Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We Went Camping: Part Two

At 4 o’clock on Friday, we piled into our minivan and drove the fifteen minutes to Hampton Beach, one of those classic, east coast towns with a split personality.  Cheesy T-shirt shops and carnival style food stands from the 1950s are interspersed with modern resorts and hotels. One thing has remained constant over time, however. There’s a lot of sand and a lot of water in Hampton Beach.

We pulled into the Casino Ballroom parking lot, the venue for the Beach Boys concert we would attend later in the evening, and asked the attendant if there was any wheelchair accessible parking. “I’m sorry, all those spots are taken.”

Kim drove around the parking lot, looking for a space both well positioned for an exit after the concert and accessible for unloading me (maybe at the end of a row). We formed an ad hoc committee of five expert advisors to help Kim make the right parking decision. I’m certain she appreciated the suggestions and the constructive criticism. She tried out two or three spaces before she became fed up and parked in a spot nobody liked. After we piled out of the van and began to walk across the parking lot, we noticed five, big, beautiful, handicapped parking spots, all vacant and well positioned near the exit. The committee of advisors turned in unison and looked at Kim. She moved the van one more time. Stupid parking attendant.

After dinner and drinks, we explored the beach. Kim and I stayed off the sand because it looked a little soft for the iBot. On our way from the beach back to the music venue, we stopped at some shops. Kim told me that she liked a certain necklace, but would never consider spending the exorbitant sum of $58. I asked her to show it to me. She did, and I liked it. It took all my skills of persuasion, but I convinced her to purchase the necklace – a rare gift for herself.

Time for the Show

Six or seven years ago we attended a concert at the Casino Ballroom. After the show, we approached the wheelchair lift, only to find that there was a long line for it. “Let’s take the stairs down to the street,” I suggested to Kim. She agreed.

I positioned the iBot inches from the top step. Two employees rushed over. “Sir, what are you doing?”

“This is a stairclimbing wheelchair. Just step back and prepare to be astonished.”

One of the employees spoke to someone on his radio, then said, “I’m sorry Sir, but we can’t allow you to proceed. We’re not insured for that.”

“Don’t worry. We do this all the time. Please, just step out of the way.”

The employees gave up their attempt to stop us and asked, “Is there anything we can do to help?”

“Yes, hold on to these,” Kim said as she took off her high heels. She then guided me down the long staircase and out onto the sidewalk. Several employees and a group of spectators expressed their amazement. Kim and I played it cool on the outside, but on the inside we basked in the glory of our accomplishment.

This past Friday, as we approached the same venue, one of those employees from so many years ago came up to me and said, “I recognize you. You’re the one with a stairclimbing wheelchair.”

I recognized her too, and asked, “Would you be terribly disappointed if I took the wheelchair lift this time?”

“Of course not,” she said.

By the time I got up to the concert level, I noticed Kim already working on an usher. She pointed toward me, and he nodded. When I reached them, the usher said, “Follow me.”

Although we only had general admission tickets, he sat the six of us in the front row, stage left. This is usually how it goes for me at concerts – one of the silver linings of being a wheelchair user.

The Beach Boys played for about two and half hours, and it was an awesome show. The only way it could have been better is if they played for one and one-half hours and skipped all the filler songs that nobody knew. But, nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves.

Once the concert was over we hustled out to the minivan and joined the 2500 or so fans leaving downtown Hampton Beach. Karen Cole volunteered to drive, and once again a committee of five expert advisors began advising. Feeling bad for Karen, I took charge and made an impassioned speech. “I appreciate that everyone has their opinions about which way Karen should go, but she and I have it under control. So shut the F up.” They did shut up until I told Karen to go the wrong way on a one-way street. The others pounced on my error and I lost the upper hand. The opinions flew in from every direction, but somehow Karen found her way out of Hampton Beach anyway.

We retired to bed as soon as we got back to the campground, which was close to midnight.

Tomorrow – the conclusion of our camping saga.

Other posts in this series:
I'm Going Camping
We Went Camping: Part One
We Went Camping: Part Three


  1. Lovely--I am feeling as if I'm there. And a big Yay! on getting Karen that necklace. It's enchanting!

  2. Okay Mitch,
    Does Kim know you bought Karen that necklace??
    And if you're thinking of getting one for Daphne too -Well, I kinda liked it, too. got some splainin' to do!!!!
    (Just teasin' and bein' my ornery self)
    Your camping adventure sounded "marvelous" especially the little gift your pets sent along.