Seattle adventure earns a 9.5 for accessibility.
In July, Laurie and I took the Amtrak to Seattle for an uncharacteristic weekend of theater and art. When we found out last winter that the musical Fun Home would be in Seattle, we started making plans to see it. If you’re not familiar with the musical, it’s taken from the brilliant Allison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of her early life growing up in the family’s funeral home with her closeted gay and depressed father and melancholy mother. It’s funnier than that sounds, but poignant, too. The musical got great reviews and won some Tonys.
|The Access for All sign refers to a WA ballot measure for LGBT rights.|
And you can’t go to a city like Seattle and just see a musical without doing some other sightseeing.
Our weekend started out on a bad note when the taxi we’d reserved for 7a.m. Saturday to take us to the train station failed to appear. We probably would have gotten a taxi if we hadn’t needed a wheelchair van – apparently they don’t have very many of them and, even though I’d reserved it, someone else got to it first. We had to take a later train and to be sure we got to the station this time, we took the bus downtown – we probably should have done that in the first place! Fortunately, our theater tickets were for the Sunday matinee so we didn’t miss out on that! And yes, the taxi company got an earful. What does the word ‘reserve’ mean to you??
Getting on the train was pretty easy - they have a mini-elevator that lifts me and the chair right into the car. Maneuvering in the car is a different story, as there isn't much room. It would have been better in business class, but since we had to take a different train, we had to go coach.
I’d decided to splurge on a nice hotel in the heart of downtown. Almost everything was within easy wheelchair/walking distance. When we checked in, the clerk said they hoped it was OK that they’d upgraded us from a regular ADA room to a deluxe one, and to please let her know if it didn’t meet our needs. It was a corner room on the top floor with a great view of downtown, Mt. Rainier, and Elliot Bay. Yes, that’ll do! The room was huge and beautiful, just right for a much needed afternoon nap.
Sunday was a full day. We hopped (OK, I rolled) on the monorail which to my surprise and delight is fully accessible. I’m pretty sure the last time I was on the monorail was at the 1962 world’s fair. One nice thing about it, you can’t miss your stop, as there’s only one – it travels from downtown to the Seattle Center (right under the Space Needle) and back again. I had a moment of panic when we arrived and the door opened to a six-inch gap between the monorail car and the platform. But the conductor was there in a flash with a ramp for negotiating the gap.
We’d come to the Center to visit the Chihuly Museum of Glass. Wow. What a master artist! I was brought to tears a couple of times by the beauty. I’d only seen small pieces of his before, so to see the larger ones full sized in real life was overwhelming. I was so grateful for the ease of rolling through the museum. And the garden! (what could be better than Chihuly art? Chihuly art in nature). Maybe one day I’ll own one. (Does one ‘own’ art? Or is it simply borrowed?)
We’d planned to see Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” at the art museum after hearing such wonderful things about it. But a couple of reviews cautioned about not only the long lines to get in but the moving lights that could set off Laurie’s vertigo and a couple of ‘rooms’ that were viewed from a platform that I could get up to just fine, but would probably have to back down a ramp, a skill I’m not very comfortable with in the wheelchair. So we decided to nap instead.
Fun Home was fabulous. I think I loved it more than Laurie, but we both enjoyed it thoroughly. I was especially impressed with the youngsters in the show.
I had purchased wheelchair seating, which was great (and half price!) except the location in the theater was less than perfect. We were close to the front, but way over to the side, stage left – we missed some of the visuals, which is unfortunate. I don’t think we missed much, but it’s a mystery why they can’t make every seat with 100% view of what’s happening on stage.
We met a couple of friends for dinner after the show - another easy roll/walk from the hotel. It was a lovely way to end the night.
Monday morning: We couldn’t leave Seattle without doing the Pike Place Market, which was just a few blocks from our hotel. We were greeted by this enthusiastic crew of fishmongers. Even though it was crowded, it was pretty easy to get around, though there is a lot of uneven ground, especially just outside the main market area. I had to navigate pretty carefully on cobblestones and dirt berm.
One final stop before heading for the train station: Seattle Public Library, downtown branch – across the street from our hotel. What an amazing bit of architecture! Except for the colorful escalators, it’s completely accessible; in fact there’s a spiral ramp that goes on for five or six floors in a very gentle slope. I’m often not fond of ultra-modern architecture, but this is a very impressive building. Maybe it’s the reflective surfaces that make it seem welcoming rather than cold and impersonal like some modern buildings do.
It was a jam-packed weekend and a roaring success of a trip. If it hadn’t been for the taxi fiasco, I’d give it a ten for accessibility success! And that part happened in Portland.
Next: an upcoming accessibility makeover of the cottage and a few odds and ends.