The (Tired and Moody) Modern Hotel, Boise ID

Last year we loved it.  This year: not so much.

The motel seemed tired this year: the rugs in both rooms (we are a family of five so we rent two rooms) were dirty and stained, the walls were marked up and the bathroom countertop in one of the rooms was burned. The staff seem a little jaded too, and at times seemed rather put out that they had to answer a customer.  Two times our room reservation was messed up (I won’t go into all the details here).  If you need an ADA room, there are only two and one (the bigger one) is in front of the bar, which can be very loud at night.

But check out this photo I took.  This is what really soured me on the hotel:


The owner of The Modern Hotel and Bar thought this was a perfectly good spot to park.

The owner of The Modern Hotel and Bar thought this was a perfectly good spot to park.

The car parked oh-so-illegally, in the ADA-defined spaces AND in the cross hatches for minivan entry and egress is the OWNER of the hotel.  There are two ADA-spaces:  one was taken, so we parked in the other.  But because this black car was parked in the cross hatches where the ramp would go, we couldn’t get our daughter out of the car without backing into the road.

When I went to the desk to make them aware that someone was parked in such a way as to impede our daughter’s mobility in the parking lot, they nonchalantly said they’d look into it.  Because I could see the car from our room, I checked back in with them when the car was still parked there 20 minutes later, only to be told that it was the owner of the hotel and she’d be leaving soon.  She didn’t leave “soon.”  And they didn’t seem to really care that their customer wasn’t happy about it.

I met the owner a day later when she was serving me a coffee in the bar.  As she clearly knew who I was, this would have been the perfect time for her to have acknowledged that she had parked – wrongly – in the ADA space.  I wasn’t looking for her to fall on her sword;  I just would have liked to hear her say, “Hey, I didn’t realize the impact I had on someone who needs those spaces.  Sorry.”  That’s all.  Recognition that those spaces are there for those who need them, and not for anyone’s convenience, would have been sufficient.

If you have two good legs, or set of lungs, or heart, then celebrate that.  Walk a few more feet or even several blocks and leave those spaces for someone who needs them.



Why Boise?

My father-in-law, his second wife and their two teenage daughters moved to Boise, ID two years ago.  Our daughter Marianne ADORES her grandfather, but since he moved to Boise, he has become increasingly ill and is now no longer able to travel.  So, we must go to him.

Molly's Diner, en route to Boise from Salt Lake City

Molly’s Diner, en route to Boise from Salt Lake City

I guess there is no need for wheelchair-accessible rental vans in Boise, because I can’t find one to rent, despite many hours on the internet and the phone.  So, we fly into Salt Lake City, rent from and begin driving.  In the desert.  For miles on end.  With no sign of a rest area in sight.  In a heat so intense (because it is summer) that the road shimmers.  Or maybe that’s the haze from the raging wildfires in Utah and Idaho….

The good news is that we now have a third driver, our son Pat who just turned 17.  So we decided to add a week, detouring to Wyoming and the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks before driving across southern Idaho to spend the second week with our family in the Boise area (see post on Jackson).

I think Boise is pretty hip (not only because of the great number of tattoo parlors one could patronize if one so chose).  It’s not too big and has a young, friendly, outdoorsy vibe.  Although we’ve only been there twice and in the over-100 degree summertime, I think when it’s NOT summer, the weather can be beautiful.  The Boise River runs through the city, and the Boise River Greenbelt (see has 25 miles of paved pathways connecting 850 acres of parks.  Bike shops in town rent bikes, but you can motor in your wheelchair or roller skates too.   Last year, some of us floated down the river in tubes (see – a lot of fun on a hot summer day but not very accessible.

Idaho does have its fair share of rodeos, and we went to the Snake River Stampede last year (  )in Nampa Valley’s Idaho Center.  That was accessible and even better, it was indoors and not too long.  We went in the afternoon for a family event and there is no alcohol served;  it seemed like rather a big deal that there was no alcohol being served which makes me wonder if the evening events rock out and get crazy.  Might be good to see what you’re in for before you commit to an evening rodeo.

If you are there in the summer months (June through September) and appreciate good outdoor theater, then do check out the Idaho Shakespeare Festival (‎).  We’ve seen two great productions there:  (Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid and Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd).  The theater is fully accessible, and you can bring your own picnic for outdoor dining.  The setting is really beautiful, and the summer nights are so pleasant once the sun goes down.

I can’t speak personally to this event, but both years we’ve traveled to Boise I’ve hoped to get tickets for the Treasure Valley Rollergirls, an all-female, amateur roller derby:  seems like it’d be a fun evening and not something we’ve seen before.   Check out their website for for tickets and locations:‎.  Please post a comment if you’ve been to a show and recommend it – or don’t recommend it!

Peregrine Fund World Center for Birds of Prey (‎) is located on a quiet hilltop close to the city of Boise.  The Center is wheelchair-accessible, full of information, and scenic, set as it is on a quiet prairie-like hill.  They do live demonstrations with owls, falcons, eagles and hawks, and the interpretive displays are informative.

This year on our way from Wyoming, we drove across southern Idaho so that we could go to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve ( and – of course! – the Idaho Potato Museum.

Craters of the Moon, Arco, ID

Craters of the Moon, Arco, ID

Craters of the Moon is so weirdly beautiful.  It is 18 miles southwest of Arco (and about a 40-minute drive from Blackfoot, where the Idaho Potato Museum lies). There is a seven-mile loop road, starting at the wheelchair-accessible visitor center.  You can see a lot from the car, and one of the stops on the loop road has a wheelchair-accessible trail.  There is also a campground (on a first-come, first-served basis), and apparently it is cool at night (literally and figuratively).  While we were there, meteor showers were expected at night.

Apparently lava fields cover much of southeastern Idaho, but this national monument has a variety of different volcanic features.  It lies along the Great Rift, a 60-mile fissure in the earth’s crust, which is stretching apart and creating cracks where the lava can ooze out.  It is so worth a trip, although it does feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere.

A feeling compounded by the fact that after leaving the National Park site and driving on to Boise, we drove through miles and miles of barren, barbed-wire-dissected, tracts of land with big signs proclaiming it as the purview of the Idaho National Laboratory.  As I read a little more about it and narrated for my family (stuck in the car with me), I realized: hey, I can’t wait to get out of here!  There have been 52 nuclear reactors built here, according to Moon Guide Books, and 13 are still in operation.  That’s the country’s largest concentration of nuclear reactors and oh, by the way, they are built on top of one of the country’s most geologically active areas AND sits on top of an aquifer that provides drinking and irrigation water for much of southern Idaho.  I really hope they are being careful out there….

Idaho National Laboratory, ID

Idaho National Laboratory, ID

If you don’t mind sticking around the site for a while, you can make a stop in at Environmental Breeder Reactor-1 (EBR-1) , which was the world’s first atomic plant.  It was decommissioned in 1951 but you can take tours (self-guided or guided).  Here’s the website:  I couldn’t talk anyone in my family into it:  I think the Potato Museum and national park did them in, but I’d go.  And you have to get pictures of yourself at Atomic City.  As of the census of 2010, there were 29 people living in Atomic City, and there is one store and one bar.  Denise Kiernan’s book The Girls of Atomic City about young women working during WWII in (what became) Atomic City on the first atomic bomb is on my to-read list (

Exhibit from the Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, ID

Exhibit from the Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, ID

The Idaho Potato Museum (‎) is small museum located in downtown Blackfoot, in the old Oregon Short LIne Railroad Depot.  You’ll get the history of potato farming and the potato industry, nutritional information on the potato, and trivia galore (including the biggest collection of potato mashers AND Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads that I’ve ever seen).  It’s wheelchair accessible, inexpensive, and at least when we were there, staffed by a very kind and courteous woman!

For the past two years we’ve stayed at The Modern Hotel ( in downtown Boise, in the Linen District.

Restaurants we’ve liked:

  •  The Matador ( is a chain of (very good) Tex Mex food.  Although we brought our kids and it was early (6 pm), there was already a bar vibe going on.  It’s loud and the staff have a little bit of an attitude, but the food is very good and it’s very accessible.  Hmmm, I just noticed that the website doesn’t give prices for the dinner menu;  that’s annoying.  My memory is that it was somewhat on the expensive side for Tex-Mex.
  • Fork ( is near Matador in downtown Boise, and we had a great meal here last year.  You can dine well for about $15 an entree (of course, if your taste runs to Prime Rib, you’re looking at $30 per entree), the service was good, the atmosphere alive but not too loud, and it was wheelchair-accessible.  I’d return.
  •  Tony’s PIzzeria Teatro (no website but see Yelp reviews, is a fun, inexpensive Italian restaurant near The Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise.  Although technically wheelchair-accessible, I don’t think you could truly get your chair indoors.  We sat outside on the patio and had a great antipasto plate and delicious  Neapolitan-style pizzas.  I hear the owner is Italian and makes his own sausages;  whether he does or not, someone here cares about good food at a good price.
  •  Cafe Vicino ( in Boise’s North End serves excellent Italian food in an upscale setting.  We had a fantastic meal there last year with our extended family, and they cheerfully accommodated a wheelchair and a slow-walker, and a big group (there were almost 10 of us).  The food is expensive but worth it for a splurge.
  •  Big City Coffee ( in the Linen District was just down the street from our hotel, The Modern.  It was an easy destination with a wheelchair, both in the ease of motoring down the street and access to the restaurant.  They have a “big” atmosphere and serve very big portions of hearty foods to nourish body and soul.
  • We also liked take-out (or dine-in) at a’Tavola (‎), just across the street from Big City.  The portions are a little smaller (which I prefer) and a little simpler but also, I think, somewhat better.  We liked getting our breakfasts to go from there (although it’s very accessible both for indoor seating and on the patio outside) as well our picnics (also known as car lunches).

Is it “Jackson” or “Jackson Hole”? Or: A Wheelchair and A Week in Wyoming

View of the Grand Teton Mountains from Mormon Row

View of the Grand Teton Mountains from Mormon Row

A quick geography primer:  according to Moon Handbooks, Jackson Hole is the name of the valley at the base of the Grand Tetons, a jagged set of mountains named “Teewinot” by the Shoshone Indians.  Jackson was named after a trapper who was based in the town;  the “hole” means a valley ringed by mountains.  Apparently it used to be called “Jackson’s Hole” but the name was eventually changed to “Jackson Hole” to end the sly comments.

Jackson is the town at the southern end of Jackson Hole.

This summer, my family and I stayed in Teton Village, about 12 miles northwest of of Jackson.  My favorite thing about this village is its proximity to the entrance of Grand Teton National Park (   For $25, you can get a seven-day pass for a car for both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.  If you are a US citizen and have a permanent disability, you can get a free pass to all US national parks;  see:

In my experience, there are always facets of the national parks that are accessible to the mobility impaired:  the visitor centers are often educational and accessible; there is usually one trail or more that works for a wheelchair; and most of the parks have a loop for cars with roadside parking for scenic viewpoints (that are often labeled with informative signs).  I have yet to meet a park ranger who was not resourceful and helpful when it came to my questions regarding accessibility.  The website at has detailed information on what is accessible in the park.  I cannot stress enough what a good resource the National Park Service (NPS) website is.

Grand Teton National Park is in the northwest corner of Wyoming (just south of Yellowstone National Park).  A few highlights follow:

  • Marianne at the Craig Thomas Visitor Center, Grand Teton National Park, WY

    Marianne at the Craig Thomas Visitor Center, Grand Teton National Park, WY

    The Craig Thomas  Discovery and Visitor Center (also known as Moose Visitor Center) is 12 miles north of Jackson.  It was renovated in 2007 and is a green and accessible building, with gift store, accessible bathrooms, exhibits and auditorium.  It is fully-staffed with rangers, at least in the summer.


  • The Jenny Lake visitor center is 8 miles north of Moose at Jenny Lake.  This visitor center is much smaller and not truly wheelchair-accessible, although there are accessible trails around the lake.   There is also accessible parking and curb cuts, as well as accessible rest rooms.  The big draw here is Jenny Lake;  you can rent kayaks or take the shuttle over to hike Hidden Falls (not accessible).  There is a scenic boat tour (narrated tour around the lake, about 45 minutes long)  that operates out of Jenny Lake and it is wheelchair-accessible; contact the visitor center there for more details.
  •  Colter Bay Visitor Center is 25 miles north of Moose and adjacent to Jackson Lake.  We didn’t have a chance to explore this area of the park beyond a drive-through.  Jackson Lake is bigger than Jenny Lake, and the Jackson Lake Lodge has a wheelchair-accessible restaurant, which is supposed to have beautiful sunset views over the lake.
  • Mother moose and baby on Moose-Wilson Road, Grand Teton National Park, WY

    Mother moose and baby on Moose-Wilson Road, Grand Teton National Park, WY

    Just driving through the park is a beautiful experience, affording sightings of moose, elk and prong-horned antelope.  My youngest daughter, Delia, and I got up at 5 am several mornings and parked ourselves (in our car) along Moose-Wilson Road hoping to spot a bear, but to no avail.  They are here, as are wolves, eagles and the pica, but we didn’t see them.

My second favorite thing about Teton Village was our hotel, The Hotel Terra.  (See my post review of the hotel.)

Other things to do in the Jackson area if you have mobility challenges:

  • Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding stables,‎
    • IMG_2831Our daughter had a private lesson here, and we would consider coming back just so that she could do a week of camp (really, daily lessons); the staff is supportive and welcoming, and they have a fantastic hoyer lift set-up to help someone with mobility challenges get on a horse
    • Wildlife Art Museum,‎
      • A small museum but interesting rotating exhibits, beautiful lounge room with views over National Elk Refuge, and an accessible pathway for viewing the outdoor sculpture
    • Jackson Hole Whitewater,‎
      • they’ll accommodate you in their rafts with (extra) supportive seating for scenic float trips down the Snake River but you have to transfer into their big blue rafts
    • And there’s always eating:

IMG_2497The biggest downside to the town of Jackson if you use a wheelchair?  A deranged person designed the downtown sidewalk system.    Sidewalks are raised for no apparent reason, with steps spouting from nowhere;  ramps appear and disappear into stairs, and many sidewalks are missing curb cuts.  I guess you could motor down the street in your wheelchair, as we did, but frankly, it seems like you’re increasing your chances that one of the parallel-parked cars will back out over you….


Accessible Hotel Review: The Hotel Terra, Teton Village, WY

Although not inexpensive, it has a few things going for it:

  • the accessible parking spots are near the door (so you don’t need valet every   day unless you want it)
  • the outdoor pool is heated and has a chair lift for those who need assistance getting into the pool
  • IMG_2469we were able to create an apartment-like suite by adjoining a single room next to a one-bedroom hotel room that easily accommodated the five of us and our wheelchair.  The suite then had two bedrooms, a Murphy bed, three full bathrooms (one of which was completely accessible), a kitchen (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, stocked with utensils, dishware and a coffee maker), a living room area that accommodated all of us and a 6-person table.  And the laundry facilities were across the hall from us!IMG_2470
  • there were several dining options, all accessible, nearby;  you could order take-out from all of them and there was a small grocery store (the Mangy Moose)
  • The Aspens, an organic supermarket, was down the road a few miles and is accessibleIMG_2504
  • very close to the southern entrance of Grand Teton National Park
  • close to Jackson
  • just before I left, I was on The Hotel Terra website and saw a 30% discount on hotel rooms for some of the dates we were there;  I called and they applied the discount to our entire stay.  Nice!
  • concierge service was very helpful in researching wheelchair accessibility for activities and restaurants

What I didn’t like about The Hotel Terra:

  • there was a big gap, maybe two inches from the entrance to the door jamb, which was awkward for Marianne to manuever over in her wheelchair (she got a little stuck sometimes)
  • there were only three or four accessible parking spaces, and it doesn’t seem like enough
  • the Mangy Moose store is not wheelchair-accessible
  • the restaurants are expensive, and it was impossible to get a reservation at Calico, a highly-recommended restaurant near The Aspens, or Q Roadhouse (right next to Calico), which were more affordable
  • the pool is small – really small
  • there are two buildings;  we opted to stay in the main building which had the cafe in the lobby, a restaurant in the lobby, the pool and the gym.  But the accessible room overlooks the Teton Village courtyard, which has a water fountain that attracts small, excited – and, when the jets go off randomly, shrieking – children.  And sound does carry in this valley….

Rave: Accessible-Vehicle Rental Service

I can’t say enough good things about Bill Phinney, who rents wheelchair-accessible minivans in the Salt Lake City, UT, area.

He is:

  • quick to respond via email
  • timely when meeting you at the airport to drop off the van or pick it up
  • responsive to alternatives, such as driving the van to you (for a price) if you choose to fly to someplace like Jackson or Boise where you cannot rent an accessible van
  • the vans are clean and in very good condition

Check out his website for more information.

Reading in Situ: My Top Picks for Good Reads Set in WY and UT

My friend Anne, an intrepid reader and traveller and fellow-gatherer of information, introduced me to the concept of reading books set in or about the area to which you are traveling.  I think it’s a brilliant idea.  Some of the joy of travel for me is the anticipation, and reading books set in my destination whets my appetite.  Solving the puzzle of travel (how to get where you want to go as inexpensively and/or as efficiently as possible, or even just how to see and do all you want to see and do in a constrained time frame) is equally fun and challenging for me;  to that end, immersing myself in non-fiction and travel guides is part of the process.  Last but not least, I am avid, but amateur and frankly forgetful, history- and geography- lover….reading books “set in place” before, during and after my trip cements some of the information for me.

My recommendations for books to read set in Wyoming and Utah are as follows:

  • Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer explores how fundamentalist Mormonism grew as an offshoot of Mormonism, emphasizing/exploiting the call to violence and personal vengeance that imbued the early founders’ call to faith.  Krakauer goes back and forth between the early founders, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and a horrifying murder in the 1980’s by the fundamentalist Lafferty Brothers.  The New York Times has a review of the book.
  • The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff, is a mystery that unfolds with regard to a fictional murder in Mesaland, UT,  the home of the First Latter Day Saints, a fundamentalist sect that practices polygamy.  It parallels a book written by Brigham Young’s 19th wife, who successfully divorced him and was at least partly responsible for convincing President Grant to sign a bill outlawing polygamy.  Ebershoff’s website has more information about the book.
  • Beyond the Hundredth Meridian by Wallace Stegner is a biography of John Wesley Powell, who first descended the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869 and is credited with mapping the formerly uncharted Grand Canyon and contiguous areas.  The New York Review of Books has a review of the book.  
  • Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner; I read this a very long time ago, and it didn’t resonate with me the way that Crossing to Safety did.  The book’s protagonist is a historian, a divorced amputee who uses a wheelchair, writing about his frontier-traveling grandparents.
  • The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle (ok, really set in western CO but it COULD be WY); raw, throbbing and brutal – yet redemptive – coming-of-age story set on a horse farm in western Colorado.  The protagonist is a middle-school age girl who grabs your heart, despite her awkward (and at times awful) choices.   See Aryn Kyle’s website for more information on this book and others.

Travel guides I used as a resource for this trip:

Additional online resources:

UPDATE: My terrible accessible taxi fail at Boston Logan Airport

Last week, I wrote about my experience trying to get my daughter, Marianne, home from the airport after our family vacation.

(See my previous note here:


Marianne from our vacation

Marianne from our vacation

I naively assumed that I could catch a cab from Logan that was accessible to make the short trip home to Newton.  6 cabs and about 2 hours later, I realized that was a problem.

During my adventure with Marianne, I tweeted my experience to Mayor Tom Menino, assuming that I would get an immediate reaction.  It took some nudging, but I did eventually get a response from the Mayor’s Twitter account a week after the incident.  I was put in touch with the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Kristen McCosh.  Ms. McCosh was generous with her time and uniquely sensitive to the challenges of traveling with a power wheelchair since she herself uses that form of transportation.  To my surprise, she has experienced almost exactly the same kind of (non) service when trying to use a taxi in Boston.

Kristen McCosh, Commission for Persons with Disabilities, City of Boston

Kristen McCosh, Commission for Persons with Disabilities, City of Boston

While I was extremely pleased with Ms. McCosh’s conscientious follow up, I was concerned with the underlying problems that I discovered with the accessible taxi service for the City of Boston.  According to Ms. McCosh, there are approximately 1,800 licensed cabs in Boston and approximately 100 of them are “accessible” vehicles. She further explained that many of the taxis were modified incorrectly, rendering them unusable by power wheelchair users.  It turns out that the vendor who made the modifications was not qualified (per Kristen) to make accessible modifications.  I was even more frustrated to find that nobody from the City of Boston (per Kristen) verified that these taxis were modified correctly.

Since Ms. McCosh started her tenure, she has personally inspected the voluminous issues with the current “accessible” fleet and is making some specific recommendations for changes.  She warned me that the current fleet will not be modified or taken out of service because they are usable for certain riders in manual wheelchairs.  With the life expectancy of a taxi between 6 and 7 years, it may be a very long time before reliable taxi service is available to power wheelchair users in Boston.

In my view, the city should never have accepted those taxi modifications and the city should be reimbursed for the faulty work.  Those funds should be used to accelerate the deployment of truly accessible taxis in Boston.  More than 20 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is neither fair nor right that some citizens do not have access to basic public transportation.

Ms. McCosh is releasing a report on the accessible taxi service in September.  I look forward to seeing the report and I hope the mayor supports her efforts to turn this untenable situation around.

My (terrible) experience getting an accessible taxi at Logan Airport

After a wonderful vacation with my family, it was time to head home.  Our flight landed at Logan at about 11:45pm and it took approximately 30 minutes to wait for the plane to empty out, wait for the aisle chair to get my daughter out of the plane and wait for her wheelchair to be brought up from the belly of the plane.

Our plan was to take 2 cabs home for the 20 minute ride from Logan to Newton Centre – one of my wife, two of the kids and the luggage and a second for me and my daughter Marianne with her wheelchair.

I did my research in advance and found that it was in fact possible to get a wheelchair-capable taxi at Logan:

The taxi line was very short and the wheelchair taxi showed up at the same time the rest of my family piled into their taxi to go home.  This is when the excitement started:

Taxi 1.  The first taxi the came was advertised as a wheelchair-capable taxi, but the driver looked at us and informed us that it didn’t “pass its inspection” and he wouldn’t be able to accommodate us.  The Massport dispatcher gave the driver a piece of her mind and sent him on his way.

Taxi 1 - the first one that didn't fit.

Taxi 1 – the first one that didn’t fit. 

Taxi 2.  The second taxi showed up about 10 minutes later – it was a new minivan with the accessible ramp cut into the back.  The driver looked like he never used the feature before and spent about 10 minutes trying to move the rear seat out of the way and ended up removing both rows of seats to get them out of the way.  He took out the small extension ramp and loosely propped it up against the back of his van so Marianne could drive in.  She got in the van as far as her chair would allow and it did not leave enough room to close the back door of the van.  By this time, she was very tired and frustrated, but she backed out of van ad the dispatcher called another one.  The person on the other end of mentioned that a Toyota Sienna accessible taxi might be the best solution.

Marianne is pretty tired by now

Marianne is pretty tired by now


Taxi 3.  Within a few minutes, an accessible Sienna approached…and then sped by us without stopping.

Taxi 4.  The person on the radio said they found another Sienna, but then I heard a minute later that the ramp on that one was not working.

Taxi 5.  After a long wait, a fifth taxi showed up — and it was exactly like the first one that didn’t fit Marianne’s wheelchair.

Taxi 5 - same problem as Taxi 1

Taxi 5 – same problem as Taxi 1

Taxi 6.  Just as Taxi 5 was leaving, Taxi 6 showed up.  It was a Toyota Sienna and as advertised, Marianne’s chair fit in the back.  The driver was extremely helpful and eager and carefully helped her into the car.  When she got in, I saw that the taxi did not have wheelchair tie-downs or any seatbelt for the wheelchair passenger (I would never drive her in my personal van without the 250 lb. chair safely secured).  We decided to press on without the safety features since it was so late.

We arrived at home around 2am safe and sound and I was reminded yet again how difficult it is for people in wheelchairs to accomplish the basic things that all the rest of us take for granted – even if they are promised as a basic right.

Delta experience from Boston’s Logan Airport to Salt Lake City Airport, UT (and back)

The five of us flew from Logan to Salt Lake City on a direct flight with Delta late afternoon both on the way to UT and the way home to MA.  The flight out was a little longer, at 5.5 hours (note: it’s two hours earlier in UT than MA).   Last year we had a horrendous experience on the way home with Delta (see Rants), but this year things went more smoothly.  It helped that Peter has Sky Priority miles with Delta, so we were able to use the shorter lines when checking in and when going through security.  Still, if you request assistance from the airline in advance, as we did last year (see: and search for “special-travel-needs/disabilities”), the security process is faster than it is for most other travelers.

Both this year and last, and in both airports, I found the security staff to be courteous and respectful when searching Marianne’s wheelchair.  They were also thorough (I think, although not being in security, it’s hard to know for sure), which I appreciate.

We boarded early on both flights and were able to get settled before the other passengers boarded.  Marianne was transferred to an aisle chair at the plane door, and Delta staff took her wheelchair (now on manual mode) to the tarmac.  It was a little unnerving to look from the plane window at the chair sitting on the pavement all by itself, and I had visions of them forgetting to load it (I’ve read somewhere this has actually happened).  The airline attendant was great when I relayed this story and had the pilot radio down to make sure it got on the conveyor belt. This YouTube clip shows the chair being unloaded from the plane in Salt Lake City:

Note on airplane seats:    we paid extra for economy-plus size seats so that we would have some wiggle room when doing Marianne’s catheter on the plane.  Not sure we needed them, but it was nice to have extra leg room.


Going to see Grampa in Boise, ID

Wheelchair-accessible rental parked at Ruth's Diner, Emigration Canyon, UT

Wheelchair-accessible rental parked at Ruth’s Diner, Emigration Canyon, UT

It seems to be impossible to rent a wheelchair-accessible minivan in either Jackson, WY or Boise, ID.  I’ve done internet searches and made many phone calls, and so did the concierge at our hotel in Teton Village, The Hotel Terra.  You can pay Bill Phinney (see Raves) about $1000 to drive a van to your destination in either Boise, ID, or Jackson, WY,  or you can pick it up from him at the very-manageable airport in Salt Lake City and drive it where you want to go.   Check out the rental site:  We rented a side-entry (electric  in-floor ramp) Dodge Caravan;  it was clean and in good shape.

Idaho Potato Museum

Pat, Marianne and Dee at the (wheelchair-accessible) Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, ID

We opted to stay overnight in Salt Lake City and drive:   first to Teton Village in Wyoming (about 5.5 hours) for 9 nights, then from Teton Village to Boise, ID (6 hours if you take the 40-minute detour, as we did, to the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID) for 4 nights, and then from Boise back to Salt Lake City (another 5.5 hours).  Bill makes the exchange easy:  the Salt Lake City airport is relatively small, and he meets you at baggage claim on your way in and curbside at a handicapped-parking space on the way out.




A very big collection of potato mashers at the Idaho Potato Museum


An equally large collection of Mr. (and Mrs.) Potato Heads