Thursday, August 7, 2014

Clark's Trading Post, with wheelchair accessibility notes

  I recently took a day trip to Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln,NH. We had about a two hour drive on mostly familiar roads, but GPS decided we needed to add some side trips to add to the lovely scenery. My son took a few pics through his window, before and after lifting the window shade.
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 Clark's is located near the Kangamagus Highway, which is a really nice scenic drive on most any day. We were not sure we were on the right road, especially with a GPS(generally provoking service) leading us on trecks around the county. Good thing I had two copilots who can read maps.
 Once we got to the correct address,we took my Mom's wheelchair out and our bags of stuff for the day. I was glad Clark's allowed us to take in our backpacks,Mom has diabetes and needed special snacks and drinks.
The bears were out to greet us into the park.

 On our way in, we saw the bears in their outdoor arena. It was a nice welcome to the park.
The cost was reasonable, $20 each for my son and I, and $13 for my mom.
The staff were very kind and helpful and offered a paper with info on handicapped accessibility.
It was a helpful page because it showed us what she could and could not have access to.
We left the ticket counter and went straight out, where the train tracks are. If you have ever had to push a wheel chair over tracks, you know this was a big challenge. The front wheels got stuck and I had to try several times to get it over. We later(much later) learned that there is a ramp down the right side of the train terminal, but there was no sign indicating that info.
 Our first stop was to watch the Chinese acrobats. The show was fun to watch. They are a very talented group of acrobatic performers. We did not see the sign for wheel chair accessibility til later in the day.

 We  then visited the antique fire station , where we saw old fire trucks, ladder and hose trucks. It was interesting to think how difficult it must have been to put out fires long ago. I thought of my son in law,who is a fire fighter, and am thankful how much they are protected compared to old uniform standards.
antique pumper

antique ladder truck

 Our next stop was the Old Man climbing tower. We pushed the chair over the brick lined streets,not too difficult. My son wanted to climb the rock wall, and was surprised and embarrassed that I wanted to climb,too. He got geared up first and watched me put mine on. He asked if I was going to go up the easy, medium or hard wall, and I said I would go on the medium side. He chose the easy climb because he is still trying to conquer his fear of heights. We wished each other luck and got ready. I looked up and convinced myself that I could make it. I had only gone on a climbing wall once,about thirteen years ago, but was sure I was still limber enough to do it at forty eight years old. I slowly ascended, one foot hold and one hand hold at a time. There was only one time I had difficulty finding a hold, but reset my grip and continued on. I made the mistake of looking down and nearly chickened out, but set my sight on the top and continued up. I finally saw the red button at the top and that gave me a burst of strength. I reached over and pressed the buzzer, indicating I made it to the top.

I am climbing up the Old Man of the Mountain rock wall.
 I proved to myself that I could do it. Then I slowly crawled down a few feet to clear the sheer cliff, before letting go and gliding back to the ground. My arms were shaking and sore, but I did it! The girl asked me if I wanted to go again, and I said no. I just wanted to prove I could do it and once was enough. My son also made it to the top and was feeling triumphant!

 We had lunch at Pullman's lunch. The side walk was narrow and slanted, with no ramps leading to the restaurant. The servers were friendly and helpful.They offer sandwiches and pizza. The food was good and not outrageously priced, but the building is not wheelchair friendly, and the dining area was difficult to get to as it was across the brick road and up a ramp, which is difficult to navigate while holding lunch tray.
 Our next stop was going to be the train ride, but just missed it, so we went to see if the bear act was going on. It was the circus acrobats again, but they had a different routine and it was even more fun to watch than the precious because it included spinning fire on a baton, and balancing tables on feet.
 We decided to go have some ice cream. The Peppermint Saloon offered a variety of ice cream treats, so we chose to go there. The front door is not accessible due to a large stepping stone in front. So, we went along the side door, which had a ramp, but there is a gap between the door and ramp, in which the chair got stuck. A staff member and a guest helped me maneuver the chair into the building, but we soon learned the door was not the only thing impeding access. The tables were small and closely arranged, making it nearly impossible to get her chair to a table. The shop was busy, so we had to choose a table across the room. Getting the chair to the counter was not possible, as there was no path around the room to use. She sat near the table while I got her ice cream. She wanted to put on her own toppings, but getting her chair to the sundae bar was very difficult. She was able to reach the toppings, which was good. When we got through, there was a table closer to the door, so we sat there instead. The sundaes were very yummy and we were full when finished eating them.
We understand the saloon is an old building and they are working on improving access, but it dampened our time of having the treat.
  The next stop this time was the train. They offer a wheelchair lift, which went very smoothly.
 The staff were friendly and helpful and the lift worked very well, with ample room for the chair to move.

Her first lift onto a train
Mom is a very animated person!

The train ride was fun with the story of the Wolfman trying to protect his claim. The wolfman came alongside the train and acted upset that we were trespassing on his land. It was also a nice and scenic ride with pretty landscaping.
Resting during the train ride.
The 'Wolfman' protecting his claim.
Wolfman's car.

  After the train, my son wanted to try the climbing wall again. He wanted to show himself he could do it without being afraid. I chose to stay with Mom this time. There are shady spots along the walkways, where we parked, but not many benches for me to sit with her.
He tried going up the medium side, but it was too challenging, so he went back up the easy side, and rang the bell with pride!

  Merlin's Mystical Mansion  was a trip. My mom had to wait for us due to no access for her chair. They post signs to warn visitors about having motion sickness,claustrophobia or are afraid of the dark. I pushed those thoughts aside because it was just a short indoor ride, and what could possibly happen. It turns out the ride made you believe you are spinning head first around the room. The walls around us turned and the lights were blinking, with weird music blaring around us. I suddenly felt queasy and had to cover my eyes. I tried looking at the walls again, but my mind kept getting confused and I felt motion sickness coming on. My son was fine and tried getting me to uncover my eyes, but I had to keep them closed. I was so relieved when it was over and I could get outside in fresh air and solid ground.
 The last place we went was the Tuttle House. It was fun walking along slanted floors and watching as the guide showed different places around the house that were fun to watch. A pool table where the balls go uphill and gravity defying bottles that also roll uphill. This was also a non accessible place for Mom. My son said it would be fun to bring her chair in and see what happened on the slanted floors. He has a warped sense of humor.
 On the way out, we passed the water bumper boats. It looked like fun, but a certain boy had too many sassy remarks to be able to go on it, so he was only allowed to use the squirters on the outer edge of the ride. He had fun blasting people with the water cannons.
 We all had a great visit, and the weather was perfect. We hope there will be more wheelchair accessibility so people are able to enjoy all of the park with their families.
I never had to consider it before but will be more aware of this issue from now on.
Have you ever been to the White Mountains of New Hampshire? have you had issues with handicap accessibility? Feel free to comment below.
Have a great day!
~Lori LC

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