When I asked Laurel what she wanted to do on her summer break, she answered, "See celebrities". At 10-years-old and part of a you tubers generation, she is very fascinated by celebrities and over the top lifestyles. I wasn't sure how to help her see celebrities and then Lisa had the idea to take Laurel on one of those tours of Beverly Hills. I made the plans and right before her first day of 5th grade, we took a father-daughter trip through Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
It was actually a little more fun than I would have thought on the 2-hour tour in an open van. The hills and windy roads were more adventure in themselves. We stopped at a park to climb to an overlook to see the Hollywood Sign and Los Angeles spread out far below. While we didn't see any celebrities, we saw a lot of their homes and hangouts. Some of the highlights for Laurel would include the homes or former homes of: Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Jake Paul (you tube house owned by Ashton Kutcher), the Gingerbread House, the house where Michael Jackson passed away, Judy Garland's home with sculptures, and the Dr. Seuss home. A few homes that didn't mean much to Laurel would include: Elvis, Drew Carey, Mick Jaggar, Rod Stewart, and the house on stilts from Lethal Weapon 2. The tour ended with a drive down Rodeo Drive before finishing down the Hollywood Strip.
It's no secret to those who know us that we love Southwest Airlines and they love us back pretty good. We started flying Southwest years ago because of their outstanding service towards Kellisa and really the whole family. I lost track of how many segments Kellisa has flown long ago, but it's safe to say she's flown Southwest at least 400 if not 500 times and they've never let us down. Not even once in all those years and flights. If anything, they've gone beyond too many times to count.
But, this post is really about Delta Airlines. I fly Delta a decent amount for work, enough to where I get seat upgrades on probably 50% of my flights, but far from their top frequent flyer status. The most I've ever flown Delta in one year is 80 something segments. Kellisa flew Delta a few times when she was little without incident, but until recently, there was a gap of probably close to 15 years between flights.
Flash forward to June 2019, we are working on our book and had a need to fly Delta. I booked two seats together in Economy Class as close to the front of the plane as possible, row 11. Delta allowed us to board early which is always appreciated and I requested a transfer to an aisle chair because it's too hard to carry Kellisa back to the 11th row.
As I handed the gate agent my ticket, I heard the familiar sound of being upgraded with the printing of a new ticket. I need to sit next to Kellisa and was just about to start explaining our situation when Kellisa's ticket was scanned and she also received an upgrade. Just like that, we were both upgraded. We don't need first-class, but it sure was nice and easier than row 11. On our second flight, we were upgraded again, this time from row 22.
Besides upgrading our seats, the gate agent also gave us a really cool tag (picture below) for Kellisa's wheelchair.
In the end, we can't speak highly enough about Delta and look forward to flying them again in the future. In fact, shortly after returning from this trip, we booked another trip on Delta!
Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge
There is an art to selecting trails to pushike with Kellisa and I like to think that we've gotten pretty good from so many years of experience. We've traveled long and hard only to find accessible trails, well not so accessible. We've also stumbled upon trails with no indication of accessibility and they've been beautiful to push Kellisa on.
We like to read as many trail reports as possible looking for key words (mud, stairs, rocks, climbs, etc.) that may tip us off to research another trail. If we are confident after reports, we then carefully study pictures looking for barriers. If all checks out, we have a good success rate. We are writing the first book on pushiking to help others navigate through the process of selecting and then pushiking trails.
The trail we selected in Mississippi had a short section at the beginning that was accessible. Because there is so much information about accessible trails as many are paved, we're not going to feature too many miles of accessible trails in the book. The trail in Mississippi went beyond the accessible portion to complete a loop.
Little did we know that the accessible part of the trail would have a barrier almost immediately. Now we could easily navigate the obstacles and I would guess most people pushing a jog stroller or off-road mobility chair could as well, I have serious doubts that most people wheeling themselves could complete the "accessible" section of this trail. Lastly, I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure motorized wheelchairs would have no chance on the navigating the platform section at the beginning of this trail. While I'm thankful Kellisa and I were able to complete the loop, I can't help but think about those who might travel to this trail only to be turned around before really even getting started.
To say we are behind in the progress of writing our book would be a vast understatement. Kellisa and I need to hike at least one trail in all 50 states and write 90,000 publishable words with supporting pictures, maps, etc. by November 1, 2019. As of May 29th, we pushiked in 8 states and had just over 8,200 words written in a very rough draft.
Most of you know Kellisa and I already pushiked a trail in all 50 states by her 18th birthday and Laurel also accomplished this goal. Our book deal is to write a guidebook with some narrative non-fiction woven in our adventures. I did not view our first tour of the United States through the scope of writing a guidebook. I didn't keep the proper details and documents for a guidebook. Plus, we didn't complete every trail and sometimes we made our own trail. Not very guide worthy, in my opinion. So our second quest to pushike a trail in all 50 states started last October and due to many reasons, we are off to a very slow start.
With summer approaching fast, it was getting close to the point of not having a chance to have the book completed on time when I realized that we had a tight 7 day window between Kellisa getting out of school and Laurel's 10th birthday festivities. We actually had 8 days, but wanted to return with one day to spare just to make sure we would be back in time to celebrate Laurel's birthday. Even though Laurel was very happy to complete the original goal and is very proud of herself, she decided that she didn't want to participate on our new trail adventures.
I know we are behind in updating the blog, but life has been busy. Our goal is to post like crazy all summer!
Those in the disabled world might agree that life is hard most of the time and often it seems like the world is against us. I don't like to complain, but I'm usually vocal about pointing out some of the discrimination and injustice we face on an all too regular basis.
While most people we encounter are probably neutral and at most guilty of staring a little. It is rare for individuals to go above and beyond to help strangers with disabilities. And when they do, they are usually "club members" themselves, because they "get it".
I know we like to say people act like CP, Epilepsy, Hydrocephalus, "fill in your disability" is contagious because so many turn away and actively ignore. Yes, we get people who offer help like trying to hold a door open for us. While we appreciate the gesture, these people are usually in the way more than they are helping. How are we supposed to get through the door with you standing in the door holding it? And then when we say, "We've got it" and go through the door like nothing, we usually hear, "Looks like you've done this before."
Yeah, been doing this for more than 18 years! We just carried Kellisa for the first few years of her life.
So...Kellisa and I just returned from one of our epic father-daughter trips that will provide many blog posts in the near future. We often return home without our faith in humanity restored and that's OK. That's not our motivation for travel. However, this trip was different. Within a 24 hour period, we had multiple people offer help...real help!
ADA compliance thoughts hurting my head. We're staying at a Marriott property and they have a shuttle van that will take you anywhere within 5 miles, but you need to give the desk 2 hours notice. I thought this was odd and asked. I was told the shuttle van was not ADA compliant and someone complained because able bodied guests could leave anytime without notice. Guests in wheelchairs would have to wait two hours for an accessible van to arrive. Since it wasn't fair to make some guests wait 2 hours, they are now making everyone wait two hours.
Not surprisingly, most guests are not happy having to wait two hours and Marriott is getting a lot of complaints. They are now planning on buying an ADA shuttle van.
So they wouldn't do it because it was the law and the right thing to do, but are doing it to keep business travelers happy.