California Coast Wheelchair Road Trip

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on July 13, 2020 # Mobility, Lifestyle

I don’t know about you but ever since I entered “paralyzed world” which for me was on Memorial Day, 2010 after my son Zack (age 15) broke his neck at the beach, becoming a C-4 Quadriplegic, right away I started to notice everything that was wheelchair accessible and what was not. I live in Southern California and feel fortunate that my state has pretty good Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws, thanks to the amazing people who fought for this right! The laws have come far in the decade since I was awakened too wheelchair life. I noticed wheelchairs immediately, quickly evaluating that all wheelchairs were not the same. The handicap blue signs for parking were highlighted. This was followed by me always thinking, can Zack go here, can he get into this building? There were times back in the beginning of his injury that the answer was no. So, here I am 10 years post injury finding myself still always on the lookout to see if this is a place that my son can go. Especially when it comes to fun places.Zack and Sedona in front of Golden State Bridge

I recently went on a road trip up and back down the coast of California, we headed up to San Francisco, to the Redwoods, down to Big Sur, onto Santa Barbara, through LA and back home to Orange County.

This is my report…San Francisco is wheelchair assessable despite it being very “hilly”, their trains, buses, and most street cars you can stay in your chair and ride. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf are all good options. There are several Redwood State Parks up the entire coast. We visited Big Basin Redwoods; this park has two accessibility trails. The half mile Redwood Trail and the Redwood Loop Nature Trail. The Big Sur is unique because you can enjoy mountains, forest tree’s and the ocean all at one time. There is another state park called Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground, that is another way to be able to see the park, although there are no wheelchair trails directly down to the ocean, but you can view from the cliffs above and experience the forest area. The drive is beautiful, and you see a lot of the natural nature stopping at the lookouts. There are a few very cute lodges with restaurants and general stores through that area along Highway 1. We traveled through the Santa Cruz forest, San California trailSimeon where Hearst Castle is but it was closed on our visit. We passed through Cambria, a very small beach town you may miss if you blink, but a very quaint 1 street old town, good for a coffee break. Morro Bay home of the historical Morro Bay Rock. San Luis Obispo on into Santa Barbara all neat beach towns. We stopped at Carpinteria State Beach and was excited to find that they have a large wheelchair accessible wood ramp that extends right onto the sand. If you enjoy the view of the ocean Highway 1 continues to run along the entire California coast (merging with the 101 occasionally). If you continue down South you will go through the LA coast hitting Malibu, Ventura, and on into Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Crystal Cove which has wheelchair parking right at the adorable historical beach with a restaurant right on the sand that has a ramp leading to it, so you can watch the waves hitting the shore and enjoy great food. Past that is Laguna Beach their main beach is accessible and there are many small shops along that area. Ending in Dana Point, Doheny Beach which is also wheelchair friendly and if you get lucky there is camping there right on the sand. (Book through Reserve America).

This was our route we took and I’m happy to report there was a lot of wheelchair accessible spots and things to see and do along the beautiful Coast of California. As long as you don’t mind being in the car, and enjoy road trips, of course!

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.