Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mmmm warm

I am so glad it has been so warm outside for the last few days. I know some might say it's too warm, but after the cold winter and spring we have had up to this point, I would take a week of +40C with a minimal amount of complaining. As long as I have a cool refuge and didn't have to spend every waking moment outside.

I am not sure what twigged in my brain. Maybe it was the cold spring we were having.....not sure. But recently I have revived my desire to go on a hot holiday next winter. I know next winter may seem like a long ways away, since it is only June and we have just had our first taste of summer weather. But I have learned that summer disappears quickly around here and winter comes and drags and drags and drags.

This past winter when Jay and I started toying with the idea of a hot holiday next winter to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, I did some online research about wheelchair accessible travel. Since so many people who use wheelchairs have completely different levels of ability, it was important to me to find a travel agent who had a fair bit of experience in booking travel for people in wheelchairs. I saw an ad in one of the Total Access magazines that Jay gets as part of his Canadian Paraplegic Association membership each year. The ad was for a company called World on Wheelz, and it claimed to specialize in planning trips for wheelchair users and others with difficulty walking. I checked out their website and I have to say I was impressed.

The man who operates the website is a C4 quadriplegic who uses a power wheelchair. He had a passion for travel and after having some disappointing experiences himself, he decided he wanted to help other disabled people to have the best trips they could. He became a travel agent. He has traveled a lot in his life and on the website has posted numerous travel reviews from the trips he has been on. I have emailed back and forth with him a couple of times and he is very friendly, helpful and has returned my emails within 12 hours of receiving them. A week or two ago I sent an email to Expedia Cruise Ship Centre's website and am still waiting to hear back from them.

I know that both Jay and I still have some reservations about traveling abroad. What if they lost Jay's chair? I know it sounds like it's almost impossible, but we know someone that happened to. That would probably be about the worst thing that could happen. Lost luggage, well you can buy new clothes, and toiletries.....a wheelchair on the other hand not so much. I also asked James about the possibility of renting a shower wheelchair for Jay. That was one of those logistical things that was on my mind. I would hate for Jay to not be able to have a proper shower for an entire week. James responded and said the ones you can rent usually are quite useless, however he always takes his own shower chair along with him when he travels. That seems pretty crazy. I wonder if you have to pay extra to check that at the airport? That could be awfully cumbersome to take along, but would definitely be worth it. It could be a luggage cart :)

I have given it a tremendous amount of thought and feel that you can't just stay home in the off chance that something bad might happen. But I also think that if they lose Jay's wheelchair that we will never go anywhere again. Haha.....he can say 'I told you so.' and I will never ask to go anywhere ever again. On the other hand, maybe it will be an amazing time with NO problems whatsoever. Or more realistically there may be a few hiccups but it would be an overall amazing trip.

When I contacted James from World on Wheelz he suggested that January or February would be a good time to do a southern Caribbean cruise. He said if you want heat and sunshine, that is the place to go. The itinerary that I have been interested in is a seven night cruise starting in San Juan, Puerto Rico with stops at Aruba, Curacao, Dominica and St. Thomas. All of those ports are ones where the ship can pull right into the port and not have to dock at sea and use smaller boats for people to get on shore. Often wheelchairs are unable to go on the small boats, so you are stuck at the ship for those days. James also said that all four of the ports on the itinerary I was looking at have wheelchair accessible tours that can be booked, to give you a chance to go for a ride around the island and see some of the highlights. We were thinking it would be awesome to take some friends along with us. Just to hang out with, and maybe if not everyone wants to participate in every activity, someone could go do something else. But I am not sure that there are any of our friends who are in the position where they could take off for a week. If you are a friend, and reading this and are feeling interested in going, definitely let us know. I think having someone to go with would also help alleviate some of our anxieties.

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