On a recent family vacation this July, I was grateful to have the ability to visualize in my minds-eye multiple dolphins jumping in groups and individually, whales spouting water into the air from their blow holes with each breath as they surfaced and swam in the vivid blue Pacific Ocean in Monterey Bay, CA. there were adult and baby deer grazing in the nearby fields, seagulls squawking, pelicans and many other birds flying overhead and running on the ground. There was even one raccoon who was attempting to get into one of the places where some of our family members were staying.
I am truly thankful to have had the opportunity to experience this trip with 11 other family members, which included my wife Kathy, two of my nieces, two of my nephews, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, 3 great nieces, 1 great nephew, and my great niece’s friend, ranging in ages from 8 to 71 years.
Even though all I see is blackness due to my blindness, I can still look into the deep blue ocean, clear blue sky, hills, mountains and ravines filled with grasses, bushes and trees to see, feel and sense nature surrounding me. I am also grateful to have had family with me who did not mind describing some of the surroundings and wildlife, as we walked or rode to local destinations, in golf cart type vehicles that were provided to assist guests in getting around the facilities and the local recreational activities at the place where we were staying.
Besides the enjoyable companionship, I enjoyed waking up each morning and listening to the sound of the peaceful ocean waves, birds singing, seagulls squawking, experiencing the warm breeze and the feel of the sun’s rays warming my body, which created a truly relaxed atmosphere. The fragrance of the flowers, bushes and trees were exhilarating and awakened senses that are, in my opinion, stifled, living in cities or large towns away from nature.
During our vacation, we enjoyed many wonderful activities, including going to the beach multiple times to enjoy the sun and water. After lying on the beach relaxing on a blanket in the sand, I decided to cool off. I walked into the ocean water with my support cane and felt the crisp, cold water splash up against my legs as the ocean water rushed in all around me. Lying on my back in the sun I listened to the thrill in my family’s voices as they watched the dolphins jumping and the blue whales spouting in the magnificently blue ocean. This was a wonderful experience. I had never seen a dolphin in the wild and never been so close to a whale in the wild when I had eyesight, therefore I was grateful to have these experiences seeing through my family’s eyes and their descriptions of dolphins and whales swimming so close to all of us.
Listening to my great nieces and great nephew riding boogie boards, and building remarkable sand castles filled the environment with very cheerful sounds of joy and exhilaration.
There was also the sound of happiness of others watching one of my nieces and my wife Kathy wading in the ocean surf, as a large wave caught Kathy off guard and got her a little more wet than she anticipated as she yelled out with joy when the wave splashed up against her. From the sounds that filled the air I could sense everybody was having a delightful time, including me!
While my nephews played Frisbee, the rest of us enjoyed just being together, eating, laughing, playing and having a great day at the beach.
We all enjoyed sharing great meals together on our vacation. One of the highlights was when we had a delicious dinner, perfectly cooked barbeque (BBQ) with a variety of delicious side dishes and salads some of us caringly prepared to go with the BBQ. We had such a large group we all could not sit together, therefore some of us enjoyed our dinner inside and others sat outside while we watched dolphins and whales jumping and spouting in the ocean just off the seashore. After a delicious dinner we all went to the beach and sat around a large fire under the twinkling bright stars in the dark sky, where we all roasted marshmallows and made smores, which were delicious. The smell of the burning wood and the crackling sound of the campfire was relaxing, since these smells and sounds reminded me of camping. While we all enjoyed each other’s companionship sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and making S’mores, large brightly colored fireworks exploded above our heads on the beach. They exploded with bright shapes in all directions as my family described to me so I could vividly visualize this in my minds-eye. Other highlights of our vacation were eating delicious breakfasts, drinking coffee, tea or juice each morning with the companionship of family while breathing the clean fresh ocean air and listening to the ocean waves outside. Each morning we would look out the windows of the place where we were staying and could see deer grazing with their fawns which had white spots. This was a wonderful and peaceful sight with the grey blue ocean just off in the distance.
What also made me happy was when other family members would visit each morning to share gratitude and joy, (and food and beverages too), while we prepared to experience a wonderful day at the ocean. I say visit us, because of the size of our group we needed to stay in two places. Our places were so close to each other, we could walk to them when we wanted to.
Over the couple of days we all spent together I never felt like I was limited by not having any eyesight. I participated in all of the activities and fun. If I needed assistance, there were family members around to assist. Even my great nieces and great nephew were happy to sight guide me to some locations I was not familiar with. I felt so comfortable on our vacation, if I got disoriented while walking outside by myself using my long white cane for navigation and short support cane, the strangers I met on my walk were so friendly, accommodating and helpful with any verbal guidance I ask for, I never experienced any limitation I could not overcome. Having my wife Kathy to also assist significantly helped to ensure a successful and wonderful vacation.
I understand that packing, planning, prioritizing and preparing for a vacation is time consuming, especially if you have a disability or are experiencing other challenges which may limit some of your activities. I also understand without assistance it might not be possible to go on a vacation for many reasons. Since I am completely blind and can’t drive a motor vehicle, and public transportation is not always available or accessible without the assistance of others getting to some locations, and receiving some assistants locating what I need to pack for a vacation I might not be able to attend such vacations. And there are some people without any challenges or limitations, who choose not to participate because they do not want to take the time to plan and prioritize their personal or professional life to experience an enjoyable vacation.
I hope you will not let any challenge deter you from participating in trips or vacations with family or friends. I also hope you can cherish the value of sharing companionship with others, and the value of unselfish behavior and attitude. Even if some trip modifications and assistive technology (Low or High Tech) are necessary for an effective and enjoyable vacation, it is worth the planning and sacrifices to create lifelong positive memories.
We all look forward to hearing your comments, vacation stories and the value of sharing your experiences and how they were of value to you and others.
Global Dialogue Center