We woke up bright and early to see Niagara Falls. We wanted to hit a lot of the attractions, so we bought a bundle of tickets. Although we wanted to get a full day tour with most of the attractions included, none of the tour bus companies offered a wheelchair accessible tour that day. Although one company, Greyline, operates one wheelchair accessible van, it is necessary to book 24 hours in advance to secure an accessible tour. We learned this the hard way.
We went out to the observation deck and the view was about as stunning as you’d imagine. The deck was accessible by elevator. Buying tickets in bundle is a good deal if you’re visiting more than two attractions; in addition, you won’t have to wait in each line for tickets. At the top of the deck an elevator leads down to the Maid of the Mist, a tour boat that brings tourists right under the falls. We were given blue raincoats to protect our clothes from a due soaking. Though the ramp onto the ship was steep, the staff capably and efficiently helped Kunho on board. We stood towards the front of the ferry and watched the boat approach the falls. You could feel the thunder of the falling river in your limbs, and the top of the wall of water hung in the air as if by ordinance of God.
After the ride, we went back to the visitor’s centre to catch a park trolley to see the Cave of the Winds. The trolley was accessible by lift. Remember to change your bundle tickets for a pink wrist band before you line up for the trolley or you’ll have to go back to the ticket booth to exchange it there.
When we got to the Cave of the Winds, we were given sandals and yellow raincoats. We waited 45 minutes in the queue before the elevators leading down to the Cave and came out near the bottom of the Falls through a tunnel in the rock face. The approach to the “Cave” consisted of several wooden decks. The lower decks are wheelchair accessible but the higher decks are only reachable by stairs. At the top is the Hurricane Deck, which delivers what it says on the tin.
After we tried drying ourselves under the sun, we caught a return trolley and went back to the visitors centre. We picked up our car and headed for Pittsburgh in the evening.
We left Cleveland midmorning and decided to drop by Lake Erie for lunch. We made stir-fried beef and onion by the beach on a picnic table. It was a warm and sunny day for an outdoor lunch.
After lunch, we carried on driving and arrived in Buffalo in the afternoon. There was an indoor balcony in our room overlooking the pool, and we decided it was a good spot to have a meeting.
Since we were in Buffalo, we had to eat the famous wings at least once! Thanks to Yelp!, we found Duff’s Famous Wings not too far from our hotel.
Kunho and You, as true Koreans, are super fond of spicy food. Duff’s Famous Wings ranks their hot sauce on a somewhat different scale from most places. “Medium is hot,” proclaims the front door, the menus, the napkin holder, and even a sign over the bathroom, “hot is very hot. Very hot is very, very hot.” Kunho and You decided to try one of the hot sauces on the side menu. “Suicide sauce” was very, very, very hot. “Death sauce” was very, very, very, very hot. We ordered 10 wings of the Death sauce variety. Kunho took one bite and coughed. He began to sweat. He drank many gulps of water and we ordered a glass of milk. He was still sweating after the milk came and the sweat was visible all over the top of his head. Afterwards You tried several, and Brad tried one too. Surviving a “Death sauce” wing consists of 3 phases: stage “ok, I suppose this is hot,” stage “oh my god this is hot,” and stage “please get me a towel for the sweat coming off my face, and also I cannot feel my ears.”
Kunho and You made a bet to see who could finish 4 “Death sauce” wings and not reach for any form of liquid for 10 minutes. Neither did!
Today we stayed in Cleveland, which is super famous for being Brad’s birthplace. Another interesting fact: the city’s nickname is “the mistake on the lake.” Cleveland is a charming, clean city with a midwestern vibe. Cyn particularly enjoyed it as a contrast to the derelict neighborhoods in Detroit where we stopped.
The biggest attraction in Cleveland is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and we spent a good couple hours there. The Hall of Fame starts with an elevator to the basement, where a short video on the history of rock ‘n roll plays to orient the uninitiated and charge up the rock fans. Inside the museum has many exhibits with headphone booths for listening that are accessible and at a good height for either a standing or sitting person to use. The museum carpet can make it a bit tough at times to push a manual wheelchair, and one or two exhibits have enough of an incline that it was necessary for Brad to push Kunho. The museum is a line, one after the next, of some of the greatest names in music’s history, and it was inspiring and moving to cross from one to the next.
We also saw a couple other attractions, including the Cleveland Great Lakes Science Center and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Cyn learned a lot about planes and space in particular at the Science Center and there was a nice terrace view over Lake Erie. You and Brad hurried through the gardens to measure all its accessibility metrics on time, though they were able to stop for some nice moments to appreciate a luminous butterfly, or the tongue of a yellow bell flower. The Botanical Gardens are partly accessible, but some exhibits clearly put accessibility as an afterthought as the way around is a large detour with a sloped wooden ramp. Some gardens are simply inaccessible.
On our way back we passed through some sort of festival in a park. There was a jazz band playing and a long, long line of food vendors. We stopped for some BBQ and chowed down. Hot and smoky, with a foot-tappin’ variety of music? Mm-mm.
Finally, we stopped by the hospital where Brad was born to take some photographs. It was a regular old sort of hospital and we took several pictures and then we were gone.
This morning was different. We were greeted with a luxurious in-room service breakfast. This would be one of the very few times, or perhaps the first time, we had 8am breakfast during the trip. Of course, packing takes forever. Everyone had a bag of laundry that should have been done many days ago and many more “necessary” things to carry.
We went to the fisher building in Detroit. Decorated with extraordinarily elegant patterns, this building represents the heyday age of the Detroit Renaissance. After that, we found another building that also elaborately depicts the decline of Detroit: Detroit Train Station. It was spooky. A giant building of broken windows and fences with No Trespassing signs like ghost houses as seen in horror movies. But, there we saw prince charming on a white horse coming to protect us from this evil spirits. This man voluntarily explained, after requesting a little bit of cash, the history of Detroit Train Station and the collapse of it. He hopes to have this building rebuilt and revive Detroit again.
Less than a five minute drive away, surprisingly modern buildings such as GM Renaissance Center greeted us. We saw the Canadian side of the river on the observation deck of the building.
Of course touring around such an interesting city will make us forget about lunchtime, Not. Our clocks in our stomachs were more accurate than our smartphone clocks. Luckily we found a nearby park and cooked tacos for lunch.
We are off to Cleveland!
Once again we woke up late. We’ve always planned to wake up at 9am, but I guess this is the most difficult task for us. At Detroit MGM, we had free nights and free meals. Thank you to MGM for your sponsorship!
We hadn’t had a nice breakfast in a while, or really any breakfast in a while. After a surprisingly delicious and filling breakfast, we went to an iconic place in Detroit showcasing the history of the American automobile industry: the Ford Museum. We saw various automobiles and wagons from way back from 1700s. The most fun part of the museum, for me, was paper airplane competition section. The Ford museum also had great exhibit on airplanes and there was a kid’s section with paper airplanes.
After the Ford Museum, we had a tour of MGM Detroit. Mr. Anthony Turner gave us a nice tour of the hotel’s facilities. The hotel was readily equipped with accommodations for people in wheelchairs. One of the only difficulties I had was with the carpet and the door. It is always a challenge for me to roll over carpet. Also the doors at MGM Detroit were extremely tough to push.
Detroit used to be the home of the “Big Three”: GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Now it is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States and the city recently filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in US history. We found interesting graffitis that decry the current state of the city.
Guess what happened?
Kunho shaved his head! 😀 It’s always been something he wanted to do, and now he did it! (I think he now looks about 30-ish, what do you think? 😉 )
That day we went up to the Willis Tower Skydeck to look over the city. An elevator took us 103 floors up into the sky.
We really enjoyed the view. A glass floor hangs out over the side of the building, where you can look out to the ground below.
We then walked to the Navy Pier and had dinner at Bubba Gump.
Afterward we walked down to the beach by the lakeside. A wooden ramp goes right up to the waterfront. This was the first “beach” we have seen for a while after we left LA! Can’t wait till we get across to the other side 😉
We went up to the John Hancock Tower “360” to check out Chicago’s skyline by night. There was a fireworks show by Navy Pier. The show happens twice a week in the summer, and you can click HERE for the link to the schedule.
Lov’in the view ❤
Walking to the Field Museum from our hotel.
For lunch we went for a hot dog at a stand by the Field Museum.
A Chicago City Pass will cover admission to five Chicago attractions for a greatly discounted price. We greatly enjoyed our time at the Field Museum.
Afterwards we walked across to the Shedd Aquarium. It was a great learning experience watching creatures from jellyfish to beluga whales.
We were hungry again after the aquarium visit and decided to try out Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. We found a Giordano’s pizzeria nearby. There was a 45 min waiting time for a table so we put our names down on the wait list and walked around for a bit.
We happened to be in Chicago the weekend of Lollapalooza, the huge music festival. Tickets were pricy, but we stopped for a photo in front of the gates.
Finally, our Chicago classic deep dish pizza! I only managed to finish one slice….
We would like to thank Hyatt Regency for their support and generous hospitality in Chicago! 🙂
The team playing air guitar as we bade farewell the vibrant hometown of Mr. Riew.
We had a great lunch at Seoul Taco – a fusion of Korean and Mexican food, let’s say it’s a Korean taco? We ordered everything on the menu and I thought the steak taco was really yummy!
Mary (Brad’s mum) kindly treated us at Fitz’s – they are famous for their floats! I’ve never had vanilla ice-cream on top of an orange flavoured soda. We also ordered a St. Louis’ classic dessert – Gooey butter cake!! (I have inserted a link to what a perfect one looks like on Google images) It is pure butter and sugar… it’s so bad, yet so gooooood ❤
Brad and I split a float. Yes, this is only half a float.
We then headed for a 6 hour drive to Chiiiiicagooooo ❤
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.
Kunho, on a mission to take a photo of our car keys everywhere we go.
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.
Brad takes a selfie.
We then walked to the Union station, a remarkable building with many shops.
The team admiring the awesome architecture of the Gateway Arch – great shot Brad! 😀
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.
It was great meeting the Riews, and we enjoyed the bubble tea recommended by Julia (Brad’s sister).
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.
A very proud St.Louis-ian!