Road Trip

Seattle, Washington to Albany, Oregon

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I have loved road trips all my life.  I especially love riding in the car with my beloved pusher as night gathers and stars take the sky or as the gray rain drives down.  The car is an intimate space for talking and sharing music or a book on tape, and “heading down the highway” is a compelling if incorrect metaphor for our lives.

However, since arthritis has settled into my hip, knee, and shoulder joints, I can barely last an hour in the car before the pain catapults me out.  Therefore, it was with some anxiety that I began the trip to Jonathan and Maddi’s wedding in Oregon.  Jonathan is a deeply loved young man whom we rocked to sleep when he was two days old and whom we have walked with through all the days since.  Maddi, his bride, is a lovely and courageous young woman whom we have known and loved for all the years that Jonathan has known and loved her.  There was no way we were NOT going to that wedding!


Armed with a heating pad that plugs into our car lighter space, pillows to brace my knee against the car door, and ibuprofen–and tilting my car seat to the setting suggested by my beautiful and brilliant physical therapist–we headed out.

Jon and Maddi’s wedding was wonderful, but this review only tells the ADA part of the story.  It includes reviews of a motel and restaurant in Castle Rock, WA; a motel, restaurant, and wedding venue in Albany, OR; and three bathrooms in between.  The URLs for all reviewed sites are listed at the end of this review.


Continue reading Road Trip

Theo’s Chocolate Factory Tour

3400 Phinney Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98103

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In 2006, Theo Chocolate became the first 100% organic and fair trade—from bean to bar—chocolate factory in North America, and this little brick palace of deliciousness and moral goodness is right here in Seattle.  A tour of the factory only costs $10, and from start to finish, it is a crowd-pleaser for anyone between the ages of 5 and 105.  You will want to get there early to spend some time in the Theo’s shop, sampling all the bars, oogling the beautiful confections, and checking out specialty items before you move to the entrance for the tour.  You can honestly have a full meal of chocolate there among the samples.


Before the tour begins, you will be asked to don hair nets, beard nets, and—if you are wearing open-toed shoes—foot nets.

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Once you’ve entered the tour room, you’ll learn the “bean to bar” story from one of Theo’s amazing tour guides.  I’ve taken this tour three times, and every time, the guide has been funny, charming, knowledgeable, and kind.  Beans are passed around; nibs are shared; more chocolate is imbibed.  Think of this seated part of the tour as dessert after the lunch you just ate in the shop.


The tour moves from this seated area to the small factory, where machines that look as though they came straight out of Willy Wonka are making their magic right before your eyes.  At the end of the tour, as others move up the stairs and into the shop, you will take a door to the sidewalk that takes you back to the shop.  And you will want to go back to that shop to purchase everything you have just tasted.


Although the tour is both a joy and accessible, there are a few challenges in it that you’ll need to be prepared for if you have mobility concerns.  Continue reading Theo’s Chocolate Factory Tour