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Marilee J. Layman

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05:12 pm: Williamsburg Trip July 21-23, 2006
The reason I'm going to start doing trip reports is partly because then they'll be somewhere I know to find them, and the reason I'm doing this one is primarily because of the massive inaccessibilty of the hotel.


A friend in NC who I hadn't seen for a while was going to a bead show in Williamsburg (staying with her family nearby). I made arrangements to go more to see Barb than to see the show, and then she had to cancel because of illness. Since I am not a pre-cog, I decided to go anyway.

My first miscalculation was to take the Prince William Parkway to I-95 South. The Parkway was put in place specifically to make travel between ends of the county easier and I left the western end of the Parkway at 1:30pm. I arrived at the eastern end at 2:15pm and got on a crowded, barely-moving I-95. It took me three hours to get to the state route that I should have taken across the county. Three hours for 35 miles. The traffic continued at stop-and-go until we reached King's Dominion and while it picked up after that, it took me six hours (including a 10-minute break at a rest area to stand up, walk around, and get more water out of the back of the van) to go 150 miles. I haven't driven that long at once since before I got sick, and my legs were starting to cramp as I pulled into the Comfort Inn Historic Area in Williamsburg.

The CIHA was recommended by the bead show and I made online reservations. I'm clearly going to have to be more careful in the future because the hotel was one of the two worst hotels for accessibility that I've ever seen.

I got my carry-on (on wheels) and a foldable crate that carried my Gatorade and water out of the van and hauled them into the lobby to check in. The young woman at the desk took my credit card and gave me cards to room 502. It was pretty clear the hotel didn't have five floors, so I asked where it was. She said "Right down those stairs." I started to say I couldn't go down stairs and she interrupted and said she would help me with the bags. I said "No, I can't go down stairs, and she directed me to drive around the building. So after six hours driving, I haul my stuff back into the van, drive around the back of the building to find my room, with the door opening outside.

I decide to go in before bringing stuff in. I got a handicapped room, yes, which had clearly been changed from a regular room by changing the bathroom door to the outside of the bathroom, putting a grab bar near a raised toilet, and adding ugly plastic levers to the bathroom door knobs. The bathtub had no grab bars. I sat down and looked at the map of the hotel on the back of a very limited poorly-done hotel info brochure and it looked like I couldn't get to the indoor pool (I'd brought a swimsuit & water shoes for water walking) or the only restaurant in the hotel. I called the operator and was told that I could either walk all the way around the property (with a rise equal to that of the stairs) or drive up to get to those places. If I wanted ice, I could walk/drive almost as far. I thought later that I should have gone back to the lobby and insisted they transfer me to another Comfort Inn there in Williamsburg because I later saw three others, but at the time, I decided to move in.

I noticed that I had to put my weight into closing the door from the inside (and later, pull so hard I almost fell over to close from the outside). I had to move the two chairs around the little table to get to the thermostat and to close the drapes. When the bathroom door was open, I couldn't get to the sink. There was exactly room for the bathroom door to move open & shut, so I had to reach out, get the door, and walk backward bringing the door with me until I could close it and get to the sink.

I decided to nap a bit and try and rest my legs and in the process of undressing, found that the bathroom floor was so slippery that I slid in my bare feet and my slippers. It was really inconvenient to have to put shoes on every time I wanted to use the bathroom. When I woke up, I realized that I would have to get fast food if I wanted to watch the new Disney movie (which I could have missed, not nearly as good as "High School Musical") so I popped out and got some Taco Bell. I watched the movie, then TNT while I read Friday's WashPost, had my Gatorade, and took progressively more meds to stop my legs from cramping. I tried to go to sleep early but was so cold I turned the temp up to 71F.

Saturday morning, I decided to sleep in, it turned out until noon. I needed to shower, but clearly couldn't use the tub, so I washed my hair by leaning over the tub, turning on the shower, and using the temperature switch to support myself. I made a watery mess in the bathroom, but wasn't too concerned. Then I washed the rest of me at the sink. After drying and such, I started getting dressed, but I couldn't get my bra on. It and I were both clammy. Everything in the room was clammy. I tried to get that bra on for 30 minutes before I called the desk and asked for a female staffer to come down and help me dress. A nice young lady showed up, came in, and said "Oh, I help my Gram with this every morning." I told her I could usually do it myself, but everything was damp. She said "You turned the temp up, didn't you," and indeed I had. After I tipped her and she left, I finished dressing.

I went to the place where Jane's Bead and Fiber Show was to be, only to find that it had been moved to another Holiday Inn. Following the desk clerk's directions, I got to the new hotel and found the show. It was not very big, there were very few focals and they were mundane, and a lot of people clustered around the tables with colored shell shapes. I ended up buying some pearls and briolites from The Gem Shack and then looked for lunch.

I wanted to eat somewhere I couldn't eat here, so stopped at a restaurant called Food for Thought. It's an interesting idea -- they had quotes all over the wall, but so does TGIF. The food was higher priced than here, but not bad for a resort. I had the crab soup and an appetizer with stuffed mushrooms and stuffed artichoke hearts which were good.

I retired to the hotel for another nap and when I woke up, considered water walking, but didn't feel like leaving so I had two bottles of Gatorade (my BP was too low) and read two Smithsonian magazines I'd brought with me. Another early bedtime, this time with the temp all the way down to 69F. I wore my slippers to bed.

Sunday morning, I washed up a bit and was able to dress, since the humidity had been chased away. I finished packing and came home in two hours and 45 minutes, including 10 minutes for refueling the car and 30 minutes for refueling me (at Pierce's Pitt Bar-be-cue, easily the best place on the East Coast for BBQ and something I'd been looking forward to since I first decided to come). I fed the cats and checked email but spent the rest of the evening taking a nap, watching TV, and sorting out mail and newspapers. I would have napped longer, but the cats insisted they needed more food.

I liked Williamsburg as much as the other times I've been there, but I'm never ever going to stay at the Comfort Inn Historic Area again.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:marykaykare
Date:July 25th, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Oh dear oh dear. It sounds like some Temporarily Able Bodied person just didn't think when they decided where to put that handicapped room. Sorry the trip was such a trial and disappointment for you. Better luck next time.

MKK
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:July 25th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, I'll just have to be more careful. I did get some reading and resting done.
From:writingortyping
Date:July 25th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
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Yowza. It seems that someone really needs to look up the definition of "access."
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:July 25th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, really! I sent an edited version of this to the highest level edress I could find for the Choice Hotel system. I don't expect an answer, but at least I made the effort.

I have the PET scan tomorrow.
From:writingortyping
Date:July 26th, 2006 01:07 pm (UTC)
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Here's hoping you get a meaningful response.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:July 26th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
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I had to hold my arms above my head (horizontally) for 21 minutes! They went numb! My arms hurt so much after that I had to have a female staff member help me get my bra back on. I sure hope that's not going to be a repeating theme!
From:writingortyping
Date:July 27th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
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Ouch. Ouchouchouch.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:July 27th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
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And indeed, I got a phone call from a Choice, Inc. customer service person today, who appeared to listen and make notes and assured me they would send a field rep out to check that room and the hotel. When I signed on, there was an email from her confirming that. I hope they actually act on it.
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