Sunday, July 17, 2011

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Golden Mickeys at Animator's Palette

Date of Visit: July 13, 2011

Our first dinner in the Animator's Palette was the Golden Mickeys dinner, which is served in whatever restaurant you are dining in the night of the Golden Mickeys. Mik enjoyed the toasted cheese ravioli appetizer and Yachtsman Steakhouse Grilled NY Strip main course. I enjoyed the Sweet and Sour tofu, although it was kind of light on the sauce.

For dessert Mik had the Golden Chocolate Award, which is chocolate mousse and chiffon cafe with ganache. He really enjoyed it. I had the Golden Mickeys Sweet Temptations, which is a trio of desserts. It included a small version of the Golden Chocolate Award, Creme brûlée, and Raspberry Cheesecake. The creme brûlée wad nothing fancy, but the cheesecake was quite good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Vancouver Airport to Port Transfer

Date of Visit: July 12, 2011

Mik is always freaked by bus rides. The bus had a lift to get up on the bus and I put him in a regular seat. He still freaked out and kept death gripping my arm, so next time I am going to at least enjoy the ride and he can just scream from his wheelchair, which does get tied down and didn't move even without the weight of him in it.

The platform to get on the bus, however, is another story. It was barely long enough for me to stand behind the chair and ride up with him and his chair doesn't even seem very long. I felt squished against the bus. He could technically ride by himself, but he cannot put himself on the platform, so rolling him on backwards to get him on would be awkward, although doable. The real problem, though, is he freaks out by himself.

One other thing about the transfer is that there aren't cutouts to get down to the bus where it pulls up at the airport. We just took the tippers off and went down the curb, but I think you can get way down to the end of the bus area and get down and then come to the bus. At least they said something like that, but we went the quicker and more obvious route of just going down the curb. At the port there is no problem, as there are cutouts at every bus spot.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Disney Tunes Trivia in Promenade Lounge

Date of Visit: July 13, 2011

Mik and I went to the Disney Tunes Trivia on the first day at sea as a fun activity to do together. We both had fun even though we stunk at recognizing tunes. However, I am proud to say we were one of the very few that knew that Song of the South was set in Georgia. We certainly could have gotten most of the bonus questions if we could just recognize tunes in order to match them to the movies. Definitely, need to listen to more Disney music in case there is one on next year's cruise. For now, though, off to try regular Disney trivia as today's trivia session.

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: French Dinner at Triton's

Date of Visit: July 12, 2011
To get into Triton's we had to go through the side entrance just for wheelchairs and strollers when entering. It took awhile to get the attention of someone to help us find our table, but not more than 5 minutes. It seems kind of odd that they weren't manning that entrance, especially for the first time you are eating at that place for the cruise and probably need help finding your table. At least the sign is obvious and we noticed it on our way to the main entrance and didn't have to end up coming back to the side to enter, but maybe doing that would be better as then they more expect someone entering there.
Mik enjoyed the Lobster macaroni and cheese. For desert we shared the Triton's Trio (it was called something like that and was basically three things). It is a little small to share, but it worked good for us because we were already mostly full. It included chocolate mousse, creme brûlée (Mik liked the hardened sugar because it reminded him of toasted marshmallows), and what is basically a mini eclair, but has a fancier name.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abilities Expo Chicago 2011

Abilities Expo ChicagoDate of Visit: July 8, 2011

Mik had been looking forward to the Abilities Expo in Chicago for months.  He found some cool stuff, but overall was rather disappointed.  It was rather small and really did not have that much different things.  He was especially disappointed that they did not have the Wijits to try.  Several of the vendors commented that this was smaller than the others and of course the Wijit people had been at every other one.  They had something similar and to some extent better, but it was gears that you switch down in the hubs, which is useless to Mik because he cannot even do the bending down to get the range of motion needed to really propel himself.

Abilities Expo ChicagoMik did have one big find and splurge that he sure wish he had at the beginning of our summer vacation.  It is the Free Wheel.  It is a big wheel that attaches to the footplate and lifts the casters up.  It is pretty easy to take on and off.  Not sure if Mik will be able to learn to do it, but that's okay, as he could not twist due to his spinal fusion to put it on the bracket on the back of the chair anyways.  However, it is something he can easily tell a friend or someone to help him with, although currently he does not have the thing to carry it on his wheelchair because of course the Q7 disappoints again in that it has a special shape.  They are making us the right size thing to go on there and it should get to his house about the time we get home from vacation early August, so at least he will have it all set up for school.

The Free Wheel makes going over bumps and even down big curbs easy.   Mik is excited to try it out for going to school because the sidewalks in our neighborhood are old and ever since he has had his Q7 the front wheels have made it even harder for him to get there and back than with his old chair.  It also helps him go straighter, so he should not be calling me to come help him because he rolled off into the gravel and cannot get back on because even if he does the Free Wheel makes it so he can get back up on his own.  Not to mention it adds stability that should keep him from all his falls he ends up with from the transitions on the ramps at school.

It certainly is not that great indoors, but it will definitely come in handy for Mik, especially since now he could much more easily do the trails that we have borderline considered at the National Parks.  Of course, it still would not have saved him from flipping over sideways on the Circle Trail.  You probably need a high end special sports chair for that!

Abilities Expo ChicagoMik also got some really nice gloves.  He has tried a lot of different ones over the years and has never stuck with a pair for more than a day, but he has now worn these new ones twice and still loves them, so that is really saying something.  They are fingerless.  What he really likes is they have grip that reminds me of the material those rubber circle jar opener things are made out of.  They do not so much help him roll any better, but he does love that he can now open soda and especially Gatorade bottles much easier.  Plus, he cannot wait to try them for weight lifting and pull ups.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Abilities Expo
Shaumburg Convention Center
Shaumburg, IL

Effigy Mounds National Monument

Effigy Mounds National ParkDate of Visit: July 2, 2011

We ended up slightly disappointed at Effigy Mounds because I had heard they had an accessible trail, but failed to really research it to know what the trail took you to see.  The trail is a nice accessible trail, but it just takes you down to the Yellow River and does not involve seeing the Effigy Mounds.  The trail from the Visitor Center that goes to the mounds starts out with a little section of boardwalk that is accessible, but it only goes to a group of three mounds.

In order to see any of the real Effigy style mounds you have to go on a trail that is dirt and bark.  It looks potentially doable, but it is at least 2 miles to see any of the Effigy mounds and it started with uphill.  Mik certainly was not feeling adventurous enough to try it despite Dad being willing after the Circle Trail incident at Pipestone National Monument a few days earlier.

Accessible Trail at Effigy Mounds National ParkThe Visitor Center is nice and they do show a good movie that lets you be able to get an idea of what the Effigy Mounds look like.  It also has a little museum about the Native American cultures of the region and mound building.  We were also happy they had the 25th Anniversary National Park Passport stamp, which not all the places that have the stampers have.

I still enjoyed the Effigy Mounds National Monument, but Mik was kind of disappointed by the promise of an accessible trail and it ending up not featuring the main thing the National Monument protects.  However, he did like the trail and getting to go on a hike without it being so bumpy or ever having to flip his front wheels up.  Of course, about a week later he got a Free Wheel at the Abilities Expo and now wants to go back to the trail he could not do.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Effigy Mounds National Monument
151 Hwy 76
Harpers Ferry, IA 52146

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Misadventure on Circle Trail at Pipestone National Monument

Date of Visit: June 30, 2011

Circle Trail at Pipestone National MonumentThe Circle Trail at the Pipestone National Monument was not exactly a circle, as the Ranger informed us that the bridge by the waterfall was currently closed.  We still decided to do the trail, as it was paved, so thus you would think a totally wheelchair accessible trail and the Ranger gave us the impression it was.  Well, it is not and it is not really a safe Circle Trail for wheelchair users.  The park's website sort of tells you this, but not specifically enough to explain what happened to Mik and gives enough hope that we certainly still would have done the trail and it still would have happened.

Circle Trail at Pipestone National MonumentNear where you get to the waterfall there is a path that splits off and has steps.  Obviously, we did not even try this path, but Dad went off on it and Mik and I decided to keep going towards the waterfall.  Well, we did not get too far.  A little past the bench near where the path splits there is an extremely tilted part of the path.  It did not look like a problem, but as soon as I was on it Mik's left big wheel left the ground and there was no way I could keep it from flipping over.  At least Mik knew to bail his iPad (case did its job and protected iPad) and put his hands down in front of him and his only injury was a bunch of mosquito bites because there were swarms of them by the waterfall and he would have gotten those anyways probably.

Circle Trail at Pipestone National MonumentMik feels there should be a warning sign on the trail right there (not to mention the website's warning should be posted near the trail or at least the ranger should have said something) and he would never go past the bench on the trail in a wheelchair.  Very slight possibility if you stick to half on the sane and go around on the far right you would not tilt too much, but the river is right below you and that sand patch is all that kept Mik from going down, so he does not recommend any sort of testing going through that part of the path with a wheelchair.

The trail is still worth doing before you get to that point, as you can even see the waterfall from a distance right before the dangerous part of the path.  Just be prepared for swarms of mosquitos!!!  It is mainly a nature hike, but there were a few Pipestone quarries along the path.  During our visit, though, they were mostly flooded in all the way.

Photos by Kjersti
Text by Kjersti with Mik's wheelchair accessibility input

Destination Info:
Pipestone National Monument
36 North Reservation Avenue
Pipestone, MN