Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Titanic Memorial

Date of Visit: July 18, 2016

I had been meaning to walk over to the Titanic Memorial for months since we are often walking past the sign pointing to it. When I told Mik, the Titanic Memorial was a Pokemon Go gym he was like we must go see it. It wasn't about wanting to play Pokemon Go, although that is something we have been enjoying as something we can get out and do together since we tend to avoid the museums during the summer due to tourist crowds. He actually more wanted to go the memorial because he never even knew there was one and he enjoys checking out all the different memorials.

Getting to the memorial isn't exactly accessible for us, but that's because we tend to come from along the waterfront and that area is currently under construction. The problem is that while they have sidewalks open for pedestrian access through the construction area they have blocked most of the corners and not added any ramps. Going down the curb isn't a big deal and normally going up also isn't, but I'm just getting back my range of motion and strength from breaking my pinky back in April and maneuvering him over bumps is one of the main things I still struggle with. If we go the long way around from 4th & P Streets, accessibility isn't an issue (and more Pokestops).

Destination Info:
Titanic Memorial
Southwest Waterfront near 4th & P Streets SW
Washington, DC

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Birchmere: Brandy Clark and Aubrie Sellers

Date of Visit: May 18, 2016

After Mik somewhat enjoyed the Carrie Underwood concert, I convinced him to try out my favorite venue, The Birchmere. I figured even if he didn't like the show he would at least enjoy the dinner part.

The way seating works at The Birchmere is at 5pm they open and you get a line number at the box office when you come in. We always aim to get there about 4:45pm and the line outside really varies in the length depending on the show, such as we were like 100 last month for Vince Gill and The Time Jumpers and last year for Brandy Clark we were in the first 10. Also, the first time we went we didn't know to arrive before it opened and were near the end of the numbers for The Oak Ridge Boys and really there isn't a bad place to sit.

After you have your line number you can hang out in the bar area that they use for Flex Stage shows. There are some tables to sit at, but depending on the show they can end up all claimed quickly. From the bar you can order drinks and chips and salsa while waiting for them to start calling line numbers to go in for the show around 6pm.

This time we were about 30 from the front, but they ended up waving us over to go in right before they started calling numbers. As someone who has experience with the line numbers, I find this a little unfair considering most of the seating is accessible since you just have to move a chair from the table. However, it does make sense that it is less disruptive to just have you go in first and have your spot before it gets crowded and harder to maneuver.

I usually go for one of the tables on the raised areas to the side, but since we've never tried the center area, we decided to try one the end of one of the front long tables right in the center. The view was probably better than some of the side places I've ended up choosing before, but those side spots right next to the bars mean no heads in the way. Mik found the lighting to be too bright, so next time I think he'd probably like the raised areas on the side better, too.

This time he went with the shrimp tempura on the specials menu. He also enjoyed the soft pretzels and crab dip appetizer that I order almost every time we come. His favorite was probably the chocolate lava cake he had for dessert, though.

Mik ended up enjoying the music, especially the opener Aubrie Sellers (I had been excited she was added after we had tickets because I had chosen Brandy Clark's show over another Aubrie Sellers was opening because I prefer The Bichmere over other venues). However, even before the show he had declared he had to come back because there were at least four headliners (the entree part of the menu) he wanted to try. I guess I'll be getting tickets for him to go with to see The Oak Ridge Boys and Chip.

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

Carrie Underwood The Storyteller Tour: Stories in the Round at Verizon Center

Date of Visit: February 25, 2016

Five years later and Mik still has only been to two NBA arenas, but he has now seen his first concert at one (and probably last). I had been trying to see The Swon Brothers for over a year including going to the Opry when they were supposed to play and then their date to play there got changed to another month. When they were announced to be opening for Carrie Underwood I was tempted to get tickets. However, I don't like arena concerts and wasn't really interested in seeing Carrie Underwood live, although I like her music. When I told Mik he got all excited because he loves Carrie Underwood, so we decided to get tickets.

We had tickets in the wheelchair row of Section 416. Finding the elevator was a little confusing, but there were plenty of staff to help direct. We actually would've found it from the first person's directions as he said it was over under the Green Turtle sign, but when I told Mom and she went over there she didn't notice because it's an entrance to the arena and easy to miss with the security there. The second person we asked actually escorted us over to it. On the way down we found a closer elevator that is more obvious right on the concourse and I definitely recommend avoiding the Green Turtle one because it's just too crowded of an area with people coming in and not being any space when someone was trying to exit elevator before we could get on.

Our seats in Section 416 were actually surprisingly good. The view was good and Mik especially liked how they showed the performers on the screens. What was really cool, though, is they cover the rows in front of the handicap section, which means they don't sell those seats to keep people from standing up and blocking your view as tends to happens at concerts. The usher wouldn't even let people stand there for a photo more than thirty minutes before the concert started. He also tried to keep people from exiting the section through the handicap area, which really was annoying because the stairs end right by the seats so they should be turning to the regular aisle to exit but they would come past whenever he wasn't watching.

Only thing Mik didn't like was there were no cup holders in the wheelchair section, which he was aware of from going to Wizards games, but this time I noticed that the regular seats do in fact have them, which is when the lack of cup holders at sports venues really annoys him. It was also is a little awkward with them having black curtains blocking the entrances to the sections, but I get it serves a purpose for the lighting effects of the show.

We both really enjoyed The Swon Brothers and it was worth going just for them, but we really should've left when Mom joked that now we can go when they were done (Her and I did that after Mickey Guyton last year.).

I like Easton Corbin's music, but we both found his performance just mostly bad. It sounded bad for a the majority of it and he wasn't as entertaining. Mik said it was so boring that he almost fell asleep. We both agreed they have the opening acts in the wrong order.

All along Mik wasn't exactly planning to stay for the whole concert. He just wanted to hear Carrie Underwood perform at least one song. After the first song, he was ready to go. Mostly he was ready to go early because he was tired and also didn't want to deal with the post-concert crowd on the metro.

Mik said that he may have lasted longer if Easton Corbin hasn't been uninteresting, but mostly the lights were just way too much once Carrie Underwood went on. Thus, he's never going to another big concert except maybe for just the opener. However, he has been reminded he likes live music (He used to spend the whole WIT Grand National rallies listening to the performers.) and we're going to take him to our favorite venue, The Birchmere, to see Brandy Clark in a few months. Of course, another Nashville trip with balcony seats for the Opry is on our to do list, too.

Destination Info:
Verizon Center
601 F St
Washington, DC 20004

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Walt Disney World: Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village Accessible 2-Bedroom Lock Off Villa

Date of Visit: January 2-9, 2016

Since we usually aren't into planning our WDW trips that far in advance, we've only stayed at our home resort one other time, which was when we did Club Level for the WDW Marathon. Even 11 months out, I couldn't get Club Level this time, but definitely not bad to have Animal Kingdom as our home resort and being able to easily get a Savannah View, which everyone loved and more than makes up for the drawbacks of this resort.

The 2-Bedroom Lock Off is a Studio and 1-Bedroom Villa combined. Both the Studio and the Master Bathroom of the 1-Bedroom part have accessible bathrooms.

The Studio bathroom had a tub. There was no shower chair, but usually you can request one if needed for this type of room.

The Master bathroom had a roll in shower as well as a whirlpool tub. It was also very spacious, so Mik enjoyed just claiming this as his room to hang out in. Best of all, this roll in shower was properly designed and did not flood the bathroom, which was our one complaint when we stayed at the Jambo House.

The 1-Bedroom also has a bathroom when you first enter that has a roll under sink, but no grab bars or extra space, so not exactly what we would consider accessible. However, it is definitely convenient to have that extra bathroom.

The kitchen area is decent accessibility wise, although it really is limited on the counter space. We didn't end up caring to cook at all this trip, though, so that wasn't a real issue.

The living room area was a good area for us all to hang out in (and for Mom to take over and work while we were in the parks). While for Mik the door entry style to the balcony is easier to use, the sliding door style with the lip does make more sense with the living room furniture setup.

The Studio made a good bedroom for the 3 adults and 1-year-old that used it, although it is the same too crowded style that is why we have never done a studio with Mik again (It's the space that ends up in the accessible bathroom that makes an accessible studio too crowded to comfortably stay in for us). It also would've been crowded for them if it wasn't part of a 2-Bedroom Lock Off because the only reason it really worked was that they put the crib in front of the door to the room and we all just used the 1-Bedroom entrance.

The Master Bedroom has a king sized bed and plenty of space to be comfortable accessibility wise.

Of course, the best part of the Villa is the balcony and being able to see various animals throughout the day. It really is what makes staying at the Animal Kingdom Villas so enjoyable. Otherwise, it's kind of an undesirable resort in that other resorts are closer to the parks (our favorite being the Boardwalk and other ones on the lake with Hollywood Studios and Epcot). Also, now that we've stayed at both Kidani and Jambo, we'd definitely prefer to be at Jambo (and not just because we had Club Level there that time).

Main thing I didn't like about this stay was that we were at Kidani Village and the quick service restaurant is over at Jambo House, which really isn't that far away but just enough to be mostly inconvenient. It wasn't that big a deal this trip because we did end up spending a lot of time in the parks and at least for breakfast they had some hot sandwiches and oatmeal in the little store at Kidani. However, definitely makes me not consider this as a place to stay in planning future trips when it's just us because we've often relied on the quick service places at the resorts for meals, especially dinner.

Destination Info:
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village
3701 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-8410

Friday, January 15, 2016

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - Meet Sorcerer Mickey

 Date of Visit: January 8, 2016

When heading to Toy Story Mania for our Fastpass+ time on our last day, we found that there was a Meet Sorcerer Mickey next door and there was pretty much no line (and we still ended up having to wait a few minutes for our Fastpass time afterwards). Definitely, never seen a Mickey character experience where you didn't have to wait in line. Plus, we've never managed to do a Sorcerer Mickey photo before and it's the one time Mik extremely willingly posed this trip because he knows it's my favorite character.

Destination Info:
Disney's Hollywood Studios - Meet Sorcerer Mickey on Mickey Avenue
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom - Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall

 Date of Visit: January 5, 2016

Mik may have once been into meeting characters when he was little, but I don't think he ever liked the princesses. Thus, this was not exactly his thing to do, but he was a good sport and went along since we had a Fastpass+ to do the Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall.

The setting for this character meet was the least interesting to Mik overall, but just because he isn't really into the Disney castle stuff. He did appreciate that we discovered a storybook page featuring Snow White in the room where the princesses were. However, it would've been better if it was in English; and it is kind of odd with it not being Snow White's castle or even a meet and greet featuring Snow White.

While overall I really dislike the whole Fastpass+ thing and having to really plan out what you want a month in advance versus the old day of Fastpass system, but we definitely wouldn't have done the characters if we hadn't ended up not wanting our Epcot choices and deciding the day before to switch to Magic Kingdom with only the character meets and 'it's a small world' being our options.

Destination Info:
Magic Kingdom -Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom - Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater

Date of Visit: January 5, 2015

Meet Mickey Mouse in the Magic Kingdom was one of the Fastpass+ selections I made since it seemed a requirement that Nora meet Mickey on her first Disney trip and if she ended up not being into characters at least we didn't spend too long in line to find that out. Turns out that this Mickey talks and it was the rest of us that were more freaked out by the experience than Nora.

Mik again wasn't into "meeting" the character, but he particularly enjoyed the props in the room Mickey was in as it is set up as if you are backstage meeting Magician Mickey and they had his trunk open with his suit and other things for his performance.

Destination Info:
Magic Kingdom - Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
Lake Buena Vista, FL