Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
July 2014
Heaven on Earth!
Our campsite was situated on a small strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and towering bluffs. There was a constant fog and ocean breeze adding to the magic. We were far off the beaten path and would be playing and sleeping in a real tsunami zone. Roosevelt Elk and bears frequent the campground to make it a little more interesting. The temperature never rose above 59F. The three of us fell into a deep sleep snuggled in our sleeping bags listening to the waves and near constant breeze. We will be back!!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Redwood National Park
July 2014
We found the 1.4 mile Lady Bird Johnson Nature Trail in Redwood National Park very accessible. The trail was wide and free from roots and rocks. There were a few elevation changes adding a little challenge to the hike. Laurel pushed Kellisa for part of the trail. Kellisa also wheeled herself, she really enjoyed controlling her speed on several downhill portions. Losing control as she sped down a few little hills is probably more accurate.
Laurel enjoyed following our path on the trail map and really liked making the decision to go left or right when presented with the option. She put a lot of thought into it. She also used binoculars to look for birds and she was  excited when she spotted a few.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Oregon Redwoods

Interpretive Trail 1106
July 2014
We crossed into Oregon to hike through one of the northern most strands of redwoods. We had to drive a narrow, winding dirt road deep into the mountains just to find the trailhead. We were the only car in the parking area. We found the trail to be accessible, yet challenging with some hilly sections. The sun barely penetrates to the forest floor, which I found a little eerie. Most of the trail followed a ridge high above the surrounding valleys.

Near the end of the hike, we heard a loud sound that I cannot describe from the valley below. It wasn't human and it didn't sound like a roar or growl. I have no idea what it was, but it was loud and close. Too close. Laurel was very frightened and wanted me to hug her for the remainder of the hike. I have to admit being scared and looking over my shoulder until we were safely in the car driving back down the road.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Mill Creek Campground
July 2014
All the campsites in the Redwoods State Parks were booked in advance and I thought our only choices would be a hotel or commercial campground. We got very lucky when I checked at the Mill Creek Campground at Del Norte Coast Redwoods for cancelations and they had a disabled site for two nights. We didn't spend much time at the campsite, but Laurel enjoyed exploring the area when we were there. We did attend a ranger program that discussed Bigfoot sightings in the area, including the famous film from the 60's which was shot only a couple of miles from the campground. Laurel now has a huge interest in what she calls, "Bearfoot." We also learned about tsunamis that have hit the area, including major damage after the 2011 earthquake in Japan.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Crescent City Beach

Crescent City, CA
July 2014
We continued north along the Northern California coast with an early morning stop at the Crescent City Beach. This was Laurel's first time trip to the Pacific Ocean and Kellisa's second, she visited Cannon Beach in Oregon back in 2009. I was pleased with how well the Hippocampe rolled through the sand and water.
The water was cold, but Laurel still wanted to swim and was very disappointed that I wouldn't let her because we were warned of deadly rip currents in the area. After leaving the beach, we spent the day hiking. Both girls had such a great time that we stopped back at the beach later that day on our way back to our campsite.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fleishmann Grove Trail

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

July 2014

  Our first hike among the giant redwoods was the Fleishmann Grove Trail in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The trail was accessible and it was one of the best trails we've ever hiked. We were all alone in this magical forest. The trail was just challenging enough to be fun. I think a regular wheelchair might struggle a little. Kellisa did tip back at one point and Laurel rushed to her aid. Kellisa was fine and both girls had a good laugh.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shrine Auto Park

Avenue of the Giants
July 2014

Along the beautiful Avenue of the Giants, we stopped at the touristy Shrine Auto Park that features a drive thru tree. Instead of driving thru like most, we parked and walked (wheeled) thru the tree. Laurel had a great time exploring the hollowed out trees that resembled caves. The park wasn't the most wheelchair friendly, but Kellisa was still able to enjoy herself. All things considered, I'm not sure how you could make a place like this more accessible without ruining the very features that make it interesting. I think the owners did the best that they could, so I would recommend a stop, but caution that wheelchairs can't do/see everything there is and the wheelchair user will probably require some help, especially for the steep road sections (if you decide to get out and explore like we did).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wheelchairs and Hotels

I'm not crazy, it can happen!
Kellisa stays in hotels at least 20 times a year. I always make reservations for a first floor room. That is by far my most important requirement. Two beds is next on the wish list followed by a disabled room. We only stay at non-smoking hotels, so that's never an issue. I can accept a one bed room and/or a non-disabled room. I will not accept a room on any floor except the first.
It's a safety issue. How do I get Kellisa out in an emergency? Yes, I can carry her down the stairs, but I would have to leave her chair behind. What if I had to carry her for blocks or even miles? Could I carry her down from the 23rd floor? I have no desire to test my superhuman abilities. What if I was injured and couldn't carry her?
We often check in late and several times a year we find the hotel has given our room on the first floor to someone else. I make them find a room in their hotel or in another hotel. I feel that strongly about needing a 1st floor room. I'll raise my voice and argue. The desk clerk never has an answer when I ask, "who will come up and get Kellisa if the elevators aren't working?" Although, last month I had a middle aged woman who was working the front desk offer to run up the stairs and help with Kellisa. I thanked her and asked two very important follow-up questions. I asked, "you can carry 80 pounds down 3 flights of stairs" and "what time do you get off of work and will you stay until we leave in the morning or give me the name of who will rescue Kellisa after you leave?" She just looked at me (like I was crazy), apologized for not having my room available and then she called a neighboring hotel to get us a room.
I just watched a program on TV about 9/11 and the Marriott Hotel (above picture) that was in between the twin towers. The program profiled a mother and her adult disabled daughter who is dependent on a motorized wheelchair. They were stuck on the 5th floor because the elevators stopped working after the first plane crashed. They would have died, but two hotel workers were evacuating and found them alone on the floor. Fortunately, the freight elevator still worked and they were led to that elevator. They were able to get out before the towers collapsed on top of the hotel.
I know 9/11 is an extreme example, but it proves that disasters can happen. It just validates my need to always have a 1st floor room when traveling with Kellisa. I'm also reminded of a time there was a false fire alarm in my hotel when traveling for work. I was on the 3rd floor and the elevators automatically stopped running. Another time in South Carolina, I had just checked in to a hotel with Kellisa when a severe thunderstorm rolled through and knocked out the power to the hotel. Kellisa and I were camping later in the trip, so I had headlamps and we were good in our dark 1st floor room. The following morning at breakfast in the lobby, I heard other  people complaining that the elevators stopped during the power outage. A minor inconvenience to most, but a major safety issue for anyone dependent on a wheelchair.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Avenue of the Giants

Humboldt Redwoods State Park
July 20014

Our first stop on the Northern California Coast was Humboldt Redwoods State Park to drive the 31 mile, world famous Avenue of the Giants. We enjoyed the slow pace of the drive with the windows down. Laurel kept saying, "wow, those are huge trees!" and  asking, "are they real?" Kellisa kept shouting, "Ah" (her way of saying dad) as she pointed out her window to let me know that she was looking at the trees. We were in a special place and both girls knew it.
The entire road has two lanes that weave around the massive trees that cast deep shadows on the pavement.
It was late in the afternoon and we couldn't get a campsite among the redwoods, so we had to camp along the Eel River (below). 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ready, Steady, Wiggle!

Florida Theater
Jacksonville, FL
September 6, 2014
I have a feeling that Kellisa will never out grow The Wiggles and I'm OK with that. Watching her have so much enjoyment brings tears to my eyes every time.
Laurel acted like she was too old for the show and didn't want to be there. But, she quickly changed her attitude once the lights went down.

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