Seattle, Washington to Albany, Oregon
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.
Castle Rock, Washington
Mt. St. Helens Motel. Because my time in the car is limited, we broke up the trip down with a night at the Mt. St. Helens Motel in Castle Rock, WA, and it was lucky we did. Traffic leaving Seattle at 3 p.m. on a nondescript Thursday stretched a 2.5 hour trip to a 4 hour frustration. Castle Rock, by the way, is a sweet little town with a bakery, a library, and countless huge baskets of gorgeous flowers lining the streets.
We picked the Mt. St. Helens Motel largely because of this review on tripadviser.com:
“I was so happy to stay in a motel that was ADA user friendly in every way. Not only did our room have an ADA toilet with grab bars, it also had a walk-in-shower.”
The people working in the motel were amazingly accommodating and warm, and the room was fine for the night. There was ample space for my wheelchair, an armless straight-backed chair in the room in addition to two with arms, and a queen-sized bed that was a little on the hard side. There were good grab bars around the toilet. The shower was “walk-in”—as reported in the tripadviser review, but not “roll-in”—as I had to step over a three-inch lip to enter it. I can do that, but it’s a scary experience, especially if floors are wet.
Parker’s Restaurant and Brewery. Parker’s is just across a span of crumbled and bumbled asphalt from the Mt. St. Helens Motel. Although the trip to it is a bit bumpity, the entrance to the restaurant is smooth and wide. Two extra-large wheelchair logos attached to the building let people with permits know where to park and lead to a two-door entry that is flat as the Midwest and easily navigated.
Parker’s has tables and booths, and the wait staff are quick and sweet about helping you to an easy table and pulling the chair away so you can roll up to it.
Parker’s features locally brewed beers and a huge menu that includes pasta, steaks, and the baked halibut with Parmesan curl you see in the photo below. I did not use the bathroom at Parker’s because it was a short trip back to our room, but I’d bet that it has a handicapped stall, because in every other way, the restaurant was accessible.
Phoenix Inn and Suites. About 2.5 hours from Castle Rock, we checked into the Phoenix Inn and Suites in Albany, OR. If you’re traveling in a wheelchair to Albany or Corvallis and need a place to stay, you should check out Room 105 in this motel. It’s the best ADA room I’ve ever been in, and I have stayed in rooms that were much more expensive!
The room is spacious, making it easy to maneuver in a chair or with a walker. There’s a comfortable loveseat in the room and a wonderful king-sized bed that is not too high to get into and that is the perfect level of soft/hardness.
The bathroom in this room is also great! It’s big with grab bars around the toilet, as well as next to the roll-in shower. The shower has a detachable shower head, a wide bench, and a soap and shampoo dispenser within easy reach. Note: I could not have detached that shower head from a seated position without the help of my pusher or a grabber.
The door to Room 105 is heavy, but it does have a peep-hole in it at the eye-level of someone seated in a chair.
I wish I could carry this room with me on every trip!
Burgerville. Oh, please, stop at Burgerville! I have no idea if the Albany restaurant is ADA accessible because I only drove through–three times in about 36 hours to be exact. But I would bet that a place that sources local foods and purchases wind energy credits to replace 100% of the energy used at all 40 of its Oregon and lower Washington locations would take care to be ADA compliant.
I didn’t know about the wind energy when I first drove through the place. I was just looking for an easy, quick salad. After a pretty awesome smoked salmon salad, I just had to go back later and drive through for a halibut burger, and a few perfect fries from the Burgerville in Albany. And it only made sense to pick up breakfast sandwiches from there on our way out of town.
When I got back from the trip, I went to Burgerville’s website and learned a little more about the company’s philosophy and practices. For example, this:
“Burgers here are made from pastured, vegetarian-fed, and antibiotic-free beef. The eggs on our breakfast biscuits are from cage-free hens that have never been treated with antibiotics. Salads offer mixed greens topped with smoked salmon and Oregon hazelnuts. Even desserts and sides rely on seasonal, local ingredients – blackberry milkshakes are only available in season, as are the hand-prepared buttermilk-battered onion rings made from Walla Walla sweet onions grown in Washington and Oregon.”
Sadly, I wasn’t near a Burgerville when they were selling Walla Walla onion rings or fried asparagus spears, and I’m trying to avoid milkshakes, but we did order the locally-grown fried green beans (with garlic aioli dipping sauce). Heaven.
This local chain cut the prices of some of its most popular items about a year ago. It knocked a few items below $5 and others below $4 because of its mission to “provide the highest quality, freshest food possible at an affordable price.” Go to Burgerville and get yourself something yummy from a place that makes you feel good to give them your hard-earned cash.
The Wheelhouse. The Wheelhouse event center in Albany is beautiful and 100% wheelchair accessible. It is clean and bright inside, with arched windows and a wide deck overlooking the Willamette River.
There are several handicapped parking spots close to the building, and although the entry into the space has a little bit of a threshold, it is pretty easy to get over. The space is big enough to accommodate many tables and chairs with room for wheelchairs to move among them. A lovely bench on the deck allows you to sit with friends and watch a sunset mark its path in the river.
The bathroom at the Wheelhouse is completely accessible—two stalls, one equipped with grab bars and space for a chair, and roll-under sinks for hand-washing.
If you are in a wheelchair and have friends getting married, celebrating anniversaries, or hosting any other event in the Albany/Corvallis area, recommend this venue. Their other friends with mobility challenges will thank you. The Wheelhouse is great for people needing ADA accommodations, and it is a beautiful site for a celebration.
Between Seattle and Albany: Starbucks’ Bathrooms
As I have said elsewhere on this site, if you don’t want to worry about wet floors, waiting, and other challenges in freeway rest areas, try Starbucks. We used Starbucks’ bathrooms in Fife, Centralia, and Hazel Dell.
All had handicapped parking close to the door and ramped curbs to the flat entries. All had single-person bathrooms, so people who need help can feel comfortable taking someone in with them. All were clean and well-laid out, with plenty of space for wheelchairs, grab bars around the toilet, easy reach to toilet paper, and accessible sinks. All gave us the chance to buy a latte, some fruit, or a cookie on our way out.
I am very grateful for the kind service that Starbucks doesn’t even know it is providing for my fellow wheelchair travelers and me.
What the Pusher Has to Say
Castle Rock, WA. The push across the asphalt from the Mt. St. Helens Motel to Parker’s Restaurant is a little tense because the area you have to traverse is dark, and people are pulling into the restaurant lot in their cars. Parker’s was very easy to get into–nice and flat with good tables. The bed in the Mt. St. Helens Motel was hard, but my request for extra pillows was met with immediate helpfulness. The staff at this motel are just excellent, and we would stay there again without any problem.
Albany, OR. It was totally easy to get around. The Phoenix Inn had great access, although not being able to prop the door to the room open was a small challenge. The Wheelhouse was wonderful–flat, easy to get in and out, lots of handicapped parking, nice bathrooms.
In-between. A universal shout-out to Starbucks’ bathrooms and Starbucks’ accessibility. They are totally wonderful.
Burgerville halibut sandwich, www.foodspotting.com
Burgerville green beans, https://www.facebook.com/GreshamBurgerville
Burgerville Walla Walla Sweet onion rings, www. burgerville.com Wheelhouse building, www.democratherald.com
Starbucks’ bathroom, blog.bestplg.com