Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beach at Aulani

Mik at Aulani BeachDate of Visit: October 1, 2012

The beach was one of the few things Mik was interested in checking out at Aulani.  There is a beach wheelchair you can borrow to use on the beach.  It makes it easier, although it still takes a lot of muscle to move it and it did not have any working belts to strap in.

Sorcerer Mickey Sand Castle

At the beach we built some sand castles.  Dad was supposed to help Mik build a castle, but he ended up building on in the shape of a Mickey for him instead of building with Mik and what Mik wanted.  Thus, I decided to add a Sorcerer Hat to it since it was not Mik's anymore anyways.  I also built a Sorcerer Hat one.

Sorcerer Mickey Sand Castle

Mik had a lot of fun destroying my Sorcerer Hat, which I let him do when he was crawling back to the sand wheelchair.

Sorcerer Hat Sand Castle
Mik destroying Sorcerer Hat Sand Castle

Destination Info:
Ko Olina, Hawai'i
92-1185 Ali'inui Drive
Kapolei, HI 96707

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Aulani Three Bedroom Grand Villa

Date of Visit: September 28 - October 4, 2012

We booked a one-bedroom accessible villa for our stay at Aulani, but at check-in we were surprised to hear that we were in a 3-bedroom Grand Villa.  It ended up being an amazing upgrade, as the villa is huge and it still has one of the bedrooms designed accessible along with the kitchen having lower counters than normal
Bedroom with Lower (i.e more accessible) King Bed - Room Mik claimed before even realizing the bathroom was accessible
Aulani 3 Bedroom Grand Villa
Toilet in Accessible Room

Butt Cleaning Controls with Toilet in Accessible Room
 Accessible Shower, although no seat
Tub in Accessible Room
 Aulani 3 Bedroom Grand Villa 
Laundry Closet
Entryway by Accessible Room
Other Master Bedroom with 2 Queen Beds - Mom and Dad's Room
Bathroom in Other Master Bedroom - Shower Only
Dining Room Table
Bar Seating in Kitchen
Living Room Area - Couch Folds Out
Main Entryway near Living Room
Awesome Desk Lamp - Each Room has one
Third Bedroom with Two Queen Beds - Kj's Room

Aulani 3 Bedroom Grand Villa
Third Bathroom with Tub/Shower

Huge Porch that with Five Separate Doors Out to It - One from each bedroom, one from living room, and one from dining area
View of Pool Area from Grand Villa Porch
View of Ocean before Sunrise from our Porch
Aulani 3 Bedroom Villa

View of Ocean

Destination Info:
Ko Olina, Hawai'i
92-1185 Ali'inui Drive
Kapolei, HI 96707

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Innoventions Videogame Playground

Innoventions Videogame PlaygroundDate of Visit: May 29, 2012

Mik loves video games and even though he had the sports video games playable in the Videogame Playground at Innoventions he enjoyed spending some time playing them.  It is also a good place to cool down or escape the rain while getting a console video game fix on vacation. 

Destination Info:
Epcot - Innoventions
Lake Buena Vista, FL

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Mission San Jose

Mission San JuanDate of Visit: May 27, 2012

Mission San Jose was the mission we spent the most time at while visiting the different missions that are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.  While we were not able to go inside the actual church part of the mission due to an event going on, unlike Mission San Juan there still was plenty to walk around and see.

Mission San Juan
The paths around the Mission are paved and there are ramps for getting down in the area near the back of the church.  It was not exactly enjoyable to walk/roll around and visit, as it was a typical hot summer day.  However, it was still interesting to be able to see how it really was a community and military fortress, since this is the most preserved/restored of the missions.  One area you could go in interested Mik the post, as you could see out the holes for guns.

Destination Info:
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - Mission San Jose
150 Woodhill
San Antonio, TX 78214

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Mission San Juan

Mission San JoseDate of Visit: May 27, 2012

Mission San Juan was the second mission we visited during our time exploring the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.  We did not spend much time at this mission, as it was under renovation, so you cannot go inside it and there is not much to see around the rest of the grounds of the mission.  The path around it is paved, though, so it is easy to explore - just not much to see at least until the mission is reopened.

Destination Info:
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - Mission San Juan
9101 Graf Road
San Antonio, Texas 78214

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Disney's California Adventure: Carthay Circle

Carthay Circle RestaurantDate of Visit: June 23, 2012

We celebrated Mik's 18th birthday at the new Carthay Circle restaurant on Buena Vista Street in Disney's California Adventure.  We all really enjoyed it, but it is an expensive place.  It was worth the splurge, though, and the $220 for 2 appetizers, 4 entrees, 4 drinks, 4 desserts, and tip  actually seemed like a bargain after spending almost $100 to eat just a regular entree breakfast at the IHOP across the street the day before.

When dining at the Carthay Circle restaurant, you check in on the first floor in the corner of the lounge.  The waiter comes and gets you from the lounge area and takes you upstairs (via elevator for us) to your table.  What is really nice is that they already know there is a wheelchair and they had a chair removed and totally out of the way before we got up there.

Carthay Circle Restaurant

For the appetizer, we got the house biscuits.  Mik really loved them, as he is always a bread and biscuit type person and he really like the bacon in it.  The other appetizer we got was the grilled grape leaves stuffed with chenel goat cheese.  These were okay, but I have had way better at the local street fair not to mention actually in Europe.

Carthay Circle Restaurant

For the entree Mik went with the Kobe beef cheek sliders and he enjoyed them a lot.  He also tried Mom's bacon wrapped shrimp, but was not much into them.  I had the Udon Noodle Bowl, which ended up being way more hot spicy rather than the flavorful spicy I expected.

Carthay Circle Restaurant

Dessert was the best part at least for me.  I enjoyed the Fried Banana Split Monte Cristo Sundae.  It was a fried banana with three little scoops of ice cream and a banana chip shaped like a banana.  I forget what Mik's dessert was called and cannot find it on any of the online menus, but it was something like chocolate chip ice cream with a brownie.  The brownie came on the side, but the picture is of how Mik set up his dessert before digging in.  Looks much cooler the way he did it!
Carthay Circle Restaurant

Destination Info:
Disney's California Adventure 
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Sunday, May 27, 2012

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Espada Aqueduct

Espada AqueductDate of Visit: May 27, 2012

The Espada Aqueduct was our second stop on our visit to the San Antonio Missions.  This was a quick stop, but totally worth it.  It is just cool to see the aqueduct that was used in Spanish colonial times and continued to be used until modern times.  I have read it is still functioning, but it certainly does not appear to be in use with it being totally dry on our visit.  However, that could be related to the whole San Antonio River revival project going on that we noticed a lot of signs for as we drove between the missions.

Espada Aqueduct
Destination Info:
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - Espada Aqueduct
San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Mission Espada

Mission EspadaDate of Visit: May 27, 2012

We started our visit to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park at Mission Espada. We started our visit at the visitor center to get the National Park stamp.  Entering the visitor center was a little awkward with dad having to hold both the doors open in order for it to be wide enough to push Mik in.  There is a small exhibit in the visitor center.

Mission EspadaAfter the visitor center we walked around to the church, which also had the same style of doors as the visitor center.  The doors to the church were a little more tricky, though, as only one was unlatched to open.  However, Dad figured out how to unlatch it in order to open both for Mik to get inside.

Mission EspadaDestination Info:

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - Mission Espada
10040 Espada Road
San Antonio, Texas 78214

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chamizal National Memorial

Chamizal National MonumentDate of Visit: May 25, 2012

It seemed like we were not going to get to Chamizal before the visitor center closed at 5 p.m., so Mik thought we had definitely decided to keep it on the original return part of the trip.  However, it was just not a big deal if we did miss it on the way to Florida, since it was already in the return plan.  Anyways, we got there about 4:30 p.m. and while he was annoyed we still stopped, at least did come around and get out for a picture by the Historic Boundary Monument.

Dad and I went into the visitor center to get the National Park stamps for the memorial and the trail it is part of.  Inside the visitor center there is a small museum, which gives a good background of the border dispute of the area and the final treaty in the 1960s.  We kind of just quickly browsed it, since we were there so close to closing, but we did not really miss much of it, as it is pretty small and even the text is not as much as it seems because everything is in English and Spanish.

Chamizal National Monument
After the museum, we were going to walk to the boundary monument before leaving and gave Mik a last chance to get out and see something.  The trail to the monument from the parking lot is a nice wide dirt path.  It was fine on the day we were there and probably almost all year round, but it seemed that if wet from rain or other water it could easily be quite a muddy trail.

Destination Info:
Chamizal National Memorial
800 S. San Marcial
El Paso, Texas 79905

New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

New MexicoFarm and Ranch Heritage MuseumDate of Visit: May 25, 2012

This first stop on our trip was unplanned.  After we left Tucson early, I decided to look at what places had National Park stamps and were pretty much on our route.  The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum ended up being just a few miles out of the way and it has El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail stamp.

It ended up being a pretty interesting museum to visit, although we did not take the time to see it all.  Of what we saw, the New Mexico Centennial exhibit was the most interesting.  Mik and I had fun doing the scavenger hunt in that exhibit and then we used the 10% off from doing it to get some yummy New Mexico grown pistachios in the gift shop.

New MexicoFarm and Ranch Heritage Museum
We looked at the Heritage Gallery a little and the John Deere exhibit.  We certainly could have spent more time there, especially since we did not even venture outside to see the animal exhibits.  However, we still wanted to get the Chamizal National Monument even though it technically was on the plan for the way home.

Destination Info:
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
4100 Dripping Springs Road
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88011

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our Summer 2012 Plans

Tomorrow or Friday we hit the road for the first of four planned trips this summer. This summer was supposed to be just simple seeing the new Miami ballpark to be back up-to-date having seen a game at every current MLB ballpark, but it ended up evolving into more.

First, we decided to add some time at Disney World since our premier passes are good until June 2 and we now have a DVC membership. Then I added some national park trips to the route, since we want to try for the Gold achievement in the National Parks Travelers Club passport stamp thing for this year. At the last minute I tried to revise the plan to catch Strasburg pitch in Atlanta on Saturday, but alas they are sold out of accessible seats. Thus the first trip this summer is 2 weeks long with just one ball game in Miami (still get to see the Nats, just not Strasburg pitch), a week at Disney World, a day at Universal Orlando to see Harry Potter World, and visits to 7 national park units.

The second trip this summer is mid-June and is just Dad and me going to Vegas for the bowling tournament we get to do as part of the league we did this year.

The third trip is Disneyland for Mik's 18th birthday. I celebrated my 18th birthday at Disneyland, so it seemed appropriate to do Mik's there, too, especially since Cars land will be open. We are also finally staying at the Grand California hotel, which especially Mom has wanted to stay out since it first opened. For his birthday meal we got reservations at what will be the very newly opened and fancy Carthay Circle restaurant. We were going to do the Ariel's Grotto World of Color dinner finally, but of course that will be discontinued with the opening of Carthay Circle and now they just have princess things there.

July was supposed to be spent on household projects, but Mom and Dad decided on a two week cottage trip and Mik learning to drive the boat. It will be funner to spend time at the cottage on the island in Michigan. Plus, I am going to make a plan to hit Marceline and at least a few National Parks along the drive to and from the cottage.

It is no All the Ballparks summer, but it sure ended up being more than I thought. That's a good thing, but it will be interesting fitting my weekly discussions and assignments in for my Masters courses. I will be done before summer 2013, but seriously I plan to stick to just the Europe Disney Cruise. Oh, and probably a little Disneyland trip. Oh, and the Arizona national parks we were going to do this summer, but won't get to because school starts beginning of August and everything else that got planned. And thus you can see it quickly evolves into a lot of summer plans. I will say now, though, that I will try really hard to make no 2014 plans so Dad can try and do Alaska like he has always wanted and not the flying through Anchorage checking off the state when we go to Hawaii in October way.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHSDate of Visit: March 28, 2012

The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site was not much of a visit, but at least I did get us National Park Passport stamps for it and the nearby Carter G. Woodson House NHS (not currently open to public).  I could not find any info on whether this was an accessible site or not, so we went fully knowing Mik might not be able to go in.

It turns out that there are two sets of steps up to it not to mention the tour probably is multiple floors.  Of course, I did not directly ask if there was wheelchair access, but there definitely was not a sign and a Park Ranger was buzzing to be let back in and I would think he would have said something if there was because he passed us on the street while we were still taking photos before I went up to the door.

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS
Anyways, it is a historic house and that's just the way it goes sometimes.  Neither of us actually toured the house (I sure was not going to leave Mik sitting out there by himself!), but we count it as visiting it towards out National Parks visited count as we did go right up to it.  Since we had low expectations, it was not a disappointment and in fact Mik still really enjoyed seeing the flowers in the yard.

Destination Info:
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
1318 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC

Francis Scott Key Memorial Park

Francis Scott Key MemorialDate of Visit: March 27, 2012

The Francis Scott Key Memorial Park is located on the Georgetown end of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  The park is on the site of the house he lived in as a lawyer in the early 1800s.  The memorial area is rather flat, but there is a rather scary steepness down to the canal and waterfront right next to the crosswalk you must use to get to the park from Georgetown.  The other side of the park is accessed directly from the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Francis Scott Key Park
Mik was not to into us stopping at the memorial, but only because it was cold and windy that day.  After we got over there, though, he did want me to read some of the informational signs to him.  I think the trees growing up the columns is pretty cool.

Destination Info:
Francis Scott Key Memorial Park
M Street between 34th and 35th Streets (next to bridge)
Washington, DC

Old Stone House

Old Stone HouseDate of Visit: March 27, 2012

The Old Stone House is located in the Georgetown area of DC and is part of the Rock Creek Park National Park Unit.  Georgetown is the least accessible area of town partially due to the Metro not having a stop actually in it, but also because it is more historic along with hilly like the Virginia side of the river.

We walked the little over a mile to the Old Stone House from our hotel near Rosslyn.  The Foggy Bottom Metro is slightly closer, but if you really want to mostly avoid the hilliness and uneveness of M Street there is a convenient Metro bus that you can take between the Metro stations with stops regularly along M Street.

Mik was not too into the outing to the Old Stone House, as it was so bumpy on the M Street sidewalks and they are slanted towards the street, so he had trouble sitting up straight.  I suspected it was not accessible, but I somehow got the idea that you can access the first floor.  You totally can, however, it is not exactly accessible.

Old Stone HouseThe front door is the one you are supposed to go through and once you get inside it does have a ramp down into the gift shop.  However, outside it is about a six inch tall threshold.  We started by going into the garden on the side before even looking at the front door, so when I went around to the front door and saw it was a big threshold I already knew that the one on the side did not look as bad.

I went in and asked if there was wheelchair access and the rangers looked confused (admittedly it was only one guy's second day) and said yes just this floor and I had to specifically ask if they could open the other door because it looked easier to get in using.  Basically, who would go if you cannot really see the whole house and Georgetown is not the best getting around in a wheelchair.  However, they were friendly and immediately were okay with letting us use the side door.  Only one room and a gift shop to see, but at least Mik could come inside while I got the 7 National Park Passport stamps they have here, which was our main purpose.

Overall the Old Stone House is not really a must see unless you are wandering around Georgetown in general, which is kind of interesting even if it is hilly.  By the way it is not far from the very popular DC Cupcakes featured in the TLC show.  M Street is not too bad, but boy do the hills leading north of M Street seem really really steep!!!  It was still cool to see the only house remaining in DC with its original pre-Revolution foundation and definitely worth it if you collect National Park Stamps.

Destination Info:
The Old Stone House
3051 M St NW
Washington, DC