Story and photos by Jennifer Gledhill, Search's Community Inclusion Coordinator
Travel stress is no respecter of persons. TSA is the great American equalizer - no matter your wealth, your brilliance, your abilities, or your time management skills, air travel is taxing to all.
SFA adventurers get no special treatment: like every other bleary-eyed traveler at O’Hare, we have to fight for our right to party. And by party, I mean the weekend of Grapefruit League baseball in Florida that happened in early March 2019.
Though pre-boarding made the battle marginally less challenging, we still had to maneuver an obstacle course of delayed or absent aisle chairs, wheelchair pat-downs, and price-gouged sandwiches covered in mayonnaise and plastic wrap. Even so, Search’s two staff and four baseball fanatics knew the pot of gold at the end of the airport rainbow would be worth the hassle: three days and two nights of root, root, rooting for the Mets, the Astros, the Braves and the Blue Jays (in that order).
Oh, and the forecast was warm and sunny. #SFAwin
The Good News: The digs we rented boasted an open floor plan, wheelchair accessible doorways, a pool, a foosball table, and lots of natural sunlight.
The Bad News: No Wi-Fi. It was as if 2019 met Little House on the Prairie: modest luxury minus connection with the outside world. Huge comfy couches sitting six feet away from 1,000 channels we couldn’t even watch. Hold me, Pa Ingalls.
The Good News: Saturday’s game was at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex: the Braves versus the Blue Jays.
The Bad News: No Wi-Fi at the condo.
The Good News: Everyone got their own room with their own TV.
The Bad News: No Wi-Fi in those rooms.
The Good News: We found some of the most well-crafted burgers on this side of the cow. The local burger joint even had a respectable veggie burger for our vegetarian adventurer.
The Good News: On day two, we caught a ball pitched by New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
The Good News: We rented a Dodge Charger and wanted to marry it.
The Bad News: We had to return the Dodge Charger and also there was no Wi-Fi.
The Good News: Our adventurers anointed this trip as ‘The Best One Yet.’
The Bad News: You know the bad news, man.
Closing thoughts: I am writing this on my 19th “Search-iversary”. This Spring Training trip was the 130th trip SFA has taken in 15 years. We’ve gone as far as the Bahamas and as close as downtown Chicago to initiate new experiences for all levels of ability and fascination.
No two trips have been the same. The challenges we’ve faced have never been predictable, nor have they been deal breakers. (Well…except for that “no Wi-Fi” thing. That came mighty close.)
Breaking the routine for individuals living in a group home setting can be simultaneously precarious and thrilling. The balance of wild abandon and red tape adhesive can be a tricky dance. But what makes our adventures so challenging rarely has anything to do with the adventurers themselves. The barriers are almost always man-made: they are systemic.
It’s well-meaning regulations that, when transferred from structured living to the “real world,” toss wrenches into the spokes of spontaneity. It is “just good enough” accessibility that allows some but not all individuals true freedom on mass transit and in public structures.
The gap, while narrowing, is still so, so wide. But it can and will be easily dissolved when it becomes our moral priority to do just that.
And until that happens, we at Search, Inc. will keep Searching for Adventure (with good Wi-Fi).