For the second summer in a row (click here for last summer’s story), Kim and I spent a couple of nights at a lake in our hometown of Lincoln, Maine.
My brother Andy’s mother-in-law, Joan, owns a lovely summer home on the lake known by locals as the Big Narrows. Although the shoreline is probably more than 75% built, the lake maintains a pristine quality. It was not uncommon to be regaled by loon calls, especially in the morning hours.
As usual, I wanted to travel with both of my wheelchairs, because the iBot is best suited for some situations, and the Invacare for others. When Kim and I arrived at the lake house we quickly surveyed the entrance options. I was already in my Invacare – it is more comfortable for riding in the van – so I didn’t want to transfer to the iBot if it wasn’t necessary. We brought a 5 foot portable aluminum ramp. If the ramp had been 6 feet long it would have worked perfectly. Kim and Karen went to the shed and found a piece of plywood and an old yellow traffic sign that said, “Keep to Right.” This made for a wobbly, but acceptable ramp. I was in the house in no time.
In the early evening we sat on Joan’s deck and looked out over the water, facing due east. There would be no spectacular sunset from this perspective. But I became entranced by the natural colors and their sometimes stark and other times subtle contrasts. The calm, gray-blue waters constituted the lower portion of my field of vision. As I raised my eyes I was treated to the vibrant greens of the mixed hardwood and softwood ridge on the far side of the pond. This constituted the center portion of my field of vision. The top half of my view – a nearly cloudless sky – was lively and ever-changing. The eastern sky is the house of the rising sun, but is overlooked at sunset. On this night, however, it was the eastern sky that stood out. Before the sun faded, this sky was a canvas splashed baby blue, interrupted only by occasional brush strokes of soft, white cotton. As the sun dropped lower, the eastern sky flaunted a gradation of colors from light blue at the top to deep purple at the horizon. In the feeble sunlight the thin clouds almost glowed in the foreground, as if to remind us that they were part of our world, not the infinite space above them.
As the sun sank below the western horizon, the moon rose directly from the East. On that night we were treated to something called a supermoon, a full moon that reaches its closest orbit to the earth and thus appears larger in the sky. The lunar glow was amplified as it reflected off the perfectly calm and dark waters. Every time I looked at the sky that evening, the portrait evolved, and each viewing was as spectacular as the one before it.
The spare bedroom situation, on the first floor of the lake house, was about as good as it gets. After a tight squeeze through the doorway, there was ample room on both sides of the bed for maneuvering. But we had become spoiled by my overhead lift system, and transferring me into the bed was a bit of a chore, although at no point did I feel that I was in an unsafe situation.
I also longed for my head and foot adjustable bed. Lying flat on my back all night was uncomfortable, but I managed to get a minimally acceptable amount of sleep both nights.
On Friday we visited with old family friends and lounged around the deck of the lake house. The weather was ideal for someone with MS. There was bright and abundant sunshine, but low humidity and temperatures in the 70s.
On Friday night an old high school friend of mine came by in his pontoon style party boat. Although everyone was optimistic that I would be able to get on the boat with my iBot wheelchair, I kept expectations low – my survival instinct kicking in. However, by using the 5 foot aluminum ramp I was able to board the party boat at essentially no risk. We started cruising slowly around this lake where I had spent so much of my childhood. Many of my friends and relatives had camps on this lake, but most of them had changed ownership in the past thirty years. It was now a much more affluent lake than it had been in my youth.
Scott, the captain of the party boat, was our guide. A couple of minutes into the cruise I realized that I was facing the wrong way – toward the back of the boat. There wasn’t room for me to turn the iBot around in standard mode. The only hope would be to rise up into balance mode, which provides the tightest turning radius. So I did just that, to the oohs and ahhs of several others on the boat. Once I got myself situated better, I enjoyed the cruise around the lake even more.
After an hour or so we returned to our home base, where we built a campfire which fended off the mosquitoes, and enjoyed each other’s company late into the evening.
The next day we had more visits from old friends, and then set out for home. As I’ve expressed here so many times, these trips are a lot of work, especially for Kim. But if we choose them wisely it’s always worth the trouble. We chose wisely this time.