Articles written by erin kirkland


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  • COVID-19 Digest update, March 30

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    The Denali Center, a 75-bed rehabilitation and senior center in Fairbanks, recently began testing its residents and staff after one confirmed case of COVID-19 was established on Saturday, March 28. The facility, run by Foundation Health Partners, currently has 135 staff members working a variety of shifts at the 19th Avenue location. It was determined the affected individual, a resident female, 80, was only “mildly symptomatic” and is quarantined in her apartment. All other residents are also confined to their rooms and wear masks to pre...

  • COVID-19 digest update: March 31, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    Current COVID-19 cases continue to increase across Alaska At the nightly press briefing on Tuesday, March 31, Dr. Anne Zink, of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced 14 new cases of COVID-19 in five Alaska communities – Anchorage (2), Eagle River (2), Fairbanks (5), Juneau (4) and Kenai (1). This brings the total case count in Alaska to 133. Two of the new cases are older adults (60+); 10 are adults aged 30-59; and two are younger adults aged 19-29. Five are female and nine are male. Five of the cases are c...

  • America's public lands beckon to seniors in 2020

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2020

    As the new year moves swiftly forward, United States travelers over age 62 wanting to explore the nation's public lands should begin planning now. With the now-termed "America the Beautiful" National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, senior adventurers gain access to more than 2,000 federal lands, monuments and historical sites managed by six federal agencies. It also offers a substantial discount in some cases for camping, boat launches and other fees. When the formerly-$10 Golden Age...

  • Risk is inherent in travel: What can we learn?

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2020

    The accounts and photographs from New Zealand’s White Island are grim. Tourists on day excursions to the country’s most popular attraction were one minute hiking to the rim of the active volcano, enjoying the landscape’s awe-inspiring sights; the next, they were fleeing for their lives as ash and rock came pouring from the cone. With nowhere to run but toward the shoreline, many were overcome by toxic sulfur dioxide and the intense heat, and were terribly burned. At least 14 died, and probably more who survived the initial explosion but suffere...

  • Great gifts for seniors on the go

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2019

    If you’ve got adventures big or small planned next year, it’s important to travel with the right gear. And by “right,” I mean appropriate for the changing senior’s body, mind and soul. Let’s face it, seniors, the days of toting backpacks around Europe for months are mostly over. Still, more than 80% of all seniors place travel high atop their lists of things to do, according to a 2017 AARP study. Today’s seniors are also a financially stable demographic and able to afford accessories that make travel anywhere more manageable and comfortable....

  • Sailing the Alaska Marine Highway in 2020? Better read this

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2019

    "What a beautiful sight that was. We could take our car, or walk on board, and GO SOMEWHERE! Our highway had arrived!" ~ Betty J. Marksheffel, describing her first view of the ferry as a historical note in celebration of the Alaska Marine Highway System's 50th anniversary in 2013. Living in coastal Alaska often means navigating life in places so remote that no road can be built to transport people or supplies. Everything from toilet paper to apples and oranges must be ordered and shipped on an a...

  • Washington sales tax exemptions for Alaskans

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2019

    Alaskans who head to Washington state for a shopping trip won’t be able to enjoy the easy sales tax break they have gotten for more than 50 years. A new law enacted by Washington legislators now requires Alaska residents to save their receipts and apply post-journey for a sales tax exemption from the state’s Department of Revenue. A move likely to increase sales tax dollars by the millions, the new system is banking upon the inaction of Alaskans and other residents from tax-exempt states like Oregon, Montana, New Hampshire, and Delaware. Cas...

  • Big Delta State Historical park worth a stop - and stay

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2019

    A (usually) wonderful occupational hazard of travel writer life is setting out to explore Alaska's lesser-known sights. I've just returned from a four-night journey to do just that, swinging around the loop from Anchorage to Fairbanks and back along the Glenn, Richardson and Parks Highways, tracing Last Frontier history, culture and recreation as a solo 50-something roadtripper. I camped by turn in my favorite backpacking tent and a selection of Alaska State Parks public use cabins, and all...

  • Explore historic (and sunny) The Dalles, Oregon

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2019

    Most Alaskans who hop on an airplane and fly south aren't typically looking to land in Oregon for a dose of sunshine and dry heat. After all, the beaver state is among the rainiest on the west coast, right? Well, yes and no. Oregon does have rainforests, lush greenery and access to the Pacific Ocean within a few hours of hub city Portland. But also in reach is the vast Columbia River Gorge, a natural wonder to the east boasting fantastic scenery and a wealth of outdoor recreation. The river...

  • Cruise lines switch up traditional entertainment styles

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2019

    Cruising in 2019? Don't expect the usual from scheduled onboard entertainment, say cruise lines. Instead, how about the chance to rub shoulders with a feature film makeup artist, or perhaps sitting in on a panel discussion with an award-winning composer? Maybe you'd like the opportunity to test your brain power as part of a quiz show or learn more about Italian wines. Once seen as a weak part of an otherwise stellar seafaring vacation experience, evening entertainment aboard large cruise ships...

  • Real ID: What you need to know

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2019

    As if the logistics of travel weren’t murky enough, the Dept. of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Real ID program will be enforced in Alaska beginning Oct. 1, 2020. On that date, Alaska residents will need to present a Real ID-compliant license or ID, or other accepted form of identification in order to access any federal facility, including boarding commercial aircraft. The DHS announced on Dec. 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act as passed by Congress, that will implement the Act “in a measured, fair, and responsible way....

  • State Museum in Juneau is well worth a visit

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2019

    Think you know Alaska's entire story, told from the perspective of our capital city's residents? It might be time for a refresher at the Juneau State Museum, and March is the perfect month in which to visit. One of two Alaska museums run by the state, the Juneau facility opened in 2016 at full capacity after a two-year, $139 million renovation to expand, enhance and encourage visitors. Conveniently located within an easy walk of downtown Juneau and most hotels, the Alaska State Museum (...

  • Spiritual touchpoints as a cornerstone of travel

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2019

    "A traveler am I, and a navigator, and every day I discover a new region within my soul." ~ Kahlil Gibran There's a new trend afoot, encouraging the exploration of religious, philosophical, and morally-significant destinations around the world. Known as "spiritual travel," it's an effort to combine vacation with pilgrimage, for lack of a better term, and reach a demographic of people interested in history, culture and spiritual affiliation beyond the boundaries of home. And it's booming. I'm in...

  • Traveling safe (and smart) in 2019

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2019

    After a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattled both homes and nerves in November, many Alaskans are finding themselves thinking twice about safety and emergency preparedness like never before; and this includes travel. Whether embarking for an international destination or traveling domestically, considerations for safety and emergency procedures are part of a traveler’s code of personal responsibility. As you make plans for 2019, add these tips to your checklist prior to departure and while on the go. It could make the difference between salvaging a...

  • All aboard the Aurora Winter Train

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2018

    If you've ever listened to the lyrics to the tune 'Wabash Cannonball,' you'll get a sense of train travel's intrinsic hold upon us: "Listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar As she glides along the woodland o'er the hills and by the shore" Getting around Alaska by train is not just for summer tourists; it's also a winter mode of transportation that allows for access to and from some of our most treasured destinations, minus the crowds. Come winter, the Alaska Railroad modifies its...

  • Have a "Bermudaful" experience this winter

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2018

    With refined charm hinting of a British past combined with carefree, beach-life style of the Caribbean, Bermuda's got it all. This 22-mile island chain of volcanic rock and limestone has attracted east coast vacationers for years, with easy access to azure water and pink sand beaches, but beyond the sand and surf lies a wealth of history, mystery and culture spanning several centuries, starting with its location. Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, lies less than 1,000 miles from the United S...

  • Denali Highway: Fall for it

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2018

    Labor Day weekend was a glorious jumble of color, sunshine, and a yearn for open roads, so drive them we did, up and over one of Alaska's most underutilized roadways. The Denali Highway, once upon a time the only way to reach Denali National Park, is often forgotten in the "hurry up and get there" mindset of most Alaska visitors (and often we residents, too) who forget that in the Last Frontier, the journey is often the destination. A 134-mile drive between Paxson and Cantwell, the highway is...

  • Fall in Fairbanks: Good fun and few crowds

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2018

    Alaskans annually play a waiting game with winter. The frenzied pace of summer begins to slow around mid-August as kids and grandkids return to school, daylight wanes, and weather patterns become a bit more unpredictable. But should this stop you from exploring the 49th state? Never. Autumn's shift merely indicates an entirely new season of travel, especially in Alaska's Interior region, where crowds thin noticeably after Labor Day. Fairbanks plays hub to the greater Interior that includes...

  • An All-American road, on water

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2018

    There's no question that Alaska is a place of uniqueness. From people to landscape and everything in between, there's no state like the 49th State, and that includes the mechanics of infrastructure. The Alaska Marine Highway System is a 3,500-mile route stretching from Bellingham, Washington, to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Chain, with 28 other ports of call in between. Designated a National Scenic Byway in 2002 due to its rich culture and scenery, the Alaska Marine Highway System is a...

  • RV park or public campground

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2018

    Summer has finally arrived in the Last Frontier. After a wet, windy spring, Alaskans are fueling up and hitting the highways and byways in search of a night or two (or many) among Alaska's wild spaces. If one were to look at the numbers, RV (or car) visitors to Alaska only make up 78,000, or about four percent, of the state's two million annual visitors, but there's no mistaking their impact. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, RV parks, campgrounds, and even highway pullouts are packed with rigs,...

  • Tours offer glimpse into Alaska's role in Cold War

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2018

    Between 1946 and 1989, the United States and Russia were locked in a confrontation of ideology. Posturing took the form of an unprecedented nuclear arms race during which then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev declared, "We will bury you!" Military planners in the U.S. worried that Soviet bombers would strategically position themselves over Alaska in an attempt to attack the rest of the country, and thus, defense from the Last Frontier became a critical element. Three sites were constructed...

  • Travel insurance: Preserve your vacation investment

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2018

    In January I was scheduled to travel away from my home in cold, dark Anchorage to the warm, bright beaches of the Turks and Caicos. It was a sanctuary vacation I had been looking forward to for months, and I gleefully packed swimsuits and sandals in anticipation. I also managed to ignore a nagging tickle in the back of my throat, assuring myself that it would certainly go away in the tropical air. A week later I was bedridden with the worst virus I had ever experienced. Feverish, unable to...

  • Gray whale watch: Spring deals on sale now

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2018

    Alaska's gentle giants are coming home, and you won't want to miss their annual appearance. The gray whale migration is ready to begin as the 50-foot, 40-ton marine mammals prepare to depart Mexico's Baja Peninsula for the chilly Arctic feeding grounds. As these enormous creatures make their way north during March and April, eager visitors flock to Pacific coast shorelines and on board cruise vessels from California to Alaska for a glimpse of the sleek, silvery whales. Undertaking the world's...

  • Travel well: Staying healthy on your trip

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2018

    The advent of planes, trains and automobiles for the purpose of efficiently transporting humans around the globe has meant more than just fast travel. Clinging to our bodies, gear and found within the air we breathe are millions of viruses and infections, some mild, some not, but each harboring the potential to wreck a vacation. A perfect example is this year’s influenza outbreaks in the United States, where experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised the alert of high flu incidence to 43 states, Alaska included (...

  • Ride-sharing services aid seniors

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2018

    There’s little doubt that one of the toughest things about growing older is a loss of independence. The relinquishment of responsibility for one’s own actions can be the source of disagreement and angst among families, especially when driving comes up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 40 million licensed drivers in the United States are over age 65, and while seniors in many respects are very safe drivers, wearing seat belts, following traffic rules and the like, there is no denying that aging does affect ability. Be it thr...

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