Tahoe Loves a Trip

When we take a trip like our recent Florida family beach gathering, Tahoe’s attachment to ‘dad’ increases as Brent is in charge of late night or early morning walks if I’m in bed and has increased responsibility with Tahoe as we navigate new situations such as a trek on the beach.

…or time by the pool when I can snap a quick photo. Thank God for my iPhone.

A bench by the beach is the perfect ‘cool’ resting place and time for a snapshot of the duo.

Tahoe loves Sand Key’s Dog Park where he can run forever with his Kong. He needs an occasional break to lay in the shaded sand. I’d be there too, but sand + power wheelchair = disaster, so I stay on the paved platform and grassy areas if we aren’t sporting a beach wheelchair (available for free at the park).

Once I get into the beach wheelchair Tahoe helps by pulling it across the sand as Brent pushes.  Some areas have powered beach wheelchairs, but not here in Clearwater Beach…

Tahoe loves time with everyone – but especially mom and dad together!

Tahoe enjoys a sunset…even if birds kept swooping down toward him. One night a bird actually hit my head! Whoa!

Tahoe looks like he is a little sleepy and ready to leave his zoo of hotel towel creations. Swans, elephants, cats, dogs and flowers all visited our room.

We can’t wait for our next beach adventure…For now, Tahoe’s sticking right by me like the devoted helper he is…until our next adventure with his dad.  Hope you have summer family adventures planned, my friends.  Enjoy.

With love  -Madge

A ‘Fun’ Dog Friendly Destination

As spring ushers in beautiful weather it also inspires plans for family vacations and quick getaways to the beach. Last fall we took our first trip to Amelia Island. Wow! How had we missed this paradise?  We are blessed with the ability to take Tahoe everywhere we go whether it is a dog friendly place or not. He can stay at hotels with us because he is a certified canine assistant. But, if we needed a dog friendly destination Amelia Island would be the first place we would pick. It is the most dog friendly environment we have ever visited, additionally, the residents are friendly and community oriented and seem to treasure travelers that come to their area.

We stayed at the wonderful dog friendly Residence Inn (highly recommend it!) a block off the beach, and on the Egans Creek Greenway,  but there are many home rentals that are directly on the beach and high-rise hotels a few miles south in the Plantation area.The outside Lanai and putting green.

We had a nice kitchenette and a two bedroom ADA wheelchair accessible suite with a roll in shower.  They were out of the one bedroom accessible rooms and opted to give us this one! We enjoyed the complimentary breakfast buffet and afternoon snacks and Brent also used their gas grill on multiple occasions to prepare our lunch or dinner.

Brent and Tahoe relax by the pool.

The Greenway trailhead in the hotel parking lot!

If you head on down to the Fernandina marina, you can’t miss Brett’s Waterway Cafe. We ate there two times, and while you pay for the view, the food is excellent and we were surprised by their response to Tahoe. We had not even gotten settled at our table when they brought a big bowl of cold water and set it on the ground by Tahoe. As we were reading the menu and enjoying our water and the sunset view they brought two dog biscuits on a plate for Tahoe! Wow! He was getting better service than we were! It was so much fun.Tahoe sure looks excited to have yummy biscuits!

Well, he looks like he might just indulge without warning! He didn’t actually have the treats until we had finished our meals. We can be so cruel.Fernandina Beach is such a quaint town.

We took the opportunity to go on a cruise to Cumberland Island. While we didn’t disembark, it was a beautiful ride with views of wild horses and all kinds of birds and sea creatures.  We will try the sunset cruise on our next trip there.

Pajama Dave and Ellyn, the best tour guides, had no problem accomodating me and Tahoe.

If you take your dog, don’t miss the wonderful Nassau Humane Society dog park that is a couple miles inland by the airport! I’ll post about our experiences there in the future. It is so amazing that it deserves a dedicated article.

It seems like nearly every hotel welcomes dogs and the local business owners love them.  We went to Redbones Bakery and browsed the doggie fresh baked goods.

Of course we bought some yummy cookies to share with our neighbor pups when we got home.

Don’t forget to stop for fresh seafood at Lulu’s.

For more fun Brent added a segway tour! It was his first ride on one.

Even if you don’t have the need to take your dog with you on your trip, you will enjoy the community atmosphere in Amelia Island. It is a wondrous location with plenty of activities along with reasonable prices and friendly residents.

What destinations do you most enjoy? Where are you headed this year? Share your pet friendly experiences, please!

Pardon Us While We PACK

Travel is my friend and we enjoy a new place and new people! But I have to admit that I’m not a fan of packing! Somehow it seems to be a time when my disability frustrates me.. It’s comical as we pack almost as much when we travel for a weekend as we do for two weeks! It’s not the clothes (but we do take too much clothes) that make our packing a bit overwhelming, but the disability related paraphernalia and issues. Ok, I confess, choosing clothes to take can challenge me and that’s frustrating because it seems to signal that I have too much in my closet. But back to gathering necessary wheeling related luggage…

There is the shower chair, the tools to put the shower chair together – as well as any additional emergency items that we take – just in case. On top of that, we can’t forget the charger so that my power wheelchair continues to run. And if we are going somewhere that might not be fully accessible, we take a six foot ramp that folds neatly in the back of the van (for a drive) and we often check it as baggage when we fly. Let’s not forget Tahoe and his leash, identification, food, treats, toys, brush, bowls and baggies, etc.

I have a spreadsheet to track all the things we don’t want to forget! When we pack we check things off the list to make sure that we are not an hour away and say ‘Oh my, we forgot the —–‘, and it isn’t like it’s easy to buy ‘—-‘ on the road!

Every year we take a trip to Florida in the January-February time frame to attend a conference where Brent is a featured speaker. It is the perfect time for a break from the cold weather, but warmth is hit or miss. Sometimes we experience the coldest snap of the year or decade! In fact, for the last several years we have experienced weather that has kept us inside the hotel(s) for most of our visit. We seem to arrive when it’s either raining incessantly or the temperatures are dropping into the low 30s with winds. Last year we had a day or two where we actually spent ‘time’ outside and we found a dog park where Tahoe could run and enjoy the outdoors in the afternoons or evenings once Brent was finished with his sessions. This year looks promising!

Speaking of Brent, remember he is a techie genius. He presents and teaches workshops on geeky topics when we are on the road…this packs an additional punch into our already heavy load! Thankfully, a trip to Florida is drivable! For those times when we fly for business, we usually send Tahoe’s food as well as Brent’s teaching materials ahead of time. Did I mention Brent is a ‘snacking maniac’? He loves his morning, afternoon and bedtime snacks that keep his tall (and handsome) body on the go. We pack snacks and also buy snacks on the road. Yes, the popcorn is packed!

People with small children no doubt face a similar dilemma, but it’s all worth it when you are finally on the road or in the air and it always seems easier to UNpack! Hopefully your babies are as cooperative as Tahoe on your journeys. He curls up in the van and on the plane for a trip. You have to laugh at his ‘Please don’t pet me, I’m working’ patch! He looks to be working hard in seat 10B!

This year I prepared for the packing process with an added punch of prayer and my kind helpers put everything but the kitchen sink in our bag(s)! Really, just kidding about the sink, it is in there somewhere. And why not throw in the chargeable toothbrush this time? I love clean teeth!

  • I’m thankful we don’t have to travel with oxygen tanks.
  • I’m thankful Brent can lift me and we don’t travel with a big lift like one of my friends who has an injury like mine. Although, we do pack a lifting belt like the Home Depot employees wear!
  • I’m thankful Brent enjoys having me and Tahoe even though we represent a good bit of work for him.
  • I’m thankful for the cyber world that helps us continue our communication and activities and work remotely.
  • I’m thankful that processing through my perceived packing pains sparked prayers for our next trips! The time with family in the spring is destined for packing perfection.

I’m sure there are others with pack-aphobic tendencies. Please share your tips, struggles and stories with me. Today I need you!

Hawaii – Blast on the Big Island

As colder weather invades the northern hemisphere, I’m drawn to thoughts of balmy beaches and caramel colored sunsets like the ones we relished on the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago. Year-round the temperatures range from the 60’s at night to the 80’s during the day. Climate perfection! My disability and wheelchair are obstacles in travel situations, but thankfully with focused effort, they can usually be overcome. We’ve trekked across the Pacific several times for both business and pleasure. We were blessed with great situations that made the Hawaiian paradise an affordable excursion each time.

Transportation is an extra challenge with a heavy non-collapsible power wheelchair. When our plane arrives at most destinations, we wait for the chair to be brought to the gate, or I get off the plane and use an over-sized airline wheelchair while we wait for airport staffers to bring my chair. The airline’s ‘manual’ wheelchairs make my small frame feel like a floppy Raggedy Ann doll. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use the airline’s chair when we arrived in Kona. Other passengers disembarked via the stairs while I anxiously waited for a makeshift jet-way/lift-truck that raised my chair to the plane and lowered me to the tarmac. It was the first time I’d felt like merchandise in Home Depot. See the Orange and White on the lift-truck? Home Depot colors, too!

Our next challenge was a short wheelchair accessible ride to our condo on the Kohalo Coast. We splurged for the ramped van rental during our stay to make sight-seeing more convenient.

Pre-planning and research is definitely a must. There are merely a few rent-able wheelchair vans on the island!

We settled into the fully equipped timeshare unit that Brent’s sister and brother-in-law let us use…did I say blessed? Beaches are fabulous for relaxing, but we needed adventure.

We booked a wheelchair accessible snorkeling tour out of Kona. The boat had a ramp for my chair and extra men to help lift me in and out of the water for snorkeling.

I made a superb cart for snorkels, masks and fins, too.  And in case you are wondering, no…I don’t use fins, and Brent shouldn’t need any with his size 15 feet!

The snorkeling excursion was a little choppy, but I managed not to suck water in through my snorkel and afterwards we enjoyed the cruise back to Kona together.

When we took a gander above us, we only saw the feet of fellow snorkelers on the upper deck. Darn. It was not accessible!

We employed a not so accessible mode of transportation in a helicopter.

Only the brute force of several men could get me in the ‘Madge-sized’ seat!  ‘Blue Hawaiian Helicopter’ staff were exceptionally helpful and accommodating.

On our two hour tour we got a bird’s eye view of the lava fields. They were accessible by helicopter, but too dangerous for walking or four wheeling!

Hot lava flowing into the sea.

We headed up the coast toward the fertile Waipio Valley. Note the other helicopter in the distance for perspective of the valley’s enormity.

We marveled at the stunning waterfalls.

Hawaii is truly a paradise. Winter is a lovely time of year to visit not only for the perfect climate, but also for the peak whale watching. Whether you are walking or wheeling, Hawaii is a destination for a bucket list.

Waiting for warm weather,