Monday, September 30, 2019
Date of Visit: September 19, 2019
Dad decided to take an impromptu trip to Assateague Island National Seashore on his off day. We started at the Visitor Center in Berlin, MD, but didn't end up doing the Maryland part of the island because we all most wanted to see the lighthouse and we wouldn't get there until 3pm. Thus, we also didn't spend time even looking at the exhibit or to see the movie leaving the Maryland part for another trip.
The Lighthouse Trail is short, but up a steep hill that gets very sandy at parts. I had gone ahead to sketch the lighthouse while Dad got Mik out of the truck and saw that there was a parking lot for handicap access only up by the lighthouse, but Dad decided to just push Mik anyways. I also found out that we happened to pick the doable path on the right and that there was another path on the left side of the parking lot (near the outhouse) that ends up having steps.
Mik actually did willing pose for at least this first photo, but the mosquitos were very intense and we quickly headed back to the truck.
On the way from the Lighthouse Trail to the Toms Cove Visitor Center (Dad and I just popped in quickly for the stamp), we stopped to see the horses. After the mosquito experience, Mik was totally done for the day, but he did enjoy that he could see the horses without getting out of the truck.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Berlin, MD & Chincoteague, VA
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Date of Visit: March 16, 2018
Seeing a Blake Shelton concert is something Mik has been wanting to do for awhile, especially when the County Music Freaks tour was announced with openers he particularly liked. Because the ticket buying process is totally messed up at least for Royal Farms Arena, it was almost another one of his tours we were going to skip hoping eventually he'd play a reasonable venue nearby (or actually just go somewhere farther from home).
The main thing that made me annoyed with Royal Farms Arena is that they don't allow you to buy accessible tickets during presale. This in itself doesn't bother me, but then when they go on sale for everyone you cannot buy them online. In general, it really wasn't that difficult to call when they went on sale other than the phone number didn't open on time and the person had trouble understanding that my card was a Visa and thus kept failing to make the charge go through. It also is annoying that if you bought tickets online you got a free digital copy of Blake's latest CD and the way they handle accessible seating means you miss the special offer and it's a deal I've seen offered for several tours visiting Royal Farms Arena.
I really tried to give the venue the benefit of the doubt and that it wasn't going to be as bad as all the reviews make it sound. To some extent, it really isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Mainly, it's just a really old venue and it's age shows including that it seems there are only two sections with wheelchair accessible seats at the top on each side of the stage area (i.e. four total sections). However, what really made us frustrated with the venue right away was that we tried to enter from the first side entrance we came across the lady went as far as letting us in the door and almost scanning our tickets before realizing that the steps right behind her might be a problem (I wouldn't give the tickets because I saw steps and wanted to know if there was a ramp if we came in that way) and had to ask several people before someone finally pointed out that we had to go around to the Baltimore Street entrance to get in.
Once at the correct entrance the staff was good including being very patient with me having trouble getting the backpack off Mik's chair to be searched. The usher for our section was also good.
We sat in section 103. Overall it was good and at least probably the best wheelchair accessible section (or at least as good as the one across from it). However, I was rather disappointed in that when I bought the tickets the lady made it seem like I was buying tickets for right in front of the stage. I mean, I knew it wasn't true as in we didn't have floor seats and the sections were going to be raised, but she really made it sound like it was at the front of the section and not at the top, although I kind of knew it was based on the seating charts on the arena's website. I guess what she really meant by close to stage was I was purchasing the closest possible wheelchair accessible seats.
For the most part, the view of the stage and performance was pretty good, but the stage is set up so you mostly are getting a side view and while the openers, especially Carly Pearce, actually did pretty good at also performing to the sides Blake and especially Trace didn't as much. Because of this, it seems the farther away accessible section might have actually been preferable because the angle would've allowed you to see the stage front on, although I still think the closeness to the stage and not needing to look up the screens to really see the artists was still probably better.
Overall Mom and Mik were glad we saw this concert, but I doubt we will ever go to Royal Farms Arena again. I will admit the main reason I wish we didn't go to this concert was that after I had purchased the tickets it was announced the Oak Ridge Boys were playing The Birchmere the same night and they're like my favorite to see in concert and The Birchmere is our favorite concert venue. However, I also was disappointed in that the sound quality and really I am not the type to really notice that kind of thing except Mom and I saw Blake when he played Wrigley Field and that just was way better. Also, that tour was just plain the best ever because of Neal McCoy and not just because he's my fav entertainer, but because of how they set it up to have him perform while they did the stage changeover between sets was just the best concept ever.
Royal Farms Arena
201 W. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Date of Visit: August 25, 2016
Fort McHenry has been our list to revisit since 2014 when we considered going to the Star Spangled Banner Bicentennial. Since we are trying to collect the National Park Passport Centennial Stamps this year, it seemed like a good time to finally go and it just happened to work out that our first free Thursday was the actual National Park Centennial.
Usually Mik is into the military history sites we visit, but neither of us found this all that great of a visit. At least the site is mostly accessible as the main part Mik couldn't access was the walkways up around the edge of the fort. I think it mostly wasn't enjoyable because it suddenly got crowded when we started to explore it, but it was also because there wasn't really any signage to help direct where to explore (the pamphlet also didn't even have a map of the park) and very oddly there wasn't a single park ranger (or even a volunteer) to be found except back in the visitor center.
Another area Mik couldn't access was the bombproofs, but he did enjoy that he could still look down in there. Most of the other exhibits were in the buildings in the fort with ramps added to the entrances/exits as needed.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21230
Date of Visit: August 25, 2016
We arrived around 9 a.m., so had about an hour to wait for the first tour of the mansion at 10 a.m. We spent the time exploring the grounds around the Hampton Mansion. There really isn't much to explore that is accessible, though, so Mik did get a little impatient. At least there was a Pokemon Go gym to entertain him at the top of the falling gardens that just required going in the grass a little to get the the gravel path in the backyard that leads to it.
We attempted to go to the cemetery because it seemed close enough that we could go there and back before the tour, but the gravel turned out to be quite thick on this path. This is also the path that goes down to the farm area, which I think might also have its own parking area, but we wanted to also fit in Fort McHenry today. Also, Baltimore is an easy day trip for us, so we figured instead someday we'll come back and remember the freewheel to make exploring the grounds not a big deal.
As a historic home originally finished in 1790, Hampton House is not exactly accessible. However, the tour starts in the hyphen with a ramp up to the entrance. Once inside there is then a lift to get to the first floor. The tour does end up going down to the kitchen and up to the second floor (3 bedrooms and special exhibit room), which I did while Dad waited with Mik, but really they didn't miss out on too much and got to see the best parts. In particular, we liked that the tour guide adapted the tour to include them the most by making sure they could hear when she talked about the bells in the hall on the way down to the kitchen and most of the information on that area. She also did the whole first floor area before we did the second floor, so they could wait outside and explore the grounds rather than wait inside for us again.
After the tour we headed back down the road to the museum shop to get our National Park Passport stamps. This road is a little steep for Mik's liking and we probably would've just parked at the top by the mansion if it had been open to get the stamps when we first got there.
Hampton National Historic Site
535 Hampton Lane
Towson, MD 21286