Happy New Year! Between IT consulting and startup life, I found time to get away with my family. We went on vacation to Imperial Beach, CA, just south of San Diego. A waterfront hotel, ocean pier, and power beach wheelchairs made this a great destination for an accessible vacation!
We started our travels with a small accessibility issue. The offsite airport parking lot where we reserved a parking space, informed us that their accessible airport shuttle’s lift was broken. We e-mailed the company when we made our reservation and they said that they had one accessible shuttle and to call the day before to confirm. We called the day before and conveniently (for them) the accessible lift was broken. Of course, it was broken when we returned from vacation as well. This meant that my mom had to drop me off at the airport, then go park off-site and take the shuttle back to the airport at 4am. Good times!
The rest of the travel day went smooth other than my sister’s checked bag being delayed. The bag was sent to the Santa Ana, CA (SNA) airport instead of San Diego, CA (SAN) airport. The luggage finally arrived at our hotel at around one in the morning. We flew Southwest Airlines where they don’t assign seats. Not having an assigned seat is a disadvantage for most people but can be an advantage for people with disabilities. When you pre-board, you can pick any seat that works best for you. This is an advantage for me because I prefer bulkhead so that my spastic legs have more room. When we arrived at the San Diego airport, I had an accessible Super Shuttle scheduled to take us to our hotel in Imperial Beach.
We stayed at the Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection in Imperial Beach. This hotel was fairly new and all of the hotel staff were helpful and kind. The only issue I ran into came up about one month before I arrived. I had originally booked a room with a king bed, a couch with a fold out bed, and a roll-in shower. The front desk called me to inform me that their accessible room had a double/full size bed and not a king bed. This was not going to work for three people. They offered me a room with two double beds, a fold out couch bed, and an accessible bathtub. I can only use an accessible bathtub if I have a shower transfer chair. Luckily, they were willing to order one and I e-mailed them a link to one on Amazon. Two weeks before our trip, I asked them to email me a picture of the shower transfer chair so I could verify they had ordered the right chair; they did! Our hotel stay was great in a suite style room with a balcony looking over the ocean! The restaurant in the hotel had outside seating under heaters, making a great place to enjoy food outside while staying warm.
Imperial Beach is a newly developed area that used to be an industrial area. All of the buildings, sidewalks, and the pier are fairly accessible because it’s a new area. The streets do not have drains, so when it rains the curb cuts get flooded, which made getting back to the hotel one of the nights quite the adventure! The lifeguard building had power beach wheelchairs! San Diego County provides power beach wheelchairs at a few of their beaches, which is awesome! All you have to do is call and make a reservation and then go to the lifeguard station. There is no fee to use the beach wheelchair and they store your wheelchair while you’re out enjoying the beach.
New Year’s Eve was interesting as our hotel room was directly above the hotel restaurant. Sleeping and a live DJ until two in the morning don’t mix well. We had no travel issues getting back home. However, adjusting from 60-80 degree temperatures back to snow was a little challenging! 🙂