Accessible Road Trip to the USA: Terrence’s Reflections

Torrance and Terrence
It’s now been two weeks since our family returned home to Toronto. For what has been over 10 years since we’ve travelled together as a family this was a long time coming.

I am most thankful that my mom and her boyfriend were on this trip, because without them I wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip solo with Torrance. They slept while I drove and was awake in the night to ensure Torrance’s comfort. I can see where I get the no nonsense workhorse approach when taking care of people. I love them both very much for going on this trip with us. I felt like we were a Nascar support team every day, preparing, packing, loading and unloading as we visited each city.

My personal objective was to give Torrance an opportunity to see places and experiences of travel. As tired as he was, mission accomplished! It’s funny cause a few days after we returned he mentioned that we didn’t get to stop in Michigan to meet his friend, and said casually, “when will we go on our next road trip”?

As Torrance’s brother I am grateful that I have the means now to show Torrance a part of the world and to experience this together. Were there times of frustration during the trip? Yes and it strengthened my ability to be compassionate. Were there times I felt we can see a lot more of a city? Yes and it strengthened my ability to be patient.

I love my brother and mom very much, and to have been able to spend 24/7 in the van, restaurants and hotels with my family meant a lot to me. It was another objective of mine, with me always being on the go all the time and never spending much time with my family, this is exactly what I wanted to experience with them.

My favourite moments would be seeing Torrance’s face when he experienced something incredible, be it on the cruise watching the ocean pass by or visiting all the great ballparks that we’ve watch together on television.

My personal favorites was when we visited Washington, DC and reading the thoughts of our leaders past and their wisdom that they bestow to us.

Regarding accessibility, I was impressed with some of the cities we visited in the USA and the impact the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has had. Pittsburgh and Walt Disney World (yes I count that as a city) are two of the most accessible cities from our experience. Pittsburgh’s public and private transportation options are all accessible (except for the subway which we didn’t get a chance to try out), the ballpark had lots of accessible seating options even front row seats on the field and the hotel that we stayed at had all the appropriate facilities for an accessible room. What impressed me most with Walt Disney World is the number of rides they had accessible for power wheelchairs.

The accessible experience is definitely not consistent even with the ADA in place. Some hotels we stayed in said they’re providing us with an accessible room and leaves us wondering the definition of accessibility by the hotel management company because in those hotels an accessible room is one that only has handlebars in the bathtub and that’s it.

In the Bahamas, I was impressed with Nassau. Even though the streets are chaotic with tourists and locals, the sidewalks all have ramps. However, there’s still lots of accessibility education required in Nassau as many people with accessible needs are still forced to be at home and not have the means to purchase equipment or pay for specialized transportation.

As for the equipment we brought along, we had to rent two things for this adventure, a 2012 MV-1 and a portable hoyer lift. I will write more about our experience in separate reviews. In general they were as advertised and without them would have made the trip more challenging.

This was definitely an adventure of a lifetime for our family! We drove over 5000 KM, through eleven states and visited twelve cities and two countries all in two weeks. We were all exhausted in our first week back. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

I truly hope that this experience has given Torrance an idea that there’s lots out there that he can access, it’s also something I am constantly learning as well.

Read our previous entries:
Day 6 – 8 – On Disney Magic
I am passionate about people and focused on developing meaningful opportunities for people with accessibility needs through social entrepreneurial initiatives in journalism, consulting, and arts. As a TED talks junkie, I would love to hear your story and ideas. Reach out and connect with me!


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