Visiting a National Park in 2021? Take Food!

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Visiting a national park in 2021 is a completely different experience. Some national parks require reservations or entry permits, while others may have limited services. And then there are the crowds. People are being turned away from Arches National Park at 8 AM because the entrance line backs up to the highway, and when we visited Glacier National Park last week there was no parking at Logan Pass at 8 AM. Usually getting to a national park early in the morning will give you the edge, but that’s not always the case in 2021. Continue reading

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First Annual Spirit Lake Cardboard Boat Regatta

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First-time events can go either way. Fortunately the inaugural cardboard boat regatta at Spirit Lake was a real winner this weekend. It was held at Fireside Park, which offers accessible parking and restrooms; and I was pleased to see several wheelchair-users there. Plus, since the park is fairly flat, it’s easy to roll over to the shore to get a better view of all the action. Continue reading

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Navajo Nation Tribal Parks Closed Due to COVID-19

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If a Southwestern US road trip is in your future, please take note that the Navajo Nation tribal parks are currently closed due to COVID-19. The Navajo Nation’s roads also remain closed to visitors and tourists until further notice. This includes the following parks and recreation areas. Continue reading

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Yosemite National Park Moves to Reservation System for 2021

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Yosemite Falls

Beginning on May 21, 2021 Yosemite National Park will require day-use visitors to hold a reservation to enter the park. Visitors who have camping or lodging reservations will not be required to have day-use reservations. Continue reading

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Zion National Park Implements Shuttle Ticketing System for 2021

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If you’re thinking about visiting Zion National Park this year, you’ll need to plan ahead, as a new shuttle ticketing system has been implemented in the park. Private vehicles are not permitted in Zion Canyon, and in normal years a free on-demand shuttle bus runs from the visitor center to trailheads and viewpoints in the canyon. Of course this is not a normal year, and due to COVID-19 shuttle capacity has been reduced in 2021, and a timed shuttle bus ticketing system has been implemented. Continue reading

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Airline Mask Exemption for Disabled Passengers? Plan Ahead

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On February 1, 2021 the Center for Disease Control issued new requirements for mandatory mask wearing on all interstate transportation, including US airlines. Although most airlines already required masks, this CDC order makes masking-up a requirement for most people to fly. There are however a few exceptions.

  • Children under 2
  • Cases where it would create a workplace safety issue
  • Passengers who cannot safely wear a mask due to a disability

That said, it’s not like you can just stroll up to the gate and declare that you are going mask-free due to your disability. Some advance preparation is required. First and foremost, contact your airline, because exemption policies will likely differ from carrier to carrier.

For example, as of February 1, 2021 American Airlines requires customers who are unable to wear a face mask due to their disability, to contact the Special Assistance department at least 72 hours in advance. Documentation from a licensed health care provider as well as a negative COVID-19 test are also required.

Some airlines may also require passengers requesting mask exemptions to:

  • Request this accommodation in advance
  • Check in early
  • Be evaluated by the airline’s medical expert

And then there are other airlines that remain silent regarding a medical exemption from wearing face masks. Personally I would check the airline’s exemption policy before I booked a flight if I was unable to mask-up due to a disability.

It’s good that a medical exemption is now possible, but the key phrase here is “plan ahead”.

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What the New DOT Rental Car Regs Really Mean

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There’s been a lot of chatter about a proposed rule released last month by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Press releases were distributed  to the media about the proposed changes, which resulted in a glut of editorial coverage. Unfortunately many of the people who wrote about the proposed changes were unfamiliar with the existing ADA regulations for rental cars. As a result, headlines like “New ADA Rules Will Make Rental Cars More Accessible” began to appear.

And those headlines are rather misleading. Continue reading

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New York City Subway Gets More Elevators

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One of the biggest roadblocks to accessible public transportation in the Big Apple is the lack of elevators in the subway system, which was largely constructed before the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was on the books. With that in mind the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently announced a new accessibility project that will add 17 new elevators in eight stations. Continue reading

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Amtrak to Compensate Disabled Passengers for Inaccessible Stations

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Under the terms of a settlement agreement reached in December 2020 between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Amtrak, disabled passengers who traveled or tried to travel on Amtrak may be entitled to compensation. Specifically, passengers who traveled or tried to travel to or from one of 78 inaccessible Amtrak stations as far back as July 27, 2013 may be eligible for a piece of the $2.25 million compensation fund. You can apply for compensation at https://amtrakdisabilitysettlement.com. Continue reading

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