Go East Old Man, Go East: If You Know the Route That You're Going to Take across the Country, or on Any Long Trip Requiring Overnight Stops, First Check with the AAA. They Maintain Lists of Accessible Motels and Hotels

Article excerpt

Heeding calls to "go back to where you came from," my wife Dot and I have bid adieu to California and have relocated to New Jersey--the state we left 23 years ago to "find our destiny" in Lah-Lah Land. I must say that I liked living in the Golden State, with its beautiful topography and the laid back lifestyle it offered. Dot, however, didn't share in my enthusiasm for the West Coast, and wanted to rejoin friends and family in the east. And I figured I owed it to her to move back, considering she's stuck with me every step of the way throughout the 45 years we've lived with MS. So last April we sold our house, packed up and proceeded to drive east.


Flying east would certainly have been quicker. The flight generally takes about six hours, although we've made it in four and a half The trip by car, however, took us five full 10-hour days of uninterrupted driving, save for a very brief break to look at the Grand Canyon. But we decided to drive because of Sasha, our Golden Retriever, who has a real problem with loud noise and practically jumps out of her skin when she hears a balloon pop. We're sure she would have had a heart attack if we took her on a plane, considering the sound of the jet engines and the fact that she would've been confined in a kennel alone in the dark belly of the plane. We doubted that drugging Sasha would have made any difference. So we drove.



All told, we stayed at six motels and two hotels during the trip and the first few days after we arrived in NJ. Though all paid lip service to the ADA's accessibility requirements, few actually proved to be truly easy to use--or useable at all--by a person using a wheelchair. Common obstacles included the following:

* None of the motels/hotels at which we stayed provided beds that were relatively low in relation to the floor. Rather, the beds at all the accommodations (except one hotel) were at least 24 inches above the ground, with the elevation of the beds at three of the motels topping 30 inches, and the bed at one motel actually being three feet above the floor. This can be a real hurdle for someone without the full use of their legs, as is yours truly. The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund says that a bed that is substantially higher than 20 inches presents a problem for most wheelchair users. It concludes that a safe and usable bed height of approximately 21 inches can be achieved with standard brand stock products and still use today's popular thicker mattresses. …


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