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Friday, August 23, 2013

ADA Access Complaint Wrap-Up: How to File an ADA Complaint.


See how we resolved our complaint here: Part 1 and Part 2

It was 23 years ago that President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilties Act into law. We're still trying to implement many of its provisions today.



If you live in the United States, when you find yourself impacted by what appears to be an ADA violation, the first step is not to lawyer up.  There are other steps to take before getting to that point.

As they say, the wheels of Justice turn slowly, so be prepared for resolution to take some time.

When you find a potential violation, the first step is to find out who is responsible. It could be a government agency, like a city, or a private business.  It could be...as in our case...a private business using a government owned property.


After finding out who is responsible, the next step is to approach them and point out the violation, as politely as possible. A lot of the time, they just don't know and, if they're reasonable, will just fix it. If you don't think you can keep your cool in person, write a letter and send it certified with proof of delivery.

Keep a copy. In fact, keep a record of every step you take in this process. If litigation is required, that will be necessary. If you don't, you can kiss the complaint goodbye.

If you approach the person(s) responsible, tell them, and they still don't comply, write a letter as outlined above.

It would help at this point to be able to point out exactly what section of the law they violated. Be sure to verify that, in fact, what they did is not allowed by searching the relevant laws. The text of the Americans with Disabilities Act is online at Department of Justice's ADA Website.


Wait for an answer. If no answer is forthcoming after a reasonable time, say 6 weeks, or your complaint has been refused, now it the time to report it to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice maitains a website, including a form you can use, explaning how to file a complaint. Send the complaint via a trackable method, such as certified mail, to make sure delivery was recieved.  The DOJ can take several months to answer your complaint but they will. The current administration has made enforcement of the ADA a priority. See How To File an ADA Complaint at the DOJ's website.


If the DOJ accepts your complaint, an attorney will contact you, probably from your local U.S. Attorney's Office, and explain the process. You may be called in to give a deposition, you may even be subpoenaed into court room testimony.

If the DOJ rejects your complain, they will say why. If you believe you still have a case, you can hire a private attorney to proceed with your claim.  You also have the right to hire a private attorney at any point in the complaint, if you so wish.

Be advised that damages are limited. You will not get a multi-million dollar settlement. Damages are usually limited to fixing the problem, your attorney fees, and maybe a small amount to account for your time and effort in the matter.


Darryl
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS - Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota



Right now, Target Field in Minneapolis is the second newest ballpark, behind the new Marlins Park in Miami.  It’s the home of the American League’sTwins, named after the Twin Cities…Minneapolis and St. Paul. An animated sign in right field illustrates this with two ball players, Minnie and Paul, shaking hands across the Mississippi River.  It replaces the Hefty Bag…the derisive nickname of the unmissed Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.


The Twins have had some real superstars on their roster over the years. Kirby Puckett, Burt Blyleven, Harmon Killebrew, Kent Hrbek , and Frank Viola are some players that called Minnesota home. They’ve won three World Series titles in 1924, 1987, and 1991.

This year, 2013, they’re sitting in fourth place, a dismal 16 games behind the Tigers, led by longtime manager Ron Gardenhire and featuring such star players as catcher Joe Mauer and first baseman Justin Morneau.

Here are the stats…

Year opened: 2010
Surface: Grass
Construction cost: $545 million
Capacity:  39.504
Field dimensions: Left field – 339 ft.; left center – 377 ft.; Center field – 411 ft.; right center – 365 ft.;  Right field – 328 ft.
Home teams: Minnesota Twins (American League, MLB) 2010 –present
Events attended: one game

The stadium sits in downtown, just north of the warehouse district about a mile and a half from the old Metrodome.  It’s easily accessible by the Hiawatha light rail line and by the Northstar commuter railroad, both of which have stations at the stadium. It’s also served by various bus lines, has plenty of parking, and is linked to the downtown Skyway…an all-weather pedestrian bridge system in downtown Minneapolis.

Reflecting the area’s Scandinavian heritage, light rock and blonde wood are used extensively throughout the stadium, giving it a northern European look. Many seats even have wooden backs. It kind of looks like a stadium that was designed by Ikea.

While they don’t have kitschy little traditions like a sausage race, they do have others. One touching tradition is that a local veteran is selected to raise the flag during the national anthem.  Here, Muriel Cantor, raises the flag. Muriel was an army nurse and the first American woman in Paris after its liberation in World War II.



Sight lines are excellent throughout the park. Many seats have shelves in front of them instead of cupholders. This comes in real handy to have a place to set your food, drinks, laptop (free WiFi throughout the park), and anything else you’d like to have handy.


Wheelchair accessible seats are available in all levels, from the first row to the upper deck.  Tickets at this newer park are a bit hard to come by due to the many sellouts.  It’d be best to have an alternate date in mind when you call (800) 33-TWINS for tickets. Prices are demand based, meaning they go up or down (but mostly up) based on the demand. Generally, they run $16 - $120. Our seats in right field cost $42 each…not the cheapest stadium around.

Another very visible accessible feature are the closed captioning boards near each foul pole where hearing impaired guests can follow along with the public address announcer.

Food runs from the typical hot dogs and other varieties of sausages to Minnesota favorites such as whitefish on a stick (very good, by the way). Beer selection is good but some popular brands, like Leinenkugel, can have very long, slow lines at their stand. Pricing is decent at $7.75 for a large, premium beer.



It’s a gorgeous stadium with very good access and amenities. It’s easy to watch a game here and, even though many wondered why such a weather battered city would not build an indoor stadium, a wonderful place to sit in the sun enjoying baseball as it should be.



-Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2012 – Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved
Updated for 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fightin' the Man: The Conclusion to Our ADA Fight


See the first chapter of this report here: Part 1

When people say I should file a legal complaint when someone denies access on our trips time and time again, I tell them that don't go on vacation to become a lawyer or to start a legal fight...I'm there to enjoy it. Small hassles are endured or avoided but sometimes you just can't avoid it.

That's especially true when you're at home. Now I do have the time to do something about it, but still, I don't go out of my way to pick a fight.

There are times when you just can't leave the status quo.



I'm not a litigative or combative person. I can count on my one hand...four...the times, in fifty years, that I've been bugged enough to actually carry through a fight to conclusion.  The fourth time is here at the Friday Night Family Festival in Monrovia.

When the manager of the festival decided they could squeeze in another couple of vendor booths by putting them on the corner curb ramps, blocking wheelchair access to some very popular eateries on Myrtle Avenue, I couldn't let it pass by.

It's funny...if you're in this situation you probably know...that when you complain to the people responsible for denying you access, many times the result is that they dig in their heels and dare you to do something about it.



Complaining to the vendors and the manager did nothing and after three weeks, the situation remained. Time to take it to the next level.

My next step was to find the relevant passage in the law. Although the entire text of the Americans with Disabilities Act is online, searching it was not easy. I searched on ramps and found specifications for building one. I searched on curb cuts and found specifications for installing those too.

I searched for a couple of days, off and on, until I hit upon "path of travel." Bingo! Section 12147 of the ADA specifies that publicly owned "paths of travel" can only be blocked temporarily when a repair is necessary.

I went to the City of Monrovia's website, found the e-mail address of the mayor, and fired off the most polite letter of complaint I could muster telling them that as owner of the curb cuts and streets, they were responsible for curing this situation.

That letter is as follows:


Dear Mayor ____

We work out at Movement Unlimited every Friday night with our son, and several other people, who use wheelchairs. After our workout, we go over to the Family Festival for dinner and to enjoy the fun and farmer's market.


Recently, we have noticed several times at the Friday night Family Festival that vendors have been directed to set up booths on curb cuts made for wheelchair access, particularly on the Southwest and Northwest corner of Myrtle and Colorado Boulevard.
 
I have complained to Festival staff and to Mr. ______, president of _____________ Productions, that blocking the wheelchair access is not ethical or legal. Both times, I was told that they just had to provide a narrow path on the side of the ramp for wheelchairs or that they didn't have to comply for a special event (even though an event that takes place every single Friday night does not seem to fit the definition of "special").
 
This is a picture of one of the booths:


According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, public paths of travel are to be maintained, barrier free.  Since this is a violation of that regulation, I would like the City of Monrovia to make clear to Mr. ______ and ________________ Productions that the city does not approve or condone the placing of a barrier in the path of travel meant for people with disabilities.
 
I would hope you would join me in this campaign to maintain the best Family Festival in Southern California and to make sure all of its aspects are available to all citizens, not just those who are able to take a step onto a curb without the benefit of a ramp.

Thankfully, that's as far as this complaint would have to go. Three days later, I got this response from the mayor:

Hi Darryl 
Thank you for your email. I agree with you that we should not violate the Act and should not allow Family Festival to either. I will look into this situation. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

That was about three months ago. The two corners have been clear and barrier free ever since. 


Moral of the story, if you have the ability to take action, do so. Your fellow special needs citizens will be thankful.

Next time, I'll go over the steps to take if you need to invoke the ADA in your situation.


Darryl
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.









Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fightin' the Man: A Tale of an ADA Dispute in Southern California



Monrovia is a pretty little town about 15 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. It’s not on a lot of tourist’s radar, which is a shame, but should be. The city is known for its immaculate craftsman and Victorian style homes. Writer Upton Sinclair had a beautiful Mediterranean style villa.  Film companies flock here to shoot in the city’s downtown area on Myrtle Avenue that stands in for the typical “Main Street, America” look.


Upton Sinclair House
Image courtesey of Wikimedia
Doncam under CC BY-SA 3.0 License

That All-American, Main Street feel extends to the festival and farmer’s market that takes place here every Friday night along Myrtle Avenue.


We have to come here each Friday night for physical therapy for Tim. The adjacent festival makes it easy to step out afterward for dinner and browsing. 




There are three restaurants we rotate through on a weekly basis on each corner of the heart of the festival, the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. The fourth corner is a bank but we’d love someone to open a nice place to eat there so we can have a full rotation.  I digress…


One Friday night a few months ago, we finished our workout. As Tim does his therapy, Letty and I make use of the time to work out in the gym. Afterward, we make our way over to the corner to take advantage of T. Phillips’ 72 taps and Happy Hour appetizer prices for dinner only to encounter a dismal sight.


One of the vendor booths for the festival has set up shop directly on the wheelchair ramp and curb cut blocking the access to the entrance.




I asked the vendor why they were there, blocking our way. He told me that the people running the festival told him to set up there. The vendor moved some of their merchandise to create a wide enough path for Tim to get through while I found one of the security guards for the festival.


He told me I’d have to take it up with the festival manager who was nowhere to be found at this moment.


I left him with the message that this was illegal and the booth had better not be there next week.

Fast forward to the next week. After the workout, we again go to our dinner corner. This week there wasn’t one booth blocking the curb cut…now there were two booths blocking two corners.


Seething, we set down to eat but I kept an eye out the window. I know that the mayor and city council members are frequent visitors to the festival so I want to find one and complain.


No mayor or councilmembers showed but the manager of the festival was walking by.




I left our table and found him at one of the booths blocking the way.


I greeted him and introduced myself to him as nicely as I could and said “you can’t block the ramp like this, there are several people here in wheelchairs that need this access.”

His first response was “yes I can because I leave four feet on the side.”


My response was “no you can’t because that four feet is sloped sideways and a wheelchair user would feel like they’re tipping over.”


The next reason was “yes I can because we’re not a permanent fixture here, we’re only temporary.”


I admit it was a bit tough to debate without the law in hand or an expert grasp of it but I bluffed ahead anyway…”I don’t see how a festival that is here every single Friday night of the year is not permanent. I want you to clear these ramps and if I don’t see them clear next week I will take this to the mayor and city council.”


We left it when he told me not to worry and he’d take care of it.


Another week goes by, another session of therapy, and another workout.  Dinner afterward. 
Two corners blocked by the same vendor booths.


OK, now it’s time to follow through on my promise…


Darryl
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS: Recreation Park, Visalia, California



Recreation Park is the home of the Rawhide. They are the single A minor league team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The team, under one name or another, has played here for 65 years.  Currently, they sit in the cellar of the northern division of the California League.  Players that have gone on to the majors from the team include Barry Zito, Juan Uribe, Nick Swisher, Evan Longoria, Randy Johnson, and Aubrey Huff. Former player Kirby Puckett is in the Hall of Fame.

Here are the stats…
Year opened: 1946
Surface: Grass
Construction cost: ? (2009 renovation: $11 million)
Capacity:  1,888 seated, 2, 468 including grassy areas
Field dimensions: Left field – 320 ft.; left center – 365 ft.; Center field – 410 ft.; right center – 365 ft.;  Right field – 320 ft.
Home teams: Visalia Cubs (1946-1952, 1954-1956), Visalia Stars 1953, Visalia Redlegs (1957-1959), Visalia Athletics (1960-1961), Visalia White Sox 1962, Visalia Mets (1968-1975), Visalia Oaks (1977-1992, 1995-2008), Central Valley Rockies (1993-1994), Visalia Rawhide (2009-present)
Events attended: one game

Recreation Park sits south of downtown Visalia. Free parking is available in the small lot behind home plate and the larger lot across the street. Handicapped parking is just 4 or 5 spots.


The grandstand behind home plate is the oldest part of the park, dating back to the 1960’s when dirt from nearby freeway construction was used to create the present berm and grandstand.  The newer looking building going down the first base side was constructed in 2009.
Calling ahead, we had no problem getting a wheelchair ticket and two companion seats. Will Call is not located near home plate like it is at most parks, you need to walk half a block down the right field line to find the ticket offices and Will Call.


There is wheelchair accessible seating in this new area (where our tickets were located – right at first base), also in the group areas along the third base line, and just a couple of locations behind home plate. The seats behind home plate are also behind an aisle so people will be walking in front of you the entire game, not a desirable location and the accessible tickets the team will sell last.


According to the team, the best wheelchair accessible seats were where we were, about 15 feet behind first base. It’s positively Rube Goldbergian in how this accessible area was designed.  To get to the level where the seats are, you need to take a lift…one of those really slow, metal, one person lifts that you see as an afterthought at many businesses.  Tim could barely fit in it with his chair and then it wouldn’t work.  Maintenance had to be called to repair it before we could go up.
Once at our seats, we noticed that there were no restrooms or snack bars on this level. You would need to go back down that balky lift, go inside the adjacent building to take another lift to the concession level where the accessible bathrooms are located.


We did notice a nice ramp going up into the older grandstand area and a level bridge across from there to our seats but access was blocked there by a snack bar set up with a permanent fence between our seats and the ramp.  Mind you, this was all built just two years ago…someone really needs to school that architect in Universal Design.
Ticket prices run from $7 to $30, about a buck more than average for single A but it works out cheaper when you consider the free parking. You can also get a range of discounts by buying your ticket at leat 20 days in advance. Food ranged from an inedible Italian sausage, to decent hot dogs, to incredibly delicious bratwursts cooked at that snack bar that blocked our way to the ramp.  Beer selection is good, with large local microbrews (22 oz.) going for $7. 
Once in our seats, the view was excellent. We could hear every word the first base coach said to his runners and the interplay between players, coaches, and umpires. The entire seating bowl is behind a screen, usually something you only see behind home plate.  This is due to the fact that the seats here are among the closest to the action in any professional ball park…you are right in the middle of the action here.


Other unique features here include a barn where one of the walls is incorporated into the outfield wall.  The side of the barn is a double, the roof a home run.  We didn’t see any players who could hit the broadside of the barn during our visit, however.
The mascot is a cow named Tipper (cow tipping, get it?). If you watch the video from our Tulare County report, you can see where a batter let go of his bat and it came within an inch or so of hitting Tipper’s head.


The team pennants are painted on the concrete on the right field side of the original grandstand and the Major League teams that the team has been affiliated with are on the left field side.
All in all, not a bad stadium but, while the access is there and easy to get, the design of it is terrible.
-Darryl
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
Updated for 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Citizen’s Bank Park is the home of the Philadelphia Phillies and replaces the now demolished Veteran’s Stadium, which they shared with the Eagles football team.  It sits south of downtown in the Sports Complex along with Lincoln Financial Field (football) and the Wells Fargo Center (hockey and basketball).


The Phillies have a long history.  The team has been here, in this incarnation, since 1883.  The name is short for the “Philadelphians.”  The team has had highs and lows.  It won the World Series in 1980 and 2008, most recently against the Joe Maddon led Tampa Bay Rays.   The team also holds the record for the most games lost by any MLB team.  Many baseball legends have played here; Steve Carlton, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Sparky Anderson, Joe Morgan, and Ryne Sandberg are among the big names that have graced the rosters.  In 2012, you can watch such star players at Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee play.

Right now, in August of 2013, the Phillies are in third place but it's a low third place, 15.5 games behind the Nationals and the Braves in the Nationals League's eastern division.
Here are the stats…

Year opened: 2004
Surface: Kentucky Blue Grass
Construction cost: $458 million
Capacity:  46,528
Field dimensions: Left field – 329 ft.; left center – 374 ft.; left center “angle” – 409 ft.; Center field – 401 ft.; right center – 369 ft.;  Right field – 330 ft.
Home teams: Philadelphia Phillies (National League, MLB) 2004 –present
Events attended: one game

Citzen’s Bank Park seems like a large stadium when you’re inside, a feature it shares with parks such as Los Angeles, St. Louis, and San Francisco.   This is not an intimate feeling stadium, yet the staff and fans are very welcoming and become temporary friends for a few hours.  It’s a hitter-friendly park, too, second only to Yankee Stadium for the number of home runs given up.
The seating bowl features three larger decks and a small level of suites.  It can get pretty hot here in the summer, so most fans like to sit in the upper reaches of the decks to take advantage of the shade…you’ll see a lot of people from the lower parts of the decks head to the open concourse on a hot day.

Seating in the outfield has several levels, from cheap bleacher seats to a private party deck filled with inflatable pools.  Ticket prices run from $14 to $80.  Decent prices for a lot of the seats but lacking in the truly “cheap seats.”  Call (215-463-1000) for accessible seating.

Handicapped seating is bountiful and spread throughout all levels.  No problems with buying extra companion seats. 
The stadium is well served by accessible subway and bus transit.  It is also surrounded by vast fields of parking lot.

Food is mainly regular ballpark fare with hot dogs, pizza and the like but it is high quality and tasty.  A few different foods are available, such as the Schmitter…a cheese steak with salami, tomatoes, special sauce, all on a Kaiser roll.  Pre-packaged vegan fare and sushi are available at the South Philadelphia Market convenience store locations scattered around the park.
There is a large selection of draft beers available at average ballpark prices.

The game experience is very good here.  The views are excellent with no obstructions.  Staff is very friendly and helpful.  It is also one of the few stadiums that do not allow fans to return to their seats during game play…you must wait for a dead ball to go back.  For wheelchair users, they enforce the clear area around the wheelchair seats so people don’t use your personal space as a “standing room only” zone like they do at many parks.


The local fans are also very friendly and are happy to talk baseball, the Phillies, your home team, and your trip. 
What is great about this stadium is decent food, great beer selection, friendly people, good views, and an exciting team to watch.  What could be better?  A more intimate feel, lower ticket prices in the nosebleeds and bleachers, and be closer to downtown.
All-in-all, a great stadium that leads the rest of the pack under our top three modern era stadiums.  .

Darryl
Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick

Monday, August 5, 2013

CLASSIC TRIP: On the way to Las Vegas - 2002




There's a curious migration that takes place on a weekly basis in Southern California. Every Friday afternoon, the eastbound San Bernardino and Pomona freeways get extra crowded. On Sunday afternoons, it reverses as the westbound directions resemble the worst rush hour has to offer.

What's happening is thousands of Southern Californians are heading out hoping to party, gamble, and other wise get lucky in that modern day Sodom...Las Vegas.

Normally, this would be about a four hour drive across vast, empty stretches of desert. Our schedule unfortunate matches this weekly marathon to get out of town. Being Good Friday, we have the extra fun of not only weekend Vegas traffic; not even holiday weekend Vegas traffic; it's the dreaded Holiday Weekend Spring Break Vegas Traffic!

Thankfully, my understanding boss let me out two hours early in a futile effort to beat the traffic. Unfortunately, the weekend getaway had already started with gusto. Basically, we were in jammed traffic the entire way except for a stretch out of Barstow to about twenty miles before the state line. Six and a half hours after starting, we arrived at Primm, which is what they call the smattering of buildings and casinos clustered at the border.

First of all, let me give you some full disclosure. I'm not a big Vegas fan. I don't have anything against gambling or Nevada. In fact, I love going to Laughlin, Reno, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe. It's just that Vegas has always seemed more than a bit sleazy to me and I've never gotten the allure.

As a result, I have avoided this city like the plague and haven't been here since before Luxor opened up (10 years or so?).

My son, on the other hand, has always wanted to go here. Of course, he's not old enough for the casinos yet but still would like to see this city of lights, shows, and action. Alright, we're going to Arizona anyway and this would give us a hopefully inexpensive stop over along the way.

Back to my Friday dilemma. I would really like to leave on Saturday...I'm in no hurry to get going because I have the whole week off to travel. Unfortunately, I cannot find any decent hotel in Las Vegas that will let me check in on Saturday.

So, we have a bit of a compromise here. Tonight we will drive as far as the border, spend a couple of nights there, and continue on to Vegas on Sunday after the LA weekenders have headed home.

After that long, weary drive across the desert, the Primadonna Resorts bloom from the sand like a neon-colored oasis. This will be home for the next two nights, specifically Buffalo Bill's Hotel & Casino.



After a fifteen minute wait to check in, we're given the key cards to our room on the 3rd floor. It's supposed to be handicapped accessible...as envisioned by Torquemada.

There was no roll-in shower, only a bathtub with a few grab bars and a shower on a hose. The bars on the toilet were positioned in a way to block your access to the toilet paper. The door was a pocket door (those sliding doors that come out of the wall) that took a herculean effort to move.

With a lot of effort, we got Tim bathed and situated for the night. I can't help thinking (and later would confirm) that it would have been easier in a non-handicapped room.

In the morning, I awoke before anyone else and took my shower. I made a mistake in closing that pocket door...it would no longer open up. As I stood there, naked...no phone...everyone else asleep, I pondered my options. Not wanting to wake anyone up, I struggled to get the door open. No dice. I found my wife's makeup mirror, and reflected some light into the wall notch for the door.

Finally, with one last huge push against the door, I popped it off of its rollers and it came off completely. Complaining to the management, after being trapped for over an hour in there, got us a new room but no other consideration. The new room was not a handicapped accessible one but confirmed my suspicions that it was easier to use than the so-called accessible room.

Other than the problems mentioned above, the room was clean, had two queen beds, cable TV, and a view of the roller coaster and pool. The staff was for the most part very friendly and helpful and the food at the Wagonmaster coffee shop was superb.

After breakfast on Saturday, a trip via monorail over to neighboring Primm Valley Resort is in order. After a LONG walk through the casino (we are to find out LONG walks through casinos will be a common occurrence), we come upon the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car...a bullet-riddled Ford sedan where the crime duo were sent to they're maker at the hands of Texas Rangers. Also on display is the shirt Clyde was wearing when he died.

Now, here is a gruesome and maybe morbid coincidence. As we sat watching a video on Bonnie and Clyde in the mini-museum of their death, I couldn't help notice a rather obese security guard wandering around the children's arcade just behind the display. To the right is a restroom where my wife disappeared for a few minutes. Yes, this is the restroom where little Sherice Iverson was murdered by Jeremy Strohmeyer while her father was off gambling in the casino. The Primm Valley Resort was called the Primadonna Resort at the time...the name being changed to disassociate itself from that horrible day. I find it a bit ironic that a display that memorializes a sensational death...complete with bullet holes and blood stains...sits directly in from of the site of one of the more gruesome murders in recent memory. And, yes, my wife said it was more than a little creepy being in that bathroom...

Just beyond that spot is a factory outlet mall where we spent the rest of the morning shopping. My wife, gotta love her, but whenever we go shopping, she takes hours and usually walks away empty handed. And, that is how it goes today although I end up with a new wallet and Tim picks up a pair of swim trunks (because we forgot to pack some for him). She does get an order of sushi to go so it's not a total loss for her.

Back over to Buffalo Bill's. Tim and I head over to Desparado, the big steel roller coaster that winds its way around the hotel. Of course, with our luck it is out of commission. The ticket seller has no ideal when it will reopen. There is also a log ride here, but the ticket seller doesn't want to sell us tickets right now because the line is over two hours long (kind of a silly reason but we don't want to wait two hours either).

We take a little nap in the room, have dinner at the Wagonmaster, and head up to Vegas...a half hour drive away.


Tonight, as a first little taste, we take in the Fremont Street Experience...a four-block long canopy of lights that displays shows over its entire length hourly. The show is quite spectacular, a lot of fun, and free. Unfortunately the "experience" includes the surrounding blocks that seem quite liberally populated by drug users, sellers, and street walkers. After the show, we headed back to the relatively quiet confines of Primm for one more night.

Arriving back at Buffalo Bill's, Tim and I head back over to the ride area and purchase some tickets for the log ride. They have a very nice area for handicapped loading here and the ride attendants even helped with the lifting to get Tim in (I don't know if they're supposed to do this or not...most amusement parks will not allow their employees to do this).

The ride is relatively tame for a log ride. Loading in the casino, the lift takes you outside around some faux desert rocks and over two small drops before winding back through a "canyon" built through the casino. The fun part is that they give you a laser gun and you shoot at targets along the way. Some targets shoot back if hit (with water guns).

Getting out at the end, I ask the attendant if he knew when Desparado would open up again. "About 2 to 4 weeks" was the reply. Oh well, save it for another trip.

Stay tuned for part 2 and our nighttime flight over the strip (with video!).


Darryl
Copyright 2002 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved