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Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012 - Tourist Attraction


Mike would probably blow three times the limit if he were to be pulled over. Staggering, bleary eyed, pint of beer in his hand, somehow he gets it out...

"You know who has the best job in the WORLD? YEAST!! All they do is eat, poop, and have sex..over and over and over and over..." - all done with tons of body language.




Yes, it's not for the kids but it is the funnest tour you'll soon take. It's the great, funny, educational, and fun brewery tour at Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery.

At the north end of the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the modest brick building awaits. It's $7 for the tour, which includes tokens for 4 beers.

After paying, you'll be told to go to the adjacent beer hall (or garden, depending on the day and weather), and cash in your first token on your choice of brews.

Lightly lubed, your tour guide will come and collect you and have you top off your glass before you start. Your filled pint will be your constant companion.




As the tour progresses, you'll learn the process of beer making from your inebriated guide.  You'll soon be in the same state, so gloss over that point.  The history of this small brewery will be explained. Answer a trivia question or help the guide with a task and you'll earn another token.



A bar halfway through the tour makes sure your glass stays full and you'll recreate the opening scene of "Laverne and Shirley" at the bottling line.

You'll laugh until you cry...then you'll stumble over to the bar to cash in the rest of your trips. 

Don't drive...walk, take a taxi, or public transportation...but make sure you take the Lakefront Brewery tour.  You will thank me, trust me.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of 2012 - Food


Since Los Tacos de Huicho in Bakersfield is still the best place we know of, we're going to make them ineligible for the "Best of" honors here at The World on Wheels and let them become the first member of our Hall of Fame.  Yes. They are that good. Make it a point to stop there whenever you're in Bakersfield.



Moving on, we had plenty of other food highlights this year.  Best overall restaurant we went to would have to be the wonderful restaurant my friend Peter Francis Battaglia recommended to me, Cafe Benelux in the great city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



Anchoring the Third Ward, across the street from the Milwaukee Public Market, this meshing of European low-country inspired dishes, served with a literal bible of great beers, made us want to come back again and again.  Just not enough time in this world to fully explore their menus and deli but we'll certainly try. Favorite dish...the Pannenkoeken.



I love a good burger and the best burger I've ever had is right here at home. It's not cheap at $16, with $1 extra for bacon or cheese, but it is supremely delicious and comes with multi-million dollar views.



The Nelson's Burger, named after the restaurant that serves it, is a big 1/3 pound patty topped with arugula, red onions, black bean mayo, and sweet pickle chips. It's all served with fries.  I also like to add bacon and bleu cheese, which brings the price up to $18 but it's such a good burger and I'm eating it outdoors, next to a warm firepit, on top of a cliff looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Doesn't get any better than this.



Almost as good but at just a little over half the price are the burgers at Eureka! with around a half dozen locations around California. Our local location is in Claremont and the burgers are nothing short of fantastic. My favorite is the one pictured above, the Cowboy Burger served with onion straws, bacon, and an in-house made beer barbecue sauce - priced at $10.95. They also have an extensive selection of locally sourced microbrews on tap.



The best pizza continues to be Joey's Red Devil in La Verne, California. It's so good, we put it on the cover of our book, Golden State Eating: Nine Tales of California Food Destinations. Come on by and let the Monaco family show you how good it can be...don't forget to ask for the secret Roland's Sauce too.



Let's finish up with dessert...also in Claremont is Crepes de Paris, next door to the previously mentioned Eureka!, which makes the best crepes I've had. My favorite is the Dulce de Leche beauty, pictured above, soaked with warm caramel with some Chantilly cream on the side.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best of 2012 - Hotel


Hilton, Marriott, Drury, Microtel, Radisson...so many chains out there, and most will be ok for wheelchair users but we must give our props again to the Drury Inn chain for consistency and so much value for travelers of all stripes.

Accessible rooms are easy to book online and trained desk agents are eager to put your mind at ease if you have any concerns.  Call before arrival and they'll make sure you are in the room you want to be in.




Freebies are plentiful. Breakfast, dinner, popcorn, soft drinks, cocktail hour, phone calls, Internet...the list goes on and on. You will definitely get your money's worth here at this Midwest based chain.

We particularly like their flagship destination near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis for impeccable rooms, beautiful lobby, and prime downtown location.


Image by DruryIT used with permission
under CC Y-SA 3.0 license

Drury Inns is our hotel chain of the year.

Our independent hotel is much harder to choose. We stayed at two magnificent hotels this year. Both had great, accessible rooms...bookable online, beautiful facilities, outstanding dining and drinking, good locations, and top notch staff members.



It is just impossible to choose between the two so this year we have co-winners. First, The Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee is an art deco masterpiece at Marquette University. The large, accessible room featured a big, very comfortable king size bed with a queen size sofabed. Large bathroom, foyer equipped with wet bar and fridge, large flat screen TV, good wifi, with large windows and great views. The only knocks I have are the manually operated, historic elevator doors (tough on those with weak hand strength) and a shuttle that would take you anywhere, anytime, but not wheelchair accessible.



The second co-winner is the fantastically beautiful Mission Inn in Riverside, California. The name's appropriate at this circa 1870 hotel because it looks like a huge mission, maybe more like a castle. There are hidden passageways, nook, crannies, deep round rotundas, fountained courtyards, and rooms as big as a small house.

Our junior suite had two separate rooms with a king size bed and large sofabed, two flat screen tvs, a walk-in closet, robes, and a semi private patio.Several restaurants and watering holes are on the premises, along with an award-winning cupcake bakery. Spa and a large pool with handicapped lift.

It's not cheap but it is worth every penny.

While you're here, you should take a look at our Year in Review - 2012.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012 - Airline


To tell the truth, air travel gets tougher everyday. Luggage fees, premium seat location fees, security nightmares at the airport, underpaid cranky staff on the plane, and on and on.

We find ourselves flying less and less. It's not hard to see why, especially traveling with a wheelchair when you're a complete afterthought.



Fortunately, there are a few carriers out there who still do a good job and for the fourth year in a row (talk about consistency) Southwest Airlines wins our airline of the year cudos.

Consistency, on-time performance, no hidden fees, friendly and helpful staff, comfort, good prices, and good equipment handling are longtime hallmarks of this year's Airline of the Year - Southwest Airlines.



Southwest is also a good friend of wheelchair travelers. Very good with preboarding, identifying needs, and helping out whenever they can. 

Southwest has clean planes, friendly cabin staff, the best baggage handlers when it came to loading our chair, free checked luggage, free snacks - on the longer flights even approaching a light meal, free use of pillows and blankets, no delays, and low prices.

The only knock I can think of is that there is no assigned seating on Southwest and it can be a free-for-all to find a seat. Get there early if you don't qualify for pre-boarding to get one of the first boarding passed - Southwest has three tiers, A, B, and C, and are handed out first-come, first-served. A boards first, B second, and C last.

I know we sound like a broken record, but we really haven't flow anyone else that even approaches how nice it is to fly Southwest and, yes, we have flown plenty of other carriers.  Just wish they'd fly to more places I want to go.

You might also want to check our our Year in Review - 2012 while you're here.

Darryl
Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012...The Year in Review.



It didn’t seem as busy here in 2012 as it was in 2011 but we actually hit more destinations this year than last, though most found us staying with our state’s borders. Be sure to click the links in each paragraph to see the stories.


The beginning of the year found us experimenting with some speedy videos. First, a high-speed bike ride along the San Gabriel Riverbed near Azusa. Bike Ride Along the San Gabriel River.


Next, while on the road near the Central Coast, we found the perfect California driving road. Thrill Ride on Highway 41.


That drive over highway 41 put is in our next destination, the heart and soul of the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo.


Just a few miles away, it was Bug Bunny’s favorite destination and one of ours too. Pismo and Avila Beach.


Next it was the start of a long, long road trip up the backside of California. Highway 395 Road Trip.


One of my favorite parts of the state is our historic Gold Rush Country. We started off with a trip to see some old friends at the fantastic Restful Nest Inn in Mariposa. California Gold Rush Towns: Mariposa.


You know what very popular and exciting destination is close to Mariposa? Yosemite National Park.


While we’re in the area, we would be remiss if we didn’t visit the fading gold mining town just over those hills. California Ghost Town:Hornitos.


People still can’t get over what I consider to be the great, undiscovered, and budget friendly weekend getaway town just over the mountains from L.A.  Here are some more great finds there…The Great Bakersfield Food Tour.


This year’s baseball trip took us to the funnest destination we would encounter this year, unexpectedly too. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


After Milwaukee, it’s a day’s drive to our next baseball stop which also includes great scenery and a river cruise. Minneapolis,Minnesota.


Our next few adventures don’t take us very far at all from our home base near Los Angeles. In fact, a half hour train ride will put you in the heart of the West Coast Ivy League…Claremont.


The last trip we took was just a few minutes farther away, the historic citrus farming city where we got to see a great concert, climb a mountain, and fend off zombies. Riverside, California.


We also published our first guide in the fall, an e-book available at Amazon.com, highlighting some of the best food and drink destinations in California. It’s called Golden State Eating: Nine Tales ofCalifornia Food Destinations. You can download a copy at that link, have a great California travel guide, and help support this blog’s mission…all in one fell swoop!


Each year, we also produce a big foodie video. This year, it was more of a drink video where we found our favorite margaritas and convinced their creators to come on camera and give away their secrets. It was incorporated into the first chapter of our book but I’ll let you watch it here too. It’s Southern California’s Top Three Margaritas.


Back on the baseball front, we added 3 new stadiums…2 Major League venues and our first college park…which brings up our total to 23 out of 30.  We also updated all of our stadium reviews to incorporate changes made from the previous season. Remember, no one has more wheelchair accessible baseball stadium information than The World on Wheels. Check out these new additions…




We’ve also shared with you 52 Cocktail Hours (our weekly Happy Hour videos, aired each Sunday), several useful Travel Tips columns, and some new Transit Reports. 

We already have two trips planned for 2013 but beyond that, who knows what or where the new year will bring us. Wherever that may be, we hope you stick around to see what adventures await around the next corner.
Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top Wheelchair Accessible Hiking Trails - Southern California

UPDATED - DECEMBER 2012, See Riverside, below...


This list is Kind of old, I admit (but we do have a few new ones now - Ed). Problem is we tried to get Tim into doing more outdoor and “nature” related activities, but this just doesn’t seem to be in his DNA. Tim is the first to admit, he’s a city boy at heart. In the meantime, here are some really good wheelchair accessible hiking trails located from Southern to Central California. Being accessible means they’re not going to be mountain climbing challenges, but are more than the “loop around the parking lot” that many state and national parks have as their accessible trails.

Unfortunately, it’s been several years since I’ve been on any of these trails so very little of it is updated. Happy trails!


  We like to hike and enjoy nature, but let’s face it...trail planners just don't take into account the many wheelchair users that would also like to hike. There are a few places to enjoy and many more that could be enjoyable with just a little effort on the part of those who maintain the trails.

What follows is a list of good wheelchair accessible hikes and walks. These trails are also good for those who would like an easier, flatter walk than most backcountry trails provide. Every trail on this list is fully accessible for wheelchairs.

I received a list a possible wheelchair accessible hikes from Tom Chester. Tom runs the best general hiking web site for our local mountain at his Hikes in the Angeles Forest web page. Check it out for your general, non-wheelchair hikes. It's an excellent resource with links to all kinds of other goodies too. I particularly enjoy the link to hikes with aircraft wreckage.

ARROYO SECO, PASADENA

This is the second-best wheelchair route we've yet found locally (see the next hike for the best one). It'll take you awhile to get out of civilization here...about 1/2 mile...but then you enter a beautiful birch forest with a babbling brook along side.

You'll want to pack along a water bottle or two and at least some snacks. There is a drinking fountain about a mile up from the parking lot. Plan for at least a couple of hours. There is some parking near the gate in a paved parking lot. There are no designated handicapped spaces but about 4 spots can easily be used for van access. Unfortunately, they are first come, first served for everybody. There are no toilets here at the parking lot and we didn't see any more on the trail, but we may have missed them. There is a passageway to the left of the main gate with ample room for any wheelchair to pass through. Cars are not allowed on the trail.
Soon out of the parking lot, you will stroll past several back yards to the east and spectacular views of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to the west and the Hahamongna Watershed Park (formerly Oak Grove Park, the home of Frisbee golf) just below that.

After the last turnoff to JPL, civilization ends and the forest begins. This is one of the prettiest birch forests I've seen around here, marred slightly be the barb-wire topped fence to keep hikers out of Pasadena's drinking water. Where the fence starts, there's a small diversion dam where you can see the water being sucked out to start its pipeline journey down the mountain.

We didn't see any waterfalls but we admittedly didn't go up too far. We stopped on the far side of the third bridge we crossed at a small picnic area called "Teddy's Outpost". We did come across some others who said there was a fall further up. There was also a tempting, paved turnoff to El Prieto Canyon and Millard Canyon. We know from experience, however, that there's a gate barring further access at the end of that road at the Millard Canyon campground.

The trail starts off paved, and continues paved towards El Prieto, for about a mile. Hard-packed dirt takes you up into Arroyo Seco from here and is still very negotiable. The trails winds along the bottom of the canyon and has a very easy elevation gain.

To get here, take the 210 freeway northeast from Pasadena and exit at Windsor Ave. Turn right (north) and follow Windsor up to the parking area just before Ventura Ave. The trailhead is about 100 yards north of the parking area.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
eekster under CC-BY license

AZUSA CANYON, WEST FORK OF THE SAN GABRIEL RIVER

This is just about our favorite hiking trail. From the trailhead, the elevation gradually increases 600 feet over 6.5 miles. The entire route is paved and motorized traffic is heavily restricted...only workers and cabin owners are allowed to drive on the road. The gate that blocks access for cars allows hikers, wheelchair, and bikes through via a big turnstile.

You'll want to pack along a couple of water bottles and a picnic or some snacks. Plan for an all day adventure here. There is some parking near the gate in the dirt and a full, paved parking lot across a bridge that has 2 handicapped spaces. There are accessible pit toilets here at the parking lot, at the 3.5 mile spot, and at the campground located at the end of the 6.5 miles.

The river is your constant companion as you hike this trail. Anglers can set up anywhere along the river (don't forget a license), however past the 1 mile marker, only baitless "catch & release" without barbed hooks can be done. That is because this stretch of river is the last wild trout stream in Southern California. A natural population of Golden Trout inhabits these waters. There are 3 wheelchair accessible fishing platforms along the trail, the first one located near the 3.5 mile marker.

There are lots of waterfalls along the way. Last summer we counted 12.

There are lots of trees here and it is very clean and quiet after the first 1/4 mile (the area where you start is a very popular swimming hole with some graffiti and trash). There is a campground at the end of the 6.5 miles with tables and restrooms that make a great place to picnic before heading back. It is possible to continue on the trail to Cogswell Resevoir but the trail gets very steep after the 6.5 mile point.

To get here, take the 210 freeway east from Pasadena and exit at Azusa Ave. (highway 39) in Azusa. Turn left (north) and follow Azusa Ave. right up into the mountains. There is a recreational use fee to enter the canyon...Golden Access holders get 50% off of this rate (there is a $100 fine if you are parked in the canyon without this). There is a kiosk to pay this fee at the entrance. Continue up the canyon 1 mile past the East Fork Road bridge, just past the off-road vehicle area. The next bridge you see is where the trailhead is. If parking is available on the south side of the bridge, park there. Otherwise, there is another parking lot on the north side.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Mel under CC-BY-SA license

BIG DALTON CANYON/SAN DIMAS EXPERIMENTAL FOREST, GLENDORA

This trail takes you into a lovely, foothill oak forest in the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Glendora. The route is paved and makes for easy navigation via a wheelchair. There is a gurgling creek (Big Dalton Creek) that keeps you company during your hike. It is a lonely hike as most people in this area don't make to effort to get to any area you can't get to with a car.

First the specifics: Access is via a rather narrow detour around the gate blocking access to cars. It's a bit of a challenge but not impossible. Once past that, it's clear sailing all the way. There are no restrooms past this gate but there is a drinking fountain near the end of the trail at Big Dalton Dam. Parking at the gate is not a problem and it's free but there is no designated handicapped parking.

What you'll see on this trail is a typical Southern California style oak forest. At least it was typical before development wiped most of it away. Native flora such as Birch trees and poison oak (be careful, stay on the road) abound. It is not uncommon to see wildlife such as bears or mountain lions in the area...there are phone numbers posted at the entrance of the trail to report any sightings, mostly for tracking and research purposes. The trail does climb a bit and can be a challenge for manual chair users. The steepness won't phase any power chairs at all.

After about 3 miles, you'll come upon Big Dalton Dam. This concrete dam was built for flood control in the 1920's. Now it's mostly used to store water for the thirsty valley below. The small lake that is formed behind the dam is a bird watcher's paradise. The day we were there we identified goldfinches, kingfishers, blue herons, mallard ducks, and mudhens among others.

Just past the dam a yellow gate marks the entrance to wilderness area. Entrance through here is regulated to those with wilderness permits only...check the ranger station in Glendora for more info on permits. From here, we turn around and coast back down to the parking lot for a nice 6 mile round-trip hike.

It's not the easiest place to find but from Pasadena, take the 210 Freeway east to Grand Avenue in Glendora. Go north on Grand to Sierra Madre Blvd., way up by the hills. Turn right on Sierra Madre until Glendora Mtn. Rd., just before it ends, you'll reach Glendora Mountain Road. Turn left to Big Dalton Canyon Road and turn right. This will lead you into Glendora's Wilderness Park and will dead end at the entrance to the San Dimas Experimental Forest (a part of the Angeles National Forest). Park here and hike in past the gate...wheelchair users go around on the left side of the gate. Make a note that the road in closes at sunset.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Hbdragon88 under CC-BY-SA license

BOLSA CHICA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE, HUNTINGTON BEACH

There are about 3 miles of good, accessible trails in this wetlands site. Recently set aside from development, this area had been threatened with the building of more tract housing. It is still adjacent to oil fields and part of the mesa-top area is still slated for development.

All that aside, however, it's still a great place to go for a walk. It's just across Pacific Coast Highway from one of the area's most popular beaches, Bolsa Chica State Beach. This is birdwatcher's paradise and you get a good close up view of the birds, the fish, and other wildlife in the area. The trails range from paved, to boardwalk, to packed dirt but all will accomodate wheelchairs. Accessible, portable restrooms are located in the small parking lots.

Take the 405 freeway south to Orange County to the Golden West St. exit. Head south, towards the beach, to Pacific Coast Highway. Turn left on PCH. The reserve will be on your right. Look for the small parking lot. If full, continue on PCH to Warner Ave. and turn right. There is another small lot there.

DUARTE RECREATION TRAIL

This suburban trail is just a little over 2 miles long on a abandoned railroad right-of-way. This is where the famous red car trolleys of the Pacific Electric Railroad used to roll. The trail is paved for its entire length and crosses 4 streets along the way. There are 2 water fountains along the route plus more at the trail's terminus in Royal Oaks Park.

Along the trail you will see many oak trees (it parallels Royal Oaks Drive) plus plantings of various other species of trees the city has done to create a more "forested" atmosphere.

There are also a lot of flowers at any given time, plus a few fruit trees along the way. The trail marks the dividing line between Duarte and its neighboring city Bradbury. On the Bradbury side of the trail are many horse ranches including an English riding academy where jumping is taught (you'll also share the trail with some of these horses). You'll also see many birds and squirrels.

The trail terminates at Royal Oaks Park where there are tennis courts, basketball courts, a playground and picnic areas.

To get to the Duarte Recreation Trail, take the 210 freeway east from Pasadena to Buena Vista Ave. in Duarte. Turn left to Royal Oaks Drive and turn right. The trail starts at the corner of Buena Vista and Royal Oaks Drive. There is free, 3 hour parking available along Royal Oaks Drive.

LEGG LAKE/WHITTIER NARROWS, SOUTH EL MONTE

This county-run regional park has many miles of good, accessible trails within its borders. At Legg Lake itself, more park than any kind of wilderness experience, you can cruise over 3 miles of lakeside trails. You can even stop to drop a line in this trout stocked lake. There are also areas to watch the radio controlled power boats race and feed the many ducks & geese.

Outside of the park, you can get on some more wild trails that lead over to the nearby San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers and access the San Gabriel River and LARIO paved bike paths. The bike paths are accessible adjacent to this area.

The San Gabriel River side of the area is a wildlife sanctuary so it's easy to see rabbits, squirrels, coyotes, lizards, snakes, birds, and more.

Take the 60 (Pomona) freeway east from L.A. to the Santa Anita exit and turn right. The parking lot will be on your immediate right. There is a parking fee on weekends & holidays. To get to the more "wilderness" feeling trail, continue on Santa Anita to Durfee Ave. and turn right. At the curve just ahead, before you get to Rosemead Bl., is an access gate to the trail that wheelchair users can negotiate. You can park there or back at Legg Lake, across the street and one block away. There is also a nature center on Durfee Ave., back past Santa Anita Ave. and before you reach Peck Rd. on the right that has parking and a paved 1/2 mile interpretive nature trail. Handicapped parking & restrooms are located throughout Legg Lake park and the nature center. No facilities are on the more "wild" trails.


Ojai-Ventura Trail (added March 2011) - This 11 mile paved trail runs from the beach in Ventura to Ojai up in the hills.  Starting at the sandy beaches of the pacific, there's then a mile or so of oil fields before you get to the really scenic part of the trail in the oak forests of the foothills.  It's a 750 foot elevation gain from Ventura to Ojai, which makes it a little less that 70 feet per mile.  You can also take the SCAT #16 bus up to the top end of the trail and roll down from there...it's all downhill.


The trail starts at the north end of Ventura, where the Ventura River meets the ocean, on top of the south levee of the river.  It ends at the western edge of Ojai at the junction of highways 33 and 150.

RIVERSIDE, MOUNT RUBIDOUX



Go ahead and add a peak to your wheelchair hiking collection. This 1,329 foot summit, just a mile west of downtown Riverside, used to be open to autos until 1992. That means there are two, excellent smooth paved trails to the top that are perfectly suited to wheelchairs.

The loop is three miles. The north road is a little less steep so go up that way and come down the south road.  Beautifully maintained with great scenery on clear days of Riverside to the east and the Santa Ana River and Jurupa Valley to the west.

For more, see our report on Riverside at this link.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Alain Demour/Scewing under CC-BY-SA license

RUNYON CANYON, HOLLYWOOD

Here's an urban hike for you city dwellers and Hollywood tourists. Just above the fray that is Hollywood Bl. is this beautiful, wild area nestled into the Hollwood Hills. Two miles of wheelable trails take you up, into, and around this canyon park which stretches from Hollywood at its base to Mulholland Drive at the top.

Power chairs will have no problems on any trails. Manual chairs will do well on the trail in the canyon bottom and stronger users will be able to negotiate the steeper trails that wind up into the hillsides (or bring along a pusher).

The bottom of the canyon is lined with trees, including many palms, and the hillsides are typical Southern California brush. Going up on the hillside will reward you with a spectacular view of Hollywood, the Wilshire District, and the skyscrapers of downtown L.A.

There are only two problems here. First, many locals bring their dogs to walk here. While there are many signs and plastic bag dispensers, many owners do not pick up as they should so the areas near the entrance have a distinctly less than pleasing aroma. Second, parking is very limited along the streets near the two entrances. You can avoid the parking problems by taking MTA's Line 1 bus and walking (uphill) 2 blocks from Hollywood Bl.

The park is located two blocks north of Hollywood Bl. (or one block north of Franklin) just west of La Brea Ave. The two entrances are on north ends of Vista Street and Fuller Ave. While both entrances can accommodate wheelchairs the entrance on Fuller is much friendlier and provides instant access to the canyon bottom. All trails are smooth enough for chairs and connect with each other.




TRAIL OF 100 GIANTS, SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST

This is a magical trail which winds around-and sometimes through-some ancient Giant Sequoia trees. This trail is well off the beaten path. It's not in Sequoia National Park, it's in the national forest that lies south of that tourist-magnet. It'll take you more than an hour to drive here from the nearest town. It's a challenging drive.

This is not meant to put you off from coming here; merely to explain why once you're here you'll see very few other people.

While not officially a wheelchair accessible trail, nonetheless the trail is graded and hills are moderately ramped specifically to provide wheelers access. The trail itself is a 1 1/2 mile loop through a grove of Giant Sequoias. These trees are absolutely unbelievable. Well meaning people of the 19th century understandably thought explorers were handing them a tall tale when they heard of these 300 foot giants with trunk diameters of 30 feet and more. They're real, though, and if you've never seen one you owe it to yourself to go.

On the trail you'll see dozens of these giants...including one you can wheel into (see picture)...and cross many streams. It's very quiet here and many animals and birds live in the area.

The easiest way to get here is via Kernville in the southern end of the Sierras. From Kernville, take the very scenic state mountain highway 99 north to state mountain highway 60 and turn right (north) and go to mile marker 13. Here you should see a sign for the trail and a parking lot on the right side of the road. There are no dedicated handicapped spots but there's plenty of room. There are accessible toilets here also. The actual trail is across highway 140 from the lot.

- Darryl

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(More) Shopping with The World on Wheels...Packing for a Road Trip


JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in accessible travel information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!



Airfares are high, planes are cramped, and service leaves much to be desired...why not take a road trip?

Here are some great gift ideas for your road-tripping friends...


For less than $90, give the gift of never being lost again with a GPS unit with lifetime map updates.


Road trips are always easier with some cool drinks and snacks handy. The flat top of this ice chest also
doubles as a tray.


Keep your drinks cold and the mess out by using this ice blanket instead of ice. Wrap around the walls of your cooler and never see a melt puddle again.


For no mess or fuss at all, an electric cooler (that plugs into your lighter) works without ice or having to freeze your Blue Ice. Turn the plug over and it becomes a food warmer. We use this for bringing meat home on the road without spoilage.


Road trips often involve long stretches of continuous driving. If it's not your turn behind the wheel, make yourself comfortable and take a soothing nap with this inflatable neck pillow.


Finally, make those long stretches a little less boring with a massive collection of music on your iPod. This 160GB model will hold thousands and thousands of tunes to keep you awake and entertained on your way to your destination.

Happy Holiday shopping!

Darryl

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shopping with The World On Wheels

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in accessible travel information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

 


  Here are some items we at The World on Wheels like and think would make a great addition to your Christmas gift list.

As I write this, I'm sitting in a Best Western in California's Motherlode and Letty has informed me that she forgot our toiletry bag. Dang...hate when that happens...but be sure you have a good toiletry kit available. Start with this oral care kit from Dr. Fresh. With four kits, there's enough for the whole family.



You can also get this travel kit from Donavan that includes deodorant, razor, shaving cream and more...


To carry your gear, we recommend a lightweight, folding, and hanging flat bag that you can just hang on the bathroom hook when you get to your hotel. This bag from Lewis N. Clark fits the bill.



My wife wouldn't want me to finish this list of travel grooming accessories without mentioning a good hair dryer and curling iron combo for travelers, so here you go...



That's it for our Black Friday list but we'll be back with more recommendations as the gift giving season continues.

Stay tuned...

Darryl

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shop Amazon with The World on Wheels!


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TRANSIT REPORT: Denver, Colorado


Denver is a very large city surrounded by a patchwork of smaller towns, plains, and mountains.  It's transit system is actively growing and is not quite a mature system.  Some things work quite well, others are OK, and there are still patches where transit is not yet a viable option.

Public transit here is provided by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) and is a mix of light rail and buses.


LIGHT RAIL - Currently, there are five lines that make up the light rail system.  It runs two lines to the south to Englewood and Littleton and terminates at two points to the north of downtown, 30th and Downing and Union Station at the western end of the 16th Street Mall.

Inside, the trains are clean, modern, and fast. For wheelchair users, there is a raised platform at the end of each station at the driver's end.  A manual ramp is deployed by the driver to allow chairs and strollers to board.  In this configuration, up to three wheelchairs or strollers can be on any given train.  The trains themselves have a much larger capacity.  Either 12 or 18 chairs/strollers can be on a train (depending on if it is a 2 or 3 car train) and if the platforms were built to train level instead of below it, more chair users could be accomodated. 

New lines under construction are also following the lower platform model the current stations have.

Chair users must tell the driver where they plan on exiting so the ramp can be deployed.  This seems like a missed opportunity in universal design and puts an extra burden on wheelchair users that the general public does not have.

Another egregious lapse in the system is that it does not serve the airport but a line is under construction and service to the airport is expected to begin in 2016. To the west, a new line to Golden that will get you close...but not quite...to the Coors brewery will open in 2013.

BUSES - The buses run by the RTD are like most cities in the U.S.  A lift or ramp is deployed from the front door and up to two wheelchairs can be accomodated in each bus.  Tie-downs are installed in each position.

The bus system covers a much larger area reaching towns in the nearby Rockies to the west; Boulder to the north; Denver International Aiport to the east, and the county line to the south.

16th STREET MALL FREE SHUTTLE - One of the stars of the transit system here is the shuttle that moves people back and forth along the mile long 16th Street Mall from Union Station on the west end to the Capitol Building on the east end.  Just about anything you want to do in downtown is within 3 blocks of this route.

The buses are electric/hybrids and have multiple entry doors like trains.  Wheelchairs enter via the second door where the driver can deploy a manual ramp.  It's an easy entrance into the two wheelchair locations and tie-downs are available.  Buses run every couple of minutes and are among the easiest I've seen for wheelchair entrance and exit.  They are also free.

SKYRIDE - RTD also operates a bus service to the airport via large buses that serve Englewood to the south, downtown, Broomfield to the north, and Lakewood to the west.  It also connects with several light rail stations.  Fares run $9, $11, or $13 each way.

Unless noted above, the basic fare on buses or light rail is $2.25 (disabled $1.10), which is in the high range for most transit systems. 

Day and multi-day passes are also available, which would make it a little more affordable for travelers, except that they're not available at the stations...you have to buy them at approved retailers such as Safeway.  This makes it pretty hard for a traveler to get one when they're in town.



-Darryl
Copyright 2011 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Front Range Express provides accessible bus service between Denver and Colorado Springs for $11 each way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TRANSIT REPORT - NEW YORK CITY



UPDATE: For service status following Hurricane Sandy, check this page: MTA Service Advisory

New York is a dizzying, confusing place but, if you do your homework, you can navigate your way through the city in a wheelchair.  Here are your major options.



AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION - The two major New York airports are Kennedy and La Guardia.  Amazingly in this city of subways, neither is connected to that system.  Your best bet is to either request an accessible taxi at the taxi stand, or to book an accessible shuttle from a company such as Supershuttle.  If you're more adventurous, and don't have a lot of luggage, you can catch an MTA bus.  At La Guardia, it's not too far to take the 48 bus to Queen's and catch the 7 subway there into the city at the accessible Flushing-Main St. station.  At Kennedy, you can take the AirTrain to the accessible Sutphin subway station (E line) or to the accessible Howard Beach subway station (A line).  We did try the bus option from La Guardia.   It's doable, but coming back it's very confusing finding the right bus stop when you get off of the subway.  We haven't tried the Kennedy option yet.  There is also train service from Newark airport and nearby the Islip airport, which you'd either have to taxi or bus to...it would be about a mile walk from the airport to the train station.  We did this via a taxi one time...if possible, I'd rather fly into one of the other three airports.



SUBWAY - Let's face it, it's just not New York without the subway.  When possible, it's also the fastest way to get around.  There are currently 33 accessible subway stations in Manhattan listed on the MTA's website.  Some popular locations with accessible stations are Times Square, Herald Square, Penn Station, Grand Central Station, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, Roosevelt Island, and the World Trade Center station.  Outside of Manhattan you have Yankee Stadium, Coney Island, and Flushing Meadows Park.  There are several more non-accessible stations where you can transfer between lines in a wheelchair.  It is very important to study the map and information provided by the MTA's website for particular access information, for example some lines may be accessible in a station while others in the same station are not such as Times Square, where the shuttle (S) is not accessible.

The basic fare for buses or subways is $2.50. A 7-Day pass is $29. (2012)



BUS - All buses in New York are accessible.  We had no problems on any bus or with any drivers while we were there.  The only problem is that they must also sit in traffic, although they have dedicated lanes on the busiest streets.



STATEN ISLAND FERRY - is accessible and a great way to get good views of the city and the Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island Ferry is free.

STATUE OF LIBERTY/ELLIS ISLAND FERRY - is accessible.



ROOSEVELT ISLAND TRAMWAY - is accessible.



TAXIS - Most are not accessible.  You'll usually need to call a dispatcher to have one sent, it is very hard to hail an accessible cab on the street.



LONG ISLAND RAILROAD - In Manhattan, the LIRR uses the accessible Penn Station, underneath Madison Square Garden.  Click the link for a map of accessible stations.



METRO NORTH RAILROAD - For points upstate and Connecticut, the Metro North uses Grand Central Station, which is accessible.  For points across the Hudson, Metro North uses Penn Station, which is also accessible.  Click the link for a map of accessible stations.

-Darryl
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Diliff and Janke under CC-BY license
Daniel Schwen under CC-BY-SA license
Kris Arnold under CC-BY-SA license