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Park Preservation and Benefit Education I recently returned from my annual national park trip, which is always an inspiring experience. My husband and I have a fifth wheel and a truck, A ROAD TRIP INTO THE WILDERNESS
possible to experience these incredible places, but they also feel a duty to protect the land and wildlife. They are constantly navigating between sharing the land and preserving it. I applaud their efforts and think we should follow their leadership in terms of how to best manage these precious spaces. Jackson Hole was beautiful, as always, and I really value the time I can spend educating federal employees in some pretty remote areas. The trip was a privilege, and I’m thankful for the chance to share a little of my expertise. Before I sign off this month, I want to remind our readers that the Retirement Planning Strategies’ annual Cookie Exchange & Craft Fair will be coming around again in December, so stay tuned for more information. I also want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. After getting back from the wilderness, I know I’m thankful for the incredible work of our NPS and U.S. FWS employees — and, for that matter, the work of every single federal employee. We wouldn’t be the country we are without you.
so it’s basically a federal benefits road trip. Whenever I have the chance to explore our national parks, I’m reminded of an incredible aspect of the work of our federal employees. Protecting these breathtaking locations is a noble cause if there ever was one. We started at Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s just a short drive from Denver, but it’s a little like stepping into another world. The landscape feels untouched, and there is a sense of isolation that really puts city life in perspective. Unfortunately, that isolation isn’t just environmental. As I hosted my lunch and learn event, I realized that many park employees feel isolated from a resource to help them understand their benefits. I do a lot of events and answer a lot of questions, but I’ve rarely had a crowd that was so eager to have issues explained. It was really special to make a connection with this spectrum of federal employees. From there, it was on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park. We visited last year, but this year we were
able to explore the National Elk Refuge. It was a wild (sorry for the pun) experience. We saw moose, elk, and antelope. There is a pack of wolves that’s famous among the National Park Service employees in the area, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to spot any of them. Of course, my friend was there not long after and saw one. Luckily, she snapped an incredible photo, which I included along with this article. Last year, Grand Teton National Park celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. This is a huge achievement for sure, but it also highlighted some of the issues NPS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees face. With nearly 3 million people visiting the park in 2016 and another 2 million this year, there are always some that break the rules. No matter how many signs you put up, some folks still treat the park like a zoo. Of course, park employees want as many people as
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There’s nothing more satisfying for us than seeing clients living out their retirements with security and enthusiasm. You Call This Retirement? AUDRY AND BEAL TRAHAN’S LIFE OF ADVENTURE
We get to work with federal employees as they prepare for the end of work, but we take just as much pride in seeing where their lives go once that chapter closes. A lot of them end up becoming an inspiration to us. That’s certainly the case for Audry and Beal Trahan, who rack up more adventures in a year than most people do in a decade. Beal says it best: “My friends tell me that they need to take a nap after reading my Facebook page.” sector. The couple mentions two big factors that allowed them to pursue their dreams in retirement. First, Audry’s federal insurance means that they are covered for medical expenses. Second, they sat down with us and played an active role in their retirement planning. “We love Ann,” Audry says. “She helped lay the groundwork for the joys we experience in our retirement.” Audry was a federal employee for many years while Beal worked in the private Taking a look at the list of places the Trahans have visited in 2017, mostly traveling by RV with their dog, it’s not hard to see why they’re having so much fun. Here’s an abbreviated list: Yuma, Arizona; San Antonio, Texas; San Felipe, Mexico; New Orleans, Louisiana (Beal’s hometown); South Africa; Niagara Falls; New York; New Jersey; and Arkansas. It would be impossible for us to list all of the exciting things they’ve done — honestly, the Trahans could probably have their own newsletter — but we’ll do our best to detail a few highlights. “Most of our traveling,” Beal tells us, “supports the Christian Motorcyclists Association. En route to CMA functions we’ve done everything from visiting the Alamo to getting up close and personal with
a rhino.” Their membership has also given them the chance to meet exciting people and contribute to an awesome cause.
sister on stage to tell it. People in the audience were crying. It’s something we’ll never forget.”
And don’t think the Trahans take it easy when they’re at home. “Last year,” Beal remembers, “Audry put together the surprise of my lifetime for my 70th birthday.” Not only did she manage to keep the party a secret, she went all out. Using the old TV show “This Is Your LIfe” as a model, Audry crafted a birthday celebration that synthesized seven decades into an evening. “We even included a second-line parade,” Audry states, “as a tribute to Beal’s hometown.” To close, we wanted to ask Audry and Beal how they manage to maintain such high levels of energy and curiosity. “Well,” Beal tells us, “there’s always something to look forward to.” “Health isn’t an excuse,” Audry adds. “We’ve both had our health issues over the years, but we never let that stop us from planning our next adventure. Our attitude is that life is for the living.” With passports that include stamps from Israel, Egypt, Turkey, England, France, and more, we’d certainly say that the Trahans are living!
Among all the outrageously exciting experiences, one manages to stand out as the most unlikely. “I learned this year,” Audry says, “that I had a sister I never knew about. We decided to meet up, and it led to a magical visit.”
Among all the outrageously exciting experiences, one manages to stand out as the most unlikely. “I learned this year,” Audry says, “that I had a sister I never knew about. We decided to meet up, and it led to a magical visit.” Audry’s long-lost sister lives in New York, so Audry took an unplanned trip to meet her, and that led to another unplanned trip. Audry and Beal are big fans of the radio DJ Cousin Brucie, who was a longtime fixture on WABC, New York, and now hosts a show on Sirius. Every year, Cousin Brucie hosts a Palisades Park Reunion festival at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and this year, Beal and Audry made a spontaneous trip back to New York where they attended the show with Audry’s sister. “After hearing their story,” Beal says, “Cousin Brucie called Audry and her
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to These Financi l Scams Don’t Fall Victim
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs Most commonly, counterfeit drug scams are found on the internet. Those who fall victim find themselves paying money for a drug that does not help their medical condition, and some run the risk of unknowingly purchasing unsafe substances. This scam can be hard on the wallet and the body. Telemarketing and Phone Scams Fake telemarketing calls are one of the most common types of scams. With no face-to-face interaction and no paper trail, they are incredibly hard to trace and identify. Also, once a deal has been made, the buyer’s name is then shared with similar scammers looking for targets. Examples of telemarketing fraud include the following: The pigeon drop: A con artist tells the victim that they have found a large sum of money and are willing to split it if the person makes a “good faith” payment. Fake identity ploy: The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the victim’s relative is in the hospital and needs money.
Charity scams: The con artist solicits the victim for money for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters. If you have fallen victim to a scam, notify the police, the Better Business Bureau (bbb. org/consumer-complaints), and the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-438-4338). Also, obtain the contact information for the Adult Protective Services organization in your area by calling the Eldercare Locator national hotline at 1-800-677-1116 or visiting eldercare. gov to file a complaint. You are not alone. There are people who can help.
Financial scams often go unreported, and because they are difficult to prosecute, they’re considered a “low-risk” crime. However, they can still be devastating to those ensnared by them, leaving victims, often seniors, in a vulnerable position because of the shorter time frame to recoup financial losses. Here are some common scams and what you can do to avoid them. Medicare and Health Insurance Scams In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as Medicare representatives to obtain personal information. Other times, they will provide bogus services at makeshift mobile clinics and then use the personal information the patients provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money. To avoid this scam, know that a legitimate Medicare employee would never ask for your personal information over phone or email since they already have it on file. If you suspect that Medicare is being charged for a service you didn’t request, call the federal government’s official Medicare hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE.
WITH SAUSAGE BRUSSELS SPROUTS Looking for an easy, delicious Thanksgiving side dish? This gem requires only a few ingredients.
Grid n°69844 easy
7 8 2 3
9 2 7 4 6
Recipe courtesy of InTheKitchenWithKath.com.
• Salt and pepper
• 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts • ½ cup water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil • 3.3 ounces fresh, hot Italian sausage
6 4 2
stirring just once or twice, for a couple more minutes. The
salt and pepper. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until just tender. Check them periodically and add a bit more water, if necessary. 4. When sprouts are just
1. Trim sprouts and cut in half. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, 3–5 minutes. 3. Add sprouts to skillet. Add ½ cup water. Add
liquid should evaporate, and the sprouts should start to brown.
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5. Add more salt and
pepper to taste. Serve hot or warm.
about done, remove cover and raise heat to medium-high. Cook,
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issue INSIDE THIS
Park Preservation and Benefit Education PAGE 1
You Call This Retirement? PAGE 2
Don’t Fall Victim to These Financial Scams PAGE 3
Brussels Sprouts With Sausage PAGE 3 Iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons PAGE 4
ICONIC MACY’S Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons
Thanksgiving is a holiday full of traditions, from turkey and stuffing to football and naps. Since 1924, the Macy’s Parade has grown to become not only a Thanksgiving staple but also the world’s largest parade. Over 3.5 million people attended the parade last year, with another 20 million tuning in from home. The main attraction is always the massive character balloons, which first graced the skies in 1927. Over the decades, some of these balloons have become nearly as famous as the character they depict. FELIX THE CAT When the Felix the Cat balloon appeared in 1931, it set the standard for all characters
to follow. Sadly, the original balloon got tangled in wires and caught on fire, so it has been lost to history. Felix’s influence on the parade is so immense, however, that when Macy’s brought him back in 2016 for the parade’s 90th anniversary, they recreated his original design. It was a huge success. SNOOPY When it comes to balloon characters, none is more famous than the classic “Peanuts” beagle. His first balloon floated through the sky in 1968, and he’s been a regular fixture ever since. Charles Schultz’s famous pooch holds the record for most variations in a parade (eight) and most total appearances
(40). Though Snoopy doesn’t come out every year, but when he does, he usually closes the show. PIKACHU The Pokémon mascot didn’t appear until 2001, but he’s become a star attraction, showing up every year since. Bright, expressive, and impossible to miss, Pikachu checks off all the boxes for a successful balloon character. For 16 years, those who predicted that Pokémon was just a fad have gotten a big, yellow reminder of just how wrong they were.
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