Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts

Monday, September 30, 2019

Assateague Island National Seashore

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.

Destination Info:
Assateague Island National Seashore
Berlin, MD & Chincoteague, VA

Friday, March 16, 2018

Colonial National Historical Park: Yorktown Battlefield

Date of Visit: March 15, 2018

Visiting Jamestown/Yorktown has been something we've been wanting to do ever since we moved to Virginia almost four years ago. We didn't have time to do both this time, so I choose Yorktown since that seemed to be at least Dad's preference.

We started our visit with the ~15 minute movie at the visitor center. The movie was a pretty good overview of the battle. Mik wasn't a fan of how they had wheelchair spots at the back, but we had to sit in the row in front of him, but it isn't bad.

The visitor center also has a small museum. We all thought it was pretty cool that they had some of Washington's original tents in it. The ship walkthrough exhibit is also really well done, although it was almost too narrow to get through with the wheelchair and Mik freaked out about Dad taking him in it.

Mik's favorite part of the Visitor Center was the Lafayette Cannon.

After exploring the visitor center we decided to walk into the town and have some lunch and then check out the stuff we missed on our way back to the truck parked at the visitor center. The only place there was a sidewalk was along the riverwalk, but the traffic was light and walking in the street wasn't a big problem, although it is quite a hill to go down/up from the victory monument to the riverwalk. There is parking by the riverwalk, though, so the hill can be avoided.

We enjoyed lunch at the Yorktown Pub. It had two steps up to the main entrance, so we just took Mik up them and into the place. We found out when we were leaving that they do have a back entrance we could've used, but it really wasn't that difficult to just go out the front.

After lunch we walked along the riverwalk to where there was a bookstore. No luck finding any books we wanted, but it was surprisingly accessible for a used bookstore and Mik could actually browse through much of it.

On the way back to the visitor center, we stopped at the Yorktown Victory Monument. We ended up not exploring the stuff on Main Street because Mik was getting cold.

Since we didn't want to get home too late, we then decided to do just the Battlefield Tour drive. Mik stayed in the truck at most of the stops because there really wasn't much accessible to see. In fact, he only got out at the last stop at Surrender Field, which has an accessible trail.

Destination Info:
Colonial National Historical Park - Yorktown Battlefield
Accessibility page on their website
1000 Colonial Parkway
Yorktown, VA 23690

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Birchmere: Charles Esten and N'est Pas

Date of Visit: December 26, 2017

This year has been kind of disappointing in terms of there haven't been any artists playing in the D.C. area that we were even tempted to go see. Thus, we were glad Chip continues the tradition of playing The Birchmere when he's home for the holidays and with two shows again this year.

Mik didn't particularly like the opening band, which was also Chip, but in his college band. Not that he didn't like the music, but it went long and thus the concert seemed to last longer than Mik expected. He also just found it weird that Chip basically opened for himself.

Mik's favorite part was when Chip did the walk through the room thing. Since Mik can't really turn his body to see, he lost track of where Chip was and when Chip touched his shoulder from behind I thought Mik was going to be like I’m never coming again because usually he hates when things cause him to jerk and start to tip his chair back, but instead he was smiling and like that was awesome.

The Birchmere continues to be our favorite venue and we particularly like how when they repaved their parking lot they made it so it's ramped up to the sidewalk along the side of the building so the line up before it opens really is accessible now. However, they seem to have an official policy to let wheelchairs in first and a line number isn't really needed and I'm not so sure I agree with that policy.

Hopefully next year there's more than Chip that we want to see there. (The Oak Ridge Boys are playing in March, but unfortunately it was announced after I went through the hassle of getting Blake Shelton tickets in Baltimore that night and as much as Mik has been wanting to see Blake we so would've rather got tickets for The Oak Ridge Boys here and tried to see Blake at pretty much any other venue.)

Destination Info:
The Birchmere
3701 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305

Friday, July 14, 2017

Booker T. Washington National Monument

Date of Visit: July 13, 2017

When we were taking pictures outside the visitor center, they were starting the movie. Mik wasn’t really interested, but Mom and Dad went in and saw it. We saw the end of it when we went in and found it was being done in the bookstore instead of their normal theater because that area was under construction.

After the movie, we did part of the trail down to the plantation. The trail down to the reconstructed slave cabin is paved without much of a grade.

The cabin is not accessible to go into, but you can see most of from the doorway.

The smokehouse is nearby and the grass isn’t hard to go through to go look into it (visitors aren’t allowed inside). Past here you can go down to the tobacco barn, but it was hot and humid and Mik wasn’t interested in a grassy/wooded area trail excursion.

We did, however, go down the part of the trail that is paved for the horse barn and chicken and duck lot area. This part of the trail does have quite a steep hill and really there isn’t much to see except Mik did enjoy seeing the turkey in the chicken and duck lot.

Overall our visit to Booker T. Washington National Monument was somewhat of a disappointment. Partly it’s just hard to really enjoy outdoor sites with the humidity. It was also hard to enjoy the trail when there were no signs even just labeling what building we were looking at. The main thing, though, was that the visitor center was under construction and the exhibit area wasn’t available.

Destination Info:
Booker T. Washington National Monument
12130 Booker T Washington Hwy
Hardy, VA 24101

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Manassas National Battlefield Park: Stone Bridge Trail

Date of Visit: June 18, 2017

The Stone Bridge Trail is one of the accessible trails (or at least partly accessible) at Manassas National Battlefield Park. It is also one of the stops on the driving tour, so it has a parking lot next to it.

The Stone Bridge Trail is a rather short trail that is mostly a paved path that goes up to the Stone Bridge. The trail is only considered accessible up to the bridge.

Right before the bridge there is a bump to go over and the bridge is not technically accessible due to the slope, but it's not that difficult to go across the bridge. The trails on the other side of the bridge are where it really is no longer accessible partly due to it being a stepped trail down. While not much of a trail, Mik still found it interesting to be able to check out the bridge.

Destination Info:
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas, VA

Manassas National Battlefield Park: Henry Hill Loop Trail

Date of Visit: June 18, 2017

The park actually does have some wheelchair accessible trails, but we ended up not getting around to checking them out except Stone Bridge Trail because we wore Mik out doing the Henry Hill Loop Trail. I am glad we ventured out on this trail first, though, as it was an interesting overview of the battle and while not technically accessible it was quite doable (amazing what a difference the new wheelchair makes as it would've been hard to impossible with his last chair except maybe with the freewheel).

The Henry Hill Loop Trail focuses on the history of the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run), which mostly took place around the hill. The trail is mostly through low grass, although some parts are more dirt and gravel and there are definitely uneven pothole parts.

The first main stop on the trail is the Henry House, which was destroyed during the battle and rebuilt after the war. There is an exhibit with a movie and history on the house inside, but it is a huge step to get inside that has a big rock as a step making it not really doable to get inside with Mik. If it has just been regular two or three steps, we might've taken Mik inside because once inside it seems you can easily roll through and he would've found it interesting.

Even not being able to go inside the house this part of the trail has several things to see as there is a family cemetery where the only civilian casualty of the battle is buried and an 1865 monument.

Most of the bad parts are past the Henry House as you loop over to the Southern line cannons. You could probably easily skip the worst parts of the loop, which included a steep hill down and right back up, and still get a feel for the whole trail if you went to the Henry House, back to the Visitor Center, and then over to the Jackson statue and Southern line instead of following the whole loop trail.

Following the loop we went past some of the Southern line marked with cannons and over to the Jackson statue that commemorates where he got the Stonewall nickname.

Destination Info:
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas, VA

Manassas National Battlefield Park: Henry Hill Visitor Center

Date of Visit: June 18, 2017

For Father's Day, I wanted to do an outing with Dad and we were originally going to go without Mik to Shenandoah National Park since I've been wanting to do Ranger Dan photos there. When I was looking at the map to see if there were any other National Park units nearby to also do I was reminded that Manassas National Battlefield was close to us. It was also somewhere Mik was interested in visiting as long as it was accessible, which we found after a quick look at the Manassas National Battlefield Park website led us to their accessibility page that has good details on what areas of the park have wheelchair accessible parts.

As usual for a National Park, we started our visit at the Visitor Center. We were impressed with the parking layout here as it laid out so that the middle walkway up to the visitor center has handicap parking on both sides in every row. Thus, you have the opportunity to avoid taking a spot close to the building when all you need is the extra room for loading/unloading.

The visitor center is accessible via a ramp to the side of the entrance and the double doors have a button to open them automatically.

There is also a ramp from the back entrance to go out to the Henry Hill Loop Trail or just view the area from the patio if you don't want to trek out on the grassy trail. There is also a ramp on the back side accessed from around the front that leads down to the basement level where the bathrooms are located.

The visitor center has a small museum, a gift shop, and a theater. We didn't end up seeing the movie because it is shown on the hour and both before and after doing the Henry Hill Loop Trail we would've had to wait 20 to 30 minutes for it to start (and Mik wasn't sure about watching a 45 minute movie).

Destination Info:
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas, VA

Sunday, May 28, 2017

AMC Shirlington - Reserved Seat Recliner Theater

Date of Visit: May 28, 2017

In looking at showtimes to go see the new Pirates movie I found that a lot of the showings were reserved seat, which is kind of annoying to me, but now I get that these are recliner theaters that they seem to have put into a lot of the AMCs in our area. We just got tickets at the theater, but it is nice that you can do it online easily for accessible and companion if you want, which I suppose is actually a good thing because there have been one or two times that we've gone to the movies and there were no wheelchair spots left.

The only real problem with the recliner theater is that they do not end up having cupholders for the wheelchair seat. In the regular theater this has never been a problem because the seats always have them on both sides so there's enough for the person in the seat and the wheelchair next to it. The recliners only have them on the aisles and the middle armrest doesn't have one. I guess it doesn't because that armrest can be put up, but I don't see why they couldn't have made them with a cupholder like middle seat armrests in cars.

Overall we all really enjoyed the recliner theater. Mik definitely wants to do it again, but now that we know what the theater looks like we would probably actually take the seats on the sides in the back row that are not marked as accessible, but we could easily roll next to and transfer Mik to a recliner. That way he not only gets the whole experience, but more importantly a cupholder.

Destination Info:
AMC Shirlington 7
2772 S Randolph St
Arlington, VA 22206

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hyatt House Herndon/Reston

Date of Visit: May 20-21, 2017

Location wise this ended up being farther out from D.C. than I thought, but it didn't really matter in that we were just trying to stay somewhere sort of close for a reasonable rate while Dad had a party on our boat. It ended up being a good option in that it was cheaper than most of the Hyatt Place locations that I could've chosen and you get a kitchenette at the Hyatt House. However, I more chose the Hyatt House because they supposedly have a hot breakfast included rather than just the Hyatt Place more continental breakfast, but that didn't seem to be true in this case.

We stayed in an accessible studio room. Overall we liked the layout, but it seemed a little tight to move the chair through, which I know partially has to do with Mik now has a wider wheelchair (we just switched out our home ramp to a standard ADA 36-inch, though, and it is not a tight fit at all). The only real problem was that the living room chair made the path too narrow to get to the rest of the room, but that was easily fixed just by moving it closer to the couch a little.

Mik liked the bathroom layout as he found it easy to get on the toilet himself since the wall and bars were to the left of the toilet. I was disappointed in that it was a tub, but I couldn't find our reservation saying I booked a roll-in shower specifically even though I really think I did. Not that we really needed it for one night, but the tub really was useless as even if they have seats you can request the shower head is not removable and I had to stand on the edge of the tub to move it just to be able to even take a shower myself since it was set up at a very awkward angle.

The breakfast was really disappointing to us, especially since we have stayed at the Hyatt House in San Diego several times and they offered a real full breakfast buffet similar to the ones at Hyatt Regency restaurants. This breakfast at the Hyatt House Herndon, though, is basically the same as the typical ones we have had at a Hyatt Place.

The only difference was they had little omelets instead of the breakfast sandwiches, which was better in my opinion because they didn't have any meat in them. They have signs everywhere saying you can create your own omelet, which I thought was like the other Hyatt full buffets were they are made to order right in front of you, but it is actually just a little topping bar of things to put on top of the mini omelets.

We were also disappointed the room didn't have a DVD player, which I specifically remember being in the room amenities/features when I was booking. They do have it setup so you can easily plug in such devices to the TV, so I guess it may just be that feature is badly worded on the website.

Destination Info:
Hyatt House Herndon/Reston
467 Herndon Parkway
Herndon, Virginia 20170

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Black Swan Books

Date of Visit: October 29, 2016

For the past few years I've been seeking out 1940s books at used bookstores when traveling. Mik enjoys browsing bookstores, but often he quickly gets bored because they aren't very accessible and he can't explore that much of the stores. While he didn't end up finding anything he wanted at Black Swan Books, he was actually the one we had to wait for to be done browsing because he could easily roll around the whole store.

Destination Info:
Black Swan Books
2601 W. Main Street
Richmond, VA 23220

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

 Date of Visit: October 29, 2016

We started our visit of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site by watching the movie at the visitor center. The movie is very well done and definitely a must see. However, Mik was then ready to go and found the house tour not that interesting because he thought it was just then repetitive information. Thus, he thinks in hindsight it would have been better to see the house and then watch the movie (or really he probably thinks the movie is all you need to do here AND it is worth visiting just for it).

Mom and I both really did enjoy the house tour, but agree that the movie is the best part of an everyday visit here. The best part for our visit, though, was that one of Maggie Walker's relatives was filming an interview at the house and we got to talk to her and learn about how Maggie Walker's legacy continues to carry on today.

Not sure if the tour always begins from the back, but there is a ramp to the enter through the back, so that's how the tour began for us. The tour does also include the second floor, but it is not accessible nowadays, so we broke off and left the way we came in when they got to that part of the tour. Interestingly, Maggie Walker was in a wheelchair towards the end of her life due to diabetes and they had an elevator that used pulleys for her to get between the floors.

Overall accessibility was surprisingly good here, especially considering it is an old home and a smaller National Park unit. We did find the handicap stall in the bathroom almost too small, though. Also, it is just neighborhood street parking and some of the sidewalks are quite a mess from tree trunks pushing them up, but growing up in a historic neighborhood ourselves the fact it even has sidewalks the whole block is something.

Destination Info:
Maggie L. Walker NHS
600 N. 2nd St.
Richmond, VA 23219

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial

Date of Visit: September 15, 2016

After a hot and humid summer, it was nice to finally have a Thursday forecast that was clear and with a high below 80. We mainly had been waiting for a Thursday to go with Dad to get the rest of the NPS Centennial stamps on the National Mall, but we decided to also finally do Arlington House since we decided to take the metro to Arlington Cemetery and walk down the mall from that end.

The hill at Arlington Cemetery makes it quite a trek to get to the various sites, especially with Arlington House being at the top. The real annoying part, though, is the signage at Arlington Cemetery is horrible. It does have signs to the Kennedy gravesite and to the Tomb of the Unknown, but no where does it point which roads to take to get to Arlington House. Also, depending on where you are at the signs to the Tomb of the Unknown are pointing to the inaccessible stepped Crook Walk to it. Luckily, Dad had grabbed a map and we were able to figure out the most direct way to Arlington House (Mik wasn't up for the extra time to trek to the Tomb of the Unknown).

On the way to Arlington House, we stopped at the Kennedy gravesite. The stepped path up to the eternal flame is still not ideal and it is annoying that there is no ramp to get to the other part of the memorial, but at least it wasn't raining like last time we visited, so it wasn't slippery.

 We also checked out the Civil War Unknown Monument, which was on the path we discovered we needed to take to be able to get up to the Arlington House as the more obvious direct path is steps by the tour bus stop.

The paths around Arlington House and the other buildings are dirt/gravel, which Mik didn't particularly like, but for the most part they were packed down enough to be easy enough to push him through.

To visit the house there is a ramp up to the porch. The ramp up to the front door is a little awkward. Dad asked me to hold it open and I'm glad I noticed it had a stopper you could put down to hold it open because there really isn't room to stand to hold it open without getting run over.

The house is a self-guided tour and there are no signs to give any information (at least not on the first floor), but there is a ranger that you could ask for information. On the first floor there are three rooms to see and then you end up at the conservatory, which has steps down to it, so we turned around and went back out the way we came in. I think there is also a second floor and basement to tour, but since Mik couldn't access them, none of us visited them.

On the grounds, there is two slave quarters buildings, a flower garden, a kitchen garden, and a museum. The slave quarters buildings and the museum are all level with the path making them more accessible to enjoy. The slave quarters buildings just have the doors open. The museum has an automatic door button, although it wasn't working. The museum is small, but it provides a good timeline of Robert E. Lee's life and a little on the Custis family.

Our favorite part of Arlington House was L'Enfant's grave and the view overlooking D.C.

Destination Info:
Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial
Arlington Cemetery
Arlington, VA

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