Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Best Western Tulsa Airport

Date of Visit: June 18-19, 2024

The Best Western Tulsa Airport was our first stop to sleep on our way from Chicago to Tucson. When we were starting our day with our first (and really only) planned stop before Tucson being Pops in Oklahoma we considered getting there on our first day, but found that there was an mobility accessible room at the Best Western Tulsa Airport available to book that night and no accessible rooms at the closest Best Western past Pops. We mostly do not mind not getting an accessible room when it’s just a stop on the road to sleep, but since we noticed it was an option we booked the room in the morning rather than our usual in the evening as we are getting ready to be done for the day.

Mobility Accessible room with 2 beds

This definitely is a low end Best Western and the price does reflect that at least (nothing since I used points…or $58/night if I hadn’t). The rooms are rather worn and it had a musty smell to it. It was clean, but they did not stock the bathroom adequately with there only being bath towels and wash cloths (no hand towel) and 2 bottles of shampoo (no soap and no conditioner). Since the room was on the far back side, we did not bother asking for toiletries and just used one of the extra bars of soap I had saved from earlier in our trip.

The biggest concern we had when we first got to our room was that there were kids that were playing around outside the room next door and kept going back and forth to other rooms (it seemed there were families staying here long term/living here). It was noisy with them knocking next door every time they came back and you had to watch out for one of the little kids riding his trike down the walkway. It was around 7pm when we got there, though, and it was not excessively loud. Overnight there was no noise, so they did seem to respect what would be considered typical quiet hours.

toilet with grab bars

The toilet grab bars were interesting. Mik could almost get up using them, but they were slightly too high for him. They then made it hard to help get him the rest of the way on, especially for me, because of how they stick out and are so close on both sides.

roll in shower

The mobility accessible room description I booked said it was a tub, so we were surprised to find it was actually a roll-in shower. That worked out well for us as Mik was due for a shower after being in Mom’s condo where there is a tub and while I have three accessible rooms book our trip only the one night I have booked as we head back east is a room with roll in shower. The water pressure was not the best, but it did get hot fast and it was well designed slanted inwards that there was no water mess outside the shower like you often have to deal with.

Fridge, Microwave, and "closet" area with low clothes hanging bare
Fridge, Microwave, and Low "Closet" area

open floor area by bed when you first come in room

Mik found the area right when you came in before the first bed a good area for him to hang out and there was an outlet by the chair for him to use for charging his phone and tablet.

The breakfast was okay. The selection was somewhat limited, but there was eggs, sausage patties, individually packaged muffins, bread for toast, oatmeal packets, and waffle maker. Kind of disappointing there were no bananas and the only fruit available was one apple. They very well might have had bananas and more apples as even though we were at breakfast just a little after it supposedly opened at 6am, there were several other groups already eating.

Overall it was worth what we paid for and it was worthwhile for the roll in shower. Also, it worked out as  the right location to stop for the night as it was close to a Walmart to get a needed oil change first thing the next morning and going any further would not have allowed for our leisurely driving day that included an unplanned stop to eat at Cozy Dog Drive In. The extremely slow internet that was unusable was rather disappointing, though.

Destination Info:
Best Western Tulsa Airport
222 N Garnett Road
Tulsa, OK 74116

Pops 66: Getting Our Sips on Route 66

Mik and Kjersti with their soda bottles in front of Pops 66 66-foot bottle

Date of Visit: June 19, 2024

Since Dad and I discovered Pops 66 on our drive from Tucson moving to Alabama in 2013, we have been to Pops several times usually when it is not really on the way. This trip, though, it was just a short detour off the route and was another Route 66 stop.

Bag of Candy and Two 6-packs of Soda

Mik and I each got a six pack of sodas. Mik got Serenity Sodas Orange & Cinnamon, Chocolate-Covered Maple Smoked Bacon, Rocket Fizz S'Mores, Dublin Texas Orange Dream, Filbert's Banana, and Lester's Fixins Pumpkin Pie. I got Rocky Mountain Soda Co. Evergreen Elderberry, Twig's Farmer's Brew Butterscotch Root Beer, Filbert's Banana, Northwest Soda Works Marionberry Creme, Jackson Hole Soda Cowboy Cream, and Henry Winhard's Black Cherry Cream.

Classic Candy aisle at Pops 66

We also got some candy from the classic candy area. Since we are not sure if we will swing through Nashville on our way home or not, yet, Mik decided to get a peanut butter Goo Goo Cluster.

Butterscotch Smoothie Peanut Butter Cups

We really enjoyed the butterscotch smoothie peanut butter cups. The other candy (mostly Cow Tales) we are saving for snacking on later as we are not worried about them melting in the parked car.

Accessible Parking in Last Row at Pops

This is the first time we hit Pops in the morning and there were not many cars there, so we got an accessible parking spot in the first row. However, there have been times that we have used one of the spots in the last row, which to some extent is more convenient as they are next to the sidewalk to the building and you do not have to go through the gas pump to parking area of parking lot.

View of driving area between accessible parking in first row and building

Kjersti and Mik with their Sodas in front of 66-foot Pops Bottle

One of these days we need to stop when the restaurant side is open and we have time to spare as you can get an ice cream float made with any of the flavors from the Pops cooler area. We had not planned to this time, but if the restaurant part was open at 10:30am (about when we got there) like their website says, we likely would have this time as Mik had purposely waited until after Pops to have a snack.

Pop 66 Bottle Lit Up at Sunset
2016 Photo of Bottle at Sunset

Pops 66 is a good stop to stock up on some fun sodas (and candy) any time of day, but the soda bottle does look good when it is lit up at night. 

Destination Info:

660 OK-66
Arcadia, OK 73007

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Cozy Dog Drive In

Mik in Front of Cozy Dog Drive In

Date of Visit: June 18, 2024

When planning Mik’s 30th birthday trip, we had considered doing some Route 66 things. Originally it was something we were going to do towards the end of the trip when we went from Anaheim to Chicago, but we ended up starting the trip from Chicago (it was a change we made about a week before the trip to allow Dad and I to make a quick weekend detour to go to see the ceremony for mom’s uncle being inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame). When planning the trip, Mik ended up only wanting to do Pops in Oklahoma. The first rest area we stopped at in Illinois, though, had info on Route 66 attractions in Illinois and Dad suggested we stop at some of them. Mik could not be convinced to stop at the Man with a Giant Hot Dog statue or World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, but he was up for having an early lunch at the Cozy Dog Drive in…once I told him it was no farther off the route than stopping somewhere else for lunch. 

Cozy Dog souvenir display

With it being called a drive in, we thought it be similar to Sonic, but it actually has seating inside and a drive through. Eating inside was definitely the right choice as they have Route 66 decor and information including Route 66 books you can you look through while you’re there.

Mik rolled up to booth table

Mik found the booth tables perfect for him to roll up to. I little hard for Dad and I to get in and out without moving Mik, but once all in it was good. There are also regular tables that you can pull chairs away from to roll under.

Table with chairs

Mik eating corn dog

Mik, of course, had to have a corn dog.

Mik eating chili cheese dog

He also had a chili cheese dog.

Cheese on a stick

I enjoyed the cheese on a stick and we all shared the fries, which were Mik's favorite style of fries.

Cozy Dog Cola in bottle

To drink, Mik had the Cozy Dog cola and I had the Cozy Dog root beer.

Cozy Dog root beer in bottle


Mik said the bathroom was good as they were just one person style rooms that are spacious versus bathrooms with stalls that even the accessible one frequently is not big enough for a wheelchair and helper.

entrance to Cozy Dog Drive In with Route 66 Roadside Attraction sign

Cozy Dog Drive In ended up being a great early lunch stop. We got there around 10:30am and there was pretty much no one there. By the time we left probably half the tables were in use and the drive through line was around the building almost to where we were parked. 

Mik and Kjersti in front of Cozy Dog Drive In Sign

Destination Info:
Cozy Dog Drive In
2934 S 6th St
Springfield, IL 62703

Route 66 Springfield, Illinois sign at Cozy Dog Drive In

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Brookgreen Gardens: Lowcountry Zoo

Date of Visit: March 18, 2024

Brookgreen Gardens is a place I have been wanting to take Mik to since we moved to Myrtle Beach almost 4 years ago. When my godmother came to visit us, we made it one of our top priorities of things to do during her visit.

We decided to do the Lowcountry Zoo area first. There are different parking areas and you can park near the farm/zoo area, but we parked in the main parking by the museum shop and walked/rolled over to the animal exhibits. This allowed us to at least see some statues and the garden areas along the way.

We ended up at the farm area as they were getting ready to go through the zoo area and feed the animals. We did not specifically go on the tour as Mik wanted to go at our own pace, which was faster or slower than the tour depending on the animal area.

Mik was glad he did not use his powerchair when we got to the aviaries. It was a tight squeeze to go in with only one door open, but we had plenty of hands and could have easily opened both if needed. His powerchair would have been totally fine for this outing, but I only convinced him to go if we took the manual and he could have his hands free to take photos.

We enjoyed being in the Cypress Swamp Aviary when they fed the birds.

Mik did not so much enjoy getting pooped on by a bird, but at least it mainly ended up on his wheelchair frame by his brakes and casters and not him. Mik pretty much always has wipes in his bag, so we easily cleaned it up after we exited the aviary.

We then took some time watching the otters while the feeding tour moved on. We then ended up ahead of the tour when Mik wanted to quickly go by the stinky foxes. Also, the way the barriers were for the foxes and some of the rest of the enclosures made it hard for Mik to see over/through to see anything, which kind of annoyed him.

While in the Birds of Prey area, we again joined the tour and learned about how the eagles were rescues. The tour ended after this area. It includes the alligators seasonally, but it was still too early in the year for them to be fed, which was actually interesting to learn about their torpor state (later learned the guide used wrong word for the winter dormancy and it’s actually called brumation) more than watching them fed.

By this point Mik was ready to go because he was cold (hands instead of his usual feet and it was my fault for leaving home his gloves that he recently bought to stay in his backpack). Since we were mostly through the zoo, we continued on the trail and went through the Waterfowl Aviary and past the Red Wolf Ridge (none were out easy to spot here) as we headed back to the truck.

The Waterfowl Aviary was our favorite. In particular, Nora and I enjoyed identifying the different ducks and adding some new lifers to our bird lists. I especially had been wanting to see a Ruddy Duck.

Overall it was an enjoyable morning visit. I would have liked if we could have had lunch and stayed longer, but Mik was done for the day because he hurt from sitting in his wheelchair, which we think is from the seatbelt not being able to be tight enough to keep him positioned well (really should have paid attention when Dad adjusted it for him this winter as it seems it needs to be adjusted seasonally). If we had bought tickets, we could have gone back again another day that week and definitely would have, but we had used guest passes which they take when you enter. Hopefully, another time we can go back and see more of the actual garden areas and the statues that are throughout. Definitely plenty more to see and good easy paths for the either the manual or power.

Destination Info:
Brookgreen Gardens
1931 Brookgreen Drive
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Saturday, February 10, 2024

McKee Botanical Garden

Date of Visit: January 10, 2024

McKee Botanical Garden was Mik's pick of attraction for last year's Vero Beach trip, but we did not get around to going. Making sure we visited this year was a priority considering Mik was hesitant about the whole family trip this year because last year he felt like he did nothing, which was rather true.

We started our visit to the McKee Botanical Garden with the Hall of Giants, which turned out to be a good place to start as it provides some history of the place. The table make from a piece of wood is also impressive.

Mik liked the nearby Spanish Kitchen, which had a grill that could cook a lot of steaks (100 or something like that, I think) at once.

Next we began walking the paths to find all of the different bird sculptures part that were on display around the garden for the "A Tropical Flock of Avian Avatars" exhibit. We found the paths through the garden easy enough to navigate as mostly packed gravel, but there was some going in the grass and dirt for the sculptures.

The "Sanctuary" sculpture was one of the ones you could walk through. Approaching it Mik did not think he'd be able to go inside, but it was plenty wide enough.

The "Platinum Peahen" was another one you could walk through. This one was do able, but it was a little room for error on the ramp. It probably would have been fine if they had just made that whole entrance a ramp and not partially stairs.

"Lift Off" was over one of the bridges in the watery maze area of the garden.

Mik's favorite part was the colorful Cortada columns.

Overall we enjoyed strolling through the McKee Botanical Garden. In particular, we enjoyed finding the different bird sculptures. Without those, though, not sure it would have been a worthwhile visit as it felt more like just walking through a park rather than a botanic garden as I expect more signage and information to learn about the plants when visiting a botanic garden and there was pretty much none.

Destination Info:
McKee Botanical Garden
350 US Highway 1
Vero Beach, FL 32962

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge: Centennial Trail

Date of Visit: January 8, 2024

Last year on our Vero Beach trip we visited the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and Mik stayed back at the resort. This year since we had done it before and knew the trail was accessible, we were able to convince him to come.

The first part of the trail is a paved path. This part goes by a pond.

The last part of the trail is a boardwalk style with planks listing all the different National Wildlife Refuges. As Pelican Island was the first one, this trail celebrates the Centennial and history of the National Wildlife Refuge System and lists all of them on the planks as it leads to the Observation Tower that looks out to Pelican Island. Mik did not like the bumpy feel of this part of the trail. It seemed that the writing on the planks made it bumpier as he found the areas without the words smoother.

Overall we have enjoyed Pelican Island National Refuge as a family we have visited different parts of it, but this visit with Mik was not the best. The trail is good accessible-wise, but Mik really did not like the boardwalk part and was disappointed that that day we did not see many birds. Last year and the other day we visited this year, we did see more birds including close up, so understandable that he was disappointed as this day there were not many to see even with binoculars.

Destination Info:

4055 Wildlife Way
Vero Beach, FL 32963