For months I have researched and planned, adjusted, planned some more, and double checked my research. I’ve emailed hotels, attractions, restaurants, cocktail bars, transport and local government, all on a fact finding mission to figure out if, how, and is it possible. I’ve been excited, down hearted, optimistic, resourceful, determined, frustrated, and now here I am with 2 sleeps to go before my trip off a lifetime, itching to get on that first flight to a bucket list trip filled to the brim and overflowing with what I believe will be one of the most diverse and exciting trips I’ve ever been on.
I’ve had people say “you’re so organised”, “why plan so much, just go with the flow”, “it’s a holiday not military manoeuvres”. And others that have said “is this trip not too much for you” not in a monetary sense but how much it will cost in spoons! Then others who have praised me for not backing down in the face if adversity, for being persistent in getting answers, and for my bravery in giving it a go in the face of my disability.
Living with any disability makes your brain tick in a different way to the person without disabilities. There’s always so much more to consider with everything you do especially if you use a wheelchair to get around. Can I get in the place, how accessible is public transport, standard uber or xl uber, how big is the hotel room, will the bathroom be accessible enough, how to get around without climbing big hills (I don’t want to kill the other half pushing me up the hills of San Francisco!), will I have the energy to do all that I want to do, most importantly how to pace myself. I don’t want to burn me, or my engine (other half) out on the first day.
Well I think I finally figured it all out and my itinerary is set. A loose, moveable itinerary, only the timings of certain trips like the Painted Ladies Tour, Alcatraz, evening catamaran bay cruise and the whale watching trip is set in stone, they are booked, the rest is moveable and fluid to accommodate my energy levels and the other half’s.
One of the most difficult challenges of planning this trip has been knowing when to stop, after all America is a big place with so much to see and do; my list was looking big to start off with and it grew longer with my research, I’ve had to reign it in. My first attempt at building this trip back at the beginning of the year I was big and brave and was going to conquer California and into Nevada in 16 days. 16 days you say, that’s no bother. To most it wouldn’t be, I’ve two friends do similar just in the summer there, to me though, it would be a substantial challenge complete with potential for creating the perfect storm for a flare. It was at this point that my research started ringing alarm bells, and it very quickly became apparent that the travel would be long and arduous for me, it would tire me out and wind me up in bed recovering for longer after every journey. If I factored in journey recovery time for 4, 5, 6 hours driving nearly every day I would have had to significantly increase the night’s we’d be away for, which in turn would substantially increase the cost. It is this that people don’t understand when they find out I’m only going for 8 nights. This was my first disappointment knowing that I physically could not undertake the equivalent journey of driving from Edinburgh in Scotland to Worcestershire in England practically every day of our holiday as well as spend quality time exploring new places. So after soul searching, Google maps. Lots of Google maps and street view! We whittled our holiday down to 8 nights, split between San Francisco and Monterey and I personally think I have built us the perfect holiday. Well I hope I have, only time will tell.
I once had a college tutor who taught the 5 Ps, you could add a sixth, I’ll let you guess that one! The 5 Ps were Prior Planning Prevents (add the extra one here) Poor Performance. These 5 Ps I’ve used throughout my life in many situations and they work. They’ve worked particularly well during the period of time I’ve been disabled. Life with a disability that causes constant pain is hard enough just trying to do every day stuff let alone anything spontaneous because of the logistics that come into play which means over the years I’ve had to plan everything from nights out and shopping in unfamiliar places to concerts and holidays. I plan so I’m not disappointed when I get there at something I cannot do. I’ve a good eye now for my limitations and most of the time I get it right, here’s hoping I’ve succeeded with SanFrancisco, after all I do have a lot planned in.
Note: finding good, reliable information on accessibility for this trip was difficult at times and it took a lot of research to dig in the web and find the reassurance I needed, one in in particular was around accessibility for wheelchair users using the cable cars, what little information that is out there is very conflicting. My plan is to hopefully blog a bit about accessibility on my trip to help others in the same position. In the meantime I’m off to throw the last bits in the case.