Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mesa Verde National Park: Wethermill Mesa Tram Loop

Date of Visit: June 26, 2011

The Wethermill Mesa Tram Loop was our favorite part of Mesa Verde National Park.  There were very few tourists just doing the loop first thing in the morning.  Most of the visitors were here to do the tours down to the cliff dwellings, which is not accessible as it involves steps.  The tram, however, is wheelchair accessible and is very well worth taking to the various stops.
Wethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram Loop
The front row of seats is removed for the wheelchair to fit.  The tram has a pull out ramp to roll up and on.  Overall very easy and accessible.  One big issue, though, is no tie downs.  It did not seem to be an issue, as the tram does not go very fast, however coming back up to the parking lot the turns caused Mik to end up moving around facing sideways.  Of course, that freaked Mik out just as he was finally relaxed after his initial freak out of realizing they did not use any sort of tie downs.
Wethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram Loop
You could just ride the tram loop and never get off, but then you really would not see much of anything.  The first stop drops you off at the Badger House Community trail that takes you to several different archeological sites.  This is a paved trail that is actually quite level throughout.  Mik even liked that the water fountain at the start was low enough he could roll up to and drink from.
Wethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram Loop
Along the Badge House Community trail there are several different sites that have been excavated.  The sites are mostly covered pavilions with the paths being easy to navigate through.  However, on the first one the path goes straight back and it is a somewhat tight squeeze to turn around to go back out.  For the most part Mik found it easy to get up close to the fencing and see the sites.  He also enjoyed the signage at the sites with further info and layout diagrams.

After going through the whole trail, we waited for the next tram.  On the way back to the parking lot the tram makes two quick stops at overlook trails.  These are short trails down to overlooks that give you a good view of cliff dwellings.  The trails are mostly paved, but they are quite steep.  Since they are short, they are not too bad to do, but it certainly takes much more effort to control the wheelchair slowly down and then pushing it back up than just walking the trail.  Also, at the bottom of one it was rocky and uneven in the lookout area.
Wethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram LoopWethermill Mesa Tram Loop
Overall the tram ride was very worthwhile.  The accessibility is good other than they really could use tie downs.  The driver was also very friendly and it was surprising to learn that they average only 2 wheelchair visitors a season, especially considering it is really the easiest accessible way to get up close to some ruins at Mesa Verde National Park.

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

Destination Info:
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park: Morefield Campground

Morefield CampgroundDate of Visit: June 25-27, 2011

At Mesa Verde National Park we stayed in the tent area of the Morefield Campground.  The campsites are not very good accessibility wise, but that's tent camping.  You get to choose your spot, so you can go around and find the one that seems best for you.  Note that a good number have steps up to the site.  They all have raised packed dirt pads where tents must be set up.

Morefield Campground
Most sites also have a picnic table, but none of them are wheelchair accessible.  This is kind of annoying when they actually have wheelchair accessible picnic tables that are very obvious when you drive by the group camping area.  Mik could sit at the end of the table and set stuff on the table, but he could not roll under enough for it to be very useful for eating.

The bathrooms near the tent site do not have accessible stalls, but there are some in the RV areas that at least on the map are marked wheelchair accessible.  Also, they have nice companion style ones up by the camp store and restaurant.

Pancake Breakfast at Morefield Campground
The restaurant has a nice pancake breakfast that we ended up enjoying on Sunday morning.  Mik loved the pancakes and bacon, as well as the fact that they had wheelchair accessible picnic tables to eat at.

Morefield Campground certainly is anything special, but it is not much different than some of the KOAs accessibility wise.  It is definitely convenient for visiting the attractions at the National Park.  The best part is the price.  Not only was is much cheaper than KOA at its regular price, but we actually only paid $25 total for 2 nights because we got 50% off with Mik's Golden Access Card.  Make sure you tell them you have the card and have it ready to show at check in.  I had put it on the notes when I made the reservation online and paid the first night deposit.  The guy did not notice it at first and I forgot about the discount and paid for the second night at check in.  He then noticed and right away refunded the second night charge since our deposit paid for the full stay.

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

Destination Info:
Morefield Campground
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde/Cortez, Colorado

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Disney Dreams An Enchanted Classic

Date of Visit: July 18, 2011

Mik and I enjoyed the Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic on the final night of our Alaska Cruise.  It is shown in the Walt Disney theater just like the Golden Mickeys.  For the most part we skipped the evening entertainment, but this is by far the best of them to go to.  Toy Story Musical, which only Mom and I went to, is pretty good, but Disney Dreams is an unique show.

Disney Dreams is kind of like Peter Pan, but for the girl to fly she ends up going on various adventures featuring scenes from other Disney movies.  This show uses a lot of props and special effects.  It is fun to see the variety of Disney characters get worked into one show with it still being its own unique show, too.  The end is especially fun with the lighting making it seem like the whole cruise ship is getting covered in pixie dust and supposedly also flying.

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Mickey Mania in Studio Sea

Mickey Mania in Studio Sea Date of Visit: July 17, 2011

Mickey Mania is one of the evening game shows Mik and I went to on the cruise.  Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer? is still our favorite, but Mickey Mania was much better than the Pirate game show.  It was at least Disney trivia. It kind if reminded me of playing Disney Scene It.

Mickey Mania in Studio Sea
The selection process is whoever the host decides to pick and again it was partially split with the kids club.  The randomness of Who Wants to be a Mousketeer? is nicer.  Plus, if you are not picked at the beginning your not going to be playing in this game at all.  However, we didn't actually want to play anyways, especially since the podiums are up on a stage and wouldn't actually work with Mik in a wheelchair.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Navajo National Monument

Navajo National MonumentDate of Visit: June 25, 2011

We had not planned to visit the Navajo National Monument, but when we saw a sign for it on our way to Four Corners and Mesa Verde we decided to stop.  It ended up being a worthwhile detour, although we only saw the visitor's center.  Of course, it was also nice to add stamps to our National Park Passports, especially since they had the 25th Anniversary of the National Park Passport stamp.

Navajo National Monument
The visitor's center at the Navajo National Monument has an automatic door, which Mik liked because he did not even have to push a button to open it.  Inside the visitor center is a small exhibit about the Native Americans in the region.  It includes a replica of the house structures that even Mik could roll into, although there was barely enough room for him to fit.

Navajo National Monument
Outside the visitor's center is the Sandal Trail, which is paved and takes you to an overlook to see the cliff dwellings.  The trail is accessible, but Mik was freaked how close it was to the edge of the mountain even though there appeared to at least be a railing on the edge.  Also, we still had a lot of driving to do that day, so we did not go on it.

Near the trail there is a little area set up with an example hogan dwelling.  The paved path ends right on the edge of this area, but it really is not much to see by getting closer.  Thus you do not really miss out if you cannot go in the dirt path.

Overall Navajo National Monument impressed us.  We did not do the accessible trail, but it was great that there was an option.

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

Destination Info:
Navajo National Monument
Shonto, AZ

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Beach Blanket Buffet

Beach Blanket BuffetDate of Visit: July 2011

Several mornings we had breakfast from the Beach Blanket Buffet, although mostly it was Mom bringing food back to the room from it.  Mik really enjoyed the doughnuts.  He liked the ones with cream filling the best, although they didn't always have them.  The Mickey waffles were also awesome, although they are quite doughy as are the pancakes.  Like with the doughnuts, the Mickey waffles were not always there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Catching Harry Potter in Ketchikan

Date of Visit: July 17, 2011

Mik didn't plan on getting off in Ketchikan, but when Mom and I got off and discovered the movie theater was not too far I went back and made him get off the ship. He had been wanting to see the new Harry Potter movie and was glad to get a chance to see it in Ketchikan instead of having to wait a week to see it.

The movie theater in Ketchikan was right in the downtown area within walking distance of the dock. It is a small town theater, but they just got 3D that weekend, so we got to see the new Harry Potter in 3D. It was not a 3D necessary movie, but it was cool to see a 3D movie the first weekend it came to Ketchikan.

The theater is the older ramp aisle style. The only spot for a wheelchair, though was in the back off to the side. Thus you get an odd angled view of the screen, since the theater is also wider than typical modern ones. However, it was still good enough to enjoy the movie.