Alzheimer’s Walk 2018 – HaliPawz

Alzheimer’s is a viscous disease affecting every family member, extending into the community and impacting so many lives in such a negative way. 

To Donate, click here

My dad was outgoing, he had an amazing mind where he could see a problem or obstacle in something he was doing and then go to the garage and build something to solve it   One year, when I was young, he came out of the garage with a pitchfork sticking out of a wooden plank, with some wire fastening it all together and said we were going to “push” the snow instead of shoveling it because his back was bothering him. It worked  30 years later someone else thought of the same thing and patented it and sold it. 

My dad was all about family too.  Family was so important to him   This is why I try to join my family when I can in the walk   It is important to me because I don’t want to see another family go though what we went through   Watching this brilliant mind deteriorate slowly   Watching a man who was a volunteer fireman, walking into burning buildings with none of the safety equipment they have today, go to being scared, not knowing where he was or who he was with. 

My dad gave back to the community in so many ways, serving on the fire department, then the fire board.  He was a GOOD neighbor to all.  

Alzheimer's Flower

Alzheimer’s Flower Garder Photo Credit: BCBS

I’m asking you, if you’re reading this, to be a good neighbor to everyone affected by Alzheimer’s.  If you personally have a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s, you know the importance of finding a cure. If you haven’t been affected by this disease, I hope a cure is found so you never have to be. 

Even if you only have $5 to donate, please consider donating.  Alzheimer’s affects everyone in so many ways. I have said so often, I had to grieve for my father every time I went to visit him until he passed away. His physical body was there but I couldn’t interact with him, couldn’t ask for a solution to a problem. I am blessed I have a similar mind, just wasn’t gifted with the same talent to actually BUILD the stuff.  I keep trying though!

Want to walk but don’t have a team?  Join ours!  It doesn’t matter if you know us or not.  Come out, have fun, a support a great organization.  Just click on the link below to join our Team! We’d love to have you walk with us. 

To Join our Team or Donate, Click Here

Let’s work together to find a cure! 

End of Alzheimers starts with me

The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with Me Photo Credit: Alzheimer’s Association

Advertisements

I visited Rockstar Burgers restaurant in the Westbottoms, Kansas City Missouri – Halipawz

Rockstar Burgers Westbottoms

Rockstar Burgers Westbottoms KCMO

I volunteer every year for the American Royal. For the last couple of years, I have driven by Rockstar Burgers on my way to the AR complex.  It always catches my eye.  The artwork on the outside is very much an attention grabber.  There always seems to be people there, which, for the Westbottoms, says a lot.

Today was no different.  I had signed up to volunteer for the BBQ sauce competition and sure enough, my eyes gazed to Rockstar Burgers as I drove by.  I had a pretty tight schedule today so I knew it would have to wait until another day. Not to mention I am back on track with my eating healthy and watching my caloric intake, so a burger would not be on the list

As luck would have it, we finished today’s portion of our volunteer duties early.  I did some quick calculations in my head and knew I’d have time for a burger AND a swim before I had to go to my next appointment.  I was heading to Rockstar Burgers.  I figured today was as good of a day as any.

I walked in and was greeted.  The decor is a lot of graffiti but it’s unique and eye catching.  They have normal tables as well as bar height tables.  The chairs are torn, the tables are wobbly…all of which just adds to the character and charm of the place.

 

The waitress came over to get my drink order while I perused the menu.  Since they are open 24/7 they serve breakfast and burgers with a mixture of other items thrown in.  I asked the waitress how big the patties were.  She said the regular burgers were the thin patties, about .25  lbs but the Rockstar Burgers were 1/2 pound. When I inquired what was on the Rockstar burger she rattled off so mush I couldn’t remember it all, but I disregarded it when I heard the word egg.  I am not an egg on my burger type of person.  The confusing part is, when I stated, “so if the others ones are .25 pounds then the double cheeseburger is 1/2 pound. She told me no.  Then she said… maybe .5 pounds.  At that point, I was lost so I went ahead and ordered the double cheeseburger, fries, and a strawberry shake.

Menu at Rockstar Burgers

Menu at Rockstar Burgers

 

They have free WiFi which is always nice. I did have to ask for the password but they have Free WiFi on the menu so I didn’t feel awkward asking for it.

My strawberry shake arrived first.

Rockstar Burgers Strawberry Shake

Rockstar Burgers Strawberry Shake

It was a nice size shake.  The shake was ok.  It could have had a little more strawberry flavor to it.  It was nice and thick, which is how I like my shakes.  I don’t think I would order it again unless I was just really in the mood for a shake.

 

57577FCF-D8DF-48AE-9438-E6D36B4BEFC5

My food arrived.  I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the burger, especially with the confusion over the size.  They only put 2 strips of bacon on it, which for an extra $3 I guess I would have thought maybe 3 slices.  You don’t get to specify the Temperature of the burger so I figured it would come out well done.  I was right.  The bacon had a really nice flavor to it.  It may be why you only get 2 slices, they spend more for a nice quality bacon.  The bun was fresh, there was plenty of cheese on it. The burger overall was good.  I’m not saying it was memorable, but it was ok as burgers go.  It was filling.  The fries were ok. I had to add a little bit of salt to them but they were nice and crispy on the outside, hot and meaty on the inside.

The staff checked on me often and removed any trash each time.

My bill, with tax, came to $16.50 before too.  While a little pricey for lunch, I had splurged on the shake and bacon, so it was average price to me.  More than I would normally spend when dining alone for lunch, on a whim. When it came time to check out, they bring the card scanner right to the table.  It pops up with the total as well as 3 gratuity options, 15%, 18%, and 20% with the amounts clearly showing.  You just select one, sign with your finger, and remove your card (if it has a chip). Super simple.

They also have a full bar, which is open until 1am according to the menu.

While I was there eating, it began to fill up   The more people who entered, the louder the restaurant became   The music is at a tasteful volume though, so you don’t feel like you’re competing with it to talk / listen to others

There is also an option  to sit outside but they don’t have a lot of tables out there so I’m sure they fill up quickly

Overall, I’m glad I stopped in. Looking around as I walked out, I realized there are a few other restaurants in the Westbottoms I should try.  I normally just drive in, volunteer, and drive back out.  With the American Royal moving at some point, I really should make the Westbottoms a destination from time to time.

I think Rockstar Burgers would be a fun place to go with a group who just wanted to have a few drinks and some burgers.  The atmosphere is fun.  The staff is friendly and very efficient.  The menu warns you there may be a wait because they cook to order, but I didn’t find the  wait to be too long.

If you’re in the Westbottoms, it’s worth checking out!

Have you been to Rockstar Burgers? Leave a comment and tell me about your experience!

 

Hyundai Elantra, my latest Hertz Rental Car – HaliPawz

As my summer with mom draws to a close, it was time for me to head back to Kansas City, Missouri from Port Huron, Michigan. I rented a car from Hertz like I normally do. I wasn’t as happy this time about the rental price, but that is another story. I had picked the group “Toyota Corolla or similar” and ended up with a 2015 Hyundai Elantra.  I have some question about the Elantra and the Corolla being in the same class, but Hertz, like any rental car, is never specific enough to give you an true answer and it wasn’t so far off that I feel like complaining again to them.

Rental Car 2015 Hyundai Elantra

Rental Car 2015 Hyundai Elantra

Let’s talk about this car for a minute. The first thing I want to acknowledge is that it is a nice looking car. I’m really more of an SUV/truck person in general, but I do appreciate a decent looking car at a good value. The car has a nice sleek look to it. When I got in to drive away, I was impressed with the amount of legroom when you put the seat all the way back. I’m 5 foot 10, so plenty of legroom, especially for a long drive, is very important.  I still don’t like how low it is to the ground, like I mentioned in a previous rental review, but again, I’m used to being higher up in my mini suv.

Headed to my moms to pick up my luggage I didn’t have a real chance to check the vehicle out, as it is a straight shot on a normal road. The brakes were crazy intense though! I barely tapped them and the car jolted to a stop!

When I start loading the luggage, I was impressed with the amount of trunk space there was. I am not the neatest packer, especially on car road trips. As long as everything can shove in the trunk I am happy! Because of this, I appreciate ample trunk space. I fit my suitcase, a duffle bag, a baby gate (for the dogs), a 30 pound bag of dog food, two tie outs, the dog’s travel bag, my laptop bag, a pair of shoes, some miscellaneous small bags,  and a big Sam’s Club thermal tote with some food in it.

Hertz, Rental, travel

Hyundai Elantra Trunk filled with stuff

Since it’s a rental, I covered all of the seats in sheets and blankets.  Filled the dogs water cooler and put it in the back, on the floor.  Loaded the dogs up and we were on our way.

Bella asleep in the backseat of the Hyundai Elantra Rental Car

Bella asleep in the backseat of the Hyundai Elantra Rental Car

The backseat must not be too bad, because Bella was not as restless as she was on the trip six weeks ago in the rental car. She only wanted her head out the window for about two minutes and then settled in on the seat and fell asleep. Zipper crashed in his normal place on the floor of the backseat.

When I first hit the expressway, I was a little concerned as the car seemed to want to sway back-and-forth quite a bit. There wasn’t a lot of wind, so I wasn’t really sure what caused it. All I knew was it was going to be a long drive if it continued. After a while, I began to think maybe it was me, because it seemed to get better as we drove along. There is an interesting feature I found on the car, you can choose what mode you want to drive it. The options are normal, Sport, and Comfort. I’m not going to lie, I played with it a few different times on the road, and I honestly couldn’t see that much of a difference. The steering wheel might be a little tighter in sport mode but it was very minimal.

I have to drive from Port Huron, Michigan to Kansas City, Missouri pretty down pat. I usually know where I’m going to have to stop, I know when I’m a third of the way, I know when I’m half way, especially when I’m doing the drive overnight. As I was crossing Michigan, I was on the phone and realized that I had already been on the road about four hours and the gas tank was still at half a tank. I couldn’t believe it!  I made it all the way from My mom’s house, to Kanake, Illinois before I had to stop!  It wasn’t because I needed gas, it’s because my bladder gave out before the gas did. It only took 10 gallons to fill it back up and we were back on the road. I noticed I still had 447 miles to go until I reached my home, and the car was saying I had 417 miles to empty. Had I waited another half an hour, I would’ve only needed to fill the vehicle up once for a 12 hour drive! That is pretty impressive. In looking at the gauges I averaged about 36.8 to 38.4 miles per gallon.  Not too bad.

Hertz, rental, travel

Hyundai Elantra Gauge showing 36.8 mpg

Hertz, Rental Car, Travel

Notice the angle of the edges on the driver’s seat of this Hyundai Elantra

As I have mentioned before, I am not a small woman. The seats were not the most comfortable in my opinion. The edges kind of dug into my outer thighs a little bit so I found myself shifting a lot. Perhaps if I had a vehicle with power seats, it might have been a  little better because I could have raised them up a little, but I doubt it. I found myself sliding down in the seat quite often and then having to shift myself back up. It’s just not comfortable when you’re wearing a pair shorts! Another complaint I had which I have often in cars, is the position of the center armrest and the side armrest; there is no comfortable way for me to rest my arm on it while I’m driving. They were both way too low. I found myself bringing my left leg up and resting my arm on it while I kept my hand on the steering wheel.

For some reason I don’t seem to like the cruise control on this vehicle. I can’t explain it, but I feel like I was constantly tapping my break and shutting it off and then driving with my foot on the gas again. I hit a little bit of rain at one point in the drive, and the vehicle handled it pretty well. I had control of the vehicle at all times.

***A little safety tip… Never ever ever use your cruise control when it is sprinkling, raining, snowing, icy, etc.!  It is not safe.***

Okay, back to the review!

The headlights were weird. I know that sounds strange, but I had difficulty figuring out if my lights were on or not!  I drove at least an hour and a half to two hours with just my parking lights on until it got dark enough for me to realize I didn’t have my actual headlights on. What threw me off was it looked like they came on automatically because the dashboard lit up a little differently when I got dusk but it didn’t look like any lights were on the outside so then I flipped the switch and saw a slight change on my dash and what I thought were lights on the car but then, like I said, it was only my parking lights!  Oops! Oh well I eventually figured it out.

The mirrors on the side are very nice, they are a good size, and the driver side has a little mirror insert in the upper left hand corner so you can see the road from two different perspectives.

The gauge lighting is nice, you have a clear indication of your fuel, you can toggle between your trip Miles, your miles per gallon, how many miles to empty, what your average rate of speed is, and how long you have been on this trip. It was easy to reset each one of them when I  started my trip. As I am a huge fan of the color blue, I was happy to see that most of the lights on the dash were a nice navy blue tone. Accented with white or a lighter shade of blue depending on which one you were looking at.

The steering wheel has a nice assortment of gauges on it including your cruise control your emotions to go between the different styles of driving, your trip information and you can quickly reset it from your steering well. I was surprised to not see any radio controls on the steering wheel, not sure if that is an option that can be added on different models or not.  The one thing I found weird though was that the controls were all on one side, so when you’re driving at night, it just didn’t look symmetrical.  If you have a case of OCD, I’m sure it would annoy you a little!

It has a sunglass holder up near the roof along with nice lights that are easily accessible and easy to turn on for the interior, I know they’re easy to turn on because Bella‘s big head turned them on more than once when she decided to walk around a little bit and try to move to the front seat!  I said try, because she wasn’t successful, but she did hit the light!

You have a 12 V plug along with a USB plug and in auxiliary plug all at your fingertips. The USB plug is a very nice touch. There is a small area to the right of the plug to put a few things. I put my Bolle` sunglass case in it though and it pretty much filled up the area, so it isn’t very big. The center armrest also opens up for additional storage, but I don’t like to put things in there for a rental car because I don’t want to forget them.  There is another 12v plug just off to the right so a passenger could also plug something in.  I forgot to look to see if any were in the back seat or not.

Front Area of Hyundai Elantra Rental Car from Hertz

Front Area of Hyundai Elantra Rental Car from Hertz

All in all, even with being uncomfortable seats, for a rental car on a long trip I would definitely choose it again if given the option because I loved the gas mileage and how little I spent on gas for the trip. I just need to either lose weight, or make sure I’m wearing jeans the next time! LOL

Both Zipper and Bella were able to fit their head out of the same window when we were closer to home!

Hertz, travel

Bella and Zipper sticking their head out of the rental car Hyundai Elantra

Hertz, Hyundai, Elantra, Travel

Bella and Zipper happy to be home after 15 hours in a car. You can see the water cooler on the floor behind them.

Would I purchase the car?  No, it would be too uncomfortable for me long term, but for one or two people (or skinny people) renting a car, it might be a good choice.

I hope this review helps you! Share your comments and thoughts if you have this car or have driven one?

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz

Quality Inn and Suites, Bloomington, IL – HaliPawz

As mom’s summer adventure with me draws to an end, we begin the fun task of getting her back to Michigan.  While it is only a 13 hour drive, I have learned it is better for her to stop half way to rest then it is to try to make it the whole way if we leave later in the day.  She had an appointment at 9:30 am on the day we were heading out, so I knew we would not get out until the late morning / early afternoon.  We ended up staying the night in the Quality Inn & Suites in Bloomington, Illinois.

Bloomington, Illinois is about half way so it is a good place to stop. As I have mentioned before, LaQuinta tends to be my first “GoTo” hotel. The LQ in Bloomington has disappointed me personally once before and then, on the trip down, we were reminded how horrible they are from an ADA (American’s with Disabilities) standpoint if you choose to stay in a non ADA room.  My biggest complaint with most hotel chains is they do not have ADA rooms with two beds. So any parent traveling with a child who may need this have to “throw a cot” in there or, as in my case, two adults traveling together have to pay for two rooms or if we want to save money and share a room, mom doesn’t get the benefits of the ADA facilities.  It’s fine for one night, but if it was more than one, we would probably have to go with a more expensive hotel chain or get two rooms.  I have written LaQuinta about this and was assured they were working to correct it and every location would have at least one ADA room with a roll in shower and two beds by the end of the year (two years ago) so clearly that has not happened.  Back to my dilemma for THIS trip….I needed a dog friendly hotel my mom could use.  The LaQuinta in Bloomington was out because their non-ADA rooms have a weird bathroom layout where the toilet is in a corner.  You can’t get the walker in there and the toilets themselves are extremely low.  She had difficulty getting up and without the walker to help or handles, it is horrible for her! I don’t understand WHY hotels continue to use the low toilets.  If they would just put ADA height toilets in every room, it would be easier.  I went through and switched all of mine to ADA height, even the ones my mom won’t use.  I love them!

But again, back to the review on THIS hotel……We ended up here because they advertised their dog friendly rooms and when I called, they had an ADA room with two queen size beds.  Worked for us.  I broke the review down into sections to make it easier for the ADA traveler, the Pet Traveler, the every day traveler, etc.

Rooms:

Our room was pretty spacious and I don’t think it was just because of the ADA portion. It seems like they would all be similar.  Sometimes in hotels in this price point and older styles, the rooms are a little cramped.  Not the case.  The rooms were clean, well laid out with the two beds, a desk, refrigerator, dresser, and a chair.  While the room was clean, I can’t say they are well maintained everywhere.  The dresser had two broken handles.  It had an older feel to it, except the shower! The shower looked like it had been renovated and were featuring Quality Inn’s “Q Shower” which includes a nicer shower head with multiple spray settings, premium bath amenities, curved shower rod for extra room, and a shower curtain with a sheer window for extra light.  The shower itself had a nice granite look to it.  You could tell it had recently been changed. I will address the ADA standpoints in a separate section towards the bottom of the post.

Q Shower at Quality Inn & Suites Bloomington, Illinois

Q Shower at Quality Inn & Suites Bloomington, Illinois


Q Shower Amenities


Breakfast:

The breakfast was pretty impressive for a hotel in this price point.

Three types of eggs; scrambled, hard boiled, and over easy (round to fit on a biscuit or muffin)

Waffles: Original and Blueberry. I would have preferred the spray to keep them from sticking, but not bad. Syrup was on every table. I appreciate little touches like that.

Biscuits and gravy (my mom, who is somewhat easy to please said they were so/so)

Fresh donuts

Bread, biscuits, bagels, and muffins

3 different types Cereal

Apples

Yogurt

Orange, Apple, and Cranberry Juice

Water

Skim milk & 2% milk

Plenty of peanut butter, cream cheese, jellies, and honey

Fitness Room:

They converted a room into a fitness room.  It has three pieces of equipment. Enough for you to get a decent workout in but nothing extensive. To be fair, I looked at it to comment, but I did not use it.

Swimming Pool:

It is an outdoor pool. I didn’t swim this trip, but saw others swimming. It looked clean, decent size.

A nice touch is it has a chair lift so anyone needing assistance into the pool would be able to utilize it with minimal effort.  Again, a surprise to see for the price point. Good ADA points there!  

Staff

The staff I encountered appeared pleasant, the associate working in the breakfast area was very nice. Asked if we needed anything more than once. A touch you don’t expect, but appreciate.  The night manager, Kevin, was great about helping me get the online rate even though I had to book the ADA room over the phone because the ADA room was not an option on the Choice Hotel app.  When I checked in, he hand crossed out the rate and wrote in the correct rate, the one he agreed to over the phone.  He wasn’t going to give me a copy of it at first but I insisted.  Without it, it would have been my word against his about the rate.  I am glad I did because sure enough, when I went to check out, they had charged me the higher rate!  I brought it to their attention and the two young men working the desk at the checkout had a heck of a time fixing it because they had already checked me out of the hotel.  They were extremely nice and worked diligently to get it fixed without making me feel like I was being a pain.  It was about a $20 difference.  They finally figured out how to get it corrected and were friendly and apologetic throughout the whole ordeal.  I had no problem waiting because their attitudes were GREAT! Even the staff I passed in the halls with the dogs were smiling and friendly.

Pet Friendly


Bella enjoying the comforts of the Quality Inn & Suites

They advertised themselves as being pet friendly.  Referenced their “pet friendly rooms” and they had a sticker on the door telling you to rate them on Bring Fido.  I think this set the bar high for me as to their pet friendly qualities.  As I mentioned, the room was pretty spacious, so it allowed the dogs ample room to play.  I was happy about that.  They needed to release some energy. When I took them out is when I had areas of concern.  The first is, NO TRASH CANS at the doors!  As a responsible pet owner, I pick up my dogs poop.  Everyone should if they travel with their dog(s)!  Other owners don’t want to walk in it.  I walked almost all the way around and saw one trash can at an entrance besides the main entrance.  There really needs to be more.  The next problem is the limited space to actually walk the dog(s).  There is very little grass around the hotel and where it was, it was extremely drenched, tore up with some tire marks, making it muddy.  My dog Zipper will poop or pee anywhere so he went on the rocks around a tree near the entrance by our door, but Bella is a little more selective and has to have just the right spot.  She didn’t even go to the bathroom the morning we were leaving.  She waited until we arrived at a rest stop and then went.  I know they can’t do a lot about the grass because of their layout, but they really need to add more trash cans!

Quality Inn and Suites Bloomington Illinois

Zipper doing the “terrier roll” within minutes of getting into our room

ADA 

This is the ONE area this hotel is severely lacking.  They get the bonus points for having an ADA room with two beds, but that room doesn’t have a roll in shower.  That isn’t my real complaint though.  My complaint is that they slapped some side bars on a low toilet and some handrails and called the room ADA.  The toilet WAS NOT ADA height, so it was still difficult for my mom to get up and down on.  In addition, the bars were just tucked up UNDER the seat, not permanently attached.  My mom was starting to get up and the bar slipped out from the seat and lost support.  She could have gone down and been severely hurt!  They were constantly slipping out.  Another thing is that it narrows the width of the seat.  It didn’t affect my mom, but as I openly admit, I am not a small woman, so I felt like I was being wedged between the bars when I went to use the bathroom.  Another problem is there were NO towel bars or hooks within reach of the shower.  The towels were over the toilet so it was impossible to reach from the shower.  The other hook was on the back of the door, again, impossible to reach from the shower for ANY person. An ADA person would never be able to reach it easily.  I know those with disabilities are used to adapting to make things work, but it was disappointing the lack of attention the hotel gave this room.  They did the bare minimum to call it an ADA room

Quality Inn and Suites Bloomington Illinois

Toilet seat in room with just bars hooked under the toilet seat. You can see the shower chair in the bottom right

Quality Inn and Suites Bloomington Illinois Not ADA

You can see the distance between the shower and the towels with no bars, hooks, etc

The “bar” just slips out very easily. It just tucks up under the seat with nothing holding it there.

As I mentioned with the swimming pool, they do have an ADA chair lift to swim with though. I just wish they would take a look at their rooms and update them just a little more when it comes to being ADA standards.

OVERALL

If you are looking for a reasonably priced room in Bloomington with a great breakfast and a welcoming staff, I would recommend this location.

Traveling with pets?  Again, a nice place to stay, just be prepared to throw your pet’s poop away in your room or take a hike around the hotel!

Need a good ADA room?  I would have to recommend skipping this hotel.  I just don’t think they are where they need to be yet.  Hopefully they will take the steps to improve this over time and if we visit again, I will update this post if they do make changes.  Since we stop near Bloomington whenever I bring mom back and forth between Michigan and Missouri, I am sure I will have another chance at some point.

It might not be the fanciest place to stay in Bloomington, but when you’re saving your pennies and you appreciate the Choice Hotel line, this is one to consider!

Have you stayed here before?  Do you travel with your pets?  Leave your comments below!
If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

The trip to the Kansas City Zoo takes a frustrating turn – HaliPawz

I love zoos. It’s a great way to get outdoors, go walking, and enjoy seeing all of the animals.  Great zoos aren’t just about keeping animals in captivity but about learning about them and striving to find a way to help those in the wild stay wild.  Mom is down visiting right now so we are headed to the Kansas City Zoo.  With her electric scooter, it’s a nice day outing and I think she enjoys the zoo as much as I do.

Growing up, we didn’t get to the zoo very often, it wasn’t close to us.  The Detroit Zoo was about an hour away and when I was young, that seemed so far away. Both me and my sister now live close to a zoo, she is near the Comunbus Zoo in Ohio.  I think my mom made it to four zoos last summer between us; Kansas City, Omaha, and Detroit with me, Columbus with her.

The Weather Channel App for Kansas City

The Weather Channel App for Kansas City

We arrived around 10am, two hours after the zoo opened. I couldn’t believe how many cars were here. A lot of buses were also in the parking lot.  The handicapped spaces were full, there isn’t a lot of them, so we went in search of a parking space.  Even though there isn’t a lot of handicapped parking, there is a large area for loading and unloading, so it isn’t necessarily a problem.  Mom had her scooter, so we could park pretty much anywhere as long as I had room to get it out of the back of the van. We ended up parking by the buses.

Mom forgot her hat so the first 20 minutes were spent going back and forth between her and the gift shop as I looked for a hat for her.  She prefers the crush-able fabric bucket hats but it seemed like they only had those in child size.  She didn’t want to come in with her scooter because it is sometimes difficult to navigate in there with it, especially when there is a lot of people.  While most of the park is ADA friendly, I will say the main gift shop near the entrance is sometimes difficult.  It has enough room for a wheelchair, so they are compliant, but, like we often see in stores, they don’t take into account someone with an electric scooter.  There are quite a few sharp twists and turns from that perspective.  I finally convinced her to come in and look at them.  She didn’t want the adult hats because they didn’t say “Kansas City Zoo” on them, so I found the largest size child’s hat they had and she purchased that.  I’m sad to say I didn’t get a picture of it because of what happened as the day progressed.

Giraffes and Kansas City Zoo

Giraffes and Kansas City Zoo

As we were going through the back half of the zoo, after we crossed the swinging bridge, I noticed I smelled a burning wire / electronic smell.  I thought perhaps it was just being in that area and ignored it.  As we crossed back over the swinging bridge to finish our African Adventure and grab a bite to eat, I noticed my mom was getting further away from me.  She keeps the speed pretty slow in general, but this was slower than normal.
We had lunch at Rafiki Restaurant right at the beginning of Africa.  I had shut off the scooter and removed the key while we sat at a table inside.  After our day, I hate to say something negative about the zoo, but I really have to.  I know you can bring in your own food but when for me, between traveling with everything my mom needs and the scooter, the last thing I want to worry about it packing a lunch and keeping it cold.  The food at the zoo just seems so overpriced for what you get.  The fries were good.   They were the nice thick crinkle ones.  The double cheeseburgers are $8 and so dry! I understand having to cook them well done, they might even purchase them pre-made, pre-cooked, I’m not sure, but my cheese didn’t even begin to melt.  Is the cheese too cold?  The burgers not hot enough?  It’s a little disappointing.  One way to save some money though is to have a Friends of the Zoo Membership (FOTZ).  You save money on food, items in the gift shop, etc.  If you purchase a large, refillable, souvenir cup for $8, you can get it refilled for $1.50 or $1.35 with the FOTZ membership.   They will refill it with ice water for no charge.

Pepsi, Orangutan Canopy

Kansas City Zoo Souvenir Cup

The cups are nice and large and for us, they fit in the basket of her scooter quite well.

After we finished eating, mom started the scooter back up, ready to enjoy the remainder of the day and head over to the new Orangutan Canopy Exhibit.  She pushed the lever and nothing happened.  I looked over and the scooter wasn’t moving.  Uh Oh, what’s going on.  I thought perhaps I forgot to re-engage the brakes, but it usually gives us an alert when we do that.  I had her shut it off, I checked it all over, had her start it up again, and again, nothing happened.  What is going on?  I have her hop back off it so I can try to figure it all out.  I pull the battery out, check all of the connections, put it back in, and try it again.  Still nothing.  I turn it on and leave it on for about sixty seconds, and a series of beeps start to come from the scooter.  I know those beeps mean something, so I turn it off and back on again so I can count the beeps.  9 beeps.  Pull the battery back out to cross reference what 9 beeps means.  INTERNAL ERROR!!!  Contact an authorized dealer!  Ugh!!!! I leave a message with Chuck from Chuck’s Mobility over in Lenexa, KS.  He is the one we had purchased it from.  I guess I should be happy that this happened in Kansas City and not in Michigan.

So here we are, stuck in the back of the zoo with a scooter that isn’t working.  I can’t push her all the way to the front.  Even if I went to get a replacement scooter, I still had to get the other scooter back to the van.  What a dilemma.

The restaurant is pretty busy, so I push mom out of the restaurant and head over to the gift shop.  They weren’t quite as busy so I asked the associate if she could contact someone in guest relations to figure out if they had a solution.  She was so helpful.  She was able to reach someone and they were sending EMS out to help us out.  I didn’t really feel like we needed EMS because it wasn’t an emergency, mom was fine, maybe a little frustrated, but fine.  EMS arrived and after a few minutes discussing the problem, we came up with a solution.  He was going to take mom in his cart, we were going to lift the scooter into the back of his unit, and he called for another person with a golf cart to give me a ride.  They were extremely helpful.  I can not thank all the parties involved and the Kansas City Zoo for their quick and effective help in a very frustrating situation.

While we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to see, now we just have an excuse to go back sooner once the scooter is back in commission and a reason to compliment the zoo even more!

Additional Note about the Scooter

Chuck called me back and I ran the scooter over to him.  He called me back after talking to the manufacturer and they believe the mother board is damaged.  A new one is on it’s way and Chuck will replace it as soon as he gets it.  If anyone is in the Kansas City area and in need of a scooter rental, a scooter purchase, or any mobility needs, Chuck is a great resource.  I have rented two scooters from him before we purchased mom’s last year and we have had nothing but great service from him.  The mother board is just a fluke and not a common problem.  We will be happy to have it back and her rolling again!

Mom on Scooter at Omaha Zoo Summer 2014

Mom on Scooter at Omaha Zoo Summer 2014

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Traveling with pets? My go to hotel is LaQuinta when available – HaliPawz

I love travelling with my two dogs.  They are part of my everyday life, so it only makes sense I enjoy them when I am on the road as well.  When I moved from Michigan to Missouri eleven years ago, I learned how to travel better with my one dog, Jake, because I was on the road so much for work.  Even traveling home for a visit, I had to plan accordingly because it wasn’t always easy to find a place to stop if I drove.  When I flew, Jake had to be in a travel carrier and travel as cargo.  I hated it.  I was always worried something would happen to him.  It caused me to choose car as a way of traveling instead.  A thirteen hour drive without stopping can make for a long trip, especially when I was traveling after working all day.

Then I discovered the LaQuinta hotel chain!  They quickly became my go to hotel chain of choice.

Let’s discuss the reasons why:

LaQuinta currently operates over 830 locations throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada.  I know they have grown quite a bit over the last few years, so they are becoming easier and easier to find in a location I am traveling to.  Of course, I have emailed them more than once to open one up in my home town of Port Huron, Michigan so I can stay there when I go home to visit family.  Maybe one day!  They may not always be in the prime spot in the city, so if you are hoping for an ocean view room, or a location right in the heart of the city you are traveling to, then you may want to consider a different hotel, but they are usually within a close proximity of where I want to be.

LaQuinta is affordable!  Yes, cost is a huge factor for me when I travel.  I try to find the best priced location when I travel and I have found LaQuinta to participate in many of the travel discounts available.  This is an important side note, LOOK FOR DISCOUNTS!!!!  You should NEVER pay full price for any hotel.  Don’t always assume the discount option you chose the last time is the cheapest option this time.  I will write another blog about traveling on a budget later.

The rooms are nice.  Now, I do want to put in a disclaimer.  If I am not familiar with the location, I will call them to find out if they are a corporate location or a franchise.  If they are a corporate location, I will book with them in a heartbeat.  If they are a franchise location, I will first look to see if there is another location within the same proximity.  If there isn’t, I will go and look for reviews, study the pictures, and I will have to consider if I still want to book at the location.  Not every franchise location is bad, but there has consistently been a difference in the quality of the rooms between the franchise locations and the corporate locations.  The corporate locations have been redesigned.  The rooms are nice, the colors are cheery, the staff always seem to be friendly.

Speaking of staff, the staff is another reason I like to choose the LaQuinta hotels when I travel with my dogs.  With the exception of one location in Georgie, I NEVER feel like traveling with my dogs is a pain to them.  I never feel like I have to hide the fact my dogs are with me.  The staff seem genuinely happy to see them.  They greet them.  They smile when they see them.

All of their locations, with three exceptions, are dog friendly in the US.  I have never travelled outside of the US with my pets, so I can not speak for their Mexico and Canada locations.  I was told the reason the three do not is because of where they are built, there is no grass for the dogs to be taken outside, so they cannot be welcoming of pets.

They have a great rewards program.  If you do any traveling, always look into the hotels rewards program, but I can attest to LaQuinta’s being great.  It is so easy to earn free nights or turning the points into gift cards, airline miles, charitable donations, magazines, or even luxury resort partnerships.  I use mine for free nights except one time I turned it in for a gift card.  Redeeming for a free night is extremely easy.  You can do it on their website or by making a phone call.  I have never had a problem redeeming points, even at midnight ten minutes before I arrived at the hotel because I was driving overnight and got tired.

Their rewards program is on a tiered system, where the more you stay, the quicker it is for you to earn points towards a free night.  I have been at the Platinum level every year except this year.  I am not traveling as much so I am not staying in any hotel as much as I used to.  Another nice thing about their rewards program is you usually receive a follow up survey about your stay.  While you do not earn any points for filling it out, I can speak from personal experience someone DOES indeed read them and follow up.  On the rare occasion I have had a bad experience, I receive follow up rather quickly and even received a partial refund on my stay because of the situation. I can probably count on one hand how many times I have had a bad experience, so when it does happen, it doesn’t deter me from the brand, just that location.

One of the best reasons for choosing LaQuinta when traveling with pets is because they do not have a breed restriction, a size restriction, or a number’s restriction.  They are just as happy to see my 100lb Neapolitan Mastiff Bella as they are to see my lovable, Jack Russell Terrier Zipper.  Of course, Zipper wins them over because he constantly tries to jump up on the counter (a bad habit he was taught at a LaQuinta we frequented often shortly after I adopted him).  There are a few locations that ask you to fill out a pet release where you include your cell phone number.  There are some that state the animal can not be left in the room unattended.  I find these are usually at the franchise locations.  I have never had a problem at a corporate location.

Most of the corporate locations have designated areas to walk your dog, including pick up bags.  The property is usually well maintained, so you don’t have to worry about stepping in messes left from lazy dog owners.  The dogs are not allowed in the breakfast area, for obvious reasons.  They do not want dogs in the area where food is served.  They are usually welcomed in the lobby area provided they are behaving and leashed.  Again, the only exception I have ever had is the location in Georgia where I was clearly informed they were not allowed in the lobby and I had to remove them.  It stunk because I was with a large group, my entire family was staying there, so I would have preferred to have my dog with me instead of locked up in the room, but I respected their wishes.

Speaking of breakfast areas, they have a decent continental breakfast.  There are always waffles, one of their signature items, but then, depending on the location, they may have biscuits and gravy or hard boiled eggs, in addition to the traditional continental breakfast items.

So, the next time you are getting ready to plan a trip and your fur babies are going with you, consider staying at a LaQuinta if one is available in you area of travel.  You can visit their site, which is easy to navigate, at LQ.com.  It is important to remember, as pet owners, you are responsible for your pet.  If they have an accident on the floor, CLEAN it up.  If they are chewers on doors, don’t leave them unattended.  Even if your dog is well behaved off leash, when you are staying at a hotel, USE A LEASH!  Not only is it probably a requirement where you are, but you also don’t know what other dogs are going to be traveling.  Just because a dog travels, doesn’t mean they are dog friendly.  My Jack Russell is not dog friendly.  More than once, I have had to tell a dog owner to recall their dog because it comes running up to mine off leash.  I am always quick to say he isn’t dog friendly from a distance but too many owners say, “Oh, my dog gets along with everyone.”  Those are the owners who ruin it for everyone else.

I want to note I wrote this blog completely to help other owners.  LaQuinta was not aware of this blog at all.  I do want to say a special thank you to one LaQuinta.  I never formally thanked the La Quinta Inn Little Rock at Rodney Parham Rd  1010 Breckenridge Dr., Little Rock, AR for their amazing support towards me and my late Rat Terrier Jake.  Jake was suffering with cancer and our last trip was to Little Rock.  We had been there many times, so the staff knew him and me very well.  I am sure the same staff is not there as this was back in 2008, but his last couple of days here, he lost control of his bowels.  He stopped eating.  He, sadly, had a horrible accident in the hotel room.  I knew the end was near.  I took him to a veterinary down there and they were able to get him rehydrated and we took the chance of getting him home to Kansas City, to his cancer specialist.  When I told the staff about the accident and offered to pay extra for cleaning, not only did they tell me to not worry about it, but they were genuinely concerned about him and me.  When I notified them of his passing, many of them I had encountered throughout my stays signed a card and mailed it to me.  I have never forgotten how wonderful they were.  I had ever made a collage for them to hang up, but circumstances happened and I wasn’t able to return for a couple years.  By then, they had a new manager and it didn’t seem fitting to give them the collage.  Even with new staff, that particular location will always hold a special place in my heart.

Zipper in Little Rock.

Zipper in Little Rock.

I hope this helps the readers the next time they are getting ready to travel with their pet(s).

 

If you like this article and other articles I’ve written, please follow me on twitter @HaliPawz and like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz