Monday morning, 11 o’clock, I crawl from under my cosy thermal blanket with no particular idea of what I would do that morning, or the rest of the day, or the rest of the week, or the rest of the month, in fact, what I would do with the rest of my life.
Is this really my life ?, my boring life, Yes – admittedly it was. So there and then I decided to follow my lifelong dream, which was, in one word – ‘America’
America, a huge country, masses of people, masses of places, masses of cultures, masses of everything !. Where would I go, what would I do ?. The dream was sprouting roots, the excitement was building !.
New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Boston – A job for the pin ?, No chance. I needed to consider this carefully as this would be my first ever overseas adventure. I had high expectations of america and the only way these would be upheld would be to decide what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and more importantly, what I wanted to experience.
The west coast ; Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon had always held an unexplained fascination for me. California could have been the reason for this ; the sun, the scenery and the Californian beach babes !. The initial concept was conceived.
The first practical step was to get there; I started making calls to travel agents. My first call revealed my first problem ………..
“Seattle, this week, No chance”
Call number two ………
“A flight to Seattle, before Monday, no way”
Call number three ……….
“This week, Seattle, Forget it”
This was the story I got from all 6 travel agents.
At that point, many people would have given up their search for an immediate flight, but not me. I had a family member who was in the business, so if there was a flight he might know where it was.
“There is a flight to Seattle ….”
That was my plane, the only flight available was mine.
“….. in 3 weeks time”
That was it. No flight, no holiday, no dream-chasing.
I wasn’t about to let my destiny slip from my grasp, I wouldn’t give up, I was in pursuit of my dreams. There were still thirty travel agents in the telephone book and any of them may have a flight. Unlikely, but still quite possible. I’d tried all the larger adverts in the phone book so I then tried the smaller ones – which I presumed were for smaller companies with fewer flights to offer me.
“Good morning, I’m Mandy, Can I help you ?.”
I gave my well practiced speech, about where I wanted to go and when I wanted to fly.
“There is one seat on a plane via Houston, Texas leaving on Saturday”
The delight, the elation. the ecstasy ; my dream was going to happen. It was going to happen in four days time !.
With only three days to go and nothing sorted out apart from the flight, I needed to get organized. The first thing which I needed to get sorted out was that all important commodity – money. Thankfully, foreign currency is not hard to find but how much would I need ?. I changed some into cash, some into traveler’s cheques and also put a credit balance into my VISA card account. Insurance was my next problem because, for an unknown reason, I needed to give two days notice for approval. That meant I wouldn’t know if I would be insured until Friday, one day before I was due to fly.
For most people, packing is a worry but for me the problem ran far deeper. I got everything I might need, laid it all on the bed, put everything inside a backpack, loaded it onto the back of my wheelchair – The wheelchair did a back flip. If you can imagine a tortoise on its back with legs in the air, that was the situation !.
Plan B was needed. Forget the idea of a backpack, instead I put my entire luggage in a large hold all type bag and turned that bag into my trailer. A one-man train !.
Friday came and the last hurdle was in sight. Had I got the all important insurance ?. Yes, so I collected my tickets and insurance documents and I was set. With that final hurdle cleared, the finish line was in sight, or was it the starting line ?.
I left on Saturday morning for the United States with no idea where I was going to go, where I would stay or what I would do for the next few months. However, that was part of the excitement, part of the dream