Bryan’s Odyssey: The Story of a Journey
Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had visited the famous town of Albuquerque. Many cities did he visit and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by inaccessibility while trying to bring his power chair safely home; but do what he might he nearly missed his connection in Dallas; so the gods almost delayed him from reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them (homage to Homer, Book I).
Since we were so far out west, my family and I decided to extend our trip after the KASA Board meeting so we could sightsee around New Mexico. Many people who live in Albuquerque told us we should ride the Sandia Peak Tramway. This tramway (Sandia Peak Tramway) is the world’s longest aerial tram, which transports you 2.7 miles in about 15 minutes over deep canyons. It sounded like fun, so off we went. There was about a six inch gap between the landing and the tram, which workers covered with plates from the bottom of the tram. I was boarded first, which guaranteed me a good view. When we were ready to go back down, my mother told the operator there was a wheelchair that needed to board. Instead of making a ramp with the plates and boarding me first, this operator let everyone else board first. I guess he thought I could take a flying leap across that six inch gap! He even told my mom the trams were built with wheelchairs in mind! She informed him they were built in the 1960’s when wheelchairs were not considered at all. Well, like she usually does, my mother got into a heated discussion with him. Of course, she won after she told the worker that neither he nor the state of New Mexico had enough money to pay the cost for any injuries suffered if anything happened. Needless to say, we boarded the next tram using the plates as ramps, and all was well.
Next, since we had heard about the beautiful city of Taos and the Pueblo, we decided to visit. Well, for the most part, it was not accessible for me. I had to go around a remote way and never was able to use the gate to enter the patio area of a restaurant to get drinks. Making our way through the bushes made me angry. I thought the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was supposed to equalize entrances to public buildings. Apparently, it is not always enforced. Good thing I didn’t have to go to the bathroom, because that was downstairs!
We traveled farther north to the Indian Pueblo. It was pretty late, and the Pueblo was closing in an hour. Since you had to pay to go in and pay to use a camera, we decided not to go in. My mother was driving and going to turn around to leave. She took a right at a stop sign and drove down the road a little. In a scene that could have been a modern interpretation of a spaghetti western, we were chased down by a young Native American man with long hair pulled back in a ponytail riding a bicycle! We were, apparently, trespassing. We left Taos after that, and soon we left New Mexico.
We boarded the flight for home with a stop to change planes in Dallas, Texas. That sounds easy enough. When we got to Dallas, we had to wait on the tarmac (runway) for another plane to leave the gate. When we finally got to the gate, I had to wait for everyone else to get off the plane before I could also get off. First, the flight attendants discussed whether or not I needed my chair after we had checked it through to home, and then they had to get a loaner chair to take me to the next plane. All the while time was ticking by. The person who was to take us to the next gate told us we would have to hurry. He escorted us to the tram system for a trip to the next concourse. When we got close to the tram, the guy took off running calling back to my mother, “Hurry or you’ll miss the tram!” The doors closed on my mother just as she got on the tram. After what seemed like a trip around the perimeter of the state of Texas, we got to the gate as the attendant was closing the door. She said we might be too late. Luckily for us, there was a late-checked item that needed to be loaded into the plane. Can you guess what that was? My chair! They let us on the plane, and we settled into our seats, glad to be headed for home!
When we arrived in Raleigh, the special wheelchair (called an “aisle chair”) used to get me off the plane wasn’t there. The flight attendant told us she called for on, and it would be about five minutes. The ground crew had brought my chair to the door of the plane. My friend David who was traveling with us went out to put the chair back together. He wasn’t able to get the seatback on, so when I was finally brought off the plane, I saw the pilot fixing my chair!
All in all, American Airlines did a fine job of getting me from point A to point B and back. They didn’t lose our bags, and the flights were smooth. After our long journey, I was ready to relax at home.
Homer, By. “The Internet Classics Archive | The Odyssey by Homer.” The Internet Classics Archive: 441 Searchable Works of Classical Literature. Web. 17 Aug. 2010.
Sandia Peak Tramway. Web. 17 Aug. 2010.
Bryan Dooley is a KASA Board member. Want to share what you think about this article? Visit the KASA website
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