Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feeling compelled...

My husband is always urging me to write an accessible travel guide -- we LOVE to travel but so often feel we are plowing the road, so to speak, as we attempt to find the way to get around new cities, see new sights and find creative ways to expose our family -- which includes a wheelchair and crutches -- to new experiences. I am not sure today is the day for writing a book...but I do feel compelled to blog this morning and share some pointers from Hawaii while they are fresh on my mind.

1. We chose Honolulu for our first trip with the kids. We did this for a couple of reasons: a) We knew the urban nature of Honolulu would require it to be more accessible than some of the more rural areas. b) We wanted them to experience Pearl Harbor.  It was as simple as that.

2. We chose to stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Wade and I had been there before and knew that the location made the beach as accessible as a beach can be for my boys. The sidewalk made it easy to get to the beach, as well as easy to stroll and enjoy the view without a challenging (or impossible) hike. It was a good choice for us. (Although, as I said in an earlier post, the beach wheelchairs that had been available here on our last visit were NOT here this trip.)

I will criticize the hotel a little however. The towers are tall. Huge. And there is a limited number of elevators. Since everyone is taking the elevator (no one wants to walk the 32 floors down...), we often waited a long (long long) time for an elevator where we could fit and almost always had to split up. It was extremely frustrating.

3. We had friends in Honolulu who helped us soo much. They recommended we meet at Waimea State Park and hike the accessible trail.  You can check out their website by clicking here.

The path was wide and paved and Benjamin could navigate it well while seeing amazing flora and fauna! While he and Mason couldn't take the off-path detours -- the little ones did and enjoyed every minute!

The Falls themselves have a swimming hole -- but the rocks to enter it are steep and slippery so it wasn't something the boys could do. Claire and Cate enjoyed it though.

The hike did have an incline and steep decline. Mason was worn out by the time we reached the Falls themselves, but there were cart rides available (for a fee) and we sent Uncle Len back with him in one.

4. We made dining choices that would be entertaining because we KNEW they would be accessible and of course, we have two 14-year-old boys. They like to eat!

Benihana's was a fun choice -- and yummy!

5. Pearl Harbor was completely accessible. And wow! They did a beautiful job setting up the museum in such a way that Benjamin could see everything from his chair. The staff were eager to assist him onto the boat and into the memorial and we were able to have an extremely moving experience educating our crew on the heroes of December 7, 1941.

6. The Dole Plantation was also completely accessible. We were able to drive Benjamin's chair right onto the little train that toured us through the pineapple fields. It was relaxing, educational and well, yummy! (Love those Dole Whips!)

7. The lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village offered us respite from the waves of the ocean without having to give up the beach. Because of the calmer waters, we were able to try some fun things -- albeit with a little effort. We took the kids paddle surfing -- and with some creativity and a dear friend willing to assist, Benjamin was even able to try!

8. The Hilton offered all sorts of touristy lessons -- and they were delightful. Never underestimate the power of a little sister to convince the teenage boy to try to Hula!

9. And sometimes just driving around and seeing the sights can be a ton of fun. The only palace in the United States in located across the street from where we are standing here. It had lots and lots of stairs...and we did not see an accessible entrance. I confess that I did not ask. We were growing short on time at this point...and it just didn't appear to be possible for us to see inside as a family.

10. We rented an accessible van from this company and it was a huge reason we were able to do and try and go as much as we did! They delivered the van to the airport and met us there to pick it up when we departed. Easy!

Hope all your travels are a blessing!


Hoekzema said...

I can't even imagine how frustrating traveling can be for your family. We travel with a stroller for the 2 littlest ones, not the same as a wheelchair entirely, but run into similar situations. I'll never understand why people pack an elevator instead of the escalator when they have no reason to ride. We constantly separate to allow more room in the elevator. I admire your efforts to show the world to your children. You give the rest of us inspiration to try. Well done!

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

Great post, Carol. Wade has a good idea. You should write a book - when you have time. (!!!!) Love ya!