Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS: Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona

Our ratings are...

Fully Accessible - You can access all of the attraction, with no problem, in any type of wheelchair.

Mostly Accessible - You can access most of the attraction, and all of the important parts of it, with your wheelchair.

Partially Accessible - You can access a good deal of the attraction but some parts are inaccessible and some important parts you'll miss.

Inaccessible - Kind of speaks for itself, avoid if you're in a wheelchair.

Here's the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona...

Papago Park - Fully Accessible. Great wheelchair-friendly hiking with giant, scenic rock outcroppings. Avoid when hot.

Phoenix Zoo - Fully Accessibe. Use the lift-equipped accessible tram which allows you to get on and off as much as you want to fully explore the facility.

Old Scottsdale - Mostly Accessible. Boutique shops mix with burger stands and cowboy stores.  The Sugar Bowl not only has great ice cream, it was comic stip artist Bill Keane's favorite place.

Castles 'n Coaster - Mostly Inaccessible. Cramped quarters mean you won't even be able to roll around the state's only thrill ride park.

Rawhide - Partially Accessible. A western theme park known as much for it's great cowboy barbecue as it is for the entertainment.

Taliesin West - Partially Accessible. Frank Lloyd Wright's western outpost is much easier to visit in a wheelchair than his Chicago neighborhood of Oak Park.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 12, 2015

CLASSIC TRIP: Prescott, Arizona - 2002

The stereotypical image of Arizona is deserts, heat, cowboys, sagebrush, dusty, etc. Indeed, a trip to the dry heat of the Valley of the Sun can be very pleasurable...as long as there's a tall cool drink and a swimming pool nearby.

Not all of Arizona is such a hot, dry place. In fact, large portions of the state are covered with forests. Right on the dividing line of desert and forest lies the mile high town of Prescott, a two-hour drive northwest of Phoenix.

The western side of the city lies in one of the largest forests of Ponderosa Pine in the world while the eastern side leads into the desert. In the middle lies the historical core where the likes of Doc Holliday and the Earps once strolled.

Wintertime can be cold and snowy while the summertime is warm and dry.

There are many hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts here. We have stayed at the Pleasant Street Inn B&B (not wheelchair accessible with rooms upstairs and one downstairs) just south of the town center and the Springhill Suites which are 3 blocks west. The Springhill Suites have some really good accessible rooms, some with roll-in showers, wheelchair level spy holes in the doors, and delayed key readers at the door for those of us who are a little slow in opening the door. There is also an indoor pool & spa and a free continental breakfast. An adjacent shopping center has all the supplies you would ever need.

Right on the town plaza is the century old Hotel St. Michael, which purports to have handicapped accessible rooms (we didn't get a chance to see them) starting at $59.

After a pleasant, three hour drive over from Las Vegas, we check into the Springhill Suites. Our room is large enough and has a king size bed with a full-size sleeper sofa. A quick walk next door to the supermarket nets us some wine, cheese, and fresh fruit for later.

It's only a three block walk to the town square from here but it's a bit uphill. Prescott is know for the one block stretch of Montezuma Street downtown that also goes by the moniker Whiskey Row. In the old west days, this block was wall to wall saloons. There are still several here although they now share the space with gift shops, clothing stores, and restaurants.

Whiskey Row burned to the ground several times in those olden days, some say fueled by all that alcohol. At the turn of the twentieth century, they finally got smart and rebuilt using bricks instead of wood. Those century old masonry buildings are what still stand there today.

Tim and I walk over to the entrance of the courthouse where a time line painted on the sidewalk takes you through Prescott history. Off on the south side of the plaza is the ice cream shop where Tom Laughlin kicked butt in Billy Jack ending in him smashing the bad guys head against the fountain across the street. On the north side is the Palace where Steve McQueen hung out in the film Junior Bonner.  

We decide to have dinner at the Palace. Inside the swinging wooden doors...yeah it's a real hoot barging your way through just like in the movies...is the original Palace bar.

When Whiskey Row was burning to the ground, bar patrons saved the most necessary thing...the Palace bar...by lifting it up and moving it across the street to the park. The Palace burned to the ground but when it was replaced with bricks, the old bar was put back in its place where it still serves thirsty customers to this day.

Behind the bar is the restaurant which this night served some good steaks and burgers but overcooked my wife's salmon.

Being a Saturday night, Whiskey Row lives up to its name with many college aged souls looking for drinks and good times as live music poured out of each saloon. On the other side of the plaza, theater goers pack an old church for a quieter evening watching a play. In between, the Prescott Brewery serves cold ones for those who are not so thrilled with the hard core drinking on one side but want something more than the theater on the other.

All in all, it's quite a lively place on a Saturday night.

Sunday morning finds us having a nice, quiet breakfast in the Depot #2 (don't know where #1 is) where Mexican dishes are served at reasonable prices in the heart of Whiskey Row.

After eating, we spend the morning shopping around the square where my wife picks up some jewelry making supplies at Bead It (a bead store), some candles, and some cosmetics at another store. An old-fashioned shoe store gives up some tennis shoes for her before we call it a day here.

A day trip to nearby Jerome is next on our to do list. This old mining town, turned ghost town, turned hippie town, which matured into an artist's colony, was slowly sliding down the mountainside before the ground was stabilized enough to stop it. As a consequence, access here is very spotty being on a steep hillside and all.

Still, a historic walking tour with the helpful advice of the Chamber of Commerce folks can be done in a wheelchair. After the tour, we stop in the many shops of the local artisans topped off with a stop at the saloon where a patio out back offers hundred mile views.

Back on the windy road to Prescott, we pass a fishing lake on the edge of town before being greeted by the city's two Indian casino's where you gamers will find lots of action. Us? We get a pizza before watching a movie with our wine and cheese back in the room.

Copyright 2002 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 2, 2015

Year in Review...2014

2013 was not a good year for us, another year of declining wages, sickness, and death of loved ones took its toll. 2014 was better but we still lost a couple of people but it wasn't nearly as bad as the year before.

The year started with the culmination of our music cities tour, a great trip to Memphis and Nashville where three sick travelers soldiered on to bring you great sites of musical interest along with meeting musicians Darren Jay, Vince Gill, Ranger Doug Green, Billy Thomas, Sundy Best, Amy Grant, Kenny Sears, and many more.

We wrapped up our series on The Ethnic Foods of the San Gabriel Valley with a visit to historic Santa Anita Racetrack and the 626 Night Market, a stateside version of the night markets of Asia right here in the good 'ole USA.

A few night at the McDowell Mountains Marriott Resort in Scottsdale was just what the doctor ordered to get us over our holiday sickness. Who knew we'd also get up close and personal with a very large wolf on our hike in Papago Park?

After literally hundreds of trips to Newport Beach in my lifetime, who would've thought there'd be a new pocket of the bay I'd never seen? Yet, there it was on Lido Isle.

It's been years since we've been to San Francisco but this year broke the streak as we went to The City and also got Tim his 23rd MLB Stadium as we watched the powerful Oakland A's beat the Tigers just before Billy Beane destroyed the team with his Cespedis-for-Lester trade at the end of July.

It wasn't far from there that we found out that Amador County is the cure for whatever ails us as we spent a few days in the rolling hills of Sierra Foothill wine country and the fabulous Shenandoah Inn in Plymouth, California. This was the trip that I finally tracked down the underground winemaker of the county in our encounter with Fate.

It was back to our favorite off the radar...way off the radar...trip destination, Bakersfield, as we met up with Rockwell and his historic honky tonk as well as making new animal friends at the California Living Museum.

Our farthest trip took us back to the Caribbean and the island of Irie, Jamaica. Great fun, even though the hotel was a little disappointing, but we also got to make new friends and bring Tim up to speed with the same number of countries we've been to.

The fight between the city of Irwindale, California and the Sriracha hot sauce factory gave us a great opportunity as owner David Tran opened up the doors to all comers to see exactly how the tasty, spicy condiment is made.  It's Southern California's hottest new attraction.

The Festival in San Pedro brought us in close contact with brewers from all over the world in November.

Looming retirement had us on the road to Northern Nevada and Reno before we hung up our traveling shoes for the year.

If we were to pick our favorite highlights, Amador County would be at the top of my list, followed by the music cities of Tennessee, then Jamaica. We'll start the new year soon by following in the path of one of the most infamous tragedies of early California before going to an undiscovered gem in Mexico's Baja peninsula.

For now, thanks for your support and following and Happy New Year from The World on Wheels!

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.