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Keane's September/October 2011, "Now, For Something Completely Different" Trip Report (Part 2)


Mom on Scooter
Mom on her scooter.
General Info:
Who: Me, Keane. Author, planner, survivor...
     Mom, aka "Miss Marie". Mobility impaired. First time WDW guest. Sorta.
     Jenny. No BYPT this time. 5K participant and fellow survivor.
     Karen. My GPS. (A Garmin nuvi 1390)
What: A trip to Disney World with Mom
Where: Walt Disney World, Saratoga Springs Resort
Why: Because all the stars aligned, and it's something I thought would be nice to do before the world ends on December 21, 2012
When: September 27 to October 3, 2011

All Disclaimers from Part 1 still apply.
Thank you.

Day 0. September 26. On the road...

We are gone by 6am, 50degF, and it's dark. I don't want to have to drive through a Chicago rush hour on the way out of town.

I have to take bolts out of her walker and fold in the handles to make it fit into the trunk. (She doesn't have one of those folding aluminum walkers like Carl has. Hers is a rigid frame and has wheels instead of tennis balls.) But I get my rolling duffel, accessory bag, her suitcase, her walker, 12 bottles of water and all my emergency equipment into the trunk. I'm going to miss this car when it's gone. They just don't make trunks like this anymore.

Very, very non interesting trip (which is good), and Mom's attentive, she hasn't seen anything other than certain parts of Chicago since she stopped traveling. If she didn't quite believe I could pull this vacation off, she's believing it now. She falls asleep a couple of times, but for the most part stays awake and watches the sights as they pass by.

She does okay, but a long walk to the building at a rest area in Lebanon, Indiana tires her out. I will learn from this on the way home, and keep her walker in the back seat. Impossible to do on the way down if we fit Jenny's suitcase and another cooler in the back seat.

Karen takes me off the interstate in Southern Kentucky to cut across Tennessee. I'm used to that. I bypass Nashville on some really pleasant backroads, one road so new that Karen doesn't know it exists, and is continually confused until we join back up with the original road.

We stop and meet Jenny for lunch in Lebanon, TN. Does every state in the union have a Lebanon? The object of this is to drop off some food and pick up some food and a suitcase, if it fits. It fits. I have a crowded back seat for the trip down. (A crowded back seat only means more things have to be taken up to the room... :-))

Now, I charged PiC the going rate for what United charged for baggage. Jenny flies Southwest. Damn them and their free bag. Maybe I'll have to charge for delivering the bags to her room. No, wait, that's available "free" too. I'm losing money here.

We finish lunch, and Jenny has Hank and Arwen along (two of her dogs), so Mom has to meet them both. Any worries about Mom not getting along with Jenny (or vice-versa) vanish from all our minds, even if she is some blondy girl I picked up on the 'net. I don't think I had any doubts, but I don't think Jenny's worried about the upcoming week anymore.

We backtrack a couple of miles on I-40 and go South on a near deserted limited access freeway and rejoin I-24 well past Nashville. Traffic through Chattanooga is actually decent.

We stay in a Best Western in Adairsville, GA, about 30 miles North of Atlanta. I'd normally push on a little further, but with Mom in the car, there's no point. With the loss of an hour due to the zone change, it's 7pm, and there's little point in pushing on a few more miles.

I've actually stayed in Adairsville before, the first time I took I-75 down this way. (That would be the second time I went to WDW.) It was at a pretty ratty Comfort Inn. The Best Western is pretty nice, but I did have a problem.

I'm able to get adjoining rooms, one a handicap, the other not. The beds are extraordinarily high, about 28-30 inches. The same bed is in the handicap room, and Mom has to use the bathtub chair to climb up onto the bed. I'm unhappy about that. I will let Best Western know. They always send a survey. :-)

Mileage: 674
Moving time: 9:46
Moving avg: 69
Stopped: 28:48
Overall avg: 66
Total time: 10:15
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Day 1. September 27. Arrival!

The second leg of the trip is as uneventful as the first, including going through Atlanta with no traffic. I show Mom the different nut places throughout Georgia, then the Citrus Centers in Florida. We will hit a couple on the way out.

We stop for breakfast well past Atlanta. I usually don't stop for breakfast, but it's probably best with Mom along, and Cracker Barrels have a decent menu. Mom's a Northern girl, doesn't like grits or sawmill gravy.

The hills of Georgia slowly give way to the flatness of Central Florida, and the Southern sun once again slowly starts to cook my arm to a medium rare, so I put a hand towel I carry over my arm. The cotton will be ready to pick soon, the white tops sometimes goes as far as you can see.

There are a few State Troopers looking for revenue along the way, but none are really trying very hard, and are detected a quarter mile before actually getting to them.

Arrived WDW via Western Way, and there are hundreds of vultures circling above me. You know, if I was a superstitious guy...

Mileage: 509
Moving time: 7:02
Moving avg: 72
Stopped: 29:38
Overall avg: 68
Total time: 7:31
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Saratoga Springs Resort

I have stayed at Saratoga Springs before in 2007, when they were giving $100 dining cards in addition to my AP rate. I was in a studio in The Paddock, right across the street from the RCFD, which woke me a couple of times in the middle of the night... But I digress...

So I'm actually breaking my "Stay at a different resort every trip unless it's AKL" rule again, but I don't have much of a choice this time. I drop Mom off at the front entrance, and go park in the 30-minute parking area.

There's a scooter by the front entrance. Wonder if it's ours?

Check-in, the room's not ready. That's because it's a special needs room. It's shown as being cleaned. Since it's a 2-bedroom, it could take up to 90 minutes if they just started. We do have the same room for all six nights. Yes! No changing rooms, even though we're there under two different reservations, but it's recognized as a single stay. While I'm checking in, a CM amuses Mom and gives her a pink crown. Because I'm getting a particular (special needs) room, I know the room number even if it's not ready.

Since we literally have nowhere to go, we abuse our 30-minute parking spot, and go to Artist's Pallet for a snack. We haven't eaten since early this morning, and probably can't wait for dinner with Andy and Lisa. We split a sandwich, and while eating, I call Apple. I have a 3pm drop-off and it's 2pm, and how do we do the drop-off? The scooter is already here. The scooter we saw is ours. They key is with Bell Services. When we're done at the end of the week, just park the scooter where I found it, and give the key to Bell Services. That's it. That was easy.

Saratoga Springs Resort, Artist's Pallette
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After lunch, we go find the building we're in (The Springs), and I leave mom in the car with the A/C on (it's 90+ outside), and go back to bell services to get the scooter. They have the key, and am given a few instructions by the CM. I note there is already a piece of fiberglass cracked on the front when we take delivery. Hopefully, not a portent of the future. :-)

It's very simple. Insert key, wait for the machine to boot. There is a lever on a central pivot in the middle of the console, which is used to make the scooter go forward or backward. It is surrounded by the steering handle, to protect against accidental movement. (Unless the occupant of said vehicle is unknowingly still pulling on the lever, but I digress.)

Scooter Controls
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Pull the lever on the right and you move forward, or pull the lever on the left side of the steering wheel to go backwards. Note that it works the same way on the opposite side of the steering handle, so if you're backing someone out of an elevator, pulling on the right will still make the scooter go forward into you. More on this later. There is a light for night travel, and the horn buttons on our scooter didn't work. Maybe they were only there to make you feel better pressing them in the parks. (I didn't check the fuses.) There was room for two more buttons. Maybe these things come with the oil slick and forward machine gun options.

A central rotary knob dictates the highest speed the steering levers will take the vehicle. We learn very early to use this knob.

The resort is pretty empty, so I'm able to crank the sucker up and see what it can do. Wow. I have *got* to get me one of these! I definitely see the possibilities of parking lot races after the consumption of adult beverages. They're WAY more fun than the Tomorrowland Speedway cars.

Show mom the controls, and have her practice a little in the parking lot. I know the room number, so after making sure she's not going to hurt anyone, I go check the room.

Saratoga Springs Resort, Mom practicing... :-)
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The room is ready. Take a few pictures before moving in. I note the arrangement, and it'll probably do fine. Only one bedroom has an accessible bathroom, and instead of a kitchenette like the studios have, the bedroom has closet space. A lot of closet space. I can't initially find a light switch in the bathroom, because it's been lowered for wheelchair access.

Well, I'm not living here.

My bedroom has a whirlpool tub next to the bedroom. This room has three doors, one to the main room, one to the shower room, and one to a closet.

The shower room also has three doors, one to the whirlpool/bedroom, one to the main room, and one to the commode room. All three rooms have those annoying movement-sensing exhaust fans, so a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night will trigger three fans. Considering what is done in the commode room, you would think that that room would have the longest fan time. You would be wrong. Next to the bathroom is a washer and dryer unit.

Room 3710, Main Room
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Room 3710, Accessible bedroom
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Room 3710, Main bedroom
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The building and room is very close to the bus stop (you can see if from the balcony), but it's on the third floor, and the route to the elevator and back to the bus stop triples the distance. No big deal with the scooter, but if I was here without it, I'd probably use the stairs.

A few words about elevators. Mom is not very good going forward with a scooter, backing up into an elevator is a non-starter. So she can pull into the elevator, but has a hard time backing out. We learn quickly it is much better, faster and safer if I just take the controls from in front of the scooter and back her out, steering her whichever way we have to go to turn her around so she can drive herself forward. Doing this in the resorts is very good practice. If you are the person backing said scooter out, until you memorize which way to move the lever, you will repeatedly pin yourself between the back of the elevator and the scooter. So learn to use very small movements and be prepared to stop if the scooter starts to move in the wrong direction. But very small repeated movements of the lever at low/no power will cause the scooter to go into an error mode, which requires you power off then power on the scooter. Got it?

It's important to get the routine down, since there are numerous venues that require you use an elevator with a wheelchair/scooter to get to another floor. Most notably, The Land, The Seas and American Adventure, and other resorts you might go to for food. (Boma, Citricos, California Grill, etc.) There can be a lot of traffic in these places, and there might be a long line or crowd around the elevator.

We have a dinner date tonight with Andy and Lisa at the table service restaurant here, The Turf Club. I dress up by putting on a shirt with a collar. For those that don't know, I call this dressing up at WDW. If I ever go to Victoria and Albert's, I may have to wear a jacket and a tie, but I'll be in shorts and walking shoes...

She does well on the scooter until I try to have her park up against the wall by Turf Club, and we have our first minor mishap as she runs into a planter. Nothing broken. Get used to it, it will happen all week. We beat Lisa and Andy to the restaurant (they're coming in from Kidani), and have a seat for a couple of minutes until they show up.

I fail to do any food porn at all this trip. Well, I have a panoramic of the inside of Tusker House, does that count?

But lessee... We had the calamari app, lamb for me, prime rib for Lisa, catch of the day for Andy, mom had the crab cake appetizer as her main course. I was supposed to buy, but Lisa hijacks the check before I can get it. I invite them to dinner and she hijacks the check. Aren't there rules about that sort of thing? The food was decent. I had my first Mint Julep. I don't think they muddled the mint they way they should have.

We walk back to the Springs parking lot, and deliver some Jay's potato chips and Salerno butter cookies, even though I doubt they still use real butter. Lisa and Andy return to Kidani with their goodies, Mom retires to her room, I go out and take some sunset pics and call Jenny. Despite some problems back on the ranch... or in this case, farm... we're good to go. I will pick her up at MCO in about 14 hours...

Sunset over Saratoga Springs
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End September 2011 Trip Report - Part 2.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

  • 10/21/2011 - Page Added
  • 08/25/2012 - Updated to v3
  • 12/30/2012 - Update to v3.1
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