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Out on the road, things don't always go as planned...


We took off on a big trip west. It came together quickly. The perfect small travel trailer came on the market, and they don't last long so we put our money down. It's a toy hauler, meaning the back flips down into a ramp that will be great for the wheelchair, and it's 16 feet long, so it should be OK for us to sleep and eat but still be able to fit in most campgrounds at the national parks which is our goal. The catch is that the toy hauler is all the way on the other side of the country in Arizona, but we've wanted this for a long time, so now the trip is part of our adventure.

The big day comes, and we got a late, late start. We don't travel light: as my health becomes more and more involved, so do the number of suitcases, bags, gizmos and the like. Stuck with all the work as usual, Mab has a hard time planning and packing. What can be packed, and what will still be needed in the morning before we leave? What will we need handy in the car? In the hotel? In the RV? These things frustrate her.

To make things worse, in loading the van, the stacked containers she uses to store the luggage toppled, creating more confusion.

Then when we finally loaded up, the van lift that transfers me from wheelchair to passenger seat had no charge. Sometime during the past week a button got pushed and turned the unit on. So, while we embarked and the lift was charging up, I sat in the back of the van. I'll do this for short trips when it's not worth the hassle of transferring. But being in the back of a cargo van (no windows installed as yet) can be a drag, especially during a road trip. The music's garbled, there's no one to talk to and nothing to see, and on bad roads I jostle like a ragdoll. I sit tall, so all I can see through the front windows are grass, pavement and sometimes the bottom half of cars and buildings flashing by. So here we are, driving down Route 66, but all I'm getting is Route 33.

But I remembered something Mab has told me about travel, and she's done more than her share. She said that no matter how much you plan, things rarely if ever go exactly according to plan. You have to be willing to deal with whatever comes up, and roll on to experience your trip. And sure enough, the traveling I've done has gone that way, and so it was today. It's kind of how you have to be with a disability anyway, willing to roll on.

UPDATE: 48 hours later, we were driving through the desert brush and oil pumps of arid west Texas. We weren't where we were supposed to be: We should have been a couple hundred miles to the north, but we took a wrong turn for Abilene instead of Amarillo, because we were both punchy the night before and they both start with "A." But we rolled on until our newish vehicle with only 15,000 miles on it lost all power on a four-lane interstate. We pulled over on a thin strip of shoulder with loaded oil rigs whipping past on one side, and a steep ditch on the other, so that we were stuck there in 100? heat. Of course it was Sunday afternoon and the roadside services were slow to help.

I have MS, so after two hours in that heat I was seeing Jesus. Jesus was wearing a brown law-enforcement uniform, and turned out to be a sheriff, hallelujah. Big Thanks to him and Nissan Roadside Assistance and Dale at Westwind Transport of Big Spring, Texas, who towed us to a completely accessible hotel with lovely air-conditioning. Thanks to these guys, the middle of our story has a happy ending.

We were stranded in the hotel until Monday. On Tuesday we lost the room to somebody with reservations. All that day we sat in the lobby, surrounded by our Hoyer lift and all that baggage I mentioned before, while we furiously made phone calls to the Nissan warranty garage 100 miles away. (We were waaaay out in nowhere.) It was more than a little bit exciting where we'd end up.

But long story short, we got the van back and on Tuesday night were back on the road.

Roll on.

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