Physically I've reached the point that I can no longer traipse along on long hikes. This weekend my daughter and her family came to visit. While here they took a notion to visit the Maryland Zoo. When I regretfully pointed out that I wouldn't be able to walk that far and suggested that I would stay home, they proposed renting a wheelchair at the zoo.
After some discussion, that's what we all agreed would work. We left pretty early for the zoo, but it was already hot and muggy when we arrived. On the drive, I had second thoughts about the wheelchair solution, mostly because I felt like a fraud. But the quarter-mile walk from the parking lot to the main entrance quickly disabused me of the false notion that I would be able to spend the day at the zoo on foot.
So, without further reservations we rented the wheelchair and began the day. Immediately, it became apparent that there was more to spending the day in a wheelchair than just renting one. First of all, the zoo is one hill after another. Someone had to push the bloody thing!
Fortunately the zoo is laid out with the idea of being stroller and wheelchair friendly. There were very few steps and all of those had an "alternate route" planned. Fellow travelers were gracious and friendly. I had a lovely time, though I'm not so sure that my son could say the same since he was the main pusher.
Here's a picture of my two granddaughters and my step great grandson in the heron's nest in the Children's Wilderness Park. There was a bog complete with giant lily pads for the children to use as stepping stones across a brook, giant tortoise shell for them to crawl inside and a couple other "nests" for them to try on for size.
What I discovered spending a day in a wheelchair was that most people were unfailingly polite. But there were a few that pretended that I didn't exist. It was difficult to give up my autonomy, my right to go where I wanted to, when I wanted to. And as much as the zoo really worked hard to make the paths "accessible", they obviously forgot to test them out with someone who was actually seated in a wheel chair. Every single one of the heavy railings that lined the path had a broad cap that was exactly at my eye level! It made it tough to see the animals and impossible to take pictures.
It definitely wasn't a chair with a view!