I put my accessibility needs to the test at Huron House in Oscoda and had a wonderful 2 days there. I didn’t expect or request full accessibility. I had been there before and knew what to expect. Last time I was not able to access the beach at all. I couldn’t get my footing and just stared enviously at the sand and the water – this time I got in.
First let’s start with what Huron House is…a couple’s resort. I wanted some time away and here you do get transported far away. My significant other, Rich, and I stayed in the Alabaster Room, last time we stayed in the Sunrise Room – which we both prefer. Both rooms are beautifully appointed with a king sized bed and a seating area, a fire place, a kitchen nook, and a long narrow bathroom. Outside the room is a private deck with your own private hottub and a view of the most amazing perrenial garden (Alabaster) or the lake (Sunrise). Your breakfast gets delivered to your room each morning at the requested time – left by the door. Special dietary requests were made and were honored.
Breakfast is fresh juice, fruit, and coffee/tea/hot chocolate and the day’s special. We had a perfect croissant with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of nuts the first day and a delicious piece of quiche the second.
You can only reach these two rooms by 3 stairs. A ramp was needed to access the stair to beach and it was put in place when needed. I left my scooter in the car as I was able to negotiate getting to the room with some help and it wasn’t going to be any help getting me to the beach. The large garden and deck area is flat and is easily accessed. It has a beautiful unobstructed view (as does the Sunrise room) of Lake Huron sunrises. There is lots of room for privacy even when you are sharing the deck with other couples.
The bathroom is a bit of a problem as there are no grab bars in the shower or near the toilet. I had no trouble with the toilet as I found other things to grab hold of. The shower needed one of the metal chairs from the deck outside our room. It is also too narrow to access except from the narrowest of chairs. But I managed.
OK, so now for the truly exciting aspect of this trip. A beach wheelchair! I asked for and they found me a beach wheelchair. How many places could you make this request and they follow-thru! It is chair made of pvc pipe and enormous balloon tires. I wouldn’t say we got across the beach effortlessly, but the fact I got there at all is a miracle. Getting to the water’s edge was not a problem. You need someone strong to push you – especially in the case of a person who weighs over 250 pounds as I do. It is not designed to be self-propelled or for a person over 250 pounds.
Once we got to the water’s edge, I wanted to get in. As we got closer the seat belt became needed as I could see I was risking falling forward in the chair – what I didn’t realize until later was I also risked floating out of the chair. With a big push I was in the water in the chair and I were floating. That was good for about 2 minutes. The chair actually floated with me in it! So when the first wave hit, I toppled over. Not good. It was a bit of a panic as I was strapped in and the strap around my waist was moving upward. I sincerely thought I might drown. But I was released and made my way on my knees to a safer spot in the water and sand. I stayed there about 2 hours soaking up the water and the sand. It was heaven!
Time to leave the beach and we ran into a bit of a problem. I had to get back in the chair and the chair had to get back up the beach. With a little help I got back in the chair. Mostly it had to be stabilized while I got into it. Once in, pushing it up the beach was pretty hard until we got to where it was level. Two hearty men pushed while I tried to help by grabbing my toes into the sand. This beach chair made my trip so special. It was the highlight of the trip.
The beach wheel chair is best for people who are smaller than I am, but it worked for me. Kids would love it! It’s not really designed to be in the water as it is for the beach. If you can transfer out of the chair into the water, you will be all set.
The other water feature to the trip was the hottub. The sunrise room is preferred for two reasons – the more easily accessed hottub and the view. Watching the sunrise from bed over what seems like an endless expanse of water is breathtaking. I could have laid in bed forever listening to and watching the waves. The hottubs differ – the Alabaster Room has what is truly a jacuzzi and does not have a flat bottom. The back rest aspect might be preferred by some, but I had a hard time getting in and out because I had difficulty getting a good footing. The Sunrise Room hottub is a more typical design with a flat bottom and at night has a private view of the lake and the stars. Next time we go (and we will go again), we first find out when the Sunrise Room is available and than we plan our trip.
I talked to the owners about access and they are trying to make changes. I made some suggestions and I can see where with some better planning I could have made things easier on myself too. They do have two rooms with level access, but neither have both the view and the private deck with a hottub that are integral to the visit for me.
If you can manage a short distance without a wheelchair, or use a walker or cane – I think you will find Huron House to exceed your expectations. Finding a place as beautiful and extraordinarily accommodating as Huron House is is a rarity. Check them out!
PVC Wheelchairs – Maker of Rolleezz ll-Terrain Wheelchair