On the subject of accessible travel, Candy Harrington is an expert.
The author of many books, including “Barrier-Free Travel; A Nuts & Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers,” and the founding editor of “Emerging Horizons,” a quarterly online magazine, Candy says, “My goal is to describe access so travelers can make appropriate choices ….”
I recently had an opportunity to acquire Candy’s newest book, “22 Accessible Road Trips,” and she clearly meets her goal. I have already highlighted many of her great suggestions!
I particularly love the format of the book. Divided into four geographic regions — Pacific States, Mountain States, Central States and Eastern States – Candy has described several accessible – and scenic – trips in each.
Each route is a separate chapter with sections filled with valuable suggestions and important details.
For example, in the “Along the Way” section, she encourages travelers with disabilities to get an America the Beautiful Access Pass, which is good for free admission to national parks and monuments. (page 5)
Another example: In writing about the Columbia River Gorge [part of the Washington Wine Country section in the Pacific States region], she says,
“For a look at one of the most spectacular scenic wonders on this loop, take exit 35 off Interstate 84, and continue west on Highway 30 to Multnomah Falls. This 620-foot waterfall is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the nation, and the showpiece of the Columbia River Gorge.”
She goes on to say, “A word of warning though – the signs to Multnomah Falls direct visitors to exit 31, which leads to a remote parking lot. For best access take exit 35, so you can park directly in front of the falls. … Additionally, try and hit this top attraction as early in the day as possible, to avoid the crowds.” (page 40)
Immensely helpful advice.
In the “Timing” section she notes when the weather is amenable for driving:
[Speaking of the Pacific Northwest] “This is definitely a summer trip. Depending on the severity of the winter, the road through … Crater Lake National Park may not open ‘til June.” (page 30)
[Speaking of the Mid-Atlantic area] “Spring and fall are the best seasons to drive this route, as the scenery is magnificent. The fragrant dogwoods put on a good show in the spring, and the fall colors are simply stunning.” (pages 298-299)
… as well as when you might encounter large crowds:
“Try to avoid spring break though, as it’s especially crowded in Williamsburg at that time. This is not a winter trip, as some of the attractions are closed, and you’ll definitely run into snow.” (page 299)
“… if you don’t like crowds, avoid Albuquerque during the first week of October, as visitors flock to the very popular Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.” (page 71)
From my own experience, this is a very important consideration; fewer people generally means greater access for someone in a wheelchair.
In the “Don’t Miss It” section of each route, Candy not only shares her suggestions about special events or attractions …
“Although it’s hard to pick out highlights along this [The Rockies and Beyond] route, Garden of the Gods … consistently tops my must-see list ….” (page 97)
… but also some of the nuts-and-bolts details like where to park for a great view, whether loaner wheelchairs are available, etc., and other good-to-know information:
‘It should be noted that the [Breitenbush, Oregon] hot springs are clothing optional; … if you’re shy this probably isn’t the place for you.” (page 30)
As you can see from these quotes, Candy has thoroughly done her research, saving disabled travelers hours (or days) of work in planning a road trip.
In addition, at the conclusion of each chapter she has included a list of websites, phone numbers and other helpful resources pertaining to that route.
Candy’s husband, Charles Pannell, is her traveling companion as well as the book’s photographer, providing many black-and-white photos for each section.
The book is informative rather than anecdotal, yet it was descriptive enough to arouse my curiosity and inspire me to consider future road trips that Carrieanna might enjoy.
I highly recommend “22 Accessible Road Trips” as part of any traveler’s library!