November 2023
by Kaitlyne Sargent

Kaitlyne Sargent had never travelled and Washington State and Seattle were on the top of her list. She wanted to be in a large city, and still explore nature. Plus, she likes dreary weather, so Seattle seemed like a perfect fit. Team Gleason was delighted to help Katy take a train from Minnesota to Seattle to explore the area – and hop on a ferry. You can read more about her Adventure in her own words below. 

Did you face any challenges? How were you able to overcome them? 

My Wheelchair did not like the safety bumps in the crosswalks in downtown Seattle and would stop in the middle of the street. We had to override my system constantly. LOL. The whale watching ferry was not Wheelchair accessible, so the crew had to watch my Wheelchair at the dock. I had help getting into the ferry and had help getting onto the bow. In order to see the whales, my Husband had to stand behind me and hold me up. 

What was your favorite part of the Adventure? 

The view on the train; they were so incredible and driving to the various places I went in the mountains like Olympia National Park was incredible and whale watching. Oh my gosh, whale watching has been something I’ve always wanted to do! 

What was the most memorable moment?

Olympia National Park and whale watching. Oh my gosh, the last 15 minutes as we were pulling back into port we got to see a pod of orcas and it was a dream come true. 

 What did this trip mean to you? 

This trip meant everything to me. I finally got to visit the West Coast and go on a train and have experiences I would never have had the chance to have. 

How was the accessibility on your adventure? 

Accessibility was very good throughout most of the trip. However, if I did not still have some strength in my legs to where I can stand and walk short distances I would not have been able to use the train or go whale watching because the train just does not have enough room to fit the electric wheelchair and turn into the Wheelchair cabin. I think I would definitely, probably need a sleeper cabin that might be easier to access. I’m not sure as for watching. I don’t know if they have any other accessible ferries that do allow wheelchairs. All the ones I looked into did not have access. It was completely worth it, but I wish some things were a little bit easier. 


What advice would you have for someone else going on a similar adventure? 

Make sure if you want to go whale watching near Seattle that you book the tickets in advance and if you cannot stand or walk short distances, make sure you call different whale watching companies to see if they have wheelchair accessibility.  

If you want to use a train and you can’t stand or walk short distances, make sure that you try to get a sleeper car so it’s easier, especially get a sleeper car with a bathroom because if you cannot walk short distances, you will not be able to use the bathroom. 

As for things to do, I definitely recommend spending like two days at Olympic National Park because it is absolutely huge and driving the six hours to it and having to drive six hours back to Seattle definitely did not give us enough time to go everywhere in the park that we wanted to.  

Definitely go to la Parisian bakery because it was incredible! 


Adventure Details:

TRAIN: St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN – Union Depot Seattle, WA – King Street Station

LODGING: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Seattle Downtown/Seattle Center

VAN RENTAL: Wheeler’s Van Rental