Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Wake Up to Wildlife Tour

 Yellowstone National Park

June 2023

Egypt and I visited Yellowstone in July 2022 and were disappointed that we missed observing most of the wildlife the park is famous for having. I decided to book a wildlife tour to help guarantee Kellisa would see some large mammals, hopefully up close.

Even though life with a wheelchair user has gotten more accessible in many areas, we are still told "No" sometimes and I hate when we are told we can't do something because Kellisa is fully dependent on a wheelchair. I go back and forth with my approach. Sometimes I'll call ahead and explain our situation. It either gets shut down as soon as they hear wheelchair or they are super accommodating. When I don't call ahead, we just show up with the assumption/understanding that we will find a way to make it work.

I decided on the later for our early morning Wake Up to Wildlife Tour in Yellowstone National Park and I would come to regret my decision. 

We arrived early in case we had to fight for our spots on the tour and we were the first ones at the prearranged meeting location. As others arrived, they fanned out looking for comfortable seating and hot coffee. We stayed close to the driveway so we could have the best chance to select the best seats for Kellisa and myself since I wasn't sure what kind of vehicle we would be riding in.

Eventually, a large van pulled up and a lady got out and asked us if we were going on the wildlife tour. I said, "Yes" and she began to apologize. She told us that no one told her there would be a wheelchair user on this tour, so she didn't drive the van with the lift. She explained it would take over two hours to go back and switch  vans. She again apologized and didn't know how they could have made a mistake.

I explained that we booked the tour online and didn't see any options for a van with a lift and I added that I never called. I simply said, I figured we would just figure it out on the spot.

The lady asked if I could lift Kellisa in and out and if her chair could fit in the back. I answered, "Yes" to everything and we were on our way in our chosen seats in no time.

Snacks and water were provided and we were not disappointed in the number of species we observed and their sheer numbers. We even saw a moose running through a forest. The only disappointment was not seeing a grizzly bear, but we would still highly recommend the tour and advise calling ahead if you have a wheelchair need!

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