theatre with the gilded pagoda designs and all the footprints & handprints seems to be walled in or rebuilt now, since I remember it being out in the open in 1990. This was Glen’s first trip to Hollywood and we couldn’t even see the Hollywood sign since it isn’t lighted at night!

Radiator Springs FastPasses acquired and now in our first line of the day…Guardians of the Galaxy!

We saw Groot leaving for a break and now we are at Haunted Mansion Holiday!!!

We got a castle photo then met Melanie & Mac for lunch at Carthay Circle…delicious food & tasty cocktails in a classy reproduction of the Carthay Circle in old Hollywood. Our waitress has been hiding a tiny Woody figure around the restaurant…heehee!

Melanie & Mac did their own thing while we used our FastPass for Cars Land Radiator Springs Racers…still some of the best animatronics in Anaheim!

Glen wants to make some miniature moving displays like in the windows on Main Street…really well done with even a mini-Peppers illusion for Cinderella!

We met up with Melanie & Mac again for Dole Whip then Pirates…still a classic at fifty years old!

We shopped a bit at the Haunted Mansion store, rode Roger Rabbit, then the Small World ride line was a full 2 HOURS (but has a cool projection overlay show every 15 minutes), so Melanie & Mac left for home while we found some dinner. Thanks for a fun afternoon catching up!

We squeezed in the crowd but unfortunately behind a tree for Fantasmic, then rushed to the fireworks in the giant crowd halfway down Main Street. We couldn’t see the castle projections as well but we saw the fireworks just fine…and there was “snow”! ❄️

We made it back to the Haunted Mansion after dark, and I took some photos and video this time, especially of the Hat Box Ghost which we had never seen before today! I still absolutely love the ice angels and the pumpkin chorus. This year the giant gingerbread house in the ballroom has motorized moving parts (I’ve done that before myself!), Sally is now full-size in the graveyard wistfully watching Santa Jack, and there is a cute spider holding a tiny wrapped present as the Doombuggies climb the hill…

We got on Indiana Jones with a Fast Pass from dinnertime, then with one hour left to closing, we stood in line for almost an hour for Small World since Glen had never seen it decorated for Christmas. The fancy Swedish Lucia Bride with candle wreath on her head is still at the end, and the mermaids sing Jingle Shells…haha…

On our way out of Disneyland we got a snack and saw the Concert Orchestrion, built in 1907 and inside the Penny Arcade since Disneyland’s opening in 1955…I’d never noticed it before but it started playing as we walked by…amazing it’s over a century old! I got artsy with reflections in a giant ornament on the Main Street Christmas tree, and new Frozen stuff is out from the new short opening Wednesday with Coco…sure wish that cute Olaf & Elsa sweater pattern was made for big people! Anna & Elsa’s Boutique in Downtown Disney, where I was mobbed for photos as Elsa in 2014, is now the Dream Boutique but with Elsa’s new winter outfit in the window. Glen already fell asleep still in his clothes, well-deserved after almost 19,000 steps today!

We needed the sleep so by 11am we were dressed, packed, checked out, luggage stored, and finally eating along the Festival of Holidays in California Adventure on our way to Disneyland for day 2!

We got a 4:30 FastPass for Space Mountain then strolled through Star Wars Launch Bay…almost exactly the same as Disneyland Shanghai but with enough people that we didn’t want to stand in line for photos for Vader, Kylo Ren or any Wookies, but the toy BB-8 photo op in the gift shop was pretty cute for kids.

We rode Alice in Wonderland because neither of us had seen it. New projections hidden between old-school moving figures are nicely done. Now in getting us Dole Whip while Glen gets a head start toward Haunted Mansion, since we still can’t get another FastPass yet but everything is assigning times after we have to drive home. Even more people today than yesterday afternoon!

It took about 80 minutes in the standby line but we got on Haunted Mansion Holiday again! Only 3 times this trip since lines have been sooo long and FastPasses are going so quickly.

Even 20 minutes before showtime the nosebleed balcony was all that was left for the hour-long live Frozen show, but we could still see the amazing effects, it was cool how the magic and scenery often extended onto the theatre walls, and the Olaf and Sven puppets were fantastic. Elsa changed her own dress on the ice stairs during Let It Go, and Anna’s heroic moment turning to ice was an extremely clever projection effect on white cloak. Definitely worth seeing!

Back into Disneyland to use our only Fast Pass of the day for Space Mountain, by way of a quick & relatively healthy dinner at Plaza Inn…Last ride of our last day, and sadly this was the only coaster we rode all weekend!

Some cute items while shopping on the way out of Disney tonight…Star Wars “poodle” skirts, blueprint mugs, cute phrase tees, and a glass dragon over a cute castle…

Before turning the corner back to our car, as I was sighing in the Dream Boutique that they never have anything for big princesses, the door greeter said just a few shops down was the Disney Dress Shop…hooray! The tiki dress, stripey pirates, Tower of Terror bellhop and apple dresses from the Orlando May launch were all there, including my Haunted Mansion dress I wore yesterday, plus new designs! I had to try the most princessy dress even though it wasn’t my color, and you must pay attention to the embroidered slippers and pumpkin carriage that are echoed on the bottom hem. 😉 Glen really liked the Cinderella dress on me but agreed “where would you wear it?” I tried on an aqua teacup dress and Belle’s bookshelf which didn’t fit my body type at all, but I bought the new blue & black ghostly ballroom Haunted Mansion dress that the shop said was only released a couple weeks ago…and that one has POCKETS! 😀

Thanks to our Costco Travel package we got a full digital PhotoPass collection plus some free prints, so we actually stood in lines this trip and got some really cute photos, many posed by the photographer. I figured this was practice taking direction for wedding photos? 😉 I won’t be able to access the full digital set until we get home, but we are already almost to Bakersfield so that won’t be too much longer. Thanks to Disney for another fun trip! We made it to 4 different Disney Parks around the globe in 2017 and enjoyed them all! 😀

Grandma’s 103rd Birthday in Seattle

8 November 2017

A 2 hour airport delay means shepherd’s pie & bangers & mash meals at the SJC airport Britannia Arms with a teal margarita, sticky toffee pudding, and a friendly Lab from Germany, then finally in the air with a pretty pink moonrise over the clouds. Safely in Seattle now for Grandma’s 103rd birthday party tomorrow!

Happy 103rd Birthday to Grandma! Another great house party with mimosas plus bakery quiche & several cakes all courtesy of of cousin Stephen! Loved the toddler birthday card modified with an extra century, the Scrabble tiles card, and the world record plaque for most buckets of weeds…haha!

We visited Grandma at rehab today so I played piano for a small audience in the lobby and Mom sang with me for a couple songs. :)

Fun afternoon with my Peterson cousins!

We should have brought the giant birthday balloons to rehab yesterday in the van…haha!Southwest SeaTac’s Halloween decorations are still up with a cute Seattle skyline painted on a real pumpkin, and both our San Jose and Sacramento flights are at the same gate…haha! Goodbye to Seattle but we will see Grandma again for Christmas!

Weekend Camping in Yosemite…with snow in June!

14 June 2017

We knew we wanted to camp in Yosemite, and later in summer or September is always so warm for me, we thought we’d try for June, which meant getting online before 7am in January when the campsites become available 5 months ahead. We were trying for North Pines but half that campsite was closed for possible flooding, wise since we drove through and several sites were indeed still flooded mid-June! We ended up with the last spot in Upper Pines next to the bathroom & dumpster, but we still had a great time…who knew after such a gorgeous hiking day to Nevada Falls that it would SNOW in JUNE?!?


Friday June 9th

We made it to Yosemite just at sunset, and I had to bring my own rock from home, but I have finally made egg in a hole on a rock on a campfire and it was perfect! 😃 red wine, Brie fondue with crackers, sweet potato salad, and s’mores rounded out tonight’s campfire cooking. Hiking tomorrow since there’s a chance of SNOW on Sunday! 😳❄️☃

Saturday June 10th

Tons more photos and videos later, just a quickie post now since not enough signal…almost 10 miles in 8 hours today starting at 4035 ft above sea level climbing up to 5607 ft at the top of Nevada Falls and back down, walking through a bonus snowmelt waterfall, drenched by mist from Nevada Falls, and the Vernal Falls Mist Trail was truly epic even with double rainbows “all the way!” Glen is already asleep in front of the fire after dinner and I’m pooped too! Rain and/or snow forecasted for tomorrow so we will hang around the Yosemite Valley floor checking out as many waterfalls as possible…good night!

Here is the full album of our 10-mile 2000ft up & down Saturday hike on the John Muir Trail to Nevada Falls & Mist Trail along Vernal Falls. Truly epic amounts of water were amazing to see!

Sunday June 11th

It was already raining before 10am at our campsite, and tiny hail or sleet in the valley with clouds all around the peaks, but we decided to drive to Glacier Point anyway. By 5000 ft up we were driving though snow flurries and some snow was still on the ground! When we got to Glacier Point we laughed since we couldn’t see anything through the clouds, but we stayed long enough for enough clouds to blow away and back again to have some stellar views after all! We could see our full hike to both waterfalls and even zoom my iPhone through Glen’s binoculars to see people at the top of Vernal Falls! Halfdome was never completely clear since the clouds stuck to its face, but I got to pet a gorgeous adorable friendly Malamute dog! We found new tshirts for each of us at the gift shop, and then it started snowing again!

As we headed downhill from Glacier Point, the weather started to clear, so Tunnel View was absolutely stunning! We got drenched in the mist of Bridalveil Falls, got moody and sunny photos of Halfdome, and walked to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls where we stood in more waterfall mist. Definitely a difference when you’re already chilly from snowy weather rather than overheated from a sunny hike! Glad we had a clear afternoon since more rain due this evening, plus maybe even snow again by 5am…

Thankfully the canopy we set up this morning kept our table and wood dry, and it was clear long enough this evening to start a roaring fire and cook dinner, but by dessert the rain started winning so we moved the canopy to the fire’s edge, and waited out the rain. After all our cleanup we moved the canopy over our tent since it might snow by 5am! Sure glad we have wool socks, fleece, and down comforters in our little tent since it’s already 37F! Isn’t it almost midsummer? 😉

Monday June 12th

Two deer strolled right through our Upper Pines campsite Sunday morning right by me! Before we needed the rain fly over the tent, we could see Glacier Point through our tent window, but Halfdome was through the trees over the bathrooms. At least running water, mirrors, and flush toilets were much better than the San Simeon portapotties! It was an annoying campsite because so many people kept walking right through our site to the bathrooms or dumpster, but at least we were actually camping in Yosemite Valley, which is an online crapshoot 5 months in advance! It was really cold last night, but thankfully it was dry enough this morning by the time we got up that we had an easier time packing, but we will still need to set up the tent at home to dry out completely.

We checked out from our campsite, spotted other people taking my wildflowers on front of Halfdome photo, were amazed at a giant log perched on a rock midrver, and spent about 30 minutes looking for parking by Yosemite Village…even Monday traffic was crazy! We saw a little of the visitors center, then walked to the hotel for our fancy lunch reservation. The trademark name issue is still under dispute so most signs have been updated to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, but the paper maps and some trail signs still say The Ahwahnee.

To end our camping weekend we splurged with a sit-down meal in the grand dining room of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, originally the Ahwahnee Hotel. They asked if we wanted to sit in the area where Queen Elizabeth sat, so of course we said yes! Sadly you can barely see Yosemite Falls through the giant window anymore because of a young tree growing and covering the view, so I took a photo of the painting showing what the view used to be. It was a lovely lunch and a delicious dessert!

Since we left later on Friday than we hoped, we took Hwy 140 into Yosemite since Google Maps claimed it was almost an hour less due to rush hour traffic leaving the Bay Area. I’d never driven that way so I missed my traditional first valley view vista point, plus there’s no big park entrance sign, so we already had planned to take Hwy 120 home. Good thing since Hwy 140 was closed today due to a new rockslide! We got the photos I wanted, and Glen wanted to start a travel sticker collection on the car carrier, so we ceremonially put on our first sticker at the big entrance sign! We made it all the way home by 10:30pm but are exhausted, so full unpacking will be tomorrow. Good night!

Orlando 2017 – hitting the highlights

10 May 2017

Glen had his company conference in Orlando again, so I met him for an extended weekend of just hitting the highlights with one day for the Wizarding World at Universal Studios, plus a couple days of DisneyWorld so we could add a 3rd Disney park to our list for 2017! We stayed at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village with a savannah view so got to see animals from our balcony!

Wednesday May 3rd

Already one flight down, now on my way to Orlando to meet Glen for Universal & DisneyWorld!

First stop in Orlando was the new Dress Shop at Disney Springs, where I was absolutely delighted to find TWO adorable dresses that fit me!!! Boy was I lucky since the Haunted Mansion dress was _only_ available in my size and the non-Disney purple & aqua Madame-Leota-inspired one was only my size and a small! I would have bought the purple bat bag if it was a little larger. Glen was very patient to indulge me and help with zippers. 😉 Now I can be a different Haunted Mansion princess both days at Disney!

We enjoyed our evening at Disney Springs, including pizza, ice cream, window shopping, and hats! 😉

Thursday May 4th

90F and muggy today so first priority were Wizarding World photos in Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade & Hogwarts before I melted in my new outfit! My wand still works and the first spells I tried were the two unmapped spells – proud I remembered the gestures! Bonus was that the staff loved my outfit so much that they put us in the Hogwarts fast line! Drawback is I skipped half of inside Hogwarts where I was hoping for photos! 😉

We got soaked on Jurassic Park, rode Kong Skull Island (which had impressive animatronics & 3D video but almost nothing to do with the movie), had a hilarious velociraptor encounter, and back for Honeydukes snacks at air-conditioned Hogs Head pub. Now boarding the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley for the rest of Universal Studios…

We were being teased about “glamping” vs camping…haha!

Sure glad we saw the dragon flames two years ago since we never saw flames today! We saw Kreacher peek out of Grimmauld Place, Madame Malkin’s has a projector dress & plaid deerstalker witches hats, Gringotts and the Mummy are still fantastic rides, and Simpsons nachos were pretty tasty!

The new Jimmy Fallon ride “Race Through New York” was cute, but my favorite parts were the pre-show with the barbershop pop songs and classroom instruments! 😀

Good thing we strolled through the Monster Cafe this morning since it had closed by the time we were leaving! The electrical lab display was new but most of the rest was the same as earlier trips. We did find one store with some fun shirts and toys, but nothing usable for Haunted Hollywood this year. 😉

Friday May 5th

Hooray, we saw animals from our double balcony at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village, and zebras fom the lobby! We couldn’t book until 33 days ago so the only savannah view room left was a suite, so we have two TVs and two bathrooms! Now for Disney parks today & tomorrow!

First park was aqua-themed Hollywood Studios with the original and best Tower of Terror & Star Tours before lunch! I’ve gotten so many comments on my new purple dress, and I discovered it even has nice, deep POCKETS!!!

Glen hadn’t seen the drive in restaurant so glad we could get in and get the drivers seat and glowing cocktails! Love the cheesy movie loops and snack bar ads!

Glen had never seen the Great Movie Ride (Wicked Witch animatronic = Halloween goals!), and I LOVE the Toy Story Mania line more than the ride. 😉 We saw a little of the Star Wars show, and now it’s time for EPCOT…

No special edition Elsa Magic bands at our hotel or Hollywood Studios, so we went to Guest Relations so they could look up which stores actually have them…score! Spaceship Earth now asks you questions and puts your photos in a silly future story…they sent us to the Great Wall of China! Hahaha…

Not only is it Margarita Friday but it’s Cinco de Mayo so we went to the Mexico pavilion to stand in a long line for a margarita-to-go at Cava de Tequila! Sure would be nice to eat at the restaurant someday but we couldn’t get reservations. At least I got the chance to ride the ride this time. :)

Longest ride line today was for Test Track, but we got to design a car so guess what color I picked. Haha!

We both survived the intense orange team for Mission: Space without getting sick, and can you tell which Japanese floating gate is in Japan vs which is in EPCOT? 😉

Earlier today Glen said, “You want to meet Anna & Elsa for photos, don’t you.” I said if the line was reasonable then definitely, and we decided reasonable would be 45 minutes or less. Our Fast Pass for the Frozen ride wasn’t until 6:50pm, and when we finished Mission: Space, the Disney app said the Royal Sommerhus line was only 20 minutes! Not only did we not wait very long, the house decor is adorably Norwegian, and Glen stole the show when he told Anna he likes her better than her sister, so she had to repeat it to Elsa! He has been emphatic how Anna should get more respect as the true hero, so he asked if she would do her hero pose from the end of the movie. She said he could do it for her…nailed it! 😉

The first thing I did when we booked our hotel over a month ago was to get a FastPass for Frozen Ever After since we heard the stand by times were often still over an hour. We were so impressed with the state-of-the-art effects that we skipped the fireworks show and came back at closing to see it again!

The lefse was all gone on my 2012 trip, and I always wanted to try it, so we had our chance to split one. Glen has already tasted my mom’s lefse twice now, and I prefer her much thinner and more tender lefse! The giant troll is still there in the gift shop, but most of the space has been taken over by Frozen merchandise. 😉

We needed some protein for dinner, and we got inside the Oktoberfest hall just in time for the last music show! I love how they sneak in pickled herring salad on the buffet even though that’s more Scandinavian than German. We shared a flight of German wines that were refreshing and enjoyed the kids bouncing around to the fun traditional music. :)

We left EPCOT and two monorails later with the tail end of fireworks, we still had an hour of fun at the Magic Kingdom, so we started with Pirates of the Caribbean!

Our third Disney resort in three months, and our third park today, but no Haunted Mansion until tonight! We ran around front to get on again once more before the park closed, then a nice Haunted Mansion cast member helped us take photos outside! A couple castle photos and a bus ride after over 9 miles and over 22,000 steps means we are pooped! Animal Kingdom and more Magic Kingdom tomorrow…

Saturday May 6th

We decided we needed more sleep, we saw lots of animals out our window this morning, plus some more out the lobby verandas, so we skipped Animal Kingdom for just a quick breakfast at the main lodge, and we are on our way to the Magic Kingdom all day!

First stop was our FastPass for Enchanted Tales with Belle, an adorable interactive show for kids with more really impressive state-of-the-art effects! The new Fantasyland has a whole Beauty & the Beast area now, but boy is it packed with people today!

Sure glad we had a FastPass for the Haunted Mansion since the line was well over an hour!

We enjoyed sitting down inside for lunch in Liberty Square. Glad we had our last FastPass for Splash Mountain! I was trying to stay looking nice for dinner with the Beast tonight, but I still got soaked!

Delicious Dole Whip achieved, an adorable kids pirate lesson show with Jack Sparrow, and a Magic Band treasure map to win FastPasses for Pirates! Good thing since there are no digital FP available the Pirates for the rest of the day!

By the time we got to Tomorrowland, Space Mountain was closed, so since neither of us had ever ridden the PeopleMover we decided to try it. We couldn’t believe the super-long line would only be a 10 minute wait, but it was, and was “surprisingly entertaining” like the cast member said. 😉 When Space Mountain reopened it claimed a 2-hour line, but thankfully we were through in just over a hour…woohoo!

We made it back to Liberty Square with just enough time to shop before our 8:10 Haunted Mansion FastPass! We had already eyed our favorites in the morning, and after being spotted as superfans with Glen told he was “late for work” we were shown their two ghosts in bottles. The Hatbox Ghost shirt was teal and the printed dress adorable, but the coolest had to be the custom lenticular changing “spirit photography” portraits where they spookify you onsite! 😁

Be Our Guest was a fun as we hoped! The decor is amazing, including the West Wing with the floating rotating rose that drops petals between lightning flashes. Glen requested the photo of us dancing in the ballroom by our table! The Grey Stuff was indeed delicious, along with the charcuterie plate, seafood pasta & braised beef with our wine pairings. My big camera was freaking out, then the cast member I gave it to left when I was meeting the Beast, so I might just buy a Disney photo or two!

After dinner at the Beast’s Castle we had just enough time to get in the Haunted Mansion line so Glen could finally play with the interactive gravestones! We were on the ride for our 5th time this trip during closing of our last day, fitting that our hitchhiking ghost held up a sign saying “California here were come!”

Not quite as many steps as yesterday, but still too exhausted tonight and we have a super-early wake up call to fly home tomorrow! I’ll let you guess what our last ride was… 😉

Sunday May 7th

After about 4 hours sleep, we were up before dawn to get to the airport home, then Glen’s flight was delayed so I spent all afternoon by myself hauling my crap to the curb until he finally arrived, thankfully even with his luggage…long day and back to work tomorrow! At least the kitties have already forgiven me for being gone. 😉

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