Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Road Trip Report
Two days ago we returned from a trip to Walt Disney World. From our house to our hotel was 1.565 miles and Alexis had a week for her spring break. We left Friday afternoon, spent two nights in transit and arrived on Sunday. A week later, we did it in reverse.
I'm glad we went, but it was a hard trip for me. We last visit WDW five years ago when I was able to transfer from my scooter, often without help. This time I basically needed to be lifted for every transfer. I was just getting over the cold/flu from hell and that made me weaker and sadder.
We asked for accessible hotel rooms and got them all but one night, but what that means varies wildly. The best stop gave us lots of room between furniture, grab bars near the toilet, a roll-in shower and a lowered sink in the kitchenette area. The least convenient accessible room just had some grab bars in a fairly small bathroom with tub and no shower stool.
Disney does a great job of serving people with disabilities and we also had a good book, PassPorter's Open Mouse. Disney makes their buildings pretty accessible, provides information about the accessibility of rides (sometimes you can stay in your wheelchair, sometimes you have to transfer to a standard wheelchair, sometimes you have tø transfer to a ride vehicle, etc.) They have special seating areas for performances and parades that provide relief from the typical experience of using a wheelchair in a crowd--what I (inelegantly) call "the butt show." They also train their staff ("cast members") to be helpful and friendly. Passporter's provides detailed info covering a good range of disabilities, including autism and ADHD.
I didn't attempt any rides this visit and that reality was a bit difficult for both me and Alexis. We have fond memories of riding Test Track twice in a row because a kind cast member, having seen how difficult the transfer was for me. suggested we go around again.
Happily, Disney has a good amount of "companion rest rooms," where Ralph could help me transfer. Most states have them in rest stops, too, which made the car trip easier. If everybody would stop installing toilet paper dispensers right above the grab bar, it would be even better. (It's so common it must not be part of the ADA. It would be great to add it but, last I looked, we are playing defense.)
What with needing help in the bathroom and not going on rides, it was easy for the "I'm-a-burden" monster and its sibling to roar loudly. I kept thinking (and sometimes saying), "I should have stayed home." (But, as I'm not independent, we would have had to hire help or impose on friends and relatives, which gives that monster even more to say.)
My favorite parts of the trip were the Disney fireworks shows and riding through Tennessee. One of the best things about humans is our capacity to appreciate and create beauty. and surprise. Disney increases both beauty and surprise by adding lasers. water, fire and good stories to the shows. Tennessee's Smokey mountains surrounded us with green pines and purple redbud trees. Rust-colored rock faces beside the road opened for small waterfalls. Beautiful and elemental.
A coworker took her four year-old to Florida and when we asked what his favorite part was, he said, "coming home." I was delighted to return home to a bathroom I can often manage on my own. That's part of travel, isn't it? Appreciating what you find when you get home.