Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh the Trials and Tribulations, and the Rewards, of Disabled Travel: Part Four

2011 04 172The 10 best things about my recent vacation:

A Thousand Pretty Girls

Saturday night in Las Vegas is when all the beautiful people dress up and go out, and many of them strutted their stuff at the coolest new Hotel/Casino on the strip- The Cosmopolitan. Never in my entire life have I seen so many beautiful women in one place, and they were dressed to kill (we were not). Each lady arrived shrink-wrapped in the obligatory little black dress. It came in many shapes and styles, but only in the one color. Worked for me.

The Overall Accessibility of the Las Vegas Strip and Its Casinos

One of the reasons that I love the Las Vegas strip is that its newness lends itself to accessibility. I can wander up and down the strip without encountering sights that I cannot see, activities that I cannot participate in, or obstacles that remind me of my limitations.

Watching “Acoustic Soul” Play

My friend Dave has made a living as a musician in Las Vegas for over 20 years now. He’s been in some really cool bands, but this one is my favorite. Dave plays keyboards, the occasional guitar, and sings. The band has a charismatic lead singer and a drummer who used to play with somebody famous. But the star attraction is the violinist- Nina. A violin/fiddle player is a bit uncommon in a classic rock band, but Nina pulls it off as an alternative to lead guitar. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that she is drop-dead gorgeous. We watched them play at O'Sheas, on the strip. It's more like the kind of Irish pub you find at home (except for the gambling), and is a charming alternative to all the glitz and glamour of the big casinos. We ran into friends from Maine earlier in the day, and they met us at O'Sheas for an enjoyable evening listening to Acoustic Soul.

2011 04 182Our Hotel Room at NY NY Hotel and Casino

I've enjoyed some first-rate handicapped hotel rooms in the past, and I've endured some awful ones. The room that we called home for two nights on the Las Vegas strip was far and away the most accessible lodging that I've ever had, and I stole it for $53 per night through an internet deal! The room’s primary accessibility feature was its sheer size. If you want to impress me with your hotel room, first make the sleeping area and the bathroom absurdly large, which is precisely what NY NY did. The toilet and sink were accessible. The shower was a true roll-in style, and the handrails were placed in the proper locations. I could actually reach the showerhead and controls from the fold-down bench (not true of many supposedly accessible showers that I have come across). Well done NY NY!

Creating a Scene by Being in Balance Mode

There are two reasons I like to be in balance mode in my iBot. First, proceeding in balance mode allows me to be at eye-level with all of the walking people, including the person(s) I am with. Second, I am an iBot attention whore. I love shocking people and seeing their reactions when they notice a 200+ pound man coming at them on two wheels. I get a lot of peculiar looks. I hear a lot of remarks. Once in a while I speak with interested folks regarding the details of my iBot. If you are interested in helping to save the iBot, click here.

Balance mode just makes zipping down the street so much more fun than if I was in a traditional wheelchair.

Winning in Las Vegas

I'm not what you'd call a high roller, but I do enjoy playing blackjack and video poker. We were in Las Vegas for five days, and over the first four days I dug myself a pretty deep hole. I hadn't exceeded my gambling budget, but I used up most of it. Then, on the last day I began a winning streak. I recovered all my losses and went ahead by $50. I kept riding the wave, but then it started to turn again. I did a quick accounting and realized that I was up by $5 dollars for the week. I stopped right then and walked away a winner!

Wine Tasting Near Santa Barbara

We made a quick stopover in Santa Barbara and visited with my cousin Paulana and her family. We took a wine tasting tour of the surrounding vineyards, and although I can no longer consume much alcohol, it was great fun sampling the local wines, taking in the spectacular scenery, and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere of that region. All the wineries were accessible for the iBot.

Watching the Red Sox beat the Angels

Kim and I are both big Red Sox fans; I have the accessibility routine down pat at Fenway Park. On the night before we flew back to Maine from Los Angeles we caught the Sox playing in Anaheim, only 45 minutes away from the airport. It is a fine, modern stadium, and the people were all kind. They were particularly enamored of my iBot. We got there two hours early, as is standard practice when we attend games in Boston. We like to soak in the ambiance at Fenway before the first pitch. It's such an energized atmosphere, steeped in history (Fenway will celebrate its 100th birthday next year). It was a bit different, however, watching a baseball game in Southern California. The experience was pleasant, but not high-energy. If Angels Stadium is Josh Groban, Fenway Park is Steven Tyler.

Visiting with Friends and Relatives

This is one of the primary reasons many of us travel, disabled or not. But people usually come to me in my relatively accessible home, as opposed to me going to their homes. It's particularly rewarding, although admittedly exhausting, when I decide to go out and do the visiting myself. It makes me feel, if only temporarily, like a fully capable human being.

It was wonderful seeing all of you in April. Thank you Dave, Gail, Wayne, Joan, Paulana, Chuck, Aunt Vivian, and everyone else for your hospitality.

Going Home

I can only recall one vacation where I wasn’t ready to return home by the end. I've always loved to get away see and do things that I just can't see and do at home, but I like to get back to what I call my pathetic little life. I don’t mean pathetic in terms of my disability. I use this exaggerated phrase to describe a set of life routines, personal relationships, familiar places, and accumulated belongings which, although it may seem trivial to anyone else, embodies my conscious existence. I crave the excitement of occasional new adventures, but I'm always ready to go home at the end. Aren’t you?

2011 04 426In Summary

I’ll bring this series of posts to a close by thanking the person who made it possible. I don’t travel easily or lightly, and everything from getting me dressed to getting me in the van to helping me climb stairs in my iBot fell on Kim’s shoulders. I’d like to think that she accomplished all of this while still managing to have a good time herself. Thanks for a memorable vacation Kim. I love you.


  1. If Kim loves you half as much as you obviously love her, she had a good time, no doubt. The extra work goes with the territory, and as she hasn't bailed out on you yet, I assume she knows and understands that territory quite well.

  2. Mitch you are amazing...love reading your posts. Kim, you might be more amazing. It is so heartwarming to read having such a partner. It can be disheartening when I feel like such a burden sometimes but I know how important it is to enjoy all that we have.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic trip -- glad you had such a wonderful time. Kim sounds like your special angel -- isn't it great when we have one of them by our side!?

  4. Mitch,
    Do you have any pictures of those women?


  5. Webster,

    Kim says she did have a good time, but this is the last vacation where we sleep in four different beds in nine nights. On top of everything else, it is additional work for her to pack up all our stuff and unpack it in a new destination. I get that.


    If not for Kim's love, companionship, and caregiving, I would have to retitle this blog along the lines of www.thisridesucks.com


    I am indeed so fortunate.


    I do. The pictures of the lovely ladies at the Cosmopolitan are burned in my memory for all time. Wish I could share them with you :-)

  6. Hi Mitch,

    Great blog! You are a true inspiration!
    I came across this post doing some web work for GM and wanted to make sure you are aware of the GM Mobility Program. With the program, you can get up to $1,000 for your eligible adaptive equipment. Plus, extended OnStar service. If you want to learn more about it, make sure you check out http://bit.ly/khwQgh. There is also a Facebook Page for individuals with mobility issues to connect and interact with one another as well as share details of the program itself, http://bit.ly/b99pVL.