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Judy Kistler
4789 Route 309 | Center Valley, PA 18034
Phone: 610-393-9393 | Office Phone: 610-791-4400 | Fax: 267-354-6225
email: jkistler@remaxcentralinc.com

Judy Kistler's Blog

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Coupon Nation: Nearly All Americans Save with Coupons

September 15, 2014 1:27 am

RetailMeNot, a leading digital offers destination that helps consumers save money, recently reported that nearly all Americans (96 percent) are coupon users.

According to the report, the number of Americans who rely mostly on mobile coupons has been steadily increasing over the past few years. This consumer behavior coincides with retailers and brands moving their marketing promotions to mobile and digital formats.

Based on the level of coupon click activity in relation to each city's population, these are the top 10 metro areas that use coupons:
1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro
2. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro
3. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro
4. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT Metro
5. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro
6. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro
7. Pittsburgh, PA Metro
8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro
9. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro
10. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY Metro
In the top 10 active couponing metros, clothing and food categories ranked consistently at the top for click activity, followed by electronics and home and garden.

The report also shows that interest in different types of deals varies:
  • Coupon users living in the Northeast are more likely than those living in other regions to be most interested in receiving a specific percentage off a purchase.
  • Those living in the South are more likely than those living elsewhere to be most interested in "buy one, get one free" deals.
  • More than 2 in 5 (43 percent) coupon users consider discounts up to 25 percent to be a good deal.
  • Respondents are most interested in deals that offer a specific dollar amount off of their purchase (30 percent).
Source: RetailMeNot

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Steps to Reclaim Your Space after Life Changes

September 15, 2014 1:27 am

Life events like purchasing a new home or a child moving out can leave homeowners facing a bare and empty room -- and a decorating challenge.

Decor&You, one of America's leading, full-service, interior decorating franchises, understands how overwhelming this process can feel. To begin the transformation, the company’s design experts encourage homeowners to visualize their empty space as a blank canvas where they have the opportunity to create a masterpiece.

"Finding yourself in a position to completely design a room is a rare occasion and can be exciting," stated Karen Powell, founder and CEO of Decor&You. "While the idea of decorating a room from scratch appears daunting, maintain a positive attitude and harness the situation as an opportunity to reclaim your space and make it your own. With the right approach, you can make the task of decorating into an enjoyable experience."

Powell offers these simple guidelines to create a space you love:
  • Assess the room: The first step in design is to get acquainted with the room. Gather measurements, make notes of large windows, doors and built-in shelves, and familiarize yourself with the geometry and space provided. By learning the shape of the room, you'll have insight into what furniture and décor pieces will best complement the room's silhouette.
  • Find something you love: The next step is to determine the overall theme. While it's typical to be overwhelmed by an infinite selection of colors, selecting a theme helps the rest of the room’s décor fall easily into place. One of the most effective strategies to ensure organized and cohesive décor is to start with something that you love. Whether it is a large sofa, a tiny, eccentric statement piece, a color, pattern or piece of art, this focal theme will dictate the remainder of the decorating process.
  • Make it happen: Reflect back on your theme and what you love; then, start with the basics. How can you create a background to support the color(s) in your theme? Where and how can you incorporate these via paint, wall coverings, pillows, bedding, a throw, an area rug, etc.? What is needed for the function of the room?
  • Elaborate: After you have decided on a wall color and furniture pieces, the final detail is to place everything thoughtfully. Ponder the purpose of the room and picture yourself living in the space. Consider what it's lacking in order to reach its full, functional potential. This is the time to emphasize "you". Visualize different embellishments. Try turning a hobby, such as a painting easel or book collection, into a display, or create a gallery by placing photos in matching frames.
Source: Decor&You

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Ten Reasons Why Children Should Volunteer

September 12, 2014 1:42 am

Back-to-school season ushers in a renewed focus on everything from academics to athletics, but many parents are challenged to find positive ways for their kids to spend time when they're not at school. The best way to keep them occupied is through volunteer work.

"Volunteering with your kids touches hearts, teaches important life lessons and engraves fond, lifelong memories of family bonding," said Leigh Ann Errico, CEO and founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. "Understanding and participating in activities to benefit the community is crucial to weaving one's moral fiber."

Here, Wear the Cape organizers outline the top 10 reasons why children should volunteer:

1: Volunteering helps foster empathy.
Empathy is the most critical disposition for responding to the needs of others. We need to be able to imagine what other people may be going through or feeling. Volunteering helps engage our natural empathic sense, but you have to make sure that there are opportunities to talk about the purpose and experience of any volunteer activity if the recipients aren't visible in the process. For example, making sandwiches for the homeless isn’t the same as delivering those sandwiches to the homeless.

2: Volunteering helps develop a sense of self-efficacy.
Children may understand that other people need help or that there are projects that could make a community more habitable or productive, but feel helpless or unclear that an individual can do anything about it in response. Volunteering can provide experiences that affirm a young person's sense that they can make a difference through their own effort and skills. These experiences can empower young people to apply themselves in other contexts, including school and other organized activities, such as faith-based youth groups or scouting.

3: Volunteers gain experience working with other people.
Social skills are best learned in social situations. When people come together to engage in a meaningful task, issues of communication, power, collaboration and trust rise to the surface in a supportive context. It's easier, although still a challenge, to learn to navigate these waters with others who may be more skillful and be in a position to offer supportive feedback. It's a good way for parents and children to see each other in a different light, as well, and learn together.

4: Volunteering develops new skills.
In addition to social skills, using physical and mental capabilities to get jobs done is fundamental to successful work of any kind. In school, these skills are often fragmented or unrelated to real-world applications. Service activities offer the chance to apply and test our abilities, as well as learn from other kids or adults in a way that engages kids' natural drive for competence.

5: Volunteering provides the opportunity to explore new interests and develop new passions.
There is nothing more exhilarating than discovering a new field of interest that sparks a real passion for learning and doing. One of the wonderful things about being children is their inquisitiveness and motivation to investigate and find meaning. Service activities have the potential to expose them to these opportunities and see how other people live their passions.

6: Volunteers learn a lot.
In the process of joining with others in service, volunteers learn about their community and the larger world. It takes children out of their own spheres of self-interest and exposes them to issues and solutions, as well as other people's needs.

7: Volunteers actually make a difference in other people's lives.
Think about how much more impoverished our communities would be if all of the volunteer services disappeared. This is a lesson that children can be taught early and take with them into adulthood. For example, volunteers are critical in:
  • Helping families (daycare and eldercare)
  • Improving schools (tutoring, literacy)
  • Supporting youth (mentoring and after-school programs)
  • Beautifying the community (beach and park cleanups)
8: Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.
Community service and volunteerism are a way to teach the importance of investing in the community and the people who live in it. We want our kids to not only be successful in their work and personal lives, but to learn what it means to be a citizen. The American values of democratic decision-making, social justice and equal opportunity require active participation.

9: Volunteering offers you a chance to give back.
It's important for children to see that there are small and large opportunities to support community resources that their family uses or that benefit people they care about. Whether it's offering to help man a booth to support improvements in a park they use, or joining a fundraising walk to support research for a disease that afflicts a family member or friend, children and adults alike can feel empowered through participation.

10: Volunteering is good for you.
Research has consistently shown that acting altruistically has real benefits. Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It has been shown to reduce stress, make you healthier and make you happier.

Source: Wear the Cape

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Flood Cleanup: What to Do After a Storm

September 12, 2014 1:42 am

With forecasters predicting a more severe and dramatic storm season in 2014, home and business owners should be prepared for any type of weather. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration and Certification (IICRC) offers a quick-reference guide for flood cleanup.

“When it comes to storms, education is essential,” said IICRC Chairman Tony Wheelwright. “We want to make sure homeowners and business owners have access to these materials so they are able to act quickly and correctly when the time comes.”

The IICRC recommends taking these steps:

1. Prepare before.
If a storm in your area is imminent and you are at a high risk for flooding, make sure you are prepared. Before the storm hits, gather valuable items or documents and store them in a secure, dry place. Clear all debris from gutters and downspouts and check your sump pump to ensure it is working properly. You will also want to remove items from lower floors or raise them up off of the floor to help minimize damage to property.

2. Stay cautious.
Prior to entering any storm or flood-damaged building, be wary of structural integrity and other safety hazards, such as falling debris or shock hazards. Make sure to shut off all electricity in the affected areas, even if the electricity is down, as it is oftentimes restored without notice.

Also, make sure that you have the proper personal protective equipment and try to stay out of floodwaters as much as possible to further reduce the risk of injury. Items such as protective clothing, sturdy shoes, gloves, eye protection and an organic vapor respirator (paint respirator) can protect you from exposure to dangerous microorganisms that can grow quickly.

3. Work quickly. Even though it can take mold a few days to appear, anything that can be done to control or minimize its speed of growth is vital. Mold thrives in moist environments with stale air, organic food sources (paper, wood) and temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. To reduce these risks, keep air moving by opening windows and doors. Fresh air discourages the growth of mold and other microorganisms and can also help reduce inhalation risks.

4. Clean and disinfect everything. The first step in the cleanup process is to remove and dispose of all, wet porous components such as mattresses, pillows, molding, insulation and portions of damaged walls. This also includes floor coverings such as carpet, pads, laminate, tile and sheet vinyl. Wood flooring should also be removed to expose wet saturation pockets underneath and allow for proper drying, cleaning and sanitizing.

Other items such as wet clothing, furniture and household fabrics can usually be salvageable after a hot machine wash, a lengthy detergent soak and the liberal use of a disinfectant solution. Structural areas such as wall cavities, studs and other fixtures will also need to be properly disinfected. This can be done by pressure washing with detergent solutions working from top to bottom.

5. Dry it out. The next step is to allow the space to dry thoroughly before reconstruction. This is possibly the most difficult step for home and business owners because even if a surface feels dry to the touch, that doesn’t mean it is. Dryness is very difficult to measure and often requires a professional moisture assessment.

Beginning your reconstruction before your space is thoroughly dry can cause dry rot, ongoing structural damage and negative health effects. In most cases, the above procedures may require the assistance of a professional. Water damage restoration companies employ trained technicians who specialize in cleaning, biocides, extraction, drying and moisture measuring. Make sure, however, that the company you choose has proper licensing, liability insurance and employs trained technicians in water restoration services.

Source: IICRC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Ways to Help Your Plants Survive Winter

September 12, 2014 1:42 am

During the fall cool-down, it’s important to take time to prepare your plants for impending winter weather. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Polar Vortex is on track to return in 2014, with temperatures plummeting during winter months. Homeowners with gardens must protect their plantings early this fall to avoid the harsh effects of cold weather to come.

Below are five of the most common garden varieties, and ways to prepare them for the first frost:

1. Hydrangeas: To keep them safe this winter, start by tracking the weather. When temperatures will be consistently below freezing, cover the crown of your hydrangea with mulch, leaves or straw before snow arrives. Snow insulates the crown and keeps it alive.

If you don’t have snow, be sure the crown is fully protected by covering the plant with a garbage bag full of leaves. Alternatively, you can plant a re-blooming hydrangea that blooms on previous year's growth and new growth. That means that even if a cold winter kills buds on last season's growth, you will still see blooms on new growth in late spring and summer.

2. Roses:
Roses can mean apprehension for many gardeners, especially when it comes to cold winter hardiness in the northern part of the United States. Cover new plantings with mulch, oak leaves or marsh hay in an 8-inch mound from the crown once temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the plant has gone completely dormant. An added tip: keep the plants disease-free throughout winter and spring by raking away fallen leaves and petals before mulching or snowfall.

3. Evergreens: To prevent winter burn, plant varieties of evergreen that are extremely cold-tolerant and will survive even the worst of winters. If you have a collector plant or two that tends to struggle in the winter, cover it with burlap or other material for the coldest and windiest days. If you have heavy snow and notice branches breaking under the weight, brush snow off the weakest limbs.

4. Trees: If your trees are starting to change color earlier than normal, especially in these first weeks of September, it may be a sign of stress. This can be caused by poor soil conditions, too much or too little water, or if the tree is planted too deeply. You can either transplant the tree, switch to weekly watering of your lawn, or grade the soil so that the root flare (where the trunk flares out to the root system) is even with the soil level.

5. Container Plantings: As you prepare for winter, there are a few options for homeowners to protect container plants: treat them like annuals, tossing the plants away and start fresh the next spring; plant in the ground to over-winter the shrubs; or keep the containers and protect them from the winter cold.

Looking ahead to another colder-than-average winter may seem discouraging, but with a few extra preparations, homeowners and gardeners can set the stage for a beautiful and blooming spring.

Source: Bailey Nurseries

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Things to Consider When Adding on to Your Home

September 11, 2014 1:06 am

A home addition is a complicated task requiring a great deal of planning and, sometimes, a great deal of money. In order to save time, stress, and dollars, consider the following checklist before embarking on your home improvement plan.
  1. Develop a comprehensive plan and budget
  2. Figure out how to fund the project
  3. Determine the size and scope of the addition
  4. Select the location
  5. Analyze heating and cooling requirements
  6. Evaluate electrical and plumbing requirements
  7. Decide on design elements and amenities
  8. Select a proven remodeling company
  9. Establish the final budget and schedule
  10. Prepare for inconvenience during the construction phase
Source: Republic West Remodeling

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Financial Cleaning Can Lead to a Richer Long-Term Outlook

September 11, 2014 1:06 am

One lesson the average American should have learned from the recent financial crisis and gradual recovery is that putting more money into savings is, in general, good, says veteran financial expert Jeff Gorton.

“When things are fine, most of us are prone to commit less of our money to savings; when the economy is down, however, we realize that having money is far more important than spending it on things we don’t need,” says Gorton, a veteran Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™, and head of Gorton Financial Group.

The personal savings rate in July 2005 hit an all-time low at just 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in May 2009, near the beginning of the recession, the average American’s savings rate hit a high of 8 percent.

“That rate dwindled as the economy recovered, which is unfortunate because you can do more with accumulated money, including benefit from investments yielding compound interest, which means that interest also earns interest in an investment,” says Gorton, who suggests practical ways to trim spending in the short term in order to get your financial house in order and accumulate more money in the long term.

• Car buying says plenty about how a consumer views their money. For most Americans, the question is whether to buy new or used. The moment you drive a brand new car off the lot after the purchase, the car’s value drastically drops. Many of the benefits you may enjoy in buying a new car can be had with a certified pre-owned car: low miles, good-as-new functionality and, usually, that new-car smell. And, a given model will have a history, so you can avoid cars that have been recalled. Buying a certified pre-owned car will save you several thousands of dollars versus buying new.

Summer vacation is an important lifestyle enhancer for many couples, but consider replacing the $400-per-night hotel with a condo rented through a private owner, especially if your vacation will last for an extended period. A condo rental should cost you in the ballpark of $200 per night, which totals $2,800 savings for two weeks.

Your home is probably your most significant asset if you’re like most Americans. But with that grand house on the hill comes plenty of costs, many of which you may not need. As with a luxury car, rethinking the amount of luxury for a home can save you big on taxes, insurance and maintenance. The cost of maintaining a large home can be put toward lifestyle activities, such as travel and hobbies.

“Of course, these are all simply suggestions; money plays a major role in how we achieve happiness, and I’ve found through years of working with clients, a few tweaks here and there frequently yields greater satisfaction with their money,” Gorton says. “You don’t have to be on autopilot with your expenses.”

Source: www.gortonfinancialgroup.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Surviving Hurricane Season: Prep for Older Americans

September 11, 2014 1:06 am

Hurricane season is upon us, and just two years after Sandy, AARP is reminding older residents, their families and friends to get ready early this hurricane season. While Sandy claimed victims as young as toddlers, it was crueler to the city's elderly, with 27 New Yorkers aged 65 or older perishing in the storm.

For older individuals who often times have limited mobility, delayed reaction, and reliance on prescriptions for their health, prepping in advance for extreme weather can mean the difference between life and death.

That's why AARP is now offering key tips on how you can ensure the safety of elderly loved ones in the wake of disaster.

"Don't wait for the threat of a storm to start thinking about getting prepared. When power goes out, the elevator goes out, and many elderly are unable to make it down a flight of stairs in the dark to go grocery shopping for needed items, and when they run out of a prescription, it can become life threatening," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. "The simple act of checking in on the elderly can go a long way to helping them stay safe in times of a disaster such as Sandy, and in some instances may even save a life."

Before the first big storm of summer hits, AARP offers the following tips and resources for older residents:
  • Check on Rx supplies: If they are running low, most pharmacies will provide a three-day supply (bring verification of prescription, such as bottle or script from doctor, if available). To find out a pharmacy's status, check here: http://www.rxopen.org.
  • Groceries: Offer to assist with any grocery shopping. Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Meals: If the individual in need of meals is at least 60 years old, Meals on Wheels can be contacted here: http://www.mowaa.org/findameal.
  • Medical Emergency: Call 911. Medicare patients in New York can also now receive non-emergency care at a nursing home without a prior three-day hospital stay.
  • Personal Care Assistance: If an elderly loved one receives assistance from a home healthcare agency, find out how they respond to an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
  • Assist with Home Preparations: Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture and garbage cans, anchor objects that will be unsafe to bring inside, like gas grills or propane tanks, close windows and outside doors securely and move valuable items to the upper floors.
  • Update your Evacuation Kit: Your Evacuation kit should include an ID or Driver's License, birth certificate; clothes, food and water (for at least three days); cash and traveler's checks; maps of the evacuation route, alternate routes and a way to get to local shelters; and your car keys along with a full tank of gas.
  • Have a Supply Kit ready: Your Supply kit should include a flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, food, water and any medications you may need for at least three days.
  • Plan for Pets: If a hurricane requires you to leave your home and you cannot shelter pets at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the evacuation area, pets are allowed at all city evacuation centers.
Source: AARP

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Moving Out of State? 3 Estate-Planning Consequences to Consider

September 10, 2014 2:33 am

Moving to another state can be a stressful process. The last thing you want is to add the headache of estate law problems to your growing list of worries. But America is constantly moving. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that almost 36 million U.S. residents moved between 2012 and 2013.

Give yourself a moment, put down the boxes, and read about three estate consequences of an out-of-state move that you may not have considered:

1. State Rules about Out-of-State Executors

With your family and your old life back in your old state, it's pretty likely that your estate executors are out-of-state executors, which might be a problem.

Some states, like Ohio, require that out-of-state executors be related by blood or marriage to the estate holder, or at least reside in a state where non-relations can be named as executors. Your chosen executor may also need to travel to the state where you have died in order to administer your estate, so it may be necessary to keep travel ability in mind.

Other states, like New York, may also make it difficult for an out-of-state executor to take your property back to his or her home state. Before you move, you'll want to check the executor rules in both your current and future home states (or ask an estate planning attorney).

2. Moving Into (or Out of) a Community Property State


Some of the most populous states in the country are community property states, and whether you're moving into one or moving away from one, you need to consider the effect on your estate plan. A married couple who moves from Texas to New York may be unaware of how much the difference in inheritance and marital property laws will affect the final distribution of property.

This can be even further complicated if the married couple is same-sex and moving to a state which does not recognize the union as legal.

3. Different Rules About Living Wills/Advance Medical Directives

Living wills, also known as advance medical directives or advance health directives, are creatures of state law. Why risk having your wishes relating to life support hang on a technicality between state laws? For example, if you're a woman, you may wish to know if your new state will allow life support to be removed in the event you are pregnant.

An experienced estate planning attorney in either your old or new state should be able to clear up these and other estate consequences of moving to another state.

Source: FindLaw.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Turn a New Leaf with a Fall Family Road Trip

September 10, 2014 2:33 am

(BPT) - With the cooler temperatures of autumn flowing in, many Americans will be hitting the road to discover the natural beauty that the season brings. Whether they crave adventure, want to see the fall foliage or are just getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, families need to be prepared to ensure they are getting the most out of this travel season.

"When it comes to fall travel, there is no experience quite like the autumn day drive - it's your last taste of crisp air and warm colors before the blanket of winter hibernation sets in," says Editor in Chief of "Road & Travel Magazine," Courtney Caldwell. "The keys to a successful road trip lay within the amount of preparation you do for your family and vehicle before you put either into motion."

Nothing puts a damper on a weekend getaway like car issues that could have easily been prevented by simple maintenance.

The American Petroleum Institute's (API) Motor Oil Matters (MOM) program has been established to provide information to consumers on the importance of using high quality motor oils, and verifying the oils are properly identified on invoices and receipts. Oil-change locations and motor oil distributors that share MOM's commitment - and submit to independent, third-party auditing - have the opportunity to be recognized by MOM through the Motor Oil Matters distributor and installer licensing programs.

MOM and Caldwell recommend fall travelers arm themselves with a simple plan of action and preparation to help get to their destination:

Don't fall behind on your vehicle maintenance


Change that oil: Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. One of the simplest steps you can take to ensure your vehicle is maintained is to change your motor oil with an API-licensed motor oil that meets your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. Be wary of deals that sound too good to be true, and make sure your value-priced oil change includes high quality motor oil. MOM has put together a checklist for consumers, to ensure they are confident when going into a shop. To download this checklist, please visit www.motoroilmatters.org.

Breathe free
: Replacing a dirty air filter can increase a vehicle's life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing the strain on the engine, especially during warmer months.

Check your tires: Pay attention to your tire pressure and tread depth, as they are essential for increased automotive safety and optimum driving performance. The lower the tread depth is on your tires, the less traction you will have on wet and dry roads, and the greater the distance you will need to stop.

Enjoy more than the season

Keeping everyone happy: Write out a packing list for each family member. Store these lists on your computer so you can adjust them for different seasons and trips. Kids can be easily entertained during long car rides in the backseat with trivia, coloring books, games, books, assorted toys and stuffed animals.

Stop and pop: Bathroom breaks are always a good thing. They force you to get out of the car and talk with locals. A 10-minute break every two hours also increases alertness and adds to the overall sight-seeing experience.

Expect the unexpected
: Always have a car-safety kit packed for you and your family. It should contain: an auto escape tool, blankets, cell phone charger, cleaning items, flashlight, jumper cables, matches, pencil and notepad, warning lights or road flares, bottled water, non-perishable items and drinks, extra (hidden) cash, and a well-equipped first aid kit.

Keep it clean: Save and bring a handful of plastic grocery bags in the car to use for trash, damp clothes, or a "sick" bag for any car-sick passengers.

Source: www.roadandtravel.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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