Articles written by dimitra lavrakas


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  • A plague of travel difficulties to contend with

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Mar 1, 2023

    Thousands upon thousands of travelers have been stuck recently in transportation hell due to a number of problems. Whether it's weather, lack of airline employees, FAA system failures, it's a real bummer. Stalled before even boarding There is nothing more chilling for a traveler that to arrive at the airport and see "canceled" up and down a flight monitor. That's what happened on Dec. 22, when a bomb cyclone hit the upper Midwest, shutting down 2,700 flights on Dec. 22 and 5,700 the next day....

  • Free medical flights with angel pilots

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Feb 1, 2023

    For 39 years, Angel Flight West has transported thousands of people to medical care – for free. Flights are generally for passengers who can't afford airline tickets, or for whom travel by land or commercial airline could pose a physical hardship, passengers with compromised immune systems or who live in remote areas without access to commercial transportation. Angel Flight West provides air transportation within and across 12 Western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, I...

  • Going the extra mile to fight cancer

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Feb 1, 2023

    For the second year in a row, Alaska Airlines and GCI have teamed up to donate one million miles to the American Cancer Society and their program to help Alaskan cancer patients travel for their treatment. Whether traveling from remote areas of the state or traveling out of state, every patient could use a little more support in their corner. The American Cancer Society can assist patients who need to travel within Alaska for medical treatment. In some limited cases, travel to the mainland may also be possible for patients who cannot otherwise...

  • Cruise ships sail into the far north

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Corresondent|Jan 1, 2023

    In 1994, when I first moved to Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), the Russian icebreaker "Yamal" cruised into town with tourists aboard. It took 13 helicopter trips just to unload their luggage for transport to the Wiley Post and Will Rogers Airport for the flight out of town. The cruisers themselves were lightered to the beach in Zodiacs. As editor of the Arctic Sounder, I got a helicopter ride out to the ship and landed on the deck. I forgot that ships are like a country unto themselves and hadn't...

  • At-home clinical trials

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2022

    There are many new clinical trials available to Alaskans that are conducted at home. Clinical trials are medical research studies designed to test the safety and effectiveness of new investigational drugs, devices or treatments in humans. These studies are conducted worldwide for a range of conditions and illnesses. Chronic pain study Boomers, if are you having chronic pain, this may be of interest to you. The home study with researchers from the University of Michigan gives you the opportunity to participate in a first of its kind study on...

  • Last-minute flights, airfares for funerals

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Dec 1, 2022

    When someone in your family is dying whether, it's in-state or the Lower 48, you want to get to them fast. When I was visiting a friend in Kodiak, her mother lay dying in Alabama, and we managed to get her off the island on the last flight out and to Anchorage on a reduced fare, then on to Alabama thanks to Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines How does the Alaska Airlines bereavement fare work? If you need to travel within the next seven days due to the death of one of your immediate family...

  • Flying legal: Your cannabis and the law

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Dec 1, 2022

    Twenty-one states have decriminalized possession of cannabis and some allow growing for your own use. Pot shops have popped up all over and the taxes from the sale of marijuana in specialized stores have bolstered many a municipal budget. In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which would federally decriminalize weed. However, the bill's passage is uncertain. As a THC user, how do you get from Alaska to another state...

  • Bonanza for at-home medical studies

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2022

    PicnicHealth is a business with a new approach to medical studies. It will take the information from your medical history through an online portal and share it with researchers. All of your records, no matter how many times you move, will be organized for your, your doctors’ and researchers’ convenience. The researchers will only receive records stripped of any information that could be used to identify you personally. Outside of that, no one—including your doctor or insurance company—will be able to see your medical records unless you choose...

  • Whales, eagles, nutcrackers take center stage

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Nov 1, 2022

    November brings a flurry of seasonal salutes to the whales and eagles that enhance our life here. In Haines, thousands of bald eagles gather to chase the late chum and coho salmon run, while in Sitka the annual migration of humpback whales is saluted with several days of delving into the science of marine life that supports life on our planet. Sitka Whalefest This annual celebration of science and everything marine life occurs in Sitka for three days, November 3 to 6. This year's theme is "How...

  • A bright pink ice cream adventure in Chicago

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Oct 1, 2022

    As winter's chill comes on, Alaskans start thinking about keeping warm. Aside from muktuk, bacon and caribou soup, the fat Alaskans love most comes from ice cream. If you have children and grandchildren in Austin, Texas, New York City, or Chicago, Illinois, when you visit, bring them to the Museum of Ice Cream. There are also locations in Shanghai and Singapore. However, if you have hearing aids, you might want to block the irritating pop music by turning them down or off. And if you go in the...

  • Helping grandparents raise their grandchildren

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2022

    I'm 73 years old, and after taking care of my five-year-old granddaughter Eliza for four hours, well, I'm ready for a nap. So I have nothing but deep respect and awe for grandparents raising their grandchildren full-time. And so does Volunteers of America, which provides Kinship Care Services for those grandparents statewide. A long history Volunteers of America, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1896 and provides affordable housing and other assistance services primarily to low-income...

  • It's the season for Alaskan travel discounts

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Sep 1, 2022

    Fall in Alaska is to be treasured by Alaskans-no tourists, no tour buses clogging the roads, no sightseeing planes or helicopters flying overhead. Just the sound of the tree leaves floating through the air after they turn gold and fall to the ground. It's time to take a trip and enjoy the beauty of Alaska. September with Get Lost Travel Vans in Anchorage. Travel van and SUV rental rates are just $199 per night plus tax, with just three-night minimum for a savings of up to $100 per night over...

  • Winter nights bring dancing lights

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Sep 1, 2022

    Fall in Alaska comes with many perks - sightings of migratory birds and Alaskans heading to warmer climes, but best is the darkness that brings the awesome Aurora Borealis. Now Explore Fairbanks has a website that shows you the potential for aurora viewing and how many hours of daylight there is at any given time. While it may be sad to watch the light fade, after Dec. 21 there is the joy of seeing the minutes of light adding up. Go to https://www.explorefairbanks.com/#tracker. Fairbanks is the...

  • Clinical trials and tribulations

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2022

    I’ve been writing about the chance to participate in medical research by applying for clinical trials that could not only help oneself, but countless others. Being in the Chicago area, there are plenty of medical trials to choose from, so I decided on the osteoarthritis knee study at Northwestern University. For years, I’ve growled that we can put a man the moon but can’t make cartilage regrow or even replace it with another material. This study would involve a regular injection of a drug to do just that (or you get a placebo). I took the overh...

  • Big bears, big trees beckon you

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Aug 1, 2022

    To get a taste of how lush Haida Gwaii in British Columbia is, once called Queen Charlotte Islands, think back on that Alaska Marine Highway ferry ride to Bellingham or Prince Rupert. Sailing past the village of Bella Bella through a tight narrows on the Inside Passage, it's as if you could spread your arms and touch both shores. The almost primordial growth of cedars and firs, ferns and devil's club crowd right to the waterline, making access into the forest very difficult, but a beautiful...

  • Alaska welcomes you to summer

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Jul 1, 2022

    While travel by car seems prohibitive with gas prices at an all-time high of $5.51 in June, a drive to a festival may be the cure for he several years of isolation due to the pandemic. Get out and meet your fellow Alaskans or travel to a town you once lived in and see old friends. Kachemak Bay Highland Games, July 2-3, Homer. Men in skirts! Highland games of skill like tossing the caber – a big hunk of wood as far as you can. Clan regalia will be on sale. On Saturday night at 6:30 p.m., there's...

  • You can help with reproductive cancer research

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2022

    Since writing about clinical trials several editions back, I’ve earned about $40 in gift cards. Now I search for more. Participating in clinical studies can put a jingle in your pocket while contributing to medical science. Even my 5-year-old granddaughter realized this contribution -- when I gave her a microscope for her birthday, she said, “Now I can cure people!” The webpage that details current clinical trial research in your area is www.clinicalconnection.com/search-clinical-trials. I have to say, using this website was a little more...

  • Assistance program aims to make internet more affordable

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2022

    Low-income Alaskans now qualify for discounted or free internet access, thanks to an expanded federal program announced by the White House May 16. The White House estimates the program will cover 48 million households, or 40 percent of the country. The Affordable Connectivity Program grants up to $30 a month to pay for high-speed internet for households who qualify under certain programs and income levels. Do you qualify for this program? There are two main ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program: Your household income, which...

  • Alaska Natives to see new broadband effort

    Dimitra Lavrakas, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2022

    The $41.5 million provided by the federal Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will make fast internet more affordable so rural residents can access telehealth appointments, and provide access for economic growth and remote learning. As is usual with federal spending, Alaska is getting more than other states. The Alaska Federation of Natives will receive $35.1 million to subsidize internet service, provide computer packages, help tribal communities access telehealth and offer digital skills training, according to a press release from the U.S....

  • Museums statewide offer deals for seniors

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Jun 1, 2022

    Alaska has museums from Dutch Harbor, to Sitka, to tiny Anaktuvuk Pass in the middle of the Brooks Range. But the most striking-looking building in all of Juneau, and surely anywhere else in the state, has to be the Sealaska Heritage Institute on Front Street. The huge 40-foot exterior panels outside the building were designed by internationally celebrated Haida artist Robert Davidson, and its design represents a supernatural being called the "Greatest Echo," a theme chosen by Davidson because...

  • New annex brings seniors back together in Fairbanks

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Correspondent|May 1, 2022

    Knowing all too well the effects of social isolation on the health of seniors, both mental and physical, the Fairbanks Senior Center has temporarily pivoted to a new rented space at Shoppers Forum Mall next to Planet Fitness. The ribbon cutting was on April 13, when visitors got to see the new location. "It's the first of many good days for our seniors to meet, have lunch, use the internet and who knows - probably some exercise classes in the future," Fairbanks Senior Center Executive Director D...

  • Airline mask mandate: It's all up to you now

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|May 1, 2022

    On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the Transportation Security Administration had issued an extension of the mask mandate until May 3 after the CDC’s “close monitoring of the COVID-19 landscape in the United States and internationally.” But federal officials stopped that enforcement on travel on April 18 after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida ruled the mandate exceeded the statutory authority of the CDC. With that, some airlines announced that masks are now opt...

  • COVID restrictions lift and travelers are raring to go

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Apr 1, 2022

    The planes and ships want you back - desperately. But only you can decide if you feel safe enough to go. I ping-ponged back and forth from Alaska to the east coast three times between late summer and winter last year. I wore my mask, disinfected my hands with a spray I carried, wash my hands, and tried not to touch things like doorknobs and railings. I am still alive. Airlines and cruise ships are flinging discounts about madly and maybe if you feel you can go out safely, it might be time to...

  • Canada drops COVID tests

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Apr 1, 2022

    On April Fool’s Day, no kidding, Canada will drop the requirement that travelers entering Canada either through airports or land borders prove they have a pre-arrival COVID-19 test result. But only for those fully vaccinated. This is a big sigh of relief for Alaskans whose towns and villages are so close to the international border that residents can only access a road out through Canada or for whom a Canadian city is the closest place to shop, go to for medical services. But wait, there might be a catch. Travelers arriving to Canada from a...

  • Federal deadline for a REAL ID is next year

    Dimitra Lavrakas, Senior Voice Travel Correspondent|Apr 1, 2022

    Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and ID cards from states that do not meet the requirements. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline to obtain a Real ID has been extended to May 3, 2023. At that time, your non-compl...

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