Even with extra planning, traveling in a wheelchair is challenging

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EL PASO – Traveling requires a lot of planning and a lot of more planning is required when someone with a disability or a wheelchair-bound person like myself is traveling with the group.

Last summer my family and I decided to take a trip to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We planned the trip ahead of time and made the hotel reservation in advance. My mother researched the main attractions for each city to map out the itinerary. Even with all the planning we still encountered some obstacles.

With my mom at the ABQ BioPark Zoo. (©Selene Soria)

With my mom at the ABQ BioPark Zoo. (©Selene Soria)

My mother made sure that the hotels were equipped and accessible to wheelchairs. Also, she made sure that the hotels were fairly new so that the accommodations were clearly described.

We decided to take this trip because we wanted to visit the zoo and the aquarium in Albuquerque and stay at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Santa Fe was something extra that we wanted to visit because of the historical background of the city and to take the opportunity to visit the Santo Niño at the Atocha Shrine in Chimayo.

On the day of our departure my uncle Ralph and my grandma picked us up at home very early. The road was clear and we got to Albuquerque by noon. We drove directly to the zoo. We saw the animal exhibitions. The Polar bears and the flamingos were the main attractions. By this time we got hungry so we decided to eat at the zoo. After lunch, we finished seeing the animals and then we went to the aquarium and the botanical garden. Then it was time to check in into the hotel.

The flamingos were one of the main attractions at the zoo. (©Selene Soria)

The flamingos were one of the main attractions at the zoo. (©Selene Soria)

We did not have any problems with the accommodations there. The room was equipped with everything I needed. We rested a little bit and then we got dressed and went down to the casino. My mother and I were walking around looking for something to eat and drink. We found out that one of the restaurants was open upstairs so the whole group decided to go, but we did not find food. A band was playing and we listened to the music for a while. We were so hungry that we ended up in the casino where a small restaurant was open by then. We got the food and went back upstairs.

The next day we got up early and went to the gift shop to buy some souvenirs.  After this we took a final look around the casino and then we checked out. The rock music could be heard throughout the hotel and it was nice.  We went to a Denny’s restaurant and had breakfast there. The best part of our trip to Albuquerque was waiting for us.

After breakfast we drove to Sandia Peak and we got on the Tramway.  Being in a wheelchair, this was a rare opportunity to get exposed to something like this. The scenery was awesome I was able to see everything from a different point of view. The way I felt being suspended in the air by the cables at the altitude of 10,000 feet gave me a sense of freedom that I will never forget.

But our difficulties started from the very beginning of the next part of our trip in Santa Fe. We checked into the hotel and the room that we had reserved was not accommodated for me. So my mother had to speak with the manager and finally they agreed to switch rooms and asked for a couple of hours to have the room ready. So we decided to go to downtown Santa Fe and get to know that city. Everything seemed to be okay until it was time for dinner.

People from El Farol restaurant were helpful but they still need to provide with proper access to people with mobility problems. (©Selene Soria)

People from El Farol restaurant were helpful but they still need to provide with proper access to people with mobility problems. (©Selene Soria)

We went to Canyon road to find a restaurant. First of all this area is one of the most advertised when you research the city because of the art galleries and restaurants. We looked for Geronimo Restaurant to our surprise we needed to make reservations so we could get a table. We could see from the entrance that this restaurant was very compact – well, everything including the street is compact. Canyon road is not a place for people in wheelchairs. I think this is a shame due to the fact that Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico.

We managed to eat in a small restaurant next door. Even though we got to eat in this place, my uncles had to lift my wheelchair to get up the steps into the patio. I appreciate the gesture of the people of El Farol Restaurant but it does not mean that I do not think that they should have proper access to people with mobility problems.

Overall our trip was good and even though there were bumps in the road we manage to come home in one piece. Next summer we plan to take a trip to Orlando, Florida. I want to go to the beach and to Disney World. My mom is afraid to take me to a beach in Mexico because it is difficult to arrange the accommodation that we need. At least here in the United States we managed to get something.

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