Grab Bar Follies

The Reno strip at night. The Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus are all connected by interior walkways. In the background at left is the famous Reno sign (“biggest little city in the world”).


We recently returned from a quick weekend getaway to Reno. The idea was to relax in front of the video poker machines at Baldini’s, our favorite locals’ casino across the river in Sparks, Nevada (Rock Boulevard at Glendale Avenue). The buffet is long gone, but Baldini’s has a popular 24-hour café known as the Empire Diner (excellent food, large portions, great service, and half the price of the restaurants in the hotels on the Strip). They also have a taphouse with pub grub and a little sandwich place called The Brickyard on the casino floor. We love Baldini’s!

Alas, the Baldinko does not have an attached hotel, so we stayed at the Sands Regency just off the Strip. We have been here many times, mostly due to their promotions that keep things affordable. This time, we paid for Saturday night and got Friday night free. The Sands is an older hotel, badly in need of modernization. Hence, the promotions. The place is huge, with accommodations spanning three high-rise buildings.

The Sands at night, with a view of one of its restaurants, Mel’s Diner. I admit to enjoying the ability to chow down on oatmeal and fried potatoes at three in the morning while listening to the Flamingos and the Chiffons (shoo-bop, shoo-bop).

It had been a year since we last graced the Sands with our presence, and I had completely forgotten what you get for the cheap rooms: Horrible parking, pricey food, Saturday night crowds, and downright stupidity when it comes to reserving an “ADA room.”

Compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires most hotels to make a certain percentage of their rooms accessible to those with physical disabilities. This encompasses a wide variety of accommodations, from having fire alarms with visible strobes for the deaf, to making doorways wide enough for wheelchairs to fit through, to providing roll-in showers. While new hotels are built to ADA specs, older establishments like the Sands limp along on a few barely adequate retrofits.

I have learned from hard experience that about the best you can expect at the Sands in terms of accessible bathing is a tub with a grab bar. Well, if you happen to be in a wheelchair, then good luck to you. You’d better be traveling with someone strong enough to lift you in and out of the bathtub without injuring themselves. As for myself, so far unfettered by a wheelchair, the difference between being able to bathe or not frequently hinges on the height of the tub. I no longer have enough strength in my legs to lift them up high and swing them over the side of a tall tub. Most of us take this maneuver for granted, but it is an insurmountable obstacle for me. The Sands plan seems to be to reach into the tub, hang onto the grab bar for dear life, and haul yourself into the bath on the strength of your arm and back muscles. You’ve got to be kidding. I mean, really?

For me, the bottom line is that if the side of the tub is more than a few inches high, no grab bar is going to help. At the Sands, I struggled mightily to lift myself into that tub by contorting my body any way that I could. The end result was that I pulled a muscle in my back, spent the remainder of the weekend hobbling about hunched over, and stank like a vagrant. You simply can’t clean your body very well with a washcloth, at least not without flooding the bathroom.

Next stop is Oregon for a Scrabble tournament. Why am I surprised that the host hotel has no walk-in/roll-in showers? This weekend, I will be shopping for a basin large enough to stand in while I’m giving myself daily sponge baths. And lots of deodorant.

As for any of my esteemed opponents bowled over by my nasty B.O., kindly keep it to yourselves. Just hold your tongue while you’re holding your nose over there across the board.

ADA or no, traveling will always be a challenge for those of us with disabilities. The best we can do is to keep the dialogue going and let hotel management know in no uncertain terms that our needs are not being met. We will be heard and we will be seen. And come what may, we will travel the world for work and for play. Our days of staying at home and hiding are over.

On the Road Again (and again, and again, and again…)

We have put a lot of miles on old Holly lately.  In fact, one could say that we have done the grand tour of the tri-state area.  In the last three or four weeks, we have been to Banning CA, Riverside CA (three times), Yuma AZ and Laughlin NV.  Whether it’s work, pleasure or just a trip to Wal-Mart, it means jumping in Holly and zooming at least 100 miles down the freeway.

It looks as if lots more travel will be on tap for the month of May.  Enjoy the photos and thanks for riding along with us!


Windmills 1Windmills 2

Windmills in the San Gorgonio Pass along Interstate 10, between Palm Springs CA and Cabazon CA (about 80 miles east of Los Angeles). You can’t tell from the photo, but it was a windy day through the pass and the windmills were turning furiously.

Arizona sunset

Arizona sunset, Bullhead City AZ

River Palms

River Palms Resort, Laughlin NV. This is one of our favorite weekend getaways out in the desert.

Breakfast at Daniel's

Breakfast at Daniel’s Restaurant in the Regency Casino along the Strip in Laughlin NV. Omelette Florentine with breakfast potatoes and rye toast. This place is a hole in the wall that has excellent food. We also had dinner there Friday for their all-you-can-eat fish fry. The cod is fresh and flavorful with a light breading. The quality has been consistent since we discovered this place a couple of years ago.

Regency cow

Regency Casino’s bovine mascot. Daniel’s Restaurant was once known as the Tropical Cow; the outdoor sign continues to display the old name.


Sign on the Regency’s beefy mascot stating “Do not touch or sit on cow (splinters).”


D’Angelo’s Restaurant, Bullhead City AZ. This is our favorite spot for Italian food in the desert. It is a locals hangout, favored by retirees living along the Colorado River. This place is difficult to find if you don’t know where you’re going. From northbound AZ Hwy 95, take a left at Riverview (just past Wal-Mart). All the way at the end of Riverview, take a right, a left and another right. It is located just off the river by the marina.

D'Angelo's salad bar

D’Angelo’s salad bar. Any salad bar that contains pickled beets, chick peas, Chinese corn cobs and pineapple gets my stamp of approval!


Eggplant parmagiana and spaghetti at D’Angelo’s. The fresh marinara sauce was delicious! Served with garlic bread and all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar. The price? $11.00. Donna had her favorite, the “butcher’s” calzone, which has an all-meat stuffing and is served with marinara or meat sauce on the side. This place is a hidden gem and I can’t praise it enough.

Colorado River

Colorado River from the Nevada side, looking across to Arizona. Who needs Hawaii?

Vidal Jct ag station

The agriculture inspection station at Vidal Junction CA.

Vidal Jct chickenVidal Junction CA at the intersection of U.S. 95 and California Hwy 62, about 21 miles west of the Colorado River crossing to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. You can still see the chicken icon on the roof of a building that was once a restaurant, apparently years ago.

Vidal Jct store

The little convenience store at Vidal Junction CA. As this place is in the middle of nowhere, the management is able to get away with charging visitors for using the rest room unless they make a purchase. We made a purchase. Two small bags of chips and two small bottles of soda. Over seven dollars. Whew!