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First World problems.
Richard & I have been really emo this evening. When it's one of us that feels bad, the other one can comfort them; but it seems to be almost impossible when both of us feel bad to simultaneously provide comfort.

Basically - Richard invited me to come with his paintball team to Florida next month, but where they will be staying is the arse end of nowhere with no public transport. So if I went, I'd either be stuck in the villa all day every day, or having to take taxis everywhere - which will cost a small fortune and greatly limit my movements. If they were staying in Orlando, it would be fine - but they stay in "cities" like Davenport and Polk City, which have 1500 permanent residents and then thousands of holiday homes. And Orlando is in the total opposite direction to where they need to go for the paintball tournament (which is literally in the middle of nowhere), so they couldn't even drop me at a bus stop on the way there.

We then proceeded to have a mutual meltdown about how broken I am. Bluh.

Of course, the fact that I currently cannot walk hugely far would make travelling in a strange place hasslesome even if there was public transport. Not all buses are wheelchair accessible, I wouldn't know where I was going or what sort of ticket I need or anything like that. But despite an anxiety disorder, I'm oddly used to travelling under those circumstances. Instead of being afraid to make myself a nuisance, I go to the opposite extreme - especially in North America, where public transport workers seem to be trained in being helpful. I just apologise in advance for being a stupid tourist and not knowing where I'm going, and they are suitably amused as to give me useful information.

Being able to drive really isn't a skill that I need in my daily life. One of my friends was once amazed that I couldn't because where she comes from, everyone has to learn to drive as early as possible so they could handle a car in an emergency - but where I live, there are rarely emergencies where having a car would help. And from here, you can get a bus or train to pretty much anywhere. True, getting to Oxford to see otterylexa is a pain by bus or train, but other than that it just isn't an issue.

Also, I have a strong suspicion that I might be physically unable to drive. I can't judge distances properly. I sometimes crash into things when I'm riding my tricycle, because I can't keep in my head how wide it is. I even crash into things in the wheelchair, and it should be obvious how wide that is because I'm sitting in it! (The steering control, being the part which sticks out the most, is covered in scrapes and different coloured paint smears from all the times I've crashed into a wall or doorframe). In the dim and distant future, when I no longer have any immediate Health Issues going on, I plan to go to the Institute of Optometry to find out whether I have some weird brain/eye problem that could be corrected with prism lenses, or something like that.

And there is, of course, the whole issue that while I might be able to learn to drive on British roads, I might not be able to reverse it for countries that drive on the wrong side. Especially with wildly different levels of strength and muscle control in each of my arms and legs.

Still, not being able to drive is one of those things that only rears up as a problem if I'm travelling outside of my usual comfort zone. Hence the title of this post. It's the sort of problem you only have if you're rich enough to afford discretionary international travel (but not rich enough to be able to get a taxi or limo everywhere).

I've worked out a compromise that might work - Richard goes to Middle of Nowhere, Florida, with his paintball team on Tuesday or Wednesday, I fly out on Saturday or Sunday to join them, and then Richard & I have a coupley time seeing all the tourist stuff together in Orlando for a couple of days after the tournament finishes. It will cost more money as we'll have to get a hotel room in Orlando in addition to the villa in Middle of Nowhere, but is more practical unless someone comes up with a better idea. Except that Richard doesn't have unlimited holiday time left, so it sounds considerably more stressy than the idea of me going over for a week in the sun originally did.

I don't know. Maybe it would be easier if I didn't try to go. Maybe it would be easier if Richard didn't try to go. Whine whine whine whinge whinge whinge emo emo.

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geminigirl From: geminigirl Date: 20th September 2011 04:58 (UTC) (Link)
I'm on the opposite end of Orlando from Davenport (Davenport is on the south side of Orlando and I'm on the north sides) so I'm not sure I could be much help.

We do have the Lynx buses, but I've got no idea where they actually go on that end of things-there is some sort of pick up service for people in the less populated/less well served areas, but I'm not sure of the specifics.

On the upside, October is past the summer tourist season and before the winter holiday tourist season so any accommodations you do need are likely to be cheaper.

Do let me know if I can help or what your travel plans are. I'll see what I can do.
baratron From: baratron Date: 20th September 2011 05:25 (UTC) (Link)
It would be nice to see you for being social rather than to give me a ride somewhere! I didn't realise you were actually in Orlando itself, I thought you were a couple of hours away. That's good to know.

What is your schedule with small people like? Are their dance classes and so on arranged for this term yet? (I expect they are since most of the US schools seem to go back mid-August rather than early September, but checking anyway). Let me know what days you tend to be free and I can work around it.

The biggest problem is that the damn electric wheelchair weighs A TON (okay, 56 kg - that's what a person of my height "should" weigh according to the sodding stupid BMI tables), and taking the batteries out doesn't help all that much as they are 18 kg each. It turns out to be considerably easier to disassemble and flatten than we thought it did, but the lightest part is still outside the range which I can lift - and the thing as a whole requires two healthy adults for anything more than bumping up a step. Hmm. Unless I take a manual wheelchair as well (but that is A PAIN because I don't have the strength to power it myself).

The Lynx buses don't come near Davenport or Polk City, or any of the places the paintballers are likely to be staying in. There is a great hole in the system map to the west/southwest of Orlando. Poinciana has the pick up and ride thing, but then there is no coverage except for the theme parks. And everything - these buses, taxi companies, shuttles - seem to rely on phone calls for booking and information, which is useless if you're starting in another country! I need to know how much it would be to get a taxi to and from the end of a bus line - maybe where there's a mall or something where I can wait for buses? I got slightly obsessed with the Osceola Square Mall at Kissimmee because it seemed to have lots of bus lines coming out of it, though how many of them are going to be useful? Argh!

It's very frustrating to try to find information with lack of information, if you know what I mean. If I knew EXACTLY where the holiday home would be then I could possibly make some transAtlantic calls. But I don't! It would be convenient for me if the paintball lot would take my requirements into account when booking the villa, but why should they? Convenience to the site has to be more important when you're leaving at 7 am every day. Did I mention that Richard is looking at flying out on Tuesday 18th October? It's not as if this is soon or anything! His team is unbearably disorganised at the best of times.

I also have A Fear that people might expect me to tag along with other people's non-geek girlfriends and do whatever they're doing. I suppose I could go to the mall with a non-geek girlfriend, as long as she let me go to GameStop and Hot Topic :) Other than that, the thought is positively terrifying.

Edited at 2011-09-20 05:26 (UTC)
geminigirl From: geminigirl Date: 20th September 2011 05:36 (UTC) (Link)
I'm about an hour by car from Davenport, in a suburb of Orlando. We're about half an hour or so from downtown Orlando proper.

Yes, the small people have their schedules sorted for school and dance classes. Once we know your travel plans a little better we'll work that out.

My friend Jamie doesn't drive and relies heavily on the bus system to get around-she lives in an area where buses are more available though. If you tell me more about the kinds of places you might want to go, she might be able to help out in sorting out what bus lines are useful.

I will try and get online to chat with you at a time when we're both likely to be up-I'm without an IRC client at the moment (switched computers and haven't found one that I really like yet) but I will see what I can do. It's well past my bed time though (I'm up because something made me break out in hives in the middle of dinner) so it won't be tonight.

We'll work something out.
baratron From: baratron Date: 11th October 2011 00:22 (UTC) (Link)
I have flight times and an address now. The house appears to be on the route of the bus 306 which goes to the Disney Superstop, from where I can get a bus 111 to Florida Mall (where there is a Hot Topic) or bus 50 into Orlando itself. If the buses are wheelchair accessible, which I am uncertain about.

I no longer have your cellphone number since you changed it, nor do I know your home landline (if you have one). I will be taking my UK mobile with me (same number as before, also here). The email addresses on that post work for me - the one with my real name is most likely to be read and responded to immediately.
jinian From: jinian Date: 20th September 2011 12:21 (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry it's so difficult. I don't have a good solution for you, but I wanted to say I'm listening.
baratron From: baratron Date: 22nd September 2011 01:55 (UTC) (Link)
And I wanted to say that while I've been crap about commenting, I have been reading your Japanese adventure! It sounds like your supervisor has done very well in easing you into a situation which would turn me into a gibbering wreck. (A conference? In another country? Where English is not a national language? Without a partner to hold my hand? ARGH!)
ailbhe From: ailbhe Date: 20th September 2011 19:01 (UTC) (Link)
Good luck with it :/
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