Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Which Connor And I Are Headed South, And We Need Your Input

Connor and I are planning a big trip!

The first week of August, he and I will be traveling down through Oregon and California all the way to La Jolla for a family wedding.  Since plane flight is impossible right now due to Connor's seizures, we've been tossing around ways to get there.  Originally we were looking at taking the train and then renting a wheelchair van, but there's no direct train all the way there-- we'd have to change trains and also, for a portion of the trip, ride a bus.  The prospect of hauling around three days worth of Connor's g-tube supplies as well as all of his other medical equipment through that many changes doesn't sound really appealing, and that route isn't very cost effective either.

So today I sat down and took a good hard look at the drive.  It's about a 21 hour trip from start to finish, but Connor and I don't have anywhere special to be, so we're going to break it down into short runs.  The biggest issue is the possibility of him having a seizure somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, but I've found a route that has us sticking to pretty major cities and doesn't involve long stretches of driving through desolate areas, so I think we're going to go for it!  Because it's the summer and we don't have a lot of obligations other than therapies, I think we're going to make it an adventure and take our time; Rowbert the Traveling Van can hold all of Connor's supplies for the trip easily.  So here's our tentative itinerary:

August 2nd: we'll leave Puyallup and head down to Medford, Oregon
August 3rd-4th: Monteray, California (we'll probably stay at least a day here, as we have friends in this area)
August 5th-7th: La Jolla, California (the wedding is on the 7th, and we'll leave the morning of the 8th)
August 8th: San Francisco, California
August 9th: Medford, Oregon
August 10th: home again home again, jiggity jig!

I've never seen California, so I'm pretty excited about getting the chance to do some sightseeing!  And while the time we're in La Jolla is set in stone, the rest of the trip is pretty fluid; we could leave as early as August 1st and come back home again as late as August 13th.  I'm not sure our budget would spring for hotel rooms for that long though, so we'll probably keep closer to the schedule above.  It would have us in the car for seven hours a day, which is a pretty leisurely pace and would give us some time to sightsee and stop to visit along the way.

I'm telling you all this because, dear readers, some of you are much more intimately acquainted with California than I am-- and since I have never been to California this doesn't take much.  What does Connor absolutely have to see?  Are there some good wheelchair friendly hotels you all can recommend?  Anywhere we really need to avoid?  I need your advice!



Anonymous said...

Can you send me an e-mail? My e-mail is I'll have to find it but I have some info for you about CA.

leah said...

California is awesome (used to live there). Big Sur is stunning (just south of Monterrey)- if you take Highway 1 you'll drive right along the ocean. My husband calls it the "drive of doom" because it is on a cliff, but you can see kelp beds and sea lions frolicking below.

The Monterrey Bay Aquarium is pretty awesome, and there is a really cool children's park called the Dennis the Menace Park near Monterrey. I'm not sure how accessible it is, though- the last time I was there I was ten.

San Diego rocks- lots to do for little guys. The Wild Animal Park is nice- and all accessible with boardwalks, etc. The animals are in a very natural environment.

If you are near Los Angeles, there is Griffith Park and its awesome accessible playground:

I have a bazillion ideas, and most of them depend on where in California you'll be spending a lot of time. My parents live in Oxnard/Ventura, and that is a pretty area, too. Santa Barbara is gorgeous, has a nice sized zoo (smallish, but good for little ones), great walking areas, and wonderful little parks scattered around. I have some pictures from this area at:

Hopefully other people will weigh in- we mostly love California for the awesome food opportunities (yummy Thai food, Ozeki's for sushi, Yolanda's for Mexican). Yum.

J O'C said...

I'm glad you have some friends with advice for you because ah...I've got nothing. We've taken several longish car trips with the kids, so I have some survival advice about that, but I have a feeling you've got that covered!!

Will you be blogging along the way?

xraevision said...

I can definitely second Leah's suggestion about visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I remember it being wheelchair accessible and spacious, as well as completely fascinating. I could have watched the massive tanks of jellyfish and tuna (yum!) all day.

I would only recommend driving on Highway 1 if you are the risk taker type. Twisty roads atop of rocky cliffs are not my cup of tea, as I discovered recently, but the views are breathtaking (literally!) and there are lookout points where you can watch sea lions.

We ate some of the Tastiest Meals Ever in San Fran, but that was years ago before X came along. Golden Gate Park often features community events. We were fortunate enough to happen upon free swing dancing lessons!

Please tell us that you will be blogging along the way. What would your readers do without their daily fix of Jess and Connor?!!

Julia said...

I lived in San Jose and then Santa Cruz for a total of 9 years; loved the place (except for the quakes). Point Lobos is an absolutely gorgeous state park just south of Carmel, but I don't think it was very wheelchair friendly the last time I was there (probably 1993); maybe they've improved it. I'll add my vote to the must-see status of Monterrey Bay Aquarium. I went there a gazillion times starting the week after it opened, and never tired of it. If you happen to be near Santa Cruz for lunch, the Pontiac Grill is a fun old-fashioned diner downtown. Cody's is a great bookstore in Oakland, and there are a couple of good ones in Santa Cruz, too. If you're in the San Jose area, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books is good. (All of my CA info is at least 17 years old, so no guarantees.)

gloria said...

Sea World. Hands down. Not sure if that's on your route or even near where you plan to travel, but it's definitely worth visiting... and for free since you're military. Is Jeremy going?

PS. We made it to WA! Settling into the hotel and still running errands. Ryan's return was delayed (shocker) so I've got some days to kill. Give me a call!

AggieBandMom said...

You must spend some time going thru the Redwoods! They are awesome. There are a number of groves between Oregon and SF. Some of the groves have paths - not always the best with a wheelchair, but do-able, others the road goes right through.

Jess said...

Thanks, guys!

I think we'll probably end up sticking with Highway 101:

Twisty Roads + Rowbert + My Driving = Possible DOOOOOM.

Also there are more major towns along 101. Major towns with hospitals. And tea. And wifi. Because you didn't think I was going to stop blogging for ten days, did you? My trusty laptop will be along for the ride, thank you very much.

I'll have to call one of the parks with the redwoods and see if they have cell phone reception-- if they do we'll have to swing by!

We'll miss Santa Barbara, unfortunately, but maybe we'll get it another trip! And trust me, I am looking forward to all the yummy trip food that I don't have to prepare myself. If Connor will let me eat in an actual sit-down restaurant, that is.

Basically we'll be following Highway 101 from one end of California all the way to the other end of California, so we'll have the ability to stop off anywhere along the route. Major cities we'll either get close to or drive directly through include Redding, Sacramento, San Francisco, Monteray, San Jose, Salinas, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and San Diego and then all the little cities in between. Whew!

Jeremy is not joining us as of yet-- not on the trip down for sure, anyway. It's a little long for him to be taking off work. So thus far it'll be just me, Connor, Rowbert, and the Parking Duck. The velociraptors will probably stay with Jer.

Monteray Bay Aquarium is on my list of must-sees. I'm debating about Disneyland and SeaWorld, but if I can get the majorly discounted military tickets that might help me make the decision.

Thanks again, guys-- you rock!


Jess said...

Sorry-- I should have said Highway 5 to Highway 101-- we'll hit 101 in San Jose, after a brief stint on 680. Teach me to talk without looking at my map.


Julia said...

Actually, you can pick up 101 in San Fran and take it down to San Jose. (Alternate route would be 280, but if you're heading for 101 anyway, take that.)

Yes, yes, redwoods, should've thought of that. Cowell State Park (south of San Jose) is a good destination for that.

You should take a velociraptor, but don't try to take a gerbil; they're illegal in CA. (We snuck one in when we moved there in 1984.)

Mary said...

Obviously, I've got nothing, but give Opie a call if you'd like. He's a big fan of various places in San Diego, but I haven't the foggiest idea exactly what.

leah said...

Connor might really like Disneyland, and he would get a wheelchair pass to bypass most of the long lines that occur in summer. Small World (torture for adults, but heaven for little ones) and the Tiki Room are favorites of Matt. Nolan is terrified of birds, so we'll probably skip the Tiki Room this trip..

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