Volume 2 Issue 1 | Fall 2016
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This issue celebrates not only a change in season but also the first year anniversary of Relocate! Magazine. We finish out our first year with the last article in our Exploring Alaska! series with Alaska’s Matanuska Valley in our spotlight. The valley covers a lot of land that is brimming with opportunities for relocation. This area of Alaska offers its residents not only a peaceful getaway from a busy city, but with Anchorage sitting in its midst, you are never to far from the bustle and hustle of the big city life, Alaskan style. One thing this part of Alaska offers that the islands don’t, is a railroad system to transport passengers and freight. Riding the rails is a perfect way to relocate within Alaska’s Interior.
Contributors: Angela J. Richards Melissa DeVaughn Mat-Su CVB
On the cover: With several public-use cabins and a series of more than 100 connected lakes, the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is a crown jewel in the Alaska State Parks system. Photo credit: Tom Bol/MatSu CVB
Matanuska Glacier is Alaska's largest roadaccessible glacier. The views from Mile 100 of the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway are amazing. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
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Departments Explore our Country 11
People of the Land 15
Gardening in Alaska
19 Dancing Skies: Northern Lights viewing can't be beat in Interior Alaska
How to Conquer Tough Financial Times
20 3 Simple Rules for Healthy, Happy Eggs
On the Move 7 4 Tips to Stay Fit While Traveling 22 Relocating via the Alaska Railroad
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How to Conquer Tough Financial Times
Even the most savvy money handlers can fall on hard times when unexpected circumstances push your budget beyond its limits. These ideas may help you emerge from a tough financial situation and get back on track.
Cut non-essential spending When you're comfortable in your lifestyle and finances are flowing, you probably give little thought to the extras in your life. But when money gets tight, this can actually be one of the easiest ways to help bring your finances back under control. Start by taking a close look at where your money goes by listing every bill you pay each month and the amounts you pay. Then include all the day-to-day extras, such as eating out, shopping and other entertainment. If the total of your bills and extras don't match or exceed your income, it's time to make cuts, and the extras are the best place to start.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Eliminate overwhelming debt Substantial balances on your mortgage can be crippling. It's a feeling Jeri Smith knows all too well. The 68-year-old needed to sell her house, pay off her $120,000 mortgage balance and move into an apartment to avoid falling behind. Fortunately, Smith recalled a conversation with her neighbors John and Corinne Tesh, owners of Citygate Homes LLC in Greensboro, North Carolina, an independently owned and operated HomeVestors franchisee. The Tesh's toured the house and felt it needed a lot of renovations, but they knew it would sell quickly after they rehabbed
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the property because of the neighborhood. They made an offer to purchase the home in cash. After the renovation was complete, they listed the home and received a fullprice offer the first day on the market. Extending their sensitivity and kindness, HomeVestors - largest home buyer in the U.S. with more than 65,000 houses bought since 1996 - hired movers for Smith and paid for six months of storage for items that did not fit in her new place. This allowed Smith to move without the burden she was expecting, including costly, time-consuming repairs and showing the home to potential buyers.
Examine insurance Another area that can really affect your overall budget is the money you're paying for insurance. People tend to choose an insurance policy and let it sit, but it's good idea to analyze your insurance coverages at least annually (more often if you have a major life change or new purchase) to be sure they still fit your needs and budget. Don't be afraid to shop for the best value and switch providers if needed.
Learn more about the real estate resources available to help you overcome a difficult financial situation at homevestors.com.
Source: HomeVestors | Family Features
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Photo source: Alcon DAILIES TOTAL1® production day
f summer travel plans frequently keep you away from home, it can be a challenge to maintain your regular fitness routine. With dedication, planning and a little creativity, you can use these tips from fitness entrepreneur Cassey Ho to maintain your workout regimen no matter where your travels take you.
1. Pack for Fitness Before your trip, research the hotel, nearby fitness facilities or area parks and pack accordingly. Be sure to bring along the
essentials, such as athletic shoes and exercise clothing; easily portable equipment such as a jump rope, resistance bands or yoga mat; and technology to support your workout like your smart phone and headphones. Like the right apparel, footwear and diet, it is also important to have the right contact lens technology for your eyes. It's crucial to your performance that you be comfortable throughout the day so you don't lose focus.
See “Travel Fitness” page 8 Relocate! Magazine | Fall 2016 | Vol. 2 Issue 1 | © 2016 Publish In Paradise | RelocateMag.us | 7
Travel Fitness cont. from page 7
"As a fitness trainer, fashion designer and social media entrepreneur, I need a contact lens that's as high-performing as I am," Ho said. "Because of their unique watergradient technology, Alcon DAILIES TOTAL1(r) contact lenses are so comfortable that I don't notice I'm wearing them, which allows me to focus on my workout, not my eyes." Beyond all-day comfort, daily disposable contact lenses can be a healthy option for your eyes, are easy to use and take up less space when traveling because you don't need to pack bulky lens care solution and cases. Learn more at dailiestotal1.com.
2. Keep Active as You Go Whether you're traveling by car, train or plane, summer travel can force you to sit for long periods. To fit some activity into your travel, wear your walking or running shoes. If you're traveling by plane, stroll through the airport terminal rather than sitting at the gate if you have a layover or delay. When traveling by train walk through the cars occasionally. If you're driving, take breaks to get out and stretch.
3. Work in a Workout When you arrive at your destination, set the tone for your trip by working out right
away or scheduling time for a workout and treating it as an important appointment. Consider these simple ways to squeeze in some physical activity: ● Go for a quick run in the area near your hotel - it's a great way to burn calories, and it's the perfect opportunity to explore your destination! ● Walk the hotel halls - or get your daily steps logged at a local attraction or meeting facility. Take the stairs when possible and use your phone's GPS to map out a path or find a local park or trail. ● For a quick burst of cardio, power through a few sets of jumping jacks in your room. ● If you've got space in your hotel room, use your tablet or smartphone to find a yoga or aerobics workout and follow along. ● Try pushups, planks and squats, all of which rely on your own body mass for resistance. ● Swim laps in the hotel pool.
4. Make Healthy Dining Choices When dining out, make sensible choices. Take the time to evaluate the menu. Select foods that are steamed, roasted or broiled, and avoid fried foods. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side. If you'll be in town for more than a day or two, take time to
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visit a local grocery store to stock up on fresh, healthy snacks, such as fruit, vegetables, hummus and unsalted nuts, for your hotel room. Keeping things simple and staying committed to your routine with these tips will help you to easily keep your health on track during your summer travels. Ask your eye care professional for complete wear, care and safety information.
Source: Alcon | Family Features
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By Angela J. Richards
The Reed Lakes Trail in Hatcher Pass offers breathtaking views of the Valley below. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
The Matanuska Valley, also known as the Mat-Su Valley, is located between Anchorage and Denali National Park in Southcentral Alaska and encompasses more than 23,000 square miles. Three major highways extend through the MatSu, connecting its visitors and residents to Alaska's most beautiful wilderness. These highways are the Glenn Highway, Parks Highway and Denali Highway. The valley offers its residents and visitors an unprecedented Alaskan
experience with its elevated mountains, resplendent glaciers, ample fishing opportunities in the many rivers and lakes, abundant wildlife, and outdoor recreation and camping with the scenic backdrop of this beautiful land.
Known for its rich soil, the Mat-Su Valley is a prime spot for farming and agricultural pursuits. Many residential and commercial farms traverse the valley and offer a variety of produce, eggs,
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At the Palmer Museum and Visitor Center, a statue pays homage to the region's large vegetables. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
poultry, flowers, and other goods. This agricultural area is well-known for its naturally large produce, especially their legendary large cabbages. From May to September there are opportunities to support these local
Moose are abundant in the Mat-Su Valley. Seen here is a momma moose with her baby. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
farms at the farmer’s markets in these areas: Palmer, Talkeetna and Wasilla. Not only is the valley an agricultural hub, but it is rich with wildlife including bears, moose, eagles and more that can be viewed while exploring the Mat-Su Valley and all it has to offer. Don’t forget to enjoy the shimmering glaciers when here. The Matanuska and Knik Glaciers once covered a majority of the valley. The Matanuska Glacier is one of the few road accessible glaciers in Alaska and visitors are able to trek the ice of these glaciers.
Located in the Butte, the Reindeer Farm lets visitors get up close and personal with reindeers. There are also Rocky Mountain elk at the farm. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
Denali, once known as Mt. McKinley, is North America’s tallest peak and is a big attraction for mountain climbing enthusiasts. Denali is nestled in the Alaska Range, which offers Alaska’s residents and visitors with a host of outdoor opportunities including mountain climbing, rafting, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, fishing, gold panning, and more.
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Mount McKinley - or "Denali" - is North America's tallest peak, at 20,320 feet. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
At Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass, you can pan for gold. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
Wasilla, also known as “Lake Country”, hosts hundreds of beautiful, glassy lakes perfect for fishing and a variety of water sports. Wasilla is also the home of the famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race, and is considered the core area of the valley along
The Matanuska River, north of Palmer on the Glenn Highway, has everything from whitewater rafting to scenic float trips. It's one of the most popular rafting sites in Alaska. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
with its sister city, Palmer. This “core area” represents the largest population in the Matanuska Valley. For those more interested in a quiet life in less populated areas, the valley has many
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smaller, charming communities perfect for a relaxed, low-key, even “off-the-grid” lifestyle, such as Sutton, whose population is around 1300 residents.
The Iditarod Trail C o m m i t t e e headquarters in Wasilla gives visitors a chance to meet a musher and his dogs. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
No matter where you may decide to relocate to in Alaska, you will be surrounded by beautiful land and people. For those wishing to live a more “back to basics” lifestyle, growing your own produce, fishing in nearby lakes and rivers, and taking scenic drives
to view wildlife and visit neighbors, then the Matanuska Valley may be the perfect area for you.
Sources: AlaskaVisit.com | TravelAlaska.com
With hundreds of easily-accessible lakes, the Mat-Su Valley is the perfect boater's paradise. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
Palmer Golf Course has amazing views of glaciers, mountains and local agricultural areas. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
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The Palmer area is famous for its agriculture. Carrots, onions, lettuce and potatoes are some of the many crops raised in the Mat-Su Valley. Photo Credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
here does a pumpkin grow large enough to second as a carriage? In Alaska, it’s not unusual to see record-breaking pumpkins weighing in at over 1,000 pounds. It might be a stretch to imagine fruit doubling as a vehicle, but that’s heavier than most motorcycles! Even with its long winter months and location near the Arctic Circle, Alaska has a robust agricultural scene. With more than 20 hours of daylight in the summer, plants have almost twice as much time to grow. In 1935, the Matanuska Colony, an offshoot of President Roosevelt’s New Deal resettlement initiative to create work for Americans during the Depression era, marked the start of agriculture in Alaska. The experiment sent 200 colonist families to the Mat-Su Valley north of
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Gardening in Alaska cont.
Anchorage to settle on 40-acre tracts. Some of these original farms and buildings are still around today and are the basis for new programs and attractions in the Mat-Su Valley.
University of Alaska Fairbanks Georgeson Botanical Garden has a second function aside from being a pretty place to explore. Dedicated to high altitude horticulture, it is also a contributing member of a group of gardens used to research plant culture and conservation. About 15 miles southeast of Fairbanks, just outside of North Pole is the Chena Lakes Farm. Spanning 52 acres of sustainable land, Chena Lakes features a rustic log lodge where guests can experience life on a farm while dining on a complimentary breakfast of locally grown
Agricultural attractions have been around in Alaska for years, but recently, visitors have become interested in getting their hands in the dirt as well. From you-pick farms, reindeer and bison farms, wineries, breweries, farmer’s markets and events, there are more and more opportunities to experience Alaska grown. Family owned for more than three decades, Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farm, one of the original homesteads during the Colony project, has a successful U-Pick program. Customers can come to the farm and pick from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, such as artichokes, radishes, strawberries, sugar snap peas, raspberries, and crookneck squash, to name a few. Every year, the Pyrahs invite locals and visitors to their Fall Harvest Festival to celebrate the season’s pickings. Fairbanks is also home to another spectacular garden - the northernmost botanical garden in America. The
Alaska Grown vegetables are abundant at farmer's market, such as Friday Flings in downtown Palmer. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
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fruit, eggs, dairy and meat. Visitors can take part in the daily routine of tending to the plants and feeding the donkeys, chickens and turkeys that live on the property. Alaska’s wild and wooly creatures are also attracting travelers. The Musk Ox Farm on Mile 50 of the Glenn Highway near Palmer allows visitors to get up close and personal with a friendly crowd of an otherwise scary-looking animal. The musk ox is an Ice Age mammal that has long outlived its woolly mammoth and saber tooth tiger companions. It is believed that musk ox became extinct from Alaska in the 1800s, but was reintroduced around 1930. The musk ox is most famous for its wool — or qiviut as it is called by Alaska Natives, and is considered some of the rarest and finest wool in the world. A shop in downtown Anchorage sells scarfs, hats and other items knitted from this pricy wool. At Williams Reindeer Farm in Palmer, 150 reindeer live harmoniously with 35 elk, 13 horses, a bull moose and a bison. Originally a Matanuska Colony dairy farm, the Williams family has been running the business since 1987. Guests can visit the animals, or take part in activities such as hiking, scavenger hunts and horseback rides. Alaska’s rich beer brewing history dates back to the Russian occupation days of the 1700s, and continued through the gold rush era of the late 1800s and 1900s. Fast forward another century and Alaskans are on the forefront of the craft-beer industry, using many Alaska-grown ingredients such
as birch, honey, spruce tips and berries. Microbreweries continue to spring up across the state, offering not only award winning, high quality beer, but also tastings, tours and retail items. Wine and liquor are not far behind, with distilleries churning out unique Alaska flavors like smoked salmon and fireweed vodkas and wineries producing a range of berry vintages. The culmination of Alaska’s agricultural bounty is the Alaska State Fair, kicking off in late August. The two-week extravaganza brings thousands to hear music, watch dance performances and eat local foods viewing prized animals, antique tractors, arts and crafts, and the star of the show: colossal vegetables. Local growers set 10 fruit and vegetable world records between the years 1983 and 2009. Apart from 127-pound cabbages and 1,287- pound pumpkins, the fair is also famous for its beautiful display of locally grown flowers. Cool summers help flowers maintain their bright and vibrant colors long into late summer and fall. For more information visit our website www.travelalaska.com More resources:
Mat-Su Master Gardeners Club www.matsumastergardeners.com Valley Garden Club www.valleygardenclub.com FALL GARDENING TIPS www.valleygardenclub.com/septembertips.html
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By Melissa DeVaughn
The Far North phenomenon of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) turns an average winter, fall or spring night into a widescreen extravaganza like nothing else. When you see the lights for the first time, there are no words, no description, to match their magnificence. You can only watch in wonder. Such beauty is a rare and oft-admired thing. We Alaskans are lucky to count the northern lights as one of our winter “attractions.” Searching for them is not quite like wildlife-viewing, in which if you look long enough you will definitely see an animal — a beaver, a rabbit, a moose or bear. No, the northern lights are on their own timetable, coming when atmospheric conditions align in such a way as to make their activity more predictable. The northern-lights viewer can only hope to be in Alaska when those conditions are right, and to be thankful for it when the aurora does come. Auroras can occur between mid August to April. But in the winter, when darkness prevails, the lights stand out even brighter and can be seen longer, which would be between December and March when the sky is the darkest. Sunspots and solar flares are the root of the aurora, according to Charles Deehr, aurora forecaster at the University of
Northern Lights near Galena Photo credit: Chrs McLennan
Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, who says the northern lights are caused by solar flares that ionize particles in the upper atmosphere. The charged particles are drawn through space to the magnetic north (and south) poles, where they travel down the poles like beads on a wire. When the particles hit the earth’s atmosphere, ribbons of purple, blue, red and green weave together, turning the winter sky into a celestial kaleidoscope. Bright yellow-green — almost lime-colored —lights are the most common, hovering some 60-70 miles up in the sky. Purple and blue hues are particularly beautiful. Fairbanks, in the heart of Alaska’s Interior, is one of the best places on earth for aurora watching because of its close proximity to the North Pole. There are several tour companies that offer aurora expeditions or opportunities to view the northern lights. Remote cabins, away from the city lights, will bring you closer to the auroras. Or travel by dog team at night: guided tours will take you into the high See “Northern Lights” page 23
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When you head to the grocery store for organic eggs, you assume a certain level of quality in how your eggs were produced. While there are standards and requirements that companies follow in labeling their eggs, the standards lack regulation and don't truly reflect whether or not hens are treated humanely. The USDA's latest proposed outdoor space requirements would give hens a mere 2 square feet of space in order to carry the USDA organic label. To put things into perspective, the average cubicle size in the U.S. is 75 square feet. The proposed requirements are the human equivalent of running laps in an elevator, essentially. While an improved organic standard would be a step in the right direction, it makes no headway in terms of alleviating consumer confusion over carton labeling. Rather than providing animal welfareconscious consumers with the confidence that they are purchasing humanely produced eggs, it proposes living conditions
Free-range hens on a happy egg co. farm.
for hens that are neither humane nor safe. Consumers should be able to trust the packaging, labels and imagery that they find on their carton of eggs, but oftentimes these labels say little to nothing about the way the hens were treated. To reinforce the integrity of the organic seal, hens should be given far more space than what has been outlined by the USDA. In order for hens to live happier, healthier lives, the happy egg co., the first U.S. free-range egg brand to be certified by the American Humane Association, abides by three simple rules:
1. Give Them Space: The happy egg co. provides 21.8 square feet of space per hen, which is equivalent to roughly 20 shoe boxes high, long and wide - plenty of space
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for them to stretch their wings, dust bathe, forage and roam freely.
ensure that only the highest quality eggs enter the food chain.
2. Give Them Enrichment: Providing hens with "hen-richment" structures, including play kits and perches, encourages them to spend most of their day outside. This enrichment is meant to stimulate their natural instincts, which can only be exhibited outside of a cage or barn.
For more information about hen welfare and making humane purchasing decisions at the grocery store, visit thehappyeggco.com.
Source: The happy egg co. | Family Features
3. Keep Consumers Safe: The FDA
Photos courtesy of the happy egg co.
requires that egg producers test for salmonella once in a hen's lifespan, but testing for salmonella every 15 weeks helps
An example of the USDA's proposed 2 square feet of space per hen (left) - the amount that would be necessary to carry the organic label - compared to the happy egg co.'s 21.8 square feet of space.
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The Alaska Railroad stops in Wasilla and Talkeetna daily in the summer. Photo credit: Tom Bol/Mat-Su CVB
If relocating to the Mat-Su Valley from within other parts of interior Alaska, consider relocating via the Alaska Railroad. In 1903, the Alaska Central Railway (later renamed "The Alaska Railroad") built the first railroad in Alaska. It started in Seward and extended 50 miles north. In 2013, The Railroad’s own Bill O’Leary was named CEO, becoming the first lifelong Alaskan to lead the Railroad. For more than 90 years, the Alaska Railroad has connected travelers with many of Alaska’s most popular destinations. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, is the hub for the Alaska Railroad’s passenger service. The railroad also offers freight services. The largest state's train system has the distinction of being one of the last remaining "flagstop" train systems, where passengers can stand by the side of the track in vast wilderness and hitch a ride. But the trains that chug through Alaska offer something else unique in the country:
access to wilderness and wildlife most urban travelers only dream of seeing. Alaska is one of the few places in the country with a working railroad that hauls both passengers and freight daily. Only a third of Alaska is accessible by car; the train offers options that go beyond what a highway traveler might see. Every year, more than 400,000 people ride the Alaska rails, whether for a practical means of getting around parts of the state or for the sheer romance of it. Seeing Alaska from the comfort of full-service, glass-domed cars with oversized coach windows is breathtaking. The 12-hour trip north from Anchorage to Fairbanks threads through Denali National Park & Preserve and features seemingly endless views of mountains, wildlife and rivers. Onboard, guests enjoy the hospitality and amenities that
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originally gave train travel such a decadent reputation. Cocktails and other beverages are served throughout the day. Gourmet meals feature a hearty slow braised pot roast or a selection of fresh Alaska seafood entrees. The vast amount of scenery flashing past is almost overwhelming in scope. So the railroad provides easy-going, knowledgeable guides to narrate the trip. Travelers learn the natural history and Alaska Native culture of the region complete with anecdotes featuring the sourdough characters who left their homes to stake their fortunes here more than 100 years ago. The Alaska Railroad offers limited winter service between Anchorage and Fairbanks. From the cozy vantage of the coaches, passengers can see aurora borealis, or northern lights, as they paint the sky red, blue, purple, green, orange and yellow. And to make the snowy winter even more attractive, special events trains allow passengers to get out into the frozen wilderness.
For information on the Alaska Railroad call (800) 544-0552 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For Alaska visitor information, call 800-862-5275, or visit www.travelalaska.com
Northern Lights cont. from page 19
country to see northern lights and learn about mushing. “Fairbanks' position under the "Auroral Oval"—a ring-shaped region around the North Pole—makes it one of the best places in the world to see the aurora borealis,” said Amy Geiger, of the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our location offers a great balance of clear nights, occurrence frequency and activity that draws people from all over the world.” According to the Geophysical Institute, one of the leading northern lights research institutions in the world, the best time to see the aurora is at about midnight, give or take an hour depending upon daylight savings time. Consider this: in Alaska, the northern lights actually occur anywhere from 40-100 percent of the nights in an average year, depending on the location in the state (the further north you travel, the more frequent the occurrences). However, climatic changes such as clouds, snow, or summertime daylight can affect the viewing of the lights. Don’t worry, though. In Fairbanks and other northern points, the lights just come to you. You don’t have to search them out.
For more information, www.TravelAlaska.com.
More resources: Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau (907) 456-5774 www.explorefairbanks.com Sources: The Alaska Railroad www.alaskarailroad.com Travel Alaska www.travelalaska.com
Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (907) 474-7558 www.gi.alaska.edu
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In this issue: How to Conquer Tough Financial Times; 4 Tips to Stay Fit While Traveling; Exploring Alaska's Matanuska Valley; Gardening in...