We're back, poorer in pocket but richer in memory and know-how! I appreciated the good wishes sent me prior to taking off for vacation, and especially appreciate Elizabeth's ideas about making things safe as well as fun. I did take that to heart and found us a beach with lifeguards and lots of other people around, in case of trouble.
Also, we ended up not camping. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to expose Carapace to even one day of unremitting sun, seeing as she is photosensitive. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a funky beach cottage establishment that still had an efficiency for rent at astonishingly affordable rates. So we stayed there both nights, enabling us to go to the actual beach twice on Thursday, and then swim in a pool after the sun set. It was really quite an old cottage, but all the same it was almost accessible. If they would just ramp the entrances (which all had high anti-flooding thresholds) anyone could get in. The door to the bathroom was already plenty wide. A sliding bench and some hand rails would have made the shower and toilet available to anyone. But I can tell from the rates they were charging that there are no major renovations planned for these 80 year old cottages any time soon. I'm frankly astounded that the upkeep is as good as it is in such old cottages. I'd stay there again, but if I needed a wheelchair....well, that poses a whole set of problems for a community built on sand.
Here's what I did that made our vacation about as safe as it could get for us:
- life jackets--Carapace didn't want to wear one, but I did, and it helped me a lot. Last time I went to the coast, the waves battered me pretty badly and I was so exhausted that I couldn't enjoy it. This time, the life jacket did the work for me so that I didn't have to try to fight to both keep my head up and keep my limbs from being jerked out of place by the waves.
- Dark goggles--they kept both the bright light reflecting off the waves as well as the waves themselves from stinging our eyes. I have a particularly badly shaped forehead for keeping liquids out of my eyes, so not having to deal with that nuisance was great. My goggles, unfortunately, did tend to create a vacuum around my eyes that I had to keep breaking to keep being able to see. But it was a fair trade off. Just, next time, I will try on the goggles before buying them.
- Rash suits--I wore both a sleeved top and long pants, and C wore a sleeved top over her swim suit. This kept us from burning, and also offered some protection in case of jelly fish. Weirdly, we saw no jellies or portuguese man-o-war the entire time, but experience has taught us that there is no swifter end to a beach vacation, so it was good to be prepared.
- Morning and evening at the beach, afternoon in the air conditioning. Avoiding the hottest, sunniest part of the day also was a big factor in keeping us from becoming toast.
- Cheap canes--this was the result of an unexpected find at the island grocery store. They had wooden canes for $1 each. We each got one, and so were able to do some beach combing without worrying about messing up our good canes.
- Cervical collars have more than one use! This was also an unexpected "find." I use a cervical collar because my neck tends to go out of place on an annoyingly frequent basis. But I didn't need to use it at night during vacation. At least, I didn't need to use it on my neck. Instead, I wrapped it just above my left knee to keep my leg bent like I need it at night, instead of using the towels I had brought. It worked much better, since it didn't fall off when I moved or need to be readjusted. Now I know that when I replace this cervical collar, I can continue to get use out of it.
- Not overdoing it--this was maybe the most important thing. We made sure to get plenty of rest and never spent more than an hour doing any particular activity. Sure, there was a lot more we could have done if we had been go-go-go the whole time. But this vacation was about relaxing, enjoying different surroundings without demands, and being ready to go back home where work and chores await feeling refreshed mentally.
- Coming home with enough time to recuperate--who doesn't need a vacation from vacation? We went during the week so that I could have the weekend to do laundry, buy groceries, and rest my weary bones. And rest I have.
I also put to test something else I had been considering, that anyone who hates re-packing might do. I bought a couple of disposable roasting pans, a disposable grill top (such as is supposed to be used on a regular grill), and instant-light charcoal. I punched some holes in one of the pans, and bent both pans so that the inner hole-y one was up a little higher than the outer one. I put in the charcoal, bent the grill around the pans, and lit the coals. Soon, I had our hotdogs ready to eat. All I had to do after that was pour water on the pans and throw them away. Nothing dirty to pack back up! Yay! If I was at a park instead of the beach, I would want to put the pans on a couple of bricks or something, because they get very hot. But for the beach, this was perfect.
Oh, and I made sun tea by using the car windshield and the foil-covered window sunvisor as a lazy woman's solar cooker. I put water and 8 tea bags in a large sports bottle full of water, and set the bottle between the windshield and the sunvisor. It made for a strong tea ready to be diluted in my half-gallon pitcher, in just 90 minutes.
Another important thing I learned is that I can really book with two canes. Next big adventure will be TRF, and I will have two hiking sticks with straps on me, even if they aren't period authentic for Tudor England. Maybe this time I will be able to avoid the pure agony that comes from dragging one leg around all day.
Okay, okay. I know, this is educational and all, but did I have fun? Yes! I had some very nice food at Moby Dick's and Virginia's on the Bay, where each place went out of their way to make sure C's and my diet were accomodated. We successfully beachcombed! We played in the ocean, bobbing over the waves. A big pelican flew right over my head, close enough to make out the breast feathers even with my goggles on! And a school of fish moved in on us, very nearly slapping C upside the head as they lept out of the water. One of them swam right under my foot as I moved to stand in the chest deep waves. It's a strange feeling to stand on a fish! We had a long and fun conversation with the evening barista at Sips. We fed the seagulls at the park.
Was there anything bad? Well, I did have a terrible cramp in my right calf that still hurts two days later, and that tried real hard to cramp up my thigh, too. But that could have happened at home just as easily. And my neck went pretty badly out of place on the drive home. But again, that sort of thing happens all the time, so it's no reason to not have a vacation. Besides, that's why I carry a cervical collar everywhere, so it isn't like I wasn't prepared. And C ended the trip with a migraine. But again, that was likely to happen anyway. Because we both anticipated having our usual gamut of problems, we were able to have a good time while also taking care of ourselves.