The family just completed a week long trip to Oahu. When I say family, it was the extended family by choice. A total of 7 people; 4 adults and 3 kids (15, 14 and 10), This would be the first trip with this family in a few years and their first trip traveling in ALS-Style or ALStyle. What is ALStyle travel? I am sure it differs from PAL to PAL and according to their progression and travel experience. For us, it means, well let’s be honest, it means a shit-show. A shit show to Hawaii, how can that be? Well sit down and let me tell you about it…
The trip began in the early morning of July 1. As the sun was still several hours from coming up a Super Shuttle approached to take us to the airport. Instead of a wheelchair accessible van com
ing to get us, it was JUST a van. Me being the problem solver that I am, I called my sister from another mister (the family by choice I mentioned) and told her to get her butt to my house ’cause we wouldn’t have room for Frank the Tank AND all the luggage. Within minutes her and the rest of the family showed and we began loading Frank in our truck and the big suitcases in her vehicle. We actually only took two suitcases for the Big He, Little He and myself which was great however, in addition to the two suitcases with our Aloha garb, we had a suitcase for medical supplies/equipment, backpack camera bag, cough assist, two ventilators, my beautiful Consuela bag which was my carry-on holding medication, extra circuits for the Trilogy, extra batteries for the Trilogy, chargers, transport wheelchair and snacks. Did I mention my beautiful Consuela bag????Gotta have the snacks. The Big He can get hangry at times.
At the airport it was at times, the blind leading the blind. Get tickets, inform the ticket people we have the wheelchair, explain to the ticket people why it is easier on everyone to have ground-crew take the big wheelchair at the gate as opposed to at the ticket counter and then it’s TSA time. Take all the carry-on equipment out, take the snacks out, explain that the equipment can go, watch the look TSA Agents give when looking at Frank, get the Big He’s shoes off, and identify to TSA the Big He doesn’t talk much. All the while trying to count the bags to ensure you are receiving what you put on the conveyor to be screened is coming back out which didn’t happen and keep an eye on the Big He. Had 2 bags pulled to be checked. I forgot a few granola bars in one of them and actually got lazy and didn’t unpack one of the ventilators. My bad! The Big He gets a thorough pat down and I walked away wondering why he had such a big smile on his face. Oh well, it is Austin and we like to keep it weird here. We made it through and it was not as bad as it sounds,okay it was, but having extra arms and eyes helped out big time.
Once through security, we made our way to the gate to meet the ground crew so they could take Frank and get him ready to load up. We take pictures of what we give them, show them the tools we brought (yes, I said tool) and ask 4 or 5 times if they have tagged the chair to get to Oahu since we were not flying direct. When they took Frank, this is where the transport chair came in handy, well besides being able to use it as sort of a pack mule earlier that morning. We had the Big He transfer to the transport chair which is what we used to get him to the plane. Now, since the Big He can no longer walk unassisted, one of the traveling in ALStyle perks is that he needs to board early (and the rest of the travel party gets to go too). Like not just pre-board, but pre, pre-board. He now gets to use one of those little aisle chairs to board. You know the ones…skinny, metal, 5 point harness
and not at all comfortable. While they strap him in, we watch, make inappropriate jokes that may have include phrases from Silence of the Lambs. Once we are settled on the plane-which means ordering a little vacation drink, everybody else loads up and after our pre-flight check we are up, up and away.
I have to admit, the airline (Delta) was really great. Everyone we encountered was very accommodating and had big smiles. Some of those smiles could have been because when me and my sister from another mister get together we have fun and laugh about everything! And to let you in on a little insider tip to traveling to Hawaii, before you board the final leg of that flight, having a costume change to put on your Lei’s and island wear is a must. It gets you in the mood and makes drinking mai tai’s on the plane way more fun!
I will post more about the trip in the upcoming days.
Aloha and all my love,