Exploring St. Louis

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We started our day with a walk by the river. The iron bridge extending across the river was magnificent. We went past a platform that offered helicopter rides for an air view of the city, but it was not accessible as the seat was too high for Kunho to transfer. There was also a lot of road work going on near the Gateway Arch. Kunho and Cyn needed to walk around the park to find an elevator.

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Kunho, on a mission to take a photo of our car keys everywhere we go.

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We finally managed to get into the Arch, which is NOT accessible; there are two flights of stairs at the top. The Westward Expansion museum beneath the Arch, however, is accessible and highly educational.

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Brad takes a selfie.

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We then walked to the Union station, a remarkable building with many shops.

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The team admiring the awesome architecture of the Gateway Arch – great shot Brad! 😀

Brad’s home town – St Louis

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Brad’s been really eager to show us around St. Louis even before the trip started, and he has been a great tour guide and host throughout our stay! Thank you 🙂 Here, he is making us pancakes for breakfast.

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It was great meeting the Riews, and we enjoyed the bubble tea recommended by Julia (Brad’s sister).

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We had a night stroll through the Loop and we came across many interesting shops. One of them sold board games and toys. Julia was particularly interested in the Doctor Who merchandise. Although it was officially closed at this time of the night (10pm), they had a function going on and  we knocked on the door and they kindly let us in to look around.

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A very proud St.Louis-ian!

Just in time for – St. Louis!

 

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We arrived – just in time for Brad’s dad’s birthday celebration! 🙂 We are truly blessed by his family’s generous hospitality and warm welcome. It was great meeting Brad’s dogs, Toby and Penny (pictured above). They are both adorable and were very pleased to see us.

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After dinner, the team challenged the Riews on Starcraft.

Kansas City

Right after we arrived we went to Gate’s BBQ. There was a long line, but it was worth it!

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Once again at the hotel we had a problem. Though we had been promised an accessible room by hotels.com, Kunho could not even fit in the bathroom. The front desk this time, however, was very helpful and swapped us out for an accessible room. We called hotels.com again to get an explanation. This was the third time we found the room to NOT be accessible, despite hotels.com’s assurances that they had booked an accessible room for us.

We finally had some good internet! We spent the night working! YAY! So FUN!….. Not.

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I guess Brad is very excited to visit his hometown! St. Louis! Here we go St. Louis!

Denver and Kansas City

When we arrived in Denver, yet AGAIN we had a problem with our hotel reservation. We have been booking through Hotels dot com. It is a painful process of asking agents repeatedly to confirm that our room will be wheelchair accessible, only to arrive and find that Kunho cannot even enter the bathroom. To understand how much of a hassle this is, imagine not being able to use the bathroom for three days. Every time we make a reservation, we find ourselves put on hold for an hour, two, or perhaps more, to confirm and re-confirm and double re-confirm that our room will be wheelchair accessible and have a roll-in bathroom.

After hours on the phone with hotels dot com, we decided to just go for dinner as it was already 11pm.

The restaurant we found perfectly fit our emotion; Illegal Pete’s. We paid around 30 dollars for four people. That’s about how much we would spend at McDonald’s, but the quality at Illegal Pete’s was great. Fresh vegetables with fabulous tacos and quesadilla. As a plus, its accessibility was great too. They had an accessible bathroom and four-legged tables.

I called it a shower-less, bathroom-less night. I went to the office exactly at nine in the morning when the manager arrived. After explaining our situation for about an hour, I was able to get a refund and an accessible room for me and my three friends.

I was again surprised to find that the roll-in bathroom had no bench. I was just too tired to go complain about this again. I dragged a chair in the room into the shower and used that. It was a bit shaky transferring to the chair but I just managed to without falling over.

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We had Thai food for brunch. You and I managed to finish the “Thai Hot” Tom Yang Soup in one gulp! Yes we won the bet ;). The bathroom was unfortunately not accessible and the entrance of the building had a little bump.

Denver

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We woke up early to go to the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. It was really interesting to see many contemporary art pieces. My favorite part of the museum was the Hall of Failure. It was the section where high school students make art pieces without fear of being judged for failure.

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Failure is a must take course. Fun And Intersting Life = FAIL! We had fun drawing on the table. Maybe we should make a failure club at Harvard! It’s all right to fail. Don’t be afraid of failure.

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All corners of the museum were accessible by elevator. They had one wheelchair to rent out for free. There was no disability discount for the museum. The bathroom was accessible but the sink was a bit low for me. The elevator was huge.

We went to see Union Square. They had just finished a renovation of Union Station and that day happened to be the grand opening. We needed a ticket to get in and it was very busy and packed with many people. There was a long line of people waiting to get in. We wanted to review its accessibility, but I guess we chose a wrong day.

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We drove straight to Hays. We couldn’t find a hotel that had an accessible room. We just gave up and hoped for the best. We just drove and drove and drove. Finally arrived at some town to fill up gas. We must have been looking so handsome and pretty to god for that second. There was daysinn right in front of the gas station. We were fortunate to find an accessible room for four people!!

Tomorrow morning we drove and drove again. We were at Kansas City finally…

Rocky Mountain National Park

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We arrived in Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday afternoon. The visitor center recommended we visit Sprague Lake for a beautiful accessible trail. The dirt was packed pretty well and Kunho was able to maneuver on his own for much of the trail. Some parts of the trail, however, were at a slight incline and it was helpful for You and Brad to push. When we arrived the clouds and the rain had passed and over the valley was a vibrant rich light, and a rainbow!

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Kunho celebrates by the lakeside.

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The lake flat and dark like a glass mirror. The 0.5 mile trail wrapped around the lakeside in a relatively level and peaceable walk.

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The four of us stopped by a bench at the lakeside.

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Here the mountains are visible behind. Rocky Mountain National Park is an hour and a half drive from Denver and about an hour out from Boulder. Stop by Estes Park for quick directions and orientation at the Visitors’ Center, which can provide you with maps and suggestions for wheelchair-accessible trails and sightseeing. In addition to Sprague Lake, the staff there recommend Lily Lake, a similar flat dirt-packed trail, and Trail Ridge Road, a 12,183 foot scenic drive up to the top of the Rockies.

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We also checked out Bear Lake, which is not marked as accessible due to steeper inclines at several points on the trail. We were able to walk for about five to ten minutes in either direction along from the trail entrance before Kunho was unable to push himself. Puddles collected on the flat gravel path and the hanging pines dripped. Heat rose in a fog from the surface of the lake and curled in the slightest wind.

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On the return a curious tagged animal trotted alongside our car. None of us are wildlife specialists, and we’re not quite sure who she is.

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We returned to Hertz that night to exchange vehicles. Our Yukon XL needed an oil change. Our new vehicle, a Ford Expedition, rides smooth and proud and turns like a beauty. Thank you Hertz for your kind sponsorship!