ALS Fact of the Day~
San Francisco or Bust!
Inverness, CA is solitude and beauty and quiet in a way that I have not experienced in years. I want more, but I will be content with the few minutes I was able to enjoy before I was needed by the tiny travelers and the big guy. There is a part of me that could stay here forever, watching the tide ebb and flow with the seasons. I must admit, the food and the local market leave much to be desired, but seriously…when was the last time you sat outside and listened to absolute quiet? Just the gentle lapping of waves as they caress the shore. No cars, no loud brakes or honking or engines revving. It was peaceful. I desperately want to come back someday.
Check out time is noon, which should give me enough time to shower Matthew, clean out the van and get re-packed. The entire process should only take me a couple hours, but the kids are happy to watch a movie, and Matthew is laying back resting. And I don’t want to be the drill sergeant ruining the peaceful setting. So I wait…almost patiently.
The night before, I had tried to lay Matthew on the bed, with pillows all around, under his head, his arms and legs. However, sometime in the middle of the night, the pain was too much. So, once again, I get up, trying desperately not to wake the kids as I grab the lift and put him back in his chair. His knees and hips are hurting, regardless of what position he is in lately, so it means a lot of moving, and stretching and trying new ways to make an impossible situation bearable.
Finally! At 12:00 pm, we load up and are ready to hit the road. Everyone is in good spirits once again, and I suggest we get gas and a good meal before we attempt anymore of Hwy 1. Our navigator thinks it would be better to get down the road a bit more. ( I silently disagree with his assessment, but I let him make the decisions, as he is the one who planned all of this!)
So begins the swerving, and curving..the topsy-turving. In and out, and all around, we roll from side to side. The kids begin complaining of headaches, and belly aches. My arm hurts from holding Matthew steady. Still, he wants to move onward.
Where the redwoods stood tall and proud behind us, the trees that come around the bend are different. The only way to explain them is as if you were to take all the different kinds of trees from across the land, and then toss them haphazardly across the landscape. There are trees that are leafy, that reach over across the highway to touch the fingers of the trees of their lovers across the road. It was almost as if they couldn’t bare to be apart, and even the simplest of touches would have to suffice.
The next trees were lined up, one-by-one, along the road, in an almost military style, as if they were saluting the cars as they passed by, standing proud and strong at attention. Next were the trees that were a bit too lazy to make the effort to create strong branches. Instead, they had vines and moss that were hanging from limb to limb, as if with a small smile and a happy gesture to say welcome, but they were not going to offer any shade.
We were down to an eighth of a tank of gas again, and everyone was getting hangry. I have such happy memories of S.F. and I can’t wait to show them the sights! But, my anxiety at letting the gas gauge get that low, and the kids are noisily munching on the last of the bags of baked chips and popcorn.
Matthew keeps repeating, “Its about the journey, not the destination.”
But I really want to get to our hotel room and then explore and it is already 2:00 pm.
We see the Golden Gate Bridge. I reroute us so we can get closer, but hauling a trailer behind us is proving to be difficult in a tourist hot spot.
We agree getting to the room and then coming back would be better. I am getting antsy. I don’t want to be in the van anymore! I want to be out, walking around and seeing things!
We navigate our way through the back streets towards the Fisherman’s Wharf. Only one problem…. The valet won’t take a vehicle with a trailer.
I have the kids unload everything, and I have them all go in and check in and get things to the room while I navigate the parking arrangement.
Each parking lot within a four-block radius refuses to let me in.
It is so bad, in fact, that they come running and won’t let me even enter. They yell at me that I can’t park there, and they send me on my way. One man glares at me, putting his body between the barrier and my can. All I can do is ask as politely as possible, and know that the prison system in California frowns against running over people for no reason. So I smile and back out into honking traffic. Each place looks at me as if I have two heads for even attempting to bring a trailer downtown.
There was a moment, when one of the garage attendants was telling me to go away, that I almost started to cry. It was close, but since I only cry when I am truly desperate, I backed that trailer up, in the middle of rush hour traffic like a true Mountain Woman, and short of telling him to piss off, I drove away with my head held high.
Until I parked and went into the hotel and saw their faces.
The kids were so sad.
I don’t know what is worse. The fact that they were ecstatic over the size of the large bathroom, so I would be able to help Matthew, and we had to leave, or the fact that they had to go back up to the room and load it all back up, while I brought the van and trailer around.
People are often unaware of what it takes to find accessible locations. I can’t say it was ever anything I ever would have considered during my life before ALS. But, now, it is constant. I look at stairs, and steps, and dips and holes, I am constantly navigating and judging if it is something we can do. Most times, we are unable to venture out to the highlighted attractions simply because Matthew lacks legs that can take him up or down a few steps.
I refuse to let this ruin our day.
I pull the kids off to the side of the trailer after we have loaded it back up again. The damn valets and hotel guests can take a flying leap as far as I am concerned.
I kneel down, and I hug each of them and I tell them how much I love them and how proud of them I am. Not once did they complain or become rude. They did what was asked of them, even when they were disappointed. Not many kids could hold it together as well as they have today. I told them that things weren’t always going to go as planned, but that we could only do the best we could do and go from there.
So off we were, once again. A hotel booked about an hour south from here. With the idea we would return in the morning.
I don’t know if I should thank San Francisco for permanently scarring my children to the effects of drugs and prostitution, but they got a pretty good idea of what it leads to. As our safari bus tried to make its way out of the city, we went from light to light, witnessing drug deals, people literally leaning against the building to use the restroom…and I don’t mean #1! There were people talking to themselves, and people dressed up in various outfits. I tried to explain that some people were not given the same chances or advantages that others are given, and others become broken through a lifetime of bad choices.
They seemed oblivious to the seriousness of what was happening around them, and as we went up the steep embankments and then down again, I couldn’t help but laugh so hard I was snorting. The kids were freaking out at the almost 70-degree incline (so not joking here!) and I was literally trying not to crash as I help with one arm to keep Matthew from slamming his head into the dashboard on the way back down. Brakes are good! I know, because I was on them for quite a while!
But alls well, that ends well. I managed to drive us through the city and to our hotel in San Mateo, where they are above and beyond accommodating!
We have hotels figured out for the next six days, and now we will attempt to see San Francisco once again..this time without a trailer in tow, as we will be leaving it behind to navigate a bit easier!
Some important life lessens here:
- Don’t do Drugs! They do scramble your brains!
- Don’t use the bathroom on the main thoroughfare..at least go the alleyway!
- Even when people are assholes, try not to lose your patience. They are only doing their job
- NEVER! I repeat…NEVER! Attempt to take a trailer into the city…EVER!!!!