Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring Break Recap!

Well, here it is, only a month late!

We decided to go on a "Southern Tour" Road trip for Spring Break. It was Jason's idea; he has always wanted to visit Chattanooga, TN. So we did a tour through there, Atlanta, and back through Charlotte, NC. Our plan was to leisurely travel through our loop, stopping every 2 hours or so in the car (so Elena and I could stretch), with overnight stays in Johnson City, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Charlotte. This was our first road trip with the wheelchair; I am so thankful we have one.

Krutch Park in Knoxville!


This city was so CUTE and fun! Our big plan was to hang around the city and go to the aquarium. There are a lot of unique tourist spots, but we weren't sure if Elena (or I) could handle the terrain; we tried to do two main things per day.

Choo Choo!

Friends recommended Rock City; we decided to try it--there is a wheelchair path (limited access), but we figured Elena would be fine on crutches.

Exploring Rock City
Bravery across the swinging bridge to Lookout Mountain
Seeing 7 States from Lookout Mountain

It was so fun! There is so much to see--the terrain though is very challenging. Elena did beautifully with her crutches (one or two) and/or a handhold.

We considered exploring Ruby Falls; we had heard it was an underground trek, and weren't sure if it was too much to do Rock City AND Ruby Falls in one day. Elena insisted she was fine, so we decided to go for it.

Ruby Falls
The girls and I have been to Luray Caverns and loved it; Ruby Falls is a much more crowded, closed-space version of underground exploration. The path wasn't even all the time, and sometimes there was only room for two small people to pass at one time. The hike was long, and we were in the back so it was hard to hear our guide. When we finally made it to the Falls, it was pretty cool--but we didn't have much time to enjoy the scene before having to head back. We were all pretty worn out afterwards.

The next day we headed to the Aquarium. We loved it--it wasn't too crowded, and we really got to explore both buildings (fresh and salt water, respectively). Elena was in and out of the chair as often as she liked, so she was able to conserve energy for a long, fun day. We enjoyed a river cruise on a fancy boat--that went REALLY fast and could stop very quickly, the girls loved that part. Sporadic grass sliding on the park hill was another high point.


Grass Slide


Our next stop was Atlanta. We hung out at the Coca-Cola Museum, went to a baseball game, visited the gorgeous Botanical Garden and went to the Georgia Aquarium. We stayed close to Olympic Park so that these destinations were close; by close, I mean across the park. "Close" by no means translates as walking distance for Elena--she could walk there with her crutches, but then wouldn't have enough energy to enjoy the museum. The wheelchair was indispensable here...there when we needed it, and Elena could explore as much as she wanted to on foot.

Go Nationals!



After Atlanta, we headed home through Charlotte. We took a detour to Clemson for a geological museum--they had a questionnaire scavenger hunt that the girls absolutely loved. It took longer than expected because they were having so much the ride home was long.


On the long way home, we also stopped by Latta Plantation and the North Carolina Raptor center. The girls enjoyed the historical tour, and even though it was getting cold, managed to see most of the birds at the sanctuary.

Latta Plantation

With lots of stretching, good rest, and use of the chair, Elena was able to move well and didn't seem to have much discomfort. Vivian used the chair too when she was tired (and when Elena didn't need it). We made sure to bring her dynasplints (for night use as often as we could manage) and have her feet supported in the car. Elena and Vivian were really really well behaved in the car...this bodes well for future road trips! We had a great time!