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Five Tips for Planning the Perfect Alaskan Vacation

Alaska is home to some of the most beautiful spaces in all of North America. Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to the "Last Frontier" from the continental US, from Canada, and from different parts of Europe and Asia. Planning an Alaskan vacation isn't like taking the family to the beach. It requires much more intentionality. Because the frontier can be wild and dangerous, going to Alaskan unprepared is a recipe for more than just a bad time. It's also a recipe for potential harm. If you're thinking about heading to Alaska, here are five tips to get you started.

AN INTERIOR CAPPED BY TWO VERY DIFFERENT CITIES​

While Alaska in its entirety is roughly a third of the size of the continental US, most visitors stay within a seven or eight hour zone. The south boundary is Anchorage, the state's largest city. With just more than 300,000 people, Anchorage can feel like the sort of city you'd find in the Lower 48. It's got bars, restaurants, parks, and culture. It also has the largest selection of hotels and the most sizable airport, which features direct flights to and from a number of cities. Most people will choose to start their journey in Anchorage because it makes a suitable starting point for exploring the rest of the state.

Fairbanks is the second largest city, but it's distinct in culture, size, and accessibility. With just more than 30,000 people, Fairbanks feels like a small town. It has distinct Native Alaskan cultural elements, too, differentiating it from the cultural modernity of Anchorage. Fairbanks has its own airport, but you'll pay much more to fly there. Likewise, you may find Fairbanks to be more remote. It sits largely on its own just before the truly desolate parts of Alaska that are found to the north.

CONSIDER THE ALASKA RAILROAD AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CAR RENTAL

The Alaska Railroad bisects the state, running from Seward in the south to Fairbanks in the north. It hits most of the popular destinations in the state, including Anchorage, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks. The train is less like a standard Amtrak and more like a tour bus. Tour guides narrate the trip, pointing our wildlife, historical sites, and other cultural attractions. Those new to the area will have the opportunity to see moose, bear, and host of other animals for the first time. Often, when the train approaches some large game, the tour guide will point it out, allowing passengers to stop and observe. Those flying into Alaska can take advantage of the many hotel shuttle services that run to and from the many train stations in the state. Because of how popular the train has become, many hospitality businesses accommodate passengers who use this old world form of transportation.

PREPARE FOR PERPETUAL SUNSHINE​

Most people visit Alaska in the summer. Around June, the sun won't set on the state, and the further north you go, the brighter it will be. In Anchorage, the sun shines bright for 22 hours with a couple hours of dusk thrown in for good measure. In Denali National Park and Fairbanks, you'll experience a bright morning all day long. This may disrupt the sleeping patterns of some travelers. You'll want to prepare for this by bringing eye shades or other forms of sleeping assistance. Smart travelers will prepare for shifting schedules, as well. Many Alaskans use the midnight sun to do various activities, including shopping, recreation, and driving. You'll need to adjust if you want to stay on schedule with the locals.

ACCOUNT FOR THE TREMENDOUS SIZE​

While Texans might claim that everything is bigger there, and Montanans might talk about Big Sky Country, Alaskans have the real claim to the most sizeable terrain. Not only are the animals and mountains bigger in Alaska, but the distances are bigger, as well. Even short drives from Point A to Point B can take an hour. If you want to take a trip into Denali Park, you might drive for a whole day to get to certain campsites. It's critical to plan for this. Don't expect to hop from place to place. Give yourself ample time to enjoy your surroundings so that you won't be rushed in your travel.

CENTER THE TRIP AROUND SOME PARK EXPERIENCE​

Alaska is known most for its wilderness, and there's no better way to see it than by gearing your trip to one of the parks. Most people visit Denali, the home of North America's highest peak. There, you can hike through the beautiful mountains or raft through the Nenana River. You have the chance to see bears, moose, caribou, bald eagles, and many other beautiful animals. To the southwest of Anchorage, you'll find Kenai Fjords National Park, where boats take you through glaciers and expansive ice fields. Further to the west is Katmai National Park, where the iconic grizzly bears fish for salmon in the river streams. See one of these parks or use a long trip to see them all. It's the best way to experience a slice of true Alaskan wilderness.

An Alaskan vacation can provide vistas and memories that will last a lifetime. Consider the size of the place, prepare for the elements, and be sure to base your trip out of one of the excellent parks. Whether you take Alaska by rail, road, or sea, there's no reason your trip should lack for adventure.

The Secrets Of Successful Mixed-Orientation Marriages

Rejection is never a pleasant thing. I know from personal experience. Most of us are far more self-conscious than we like to admit and whoever it might be that has shunned us – be it a girlfriend, prospective employer or spouse – it can often prove a shockingly bitter pill to swallow. Disappointingly, the first taste of it I had was delivered by the first people I ever knew: my parents.

When A Woman Finds Out Her Husband Is Gay

It may be one of the worst days she’ll experience, particularly if there are children involved. She may question her sexual attractiveness, and blame herself for not having realised her husband’s orientation. She may be angry that she has been deceived, and resent her husband for lying about something so important.

​Her trauma will be influenced by how she discovered her husband’s sexuality. If she uncovered evidence of indiscretions, she will inevitably worry about sexually transmitted diseases.

In such cases there will be the double shock of not only finding out her husband is gay, but that he has also been unfaithful. She may cling to the belief that the marriage can work,but it will be tempered by the nagging feeling that staying married to a closeted man is a recipe for disaster.

What Is Happen Then?

It’s easy, under these circumstances, to understand why the vast majority of mixed-orientation marriages fail, often immediately. Indeed, available statistics seem to bear this out, although the true situation may be even worse. The reason for this is that many couples who divorce because the husband is gay are too ashamed to open up to their friends or families.

Many couples may stay together in the short-term for various reasons, including the financial implications of a separation or divorce, and the involvement of children. However, if both spouses are not completely committed to the marriage, it will eventually disintegrate.

Yet, there’s no doubt that some mixed-orientation marriages survive, and even thrive, long after the husband’s disclosure.Several online forums, support groups and blogs provide clear evidence that a marriage between a gay man and a straight woman is possible if neither of them wants to end their relationship. But there’s no quick fix to the situation – it requires plenty of hard work, understanding and honesty.

The most important factor, ironically, is that the husband should completely embrace his sexuality, enabling him to feel – perhaps for the first time in his life – that he is finally being true to himself. This removes a potentially disruptive obstacle, as it also allows him to commit to a future with or without his wife.

Will They Continue To Live Together?

​Most of the angst in a mixed-orientation marriage comes from the fact that the husband does not know if he should leave in order to be true to himself, or whether he should stay and honour his vows to his wife. Once this question has been settled, the couple can move forward – together or apart – safe in the knowledge that they are united in their decision.

If both spouses agree to stay together, they may find their sex life – if there is one – changed forever. Many people are unclear as to how a gay man can be attracted to – and indeed have sex with – a woman, when his primary desire is to be with a man. But that point of view assumes that everybody is either completely gay or straight, which may not be the case. Many researchers believe, for instance, that there are degrees of sexuality, to the extent that a man who is exclusively attracted to men can still enjoy sex with a woman.

Will a gay man’s secondary attraction to his wife be sufficient to sustain a monogamous sexual relationship for the duration of a marriage? Many gay spouses may find that the price for surrendering an extramarital relationship is too high, and this may place additional burden on their marriage.

Yet, a sizeable proportion of mixed-orientation marriages succeed precisely because they’re not monogamous. In other words, the wife may agree to open the marriage in order to allow her husband the freedom to explore his homosexuality – but only on condition that he is completely honest about his actions. The wife, for her part, may choose to pursue her own relationships.

Conclusion

Clearly, the decision to remain together has significant consequences for both spouses in a mixed-orientation marriage. There is no guarantee their marriage will succeed, and if it does it may be plagued by insecurity, jealousy and more heartache.If the husband remains in the marriage but fails to come to terms with his sexuality, he may feel that he is still in the closet.

Nonetheless, there is no doubt that some of these marriages work well, monogamously or not, and that finding out your spouse is gay doesn’t always spell the end of a happy marriage.

5 Rules For A Fair Fight With Your Spouse

No marriage will be free from disagreements, arguments, and passionate fights. The English writer G.K. Chesterton even called marriage "a duel to the death which no man of honor should decline." Marriage is the union of two individual people, and thus it is inevitable that your views will not always be the same.

Fortunately, there are some important ground rules you can set and follow to ensure that your arguments are respectful and ultimately move your relationship forward, instead of resulting in grudges, hurt feelings, and even divorce.

1

Not You

Your English teacher will tell you to always put others first, such as "you" before "I" in a sentence. When engaged in an argument, however, avoid using the word "you" at the beginning of a statement. Start your sentences by referring to yourself.

This may seem like a trite thing to remember, but it will shape the nature of how you discuss your problem. "I feel lonely when you play video games all evening," is much less accusatory than "You seem to want to play video games instead of spending time with me." In the second statement, you are making an assumption about the other person's thought process. In the first sentence, you are stating how you feel, seeking understanding from your partner.

Think about how you feel when others tell you how they think that you feel, think, or make decisions. This naturally makes you angry as it crosses a personal boundary; your mind is your own, and those assumptions may be very wrong. Anything that makes you angrier during an argument is going to make things escalate quickly.

2

Never Say Always

Beware using absolutes. Never and always imply a hard and fast rule that can seldom be entirely true. "We never go out any more," is in most cases not true; never is an absolute word that unnecessarily exaggerates the situation. "You always put work over family time," is an example of a statement that sweeps away any acknowledgement of those times when your spouse did, in fact, act otherwise.

We humans may be creatures of habit, but that does not mean that we are so consistent that 100% of the time we do the same exact thing. When describing your partner's behavior with absolutes, it can make them feel that you do not appreciate those times when they did act differently, and will put them on the defensive. Once either of you get defensive, it becomes harder to stay on the topic of your disagreement.

3

Stay On Topic

Disagreements lead to arguments, which can become fights. Make sure you both understand what matter is at the heart of the disagreement; if you are not sure, take a deep breath and state your feelings on a particular matter. Ask questions of each other until you identify exactly where your viewpoints differ. Once you have identified the problem, continue to discuss the matter without losing sight of it.

If you feel like you are losing ground, do not try to switch topics, or bring up past disagreements where your spouse was in error. That will not win you the current argument, but it will escalate it into a full blown fight quickly.

4

Don't Put On A Show

Never fight in front of an audience, especially family members and kids. It is not polite, and it does not serve to make a solution easier. Rather, the feeling of embarrassment and shame can push your feelings beyond your control.

If you do have a passionate disagreement in front of your children, make sure they see you resolve the matter. You may even want to discuss the process and the resolution with your children so that you set a positive example for their future relationships.

5

Listen. Don't Just Hear

Actively listen to your spouse, don't just wait to talk when they are talking. Affirm their feelings or observations by restating in your words what they said, acknowledging their point of view. For example, "I'm sorry you feel hurt when I don't call from work when I'm running late."

Saying you are sorry does not always mean you're wrong; it can be a powerful statement in showing you empathize with their feelings. Of course, when you are wrong, or make an emotionally charged statement in an argument, apologize sincerely to keep the disagreement a discussion and not a shouting match.

Conclusion

If one of you forgets these rules for fighting fair, the other should remind them in a calm voice to stay on topic, not use absolutes, or to please use "I" statements. Do not use an infraction of the rules as more ammunition that the other person is wrong. After all, when feelings and passions are running high, it is easy to forget yourself. When followed, these rules can make your disagreements reach a practical solution more smoothly or quickly.

How To Cook On A Small Charcoal Grill

Small charcoal grills are convenient and portable. They are well suited for small families and cooking on the go. While they are perfectly suited for grilling over direct heat, cooking over indirect heat can be a challenge. Follow these tips to get the most out of your small charcoal grill.

Getting Lost and Finding Treasure: Geocaching

Ahoy, matey! If you love the fantasy of looking for secret hidden treasure or if you believe that the journey is more valuable than the destination, then geocaching is for you. Great fun for one or many, for the high-adventure seekers to the side-of-the-road tripsters, geocaching offers fun for you. Treasure hunting isn’t just an old pirate pastime, it’s a modern day sport that’s sweeping the world!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED​

There’s no fees to start, all you need is:

  • A GPS (global positioning system) device
  • A few tradable items (think kids’ meals toys, eyeglass repair cases, trinkets)
  • A pencil
  • An Internet connection
  • Sunscreen, snacks & water
  • Time​

GET STARTED!GET STARTED!

  • Do a web search for “geocaching” to find a site, registration is free.
  • Do a Search for caches near your home or destination. Size of the cache is illustrated by green boxes next to the cache description, the larger the cache, the larger the treasure you can take and leave.
  • Get the coordinates for the cache and input them into your GPS device. Consider visiting more than one cache if you’re going far from home.
  • Pack your goodies. Small toys, unique key chains, trinkets, maps, tickets, tools, games, etc.• Head to your destination cache
  • Once you are near the coordinates of your cache, get out to walk to the treasure• The box or container may be hidden under brush, in a hollowed tree stump, under rocks, in a tree, etc. Keep looking, you’ll find it!
  • Open your found treasure chest and exchange booty. Only take a piece if you leave a piece. Don’t forget to sign the log book!
  • Reseal and leave the cache where you found it. Don’t hide it in a different location, as others will come seeking it soon.
  • When you return home, go back to the website you registered with and log your find

In addition to being a great way to spend time with friends and family, you’ll discover parks, trails, streams and places that are hidden treasures themselves. Every cache is hidden is a new place, so you’ll never run out of finding new destinations and treasure chests.

A BIT ABOUT BUGS​

Travel bugs are recently added “game” that piggy backs on the sport of geocaching. Sometimes you’ll find a treasure in a cache that has an attached dog-tag with a spider picture and bar code printed on it. This is a travel bug. If you take the travel bug as your treasure, you are agreeing to take it on an adventure, log it’s travels and place it in another cache to let it continue on a journey.

Once you’ve grabbed a bug, go to the website on the tag and enter the tracking number (under the bar code on the dog tag). Log that you found it and what adventures you’ve taken it on.

Your last duty to the travel bug is to hide it in another cache. Wish him/her/it farewell on the rest of the journey.

HIDING A CACHE…

Once you’ve visited a cache or two, you will probably want to hide your own. Maybe you’ll choose a themed cache based on hiding spot, family interests, a holiday or anything your heart desires. Here’s what you’ll need:

A container, ranging in size from a film canister to a huge ammo box (mark that it is a geocache on the outside, so it isn’t mistaken for trash)

In a zipper seal plastic bag:

  • Paper or log book
  • Pencil or two, and a sharpener (pens may burst, crayons will melt)
  • A welcome note explaining what geocaching is (you can probably find one at your registered site)​
  • Treasure! Remember, nothing illegal
  • A spot that isn’t too easy to find (don’t want it plundered) or too hard to find (you want cachers to find it)Don’t hide your cache on private land unless you own it
  • Don’t hide your cache on historical or protected landGo hide it and don’t forget to take your GPS so you can get the coordinates
  • Log onto your chosen geocaching site and enter the coordinates of your cache

…OR TRAVEL BUG

You first need some travel bugs. You can purchase travel bugs at a number of stores online, just do an Internet search for them. Once you have them in your hand, you’ll have to choose what item they’ll hitchhike on. Will your bug travel with a toy? A disposable camera? A world map where finders can mark their spot? Anything can carry a bug. If you have a specific job for your bug (travel 100 miles, reach a certain city, find someone over 100 years old, anything!) make sure you add a note about it’s job on the tag.

Go online and log it. Finally, hide it and let it’s voyage begin!

Geocaching is a great new sport taking over the nation and the world. There are caches hidden under water, on the top of mountains, hidden in places you must repel to and even in local parks. From California to New York, from Finland to Australia, caches are hidden the world over. So what are you waiting for? Start your treasure hunt!