Category Archives: Other

CenturyLink Field

800 Occidental Ave S. Ste 100
Seattle, WA 98134

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How do you separate a field from its teams or its fans?  We went to CenturyLink Field to see Major League Soccer—the Seattle Sounders’ opening game.  We were quickly swept up by what seemed to be a magical combination of people and events–by the beautiful feet and minds of Dempsey and Martins;  by the fans’ surround-sound singing and ritualized scarf waving; and by strangers, standing for the whole of the game, high-fiving us when we scored.


People working at the field offered help, asked if we were having a good time, and told us to be sure to come back.  Even the traffic jam getting into the field was exciting because we were stopped right in front of the fans’ March to the Match and the Sound Wave’s boisterous marching band.

And we won the game!—3-zip, a win complete with a Martins’ flip and a set-up and pass so beautiful it made you cry.   This is not a game for the ironic; you have to be full-out in love.  You have to wear your heart loudly on your blue and green jacket.


In the face of all that joy and energy, paying attention to inclines and doorways can get a little lost, but there was really not much to notice.  CenturyLink Field is fully accessible for soccer fans in wheelchairs—and football fans, as well.  The field’s website provides information about services for disabled fans, so check the site out:

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Cirque du Soleil – Kurios

Marymoor Park
6046 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway NE
Redmond, WA 98052

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Our lovely daughter and handsome son-in-law gave us tickets to the Cirque du Soleil touring show (here till March 22), so on a very dark and very stormy night, we drove across the lake to Marymoor Park to see the show.  This was the second time we had been treated to the Cirque.  The first time visiting a new place can be a bit anxiety-producing both for me and my beloved pusher.  I worry about bathrooms and having to damage others’ feet and coats to get to my seat; he worries about me worrying.  Going to the Cirque du Soleil this second time was a known entity and so seemed easy.


Based in Montreal, Quebec Canada,  Cirque du Soleil is at once magical, comic,  heart-stopping, and otherworldly.  The performers are beautiful and strong, and the sets are gorgeous.  This version—entitled “Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities”—was steampunky—nodding simultaneously to a romanticized past with its manual typewriters and graceful phonographs, to a robotic future, and to an imagined time when people flew in gorgeous, open-cockpit, bat-winged airplanes.


Cirque does an excellent job of accommodating wheelchair visitors, beginning with the ticketing process.  Tickets for handicapped spots can be purchased online or with the phone assistance of a kind staff person, and the Cirque website makes both options easy.

At the performance, the Cirque staff also kindly accommodates handicapped viewers, with only one glitch on this visit.

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University Book Store

4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

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I have deep affection for many material things in the world, and two categories of things that I love the most are books and office supplies. Therefore, it is not surprising that I have spent many hours of my life at the University Book Store.  I can’t pay a better tribute to the worlds, characters, experiences, and truths that books open up to us than those already paid by writers far more eloquent than I am.


Therefore, let me move to a tribute to office supplies:  those lovely gel, rolling ball, and ballpoint pens—how beautifully they slip along the sweet slightly absorbent pages of those many-colored, lined and unlined pads and notebooks; those hundreds of calendar choices—large or small, weekly or daily, leather or paper covered; the riotous bouquets of markers and pencils; the richly patterned or deeply-hued papers; the glorious tapestry of paper clips and post-it notes—oh, be still my heart!! The University Book Store’s office supplies (which flow almost organically into the art supplies) are a caravan of exotics plonked in the desert of the smartphones, keyboards, and online scheduling that often dominates our days.  Sometimes you just need to get away from that, to step into a bright bazaar, a place where you can see the jewel-colored silks shimmering in the sunlight, run your hand over the thick pile of the muted carpets, and hear the murmuring of camels, riders, and spice-seekers talking among themselves.  That’s what the University Book Store’s office supply area offers.


Lucky for those of us in wheelchairs who love books,  need textbooks, and crave office and art supplies, once you get inside it, the University Book Store is quite accessible.  However, getting inside can be a bit of a problem—but, to be sure, not a big enough problem to keep you out.

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Crate and Barrel Bathroom

University Village
2680 NE 49th Street
Seattle, WA 98105

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As the current ADA Bathroom Queen of Seattle, I have visited many bathrooms in the University Village, including those in restaurants and those shared by  groups of businesses.  Some are good; some are a bit challenging; and all are “accessible” by legal standards.  However, one bathroom goes above and beyond basic standards, and I wanted to just take a moment here to honor it.  It’s the bathroom in the Crate and Barrel store in the northern-most wing of the U Village.   (The store, too, is wonderfully accessible, but I’ll save that for a separate review.)

The bathroom is located on the main floor, in the northwest corner off a short corridor that leads to the employee-only area.  It’s a small bathroom with one or two other stalls and a handicapped stall that also has a baby-changing station in it.  This handicapped stall is gorgeous.  It’s huge with a wide door and plenty of space inside to maneuver wheelchairs or strollers.  It’s always spotless.  There are grab-bars around the toilet, and the toilet paper is within easy reach.  The roll-under sink is in the stall itself, so you don’t have to navigate wet countertops and water-splashed floors as you wash your hands.

Thank you, Crate and Barrel, for this anxiety-free bathroom space for wheelchair-using shoppers!

Top Ten Toys

120 N 85th Street
Seattle, WA 98103

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My beloved pusher and I grieved when our daughters grew too old to want toys for Christmas because that shut us out from our favorite shopping trips.  No more  Duplos and Legos, doll houses, erector sets, ponies with a head of hair Jennifer Aniston would have envied, puzzles, Playmobile, stuffed animals, fire engines,  weaving sets, or nerf anythings.


Our taste in toys ranged from expensive wooden toys to cheap plastic rings.  In short, we had no taste in toys, uniformly loving almost all of them.  Even today our family measures a good Christmas by how it stacks up to the best one of all—the She-Ra (Princess of Power) Castle Christmas.  It’s a ridiculously high bar!


Therefore, my pusher and I were excited to go to Top Ten Toys to buy a few things to leave around the house  for small guests to discover during what—for them—might be a boring brunch.  Always making local “best of” lists, Top Ten Toys is a place of joy and wonder for everyone who enters.  Budding musicians can find instruments from around the world there, and 10-year olds with engineering ideas could begin their studies in the store’s Lego and building section. This is a store where you can find a miniature bulldozer with working parts, a glittery pink cape, a menagerie of stuffed animals and their babies,  a working small stethoscope, puzzles for people of every age, and every make of toy car.  Wheelchair shoppers can take their time browsing.  The store is open to all of us.


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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.


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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

Pike Place Market

1st Ave and Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101

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For about 30 years, I loved walking through Pike Place Market.  When we were new to Seattle and trying to keep afloat on a graduate student’s TA-ship and a part-time job, I did most of my Christmas shopping there.  I’d find fanciful earrings for my sisters, glittering fabric fish for my daughters,  hand-carved cheeseboards for my mother, bright t-shirts silk-screened with ravens capturing the sun for my beloved nephews and nieces—treasures that didn’t cost much but that grew from the hands and imaginations of our Northwest craftspeople.


There were other treasures, too—lush bouquets of flowers; the patchwork quilt of greens, tomatoes, eggplants, corn; fresh sockeye for dinner; samples of cherries and smoked almonds; and, of course, those little donuts hot off the conveyer belt near DeLaurenti.

More than 100 years old, the Market is the place we Seattlites show off to visitors from inland universes.  It’s the place we love to meander through on a Saturday morning in October but avoid on a Saturday in July.  It’s a place of magic and industry, a temple to our rich soil and sea and the breathtaking variety of our region.  No longer able to walk through the market, I’m grateful that so much of it is accessible by wheelchair.


That doesn’t mean, though, that all of the Market is accessible.  Any crowded place makes it challenging for wheelchair travelers to see beyond people’s knees and butts.  Even when people thoughtfully make room for you—as they almost always do—and vendors bring their wares to your hands—as they almost always will—there will be places you can’t get to and things you can’t see.


Built in a less-wheelchair friendly time than the present,  some places in and around the market are hard to enter or impossible to navigate.  DiLaurenti, with its Italian delectables packed into tight aisles that are packed tightly with people, is no longer an option.  Le Panier’s entry steps render its deep-flavored tomato feuilletes and sweet vanilla briands off limits for wheelchair travelers travelling alone.  And forget a trip through Sur Le Table unless you can wheel yourself straight up the side of a cliff.  Cobblestone streets and steep curb ramps can also bump up the anxiety levels of a trip to the Market.


In spite of such drawbacks, most of the pleasures of the Market are accessible if you stick to the main Market and its neighbors across the street.  A ride through the Market is still a lovely journey!

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PCC Natural Markets – Greenlake Village

450 N.E. 71st St.
Seattle, WA 98115

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We were excited to try out Puget Consumers’ Co-op (PCC) when we moved to Seattle from our small Oregon town in 1984.  We joined up at the old Ravenna store.  In those days, it cost $60 to become a member for life, paid in tiny monthly increments we could just afford.  Coming from the early days of the First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op in Corvallis, we were shocked that PCC did not require us to bag our own groceries and surprised by the luxuries that awaited us there—packaged cheeses, a delicious deli, chocolates.  But even with these differences, we felt at home at PCC, members of a smaller community instead of bumpkins lost in the Big City.

Time passed and passed.  The Ravenna store became Third Place Books, and our PCC shopping shifted to other stores.  View Ridge on the weekends.  Greenlake en route to our daughter’s place.  Even Edmonds as part of a trip to visit friends.  We purchased almost as many pairs of thick wool socks and beeswax candles as pastured eggs and organic carrots in those stores.


Recently, PCC opened its newest store in the vertically-rising Greenlake Village area, which is about 10 minutes from our house, and we were there to sample the free cake (divine) and check out the layout.  The store is bright and beautiful with its tomato, avocado, and strawberry gems glittering in their bowls and baskets, its shelves of organic condiments and goodies, and, yes, its lovely array of wool socks and beeswax candles.  This new PCC provides excellent access for wheelchair shoppers!
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Safeco Field

1250 1st Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98134

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In 1995, King County voters handily defeated a ballot measure to knock down the Kingdome and replace it with Safeco Field.  Unlike nearly all of my friends, I voted to build the new stadium, so a year later when the Washington State Legislature decided to build the stadium anyway—a move that many people in the state have neither forgotten nor forgiven–I was secretly happy.

Now, every time I go to a game, I feel like I own the place.  I feel as though I was the one who delivered the little green jewel into the heart of the Puget Sound and the twinkling city lights.  I feel as though I created the haunting sound of the trains heading north in the middle of the 5th inning, as though I single-handedly discovered the wisdom of adding garlic to fries, as though I personally coached the peanut sellers in the stands to pitch their bags of salted nuts to the exact fans who signaled for them.  In short, I feel as though I brought Safeco Field and its wonders into being with my one vote nearly 20 years ago, so I enter the field in my wheelchair as an owner.


I  only get to a few games a year, but, even so, I know some things.  I know that nearly everyone who works at the stadium will tell you to enjoy the game.  I know about families in their matching Mariners caps and their shirts with different names on them.  And I know those names.  I know about the big heart of Jamie Moyer, the utter reliability of Dan Wilson, the base-stealing miracle of James Jones, the pleasure of Edgar stepping up to the plate, Ichiro’s amazing grace in the outfield, the sweet arm of an achingly young Felix, and, of course, everything about Ken Griffey Jr. especially that magical 2009 season.  I know why the fans throw Monopoly money at A-Rod and why we all relaxed when John Olerud took his place at first.


Therefore, when Jay Buhner held the elevator door open for my pusher, our young friend and baseball guide Gabe, and me at the recent Padres game, I felt the reflected glory of The Bone’s presence and gallantry for a week.

Mariners’ games at Safeco Field are things of beauty, and they are accessible to all of us.  The field’s website provides detailed information about services for disabled fans, so check the site out:

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