Thursday, June 30, 2011

Foster and Marsh Islands Trail

   Aptly named! This trail and boardwalk can be very wet so come prepared to remove your shoes.

   The trail isn’t handicapped accessible. There are numerous steps and very steep sections along the boardwalk.

   A large parking lot is located at the west end of the trail behind the Museum of History & Industry.  Trail
47.64596, -122.2915

Washington Park Arboretum

    Most of the paths in this park are fairly narrow, uneven, and up or down hill. However Azalea Way, shown above, is wide, level, and composed of hard packed sand and small gravel - 1 1/2 miles out and back. Arboretum Drive, closed to traffic, is another option but it’s hilly and most wheelchair users will need help.

  Update - A new paved trail that parallels Lake Washington Blvd has been constructed. The trail connects to Arboretum Drive making a totally paved loop. 

   There are small parking lots throughout the park and a bigger one at the visitor center. There may not be enough space to park a large RV. Caution – do not drive a large vehicle on Lake Washington Blvd. There’s a bridge with a 9’ clearance.   Arboretum
47.63604, -122.29504

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

    The museum is housed in the East Kong Yick Building, originally built by Chinese immigrants in 1910 as a hotel. It was founded as a memorial to Wing Luke, the first Asian American to hold elected office in the Pacific Northwest.  He won a city council seat in 1962 and fought for civil rights, urban renewal., and historic preservation. Tragically he never got to finish his work, dying in a small plane in 1965.

   Admission to the museum includes a guided tour of the upper floors of the building – boarding house rooms, a communal kitchen, and a social club meeting hall. The self guided area includes several art galleries with changing exhibits, a gallery with  immigration stories and several rooms with information about individual countries and the reasons for immigrating to the US from each country. All areas are accessible.

  Parking is very limited. There’s some on street parking and a few small lots. We opted for parking out of town and taking the light rail. The museum is located about four blocks from the station – up hill with poor curb cuts and uneven sidewalks.  Most wheelchair uses will need help.  Museum
47.59814, -122.32299

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Museum of History & Industry

    The museum is moving to a new location in late 2012 so all of this information will soon be outdated. But for now.. this is a very interesting museum covering early Seattle history and touching on all important events that effected the city such as the Alaskan gold rush, the great depression, and the WTO protests.

  Update – the new museum is opened!
    We haven’t visited it yet but our daughter who lives in Seattle did and sent us a review and a photograph.  “If you want an update for MOHAI in Seattle, I went to the new museum building today - it's very nice. They've definitely designed the place with accessibility in mind - all the exhibits are low enough to reach and some of them even move up and down. There is a lot, but no vehicles over 20 feet tall or 25 feet long can use it, so that rules out most RVs. The closest place you could park a RV is probably over near Seattle Center, which would be a bit of a hike. The best way to get there is to take the South Lake Union Street Car from downtown.  ”  Museum
47.62716, -122.3367

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kubota Garden

   This garden combines the lushness of the northwest with a more manicured traditional Japanese garden. The area was logged swampland when it was bought by Fujitaro Kubota  in 1927. He worked on it throughout his life transforming it with paths, waterfalls, pools, and many trees and plants. After his death in 1973 it was in danger of being destroyed by developers.The city bought it in 1987, opening it to the public free of charge.

  The garden map shows an ADA route but most wheelchair users will need help because it’s built on a hillside and the paths are sand and fine gravel.

  The road in is narrow, one way, with some encroachment by bushes and trees. The parking lot is pretty small but large RVs can fit parked longways.  Garden
47.51324, -122.26587

Monday, June 20, 2011

Emerald Queen Casino in Fife

   We’re visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Seattle for few weeks so posts will be a little sporadic.

  There are two Emerald Queen casinos just a couple of miles apart along I-5. The one in Tacoma is a lot bigger than the one in Fife. Both are very smoky. We’ve stayed overnight in both lots but the Fife casino is better for handicapped people –shorter distance from the parking area to the casino and easier to get around once inside the casino. Both have very heavy chairs. The employees and other visitors are quick to offer help with moving the chairs.

  The comp system is unusual. After you get a club card you can register for  a meal voucher (known as “starting” ).  Gamble for two hours and you receive a voucher for either $20.00 or $25.00 ,the price of the buffet for that day. The voucher can be used at any restaurant at either casino but must be used all at one time. We prefer the Tatoosh Grill and buffet at the Fife location.There aren’t any other comps and you don’t use your card in the machines.

  RV parking is in the north lot (it’s actually an east lot  because I-5 turns east for a little bit at this point ) . It’s not very big but it’s never crowded. I’m not sure of the rules for overnight RV parking but we’re stayed in the Fife lot many times without a problem. We were asked to move once while at the Tacoma location because the lot was full due to a concert.  Casino
47.24239, -122.35124

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lucky Eagle Casino

   View of the casino from the RV parking area at the south end of the lot-just follow the signs. It’s posted as day time RV parking but staying overnight is allowed. The casino has a full hookup RV park too but it’s a few miles away. A shuttle bus runs between the two.

  2016 UPDATE:  The casino now has 15 RV sites at the far end of the hotel parking lot. All have electric and water but 6 are marked as day parking or overnight dry camping. Dry camping is free. The RV park is still in operation.
   The casino is accessible – automatic doors, easy to reach money and card slots on the machines and a fair amount of room in the aisles. The chairs are pretty easy to pull or shove out of the way.  Casino
46.81201, -123.1542

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rocky Butte Vista Point

    Rocky Butte is part of the same volcanic basalt that formed the cliffs of the Grotto. A road climbs around the knob and forms a circular drive at the top. There’s room to park and see part of the view. To get the best views you must climb a long set of steps or push up a very steep gravel driveway. All wheelchair users will need help to get up the hill. At the top is a large level grassy area with a stone wall around the edges and a 270 degree view of the greater Portland area.  Vista Point
45.54582, -122.56626

The Grotto

    Father Ambrose Mayer had this grotto carved into the cliff-side to fulfill a childhood promise. The land was an old railroad quarry and is now a two level garden with winding paths and religious statues. We only saw the first level and I think that we missed a major potion of the gardens. An elevator accesses the second level. Tokens ($4.00) from the gift shop are required to use the elevator.

   The gift shop and chapel are accessible. The gardens and grotto are semi-accessible. There’s a ramp that bypasses the first set of stairs at the grotto. This is also the way to get to the elevator. The second level of stairs, shown in the picture above, doesn’t have a ramp. The first level of the garden has a paved path with a pretty steep up and downhill. Most people in wheelchairs will need some help.

    The parking lot is large enough for RVs parked across the spaces. Grotto
    45.55312, -122.57334

Monday, June 13, 2011

Historic Columbia River Highway-West Section

    Built between 1913 and 1922, this is the first scenic highway in the United States. Sections of it are very narrow and windy but the waterfalls and views are fantastic. The western section is about twenty four miles long,from Bonneville Dam to Troutdale and passes by many famous landmarks. Parking for RVs is very limited.

  Handicapped access is pretty good considering the terrain. Going west the first waterfall is Horsetail Falls. Parking is on the opposite side of the road with good curb cuts and a good viewing area at the falls. Next is the most photographed  Multnomah Falls.  A long, wide, sloped walkway leads to the base of the falls with very good views. The bridge spanning the falls at the midway point is only accessible by stairs and a steep path. 014The Multnomah Lodge has a information center with brochures and informative displays. Wahkeena Falls, just a short way down the road, is accessible by a steep dirt path. Latourell Falls is almost hidden by the trees. There’s a steep paved path that leads to the bottom. The next stop after the falls is Vista House at Crown Point –breathtaking views of the Columbia River. The sidewalk is too narrow for most wheelchairs but there’s a long ramp to the Vista House patio where the views are excellent. An unusual elevator that pops up from the floor accesses the lower level where there’s a gift shop, restrooms, and historical displays.     038
To get a picture of Crown Point stop at Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.  Historic Highway

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Herman Creek Campground/Horse Camp

   This is a small, eight campsite, national forest campground. Some of the sites are really big but the road to the campground is one lane with a few tight turns so I wouldn’t recommend taking large motorhomes up the hill to the campground.

  None of the campsites are handicapped accessible but the ground is packed dirt and pine needles so rolling is easy. The vault toilet is accessible. Our site had a table with a long overhang.  Campground
45.68285, -121.84352

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum


  One section of this museum houses a full scale replica of a fishwheel – a huge rotating piece of equipment that stood in the river and scooped up thousands of spawning salmon to be shipped to canning houses.  There’s also a 1921 logging truck and a steam engine from a sawmill. The rest of the museum has exhibits about the local history and people.

  The museum is accessible. Both theaters  have room for wheelchairs along the side of the regular seating. An outside area has old equipment which can be viewed from your vehicle as long as the road barriers aren’t in place. The gravel on the road is a little too loose for easy pushing.

 The parking area has long spaces for buses or you can park across the car spaces.  Gorge Museum
45.68527, -121.89901

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum

    This is a very good museum with exhibits covering the formation of the Columbia River Gorge, Native Americans, Lewis and Clarkm and the Oregon trail pioneers.

    The museum is fairly accessible. There are a few exhibits that are a little high. One section of the Lewis and Clark exhibit has a dugout canoe in the middle of the floor and there isn’t enough room for a wheelchair to pass by it to get to some of the displays. The nature trail is smooth asphalt. It connects to another trail, the River Front Trail. We followed the River Front Trail for about a mile. It’s a beautiful trail but the first two tenths of a mile are downhill and the rest has slight grades. The entire trail is about nine miles out and back. Most wheelchair users will need some help on the hills.

   The parking lot is really big with long spaces for RVs. Museum     Trail
   45.65392, -121.21045

Friday, June 10, 2011

Avery Park Fishing Area Camping

    This is a small gravel lot along the Columbia River with a few picnic tables, a vault toilet, and a boat ramp. It’s a Native American Treaty Fishing Access site managed by the federal government which means that it’s opened to the general public except during salmon runs. It has a nice river view but there’s one problem – a parallel train track with a road crossing. Trains run all day and night so every few hours  there’s a whistle blast at the crossing.  We slept through it but if you’re a light sleeper skip this one. Avery Park
45.66258, -121.03616

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maryhill Museum of Art

   Seattle businessman, Sam Hill, built the museum intending it to be his home - part of his vision for a utopian farming community located along the Columbia River. When the community didn’t materialize a friend convinced him to turn the house into an art museum. The art in the museum came from Sam Hill’s own collections and those of his friends who included the Queen of Romania so it’s a pretty eclectic assortment - Rodin sculptures, Romanian furniture and artifacts, icons, paintings, and a collection of great Native American baskets.

   The setting of the museum is gorgeous, high above the Columbia River gorge with views in all directions. There’s a large lawn, many trees, a sculpture garden, and a short trail with informative signs leading to an overlook.

   The museum is accessible. It was built with a wide driveway that went into the reception hall and is now the wheelchair ramp. It’s a little steep and doesn’t have handrails. The sculpture garden is in soft grass without trails. You can see most of it from the sidewalk edge. The overlook trail is asphalt, accessible but a little steep in spots.

  Follow the signs for RV parking. The lot is large and gravel. There’s a sidewalk at the far end that leads to the wheelchair ramp. It’s also possible to drop passengers at the ramp and continue around to the RV parking. Art Museum
45.67758, -120.86407

Stonehenge Memorial

    The Memorial is almost an exact replica of the original Stonehenge except it’s intact and is made of reinforced concrete. It was built by Seattle businessman, Sam Hill, a pacifist Quaker, as a reminder of the sacrifices of soldiers and the folly of war.

   The parking area is hard packed dirt and gravel so rolling is fairly easy but inside the circle the gravel is very loose in spots and it’s impossible to move around. Wonderful views of the river gorge if you can get to the cliff side of the monument.

   There’s room for any size of  RV in the lot. Stonehenge
45.69438, -120.80602

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

John Day Dam on the Columbia River-Primitive Camping

  There isn’t much here – just a flat rocky area with a vault toilet but the view is beautiful. There’s a boat launch and you can fish from the river bank. Permitted length of stay is seven days.

  The ground is covered with medium size river rock so rolling is hard. It’s also very windy.

  The camping area is large enough for any size of RV. John Day Dam Camping
  45.69302, -120.75544

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint

    This is a small rest area with handicapped restrooms, picnic tables, and a short trail along the cliff.  An old highway bridge across the gorge, opened to pedestrians only now that a new bridge has been built, allows good views of the 300’ basalt cliff walls and the Crooked River.

  The paved paths leading to the restrooms continue to a walkway along the cliff. The paths are not very smooth with some holes and heaved sections. A stone wall blocks part of the view to the bottom of the canyon. The walkway ends at steps where it joins the bridge. The best way to get out onto the bridge is to return to the parking lot and use the old road section which leads to the bridge. The railing of the bridge blocks some of the view but from this point you can see both the railroad bridge (above) and the new highway bridge.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV. Overnight parking is permitted. Scenic Overlook
44.39037, -121.19533

Monday, June 6, 2011

Camping on Public Land for Just One Night

   We’re still on our way to Seattle and then hopefully to Alaska but we’re not in much of a hurry so we’ve been taking some pretty remote back roads – Route 140 through northwest Nevada and south central Oregon and then north on Route 31 in Oregon-beautiful!. Almost all of the country that we’ve been traveling through is BLM or national forest land. Finding a camping spot is easy in the western US because so much of the land is public. The forests have plateaus and trees are widely spaced. There are dirt roads everywhere.

   But a few tips if you want to try boondocking. Get some good maps. I have a map published by the Bureau of Land Management that shows all of their land. It’s old and not very detailed. I really need to get a new one but it works for now. I also use a Rand McNally road map to locate national forest. This isn’t very good either. It would be much better to get maps at each forest’s visitor center especially if you’re going to boondock deep in the forest. Since we only want a good spot for one night my poor maps work fine. First I check to make sure that we’re on public land. Sometimes it very easy because there are signs! Other things to look for are forest road markers – little brown ones with numbers , gates with signs requesting that they be closed behind you ( BLM grazing land) and clues left by previous campers such as fire rings and clearings.

  Update -rules have changed. The forest service is closing many roads to motor vehicles and is only allowing dispersed camping in designated spots within a certain distance from the road. Here's a page of links to the opened roads in each forest-
Each forest is working on a map with the camping spots identified. While looking through the information I found a great map with links to all of the forests and grasslands - Maps

   For just one night we rarely travel more than a mile from the main road. Most of the time we can see it from our camp space. When we decide to stop for the day we start looking for a good dirt road- one that is maintained to some degree ,wide enough with no low branches and we drive in until we find a large enough clearing. This might be just off the road or sometimes at the junction of two roads. We’re not too particular because it’s just for one night. Do not drive cross country as this is not legal. It tears up the land which can take decades to recover.

   Our spot for tonight(above) is just off of Route 31. There’s hardly any traffic on Route 31 and even that will disappear when it gets dark. We could drive farther in on the dirt road but it looks like it might rain and we don’t want to get really muddy so this clearing under the trees will be perfect.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Water Canyon Recreation Area

    We often camp on BLM land. I’ve been marking some of the spots on the state maps but not posting about them however this one is so nice that it deserves a post. The first four or five sites overlook the city of Winnemucca. The second site with a shelter over the picnic tables has a vault toilet and a dumpster. We didn’t check out the other sites that are farther up the canyon.

  The tables have a long overhang and the toilets are handicapped accessible. The ground is hard packed dirt and small gravel-rolling is fairly easy.

  The sites are large enough for any size RV. The dirt road is good but may be a little messy in wet weather. Water Canyon Camping
40.92978, -117.6744

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Churchill County Museum

   This is a small museum with some very good displays about the history of Fallon, Nevada and the surrounding area.

   Most of it is accessible. The entrance doors are a bit heavy, a few of the signs are hard to read, and there are two ramps that are a little too steep but you don’t need to use them to see the displays.

  The parking lot is small. Large RVs can park on the street in front of the museum. Churchill County Museum
39.46503, -118.77729