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Hey look, it’s a new Travels With Pain post! Bet you never thought you’d see one of these again. 

This one is much less a how-to post, and much more a “my mom wants me to write travelogues about my trip with my husband to Oregon to visit his family.” But as I’m still traveling with pain, it’s still on-topic. Sort of. 

Without further ado…

Day 1: San Jose to Ashland via I-5

Yup, we drove to Oregon all right. Took us about six and a half hours. No major traffic snarls, no mountainsides on fire, no highway construction shut down the Interstate. And the gas station-mini-mart-restaurant-horror movie location of Pollard Flat was closed for the season. Which pretty much takes care of anything interesting that might have happened on Day 1. 

Pain tally: Sitting in a car for 6.5 hours is uncomfortable even if you’re a hale and healthy human being (like my husband). I took my medications on time, kept hydrated, insisted on stopping to pee on a regular basis, and thus was in good shape when we arrived in Ashland. 

Night 1 – Night 2: Ashland

We managed to miss the Oregon Shakespeare Festival by about three hours. And while I wasn’t hurting, I was definitely tired, so we bagged any notion of running around sightseeing and stayed camped in Ashland for the duration. 

Dinner both nights took place at the Standing Stone Brewery, which was much, much better than I expected. I do not like brew pub food. It always ends up tasting vaguely like beer and day-old deep fryer fat to me. Standing Stone is now officially the exception. They’re very big on local sustainable food and drink, if you’re into that sort of thing. (We are.) Their home-brewed beers are exceptional, if you’re into that sort of thing. (I’m not. Husband is. I’m taking his word for it.) Their burgers are yummy. They’ve got plenty of not-beef options, and I suspect that they’d be about medium friendly to serious dietary restrictions. 

We stayed at the Arden Forest Inn. I’ve stayed in literally dozens of inns and hotels since I declared the Arden Forest to be my favorite B&B ever. To be perfectly frank, the Arden Forest doesn’t have the biggest or lushest rooms. (Of course they don’t have the biggest or lushest prices either.) They could use to replace their mattresses and they don’t have jacuzzi tubs. 

That said, I have never ever enjoyed talking to B&B hosts more than I enjoy talking to Bill & Corbett. It’s not at every inn that you can while away the morning talking about the deepest nature of religion and spirituality, the history of gay rights in America, and the possible future of American culture. Among other things. 

Day 3: Ashland to Hillsboro (a suburb of Portland)

Hey look, we’re on I-5 again. Yippee. Actually, I-5 is prettier in Oregon than it is in California. But it still goes by mighty fast, and if you’ve got big-rig fear it’s probably not the route for you. 

We drove. We stopped to pee. We drove some more. We managed to hit high rush hour in Portland, which is much more impressive than it was almost 20 years ago when I last spend any time here. But at length, we arrived at the Comfort Inn Hillsboro where my mother-in-law had booked us a room. 

Tina, the guest services rep at the desk, was absolutely charming. I got to prove, again, some more, why it’s A Good Thing(tm) to be nice to service people. In the course of checking in, I asked Tina if our room had a king sized bed–citing my husband’s height (6-foot, 4-inches) as the reason we like to have king beds. She said we didn’t, we had a queen, and that she didn’t have any kings available. I was gracious about it, and we chattered happily as she checked us in. 

Long story short, because I was nice to Tina, she decided to upgrade us from a standard queen room to a king with a gigantic jacuzzi tub. Without charging for it.

She totally didn’t have to do that. But because we were nice and gracious and didn’t yell at her or otherwise become jerks upon learning that we probably wouldn’t get our every wish…she went out of her way to try to grant our every wish. 

Funny how that works… 

 

Coming soon: Hillsboro, Portland, and the Surprise Bonus Beach House

(Also photos once I deal with some technical difficulties)

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Listening to the Impossibles.

via Listening to the Impossibles.

 

Think you can’t travel because of your chronic pain, your hidden disability?

Read this post.

It describes, pretty succinctly, why people with chronic pain can travel if they really want to. Traveling with pain isn’t easy. Getting up the money, the courage, and the strength to do it is even harder.

But it’s worth it. Always.

 

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SATH's opening session

The Unfortunate Incident in Atlanta Int’l Airport(tm) ironically occurred as I was traveling home from the SATH World Congress. Before the Incident, I spent five days meeting many awesome travel professionals who do lots of things to provide service for travelers with all sorts of disabilities.

One thing I learned is that disabled travelers can rent all kinds of helpful equipment for the road, so as to make our trips easier and more comfortable. And I realized that not all of this stuff is usable by visibly disabled travelers only–in fact, plenty of the items I heard described would be totally usable by travelers with pain, diabetic travelers, travelers with restricted diets, travelers with bathroom-related disabilities, pregnant travelers, visually impaired travelers…the list goes on and on.

It had never occurred to me that I could rent a scooter when I’m attending a conference on one of those city-block sized cruise ships, so that I don’t have to constantly walk back and forth from seminars to meals to staterooms. Heck, I could even rent a shower chair–an item that saves me a whole spoon per day. On travel, I could use that spoon to go swimming for half an hour, or take a half-mile nature walk, or check out a local clothing boutique. All much better uses for a precious spoon than standing in the shower for 10 minutes.

The Special Needs Group rents scooters and wheelchairs of all kinds–including beach wheelchairs–as well as walkers, and I suspect that if you asked nicely, they’d rent you a cane too. They’ve also got oxygen and respiratory equipment, TTY devices, Braille printed cards and documents, hospital beds, baby cribs, shower stools, commode chairs, and mini-fridges. Though these things make up the majority of the company’s usual rental equipment stock, if you need something else, give ’em a phone call and ask for it. The Special Needs Group owner and staff feel strongly about customer service, and if they possibly can, they’ll hook you up with what you need to make your trip as comfortable as possible. They’ve provided everything from organic baby food to strips of sod (for a service dog’s comfort and convenience).

So what’s the catch? For Special Needs Group in particular, it’s that their service area is limited to major port cities around the world. Formerly known as Special Needs at Sea, they still focus much of their business on cruise ship travelers. The good news: they’re expanding. They can get equipment to many major theme parks (both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, for example) and will deliver rental equipment to hotels in or near the port cities they serve.

It’s best to reserve equipment in advance of a trip, though keep their phone number handy–if they can, they’ll come through with equipment even at the last minute.

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For my fabulous loyal readers who’ve had trouble pre-ordering The Imperfect Traveler’s Guide to Traveling With Pain, go to the Hunt Press main page and click the Buy Now button below the Traveling With Pain blurb. You can now pay by credit card or directly from your bank account (in addition to PayPal).

There’s still no way to buy multiple copies in the same order. And I’m uncertain as to whether international orders will go through. So if you’re interested in pre-ordering a number of copies, or you need shipping outside the United States, please contact me directly at lizscott04 at gmail dot com.

And to all of you who’ve already ordered your copies–thank you! Your support means more to me than I can say.

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I’m casually following travel journalist Rolf Potts’ 42-day baggage free travel adventure. Last weekend, Spud Hilton wrote this essay about the No Baggage Challenge for SFGate. There’s lots of charming chatter about how great it is to leave the “cocoon of comfort” behind…the implication seems to be that by bringing a comfortable pillow and plenty of clean underwear somehow diminishes a traveler’s ability to truly experience new places.

So now I’m thinking about how a no-baggage trip might work for me…

I wonder if that spiffy uber-pocketed vest Rolf is wearing has the room for prescription bottles–say a dozen prescription bottles, a couple of them large enough to contain more than 200 horse-sized capsules? No, these can’t be “condensed”–when I’m traveling, I need the information on the labels of each script bottle.

Then there’s the temperature issue. If I’m traveling to a warm place, sure I can leave my coat at home. But a multinational adventure in the autumn? When I get cold, my pain flares. So I need enough clothes to stay warm.

Rolf’s a guy, so he doesn’t need some things that women find necessary. Is there enough room in those vest pockets for tampons and pads? Granted, ladies’ underpants take up less room than mens’, so perhaps some OBs could be slipped into that extra space.

How much does that vest weigh, fully packed? I’m guessing more than just a pound or two–probably more like 15-20 pounds depending on how full the bottles of shampoo and detergent and mouthwash are on any given day. When I’m having a flare or even a spike of pain, I can’t tolerate any weight or binding in the painful areas. And while I’ve never tried it, I don’t think I’d do all that well carrying 15-20 pounds every place I went, every day for more than a month–no matter how cleverly designed the pockets or well distributed the weight.

And finally–Rolf takes two showers per day, and spends time at a sink washing out his spare set of clothes every evening. These activities are necessary to his hygiene because he’s got so few clothes available. But yikes! That’s a lot of spoons to spend every day. I don’t think I could keep up with that schedule while on the road–I prefer to use my limited store of spoons to visit attractions, take short hikes, and explore my destination.

Nope, I don’t think I’ll post my luggage on Freecycle anytime soon. In fact, it’s that much maligned “cocoon of comfort” that permits me to travel at all. And I’d recommend that my fellow travelers with pain bring along clean clothes, pain meds, orthopedic shoes, memory foam pillows, and any other items that can make you comfortable on your trips. You’ll save so many spoons this way, that you’ll be much more able to enjoy the wonders and joys of your destination.

I would like to take this moment to offer a blessing to Rolf and to Spud: May you never lose your health. May your body remain whole and sound and strong. May you always carry with you an infinite number of spoons.

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It’s my joy to announce that I’m in contract negotiations with Hunt Press for publication of Traveling With Pain, a book inspired by this blog.

Though there will be some overlap, the book will not just be a reprint of TWP blog posts. The book will contain a wealth of new information for travelers with chronic pain, including advice from doctors, physical therapists, psychologists, and other experts who work with chronic pain patients. Whether you’re putting together a Disney vacation for your family, dreaming of an exotic international adventure with your partner, or just want to get out of your house on your own for a weekend, Traveling With Pain will help with every stage of the trip. Offered as both a trade paperback and an e-book, Traveling With Pain will be lightweight enough to carry with you–a key advantage when traveling with pain!

We don’t have a publication date yet, but I expect the book will be available sometime in 2011. I’ll post more, including pre-order information, as more information becomes available. In the meantime, I’ve got writing to do!

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I’m a Local Oyster!

Ahem.

That is, I’m a blogger for Oyster Locals. Oyster Hotel Reviews is a new(ish) web site that provides comprehensive hotel reviews. To me, it’s like reading what a AAA Guide might say if it had the space, with a hearty dose of Moon Handbook-style individual writer’s personality. The folks at Oyster have a pretty good handle on what teh Innerwebz can offer to a travel guide, and have taken advantage of the web’s strengths and now-cheap bandwidth.

While Oyster doesn’t review hotels specifically for disabled travelers (yet–give me time), I find the reviews complete enough to give me a decent idea as to how comfortable I’m likely to be. Don’t expect the kind of specifics I give here, or that you’d find in There Is Room at the Inn. But if you read carefully, you can figure out things like presence of functional elevators and noise levels. Oyster does call out bed comfort and room spaciousness in all their reviews.

Oyster’s other new content site is Oyster Locals–a pro multi-author travel blog covering attractions, restaurants, and activities in the cities and islands where they do hotel reviews. That’s where I’m writing. I am the first Oyster San Francisco blogger! In fact, I seem to be the first Oyster Not-NYC blogger.

The fabulous news–Oyster Locals wants posts about accessible attractions, restaurants, etc. Apparently they see us (disabled travelers of various types) as a viable and important market segment. Hooray! It’s only a matter of time before we start getting banner ads of our very own.

I’ll be reposting blurbs and links to my Oyster posts here and on EatsWritesandLeaves.

Let the fun begin!

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