Follow me on my journey to stay fit and healthy while dealing with ataxic cerebral palsy.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Walking And Accessibility On Our California Vacation 2013
My walking ability on vacation was drastically different compared to last year’s to trip to Monterey and Carmel. Drastically. Last year, my back was still out of whack, I was going through one of my strings of days with the “jerk move”, and I just felt uncomfortable walking. This year, there were no problems at all. I felt stable, and I had no pain (other than tired legs from walking at the end of the day). There were even a few moments where I stumbled or slid on a wet surface, but that didn’t hinder me at all. When I stumbled or slid in the past, that would make my confidence drop, or I believe that would set off the “jerk move”, if only subconsciously.
I still have a long way to go in terms of where I want my walking ability to be, but I am making great progress. It felt like we walked a lot more than we actually did. At Hearst Castle, the tour we took apparently had about 170 stairs up and down. Honestly, it didn’t feel like we went up and down that many stairs, but I’m sure we did. The walking at Hearst was a bit hard for me only because it’s that slow paced walking with a lot of stops and starts. I was fine on the walking part, but we stood still for five minutes or more at a time, and it took me a while to get my legs going again. My hips tend to get stiff if I stand in one spot too long.
The walking I did in Sausalito was fine. It was a little slow paced, but we didn’t have as many stops and starts. We did go into several shops along the way, but I was continuously in motion, I never really stood still. And if we did stand still it wasn’t for too long. The walk in Sausalito felt a bit longer in distance than it actually was. I found the spot on Google Earth, and marked the distance. From where we parked to the furthest point that we walked was about a half mile. We did walk back and forth in one section a few times. My guess was that we walked about three quarters of a mile at most in Sausalito.
Another tough spot for me walking wise was at the car museum. That was probably the toughest spot of the whole trip. It was slow paced walking, starts and stops, standing in one place for a while, and it was on very hard floors. Hard floors like that kill my lower back for some reason. At one point I found a spot to sit for a few minutes, and as I sat, my back popped all up and down my lower back. Click, click, click, click. And it felt good to sit down. I never realize how compressed my lower back gets until I sit down.
Now as far as accessibility goes, what do I mean by that? How easy is it for someone like me to get around these places? Are there ramps, railings, a few places to sit if I need a break? Things like that. How about the hotels? Not many “normal” people think about the bathrooms in hotels rooms, but for me, it’s something I think about more often. I do have help when I need it, but it is nice to be able to get in and out of the tub without help.
I bring this up because normally I don’t request any special equipment on trips. The only thing I tend to request is a wheelchair at the airport. That just makes it a lot easier when we have to change planes and when we’re getting our luggage. But, when we booked our hotel room at The Morgan in San Simeon, there was a check box on the web site that you could mark if you wanted a shower seat for the tub. I don’t think I’ve seen that option before when booking a hotel room. We checked the box, and sure enough, when we arrived, there was a shower seat. How cool is that. At the Marriot, I ended up asking for one also. It is very convenient to sit on a chair rather than the floor of a hard tub. I think from now on, I’ll be asking for a chair whenever I stay in a hotel. Just makes it so much easier. That is one thing I’ll never do again. Stand up in a shower. I’ve been sitting while showering since I was about 12 I think. I fell three times in a few weeks in the shower, and after the third time I decided I’d just sit from then on. Back then, I didn’t even think of a shower chair. Didn’t even cross my mind. I always thought those chairs were for old people, not me. Hehehe.
On our walks during the trip, there were ramps when I wanted them, as well as elevators. I did take the ramps a few times, when my legs needed a break, but I do tend to pick stairs because it’s good exercise. The sidewalks in Sausalito and San Ramon were in great shape, no divots or rough areas really. So, for people using wheelchairs, it would have been a smooth ride, no potholes or anything.
I think that’s all I wanted to mention in terms of walking and accessibility. The trip went very smoothly, no problems at all in terms of me being too sore. A few days after we got back, my hips started aching. Not sure why it would hit me after the trip, but I guess it happens.
Now, we’ll see how our second trip goes. I’m sure we’re going to do a lot of fun and interesting activities on that trip. That vacation recap will be up in the beginning of June, so be on the look out for that.