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Friday, July 8, 2016

Home from our great trip!

I had big plans to blog a little every day while on the road, but I found out I hate writing on laptops---somehow I constantly move the cursor around and then do something which deletes huge chunks of what I've written, and fun stuff like that, so I decided to wait and write when I got home!

Janey and Michelle at the Toledo Zoo!
What a wonderful trip we had!  The best part, the very best part, was meeting Michelle and her family.  I met Michelle through this blog---she was the first person ever to get in touch with me after reading the blog, back when I wasn't sure anyone at all read it!  We've been long distance friends ever since, and phone friends, but I wanted more than anything to meet her and her family in person.  So we set out for Ohio to make that happen.

We drove out at a slow pace.  Although the total trip would have been about 12 hours if we drove straight, we knew we couldn't do that with Janey.  I split the trip into thirds, and we stopped at 2 different hotels on the way out and the way back.  We stayed 3 nights near Toledo in the middle.
Janey happy at a hotel breakfast

Overall, Janey did remarkably well on the trip---better than I had even hoped.  She loves car rides, so that was a plus. She also loves "hotel houses" and swimming, so I was hopeful, but warily so.  But we found that as long as we kept Janey happy, she kept us happy. We listened to only music she liked, and switched songs on CDs right away if she wanted us to.  I love hearing local radio stations, but that was not to be!  Once we were in a hotel for the night, we set up her iPad (wi-fi was a must) and she was able to snuggle her special pillow and watch her YouTube videos just like at home.  We swam at every hotel we could (one had a pool that wasn't open---NOT a good scene!) and we stopped whenever she asked us to.  That made for long days driving, as at points she asked to stop at almost every exit---she learned quickly that saying she needed to use the potty would get us to stop---but we like seeing what's off the exits, so we didn't mind that much!

The amazing Lindsey!
I loved meeting Michelle's daughter Lindsey!  I wish every one of you could meet her.  I have to admit she opened my eyes a good deal to how much a person who is non-verbal can communicate.  I'm not talking AAC or sign language---I'm talking just by being herself.  You knew exactly what Lindsey was thinking, and she has an amazing, unique personality---larger than life!  Tony said she would have been a huge star of silent movies, and he is right.  We got to spend the most time with her the last night, when Janey fell asleep at their house.  Without Janey being unpredictable and loud, Lindsey sat at the table with us for a long time and we had a wonderful time talking, her contributing to the conversation as much as anyone.

Getting to talk to Michelle and spend time with her was a dream come true for me.  Having girls with autism is what brought us together, but I know that if we had met any other way, we would have been drawn to each other just as much.  We have so much in common, and I felt like I was with a friend I've known all my life.  And having someone to talk to about our lives, lives affected by our girls in so many ways, while at the same time being able to laugh and talk books and about our other great kids and anything at all---that was incredible.  We both had a very hard time saying goodbye.  It makes me think about how wonderful it would be to live near so many of you, to be surrounded in "real" life by the great people I've met through this blog.  But I am so lucky to live in today's world, where I can be with you all virtually.
Happy we've stopped at yet another fast food place!

Janey starts summer school on Monday.  It's a little tough coming back to reality here, but knowing we can travel, and having met my long-lost second "sister"---that was a vacation of a lifetime.


David Fee said...

If anyone needed a vacation, it would be you and your family. A lot families with ASD members get stuck in a routine dictated by what our kids can handle. I've said it feels like we are under house arrest at times because we limit where we can go not so much out of embarrassment having to deal with the running around and possibility of breaking something or whatever. Our family went to the Toledo Zoo when I was a kid but it's rare that Toledo would be considered a dream vacation destination. You should have checked out Cedar Point that was Disney World decades before Disney World. My sister met her future husband while they were both working there years ago.

bikermom3 said...

I'm happy you had such a great trip!! I actually got back from a long trip with my ASD son who is Janey's age, we did it by train and it went very well. He isn't a melt down sorta guy fortunately so I guess that keeps train travel a possibility for us. We did coach, first Florida to NY where we stayed with my oldest son for a few days and then NY to Toledo by train and a bus to Michigan where my daughter attends grad school. Going home we stopped at Washington DC instead of NY. FYI the train from NY to Toledo runs from 3:40pm and gets there 6am, if it was ever something you wanted to try.

Suzanne said...

It's cool to hear about another trip with autism on board! That sounds like a great trip. Janey just today asked for a train ride when she saw the train station near us, so maybe someday...and I am very excited to hear about that NY to Toledo train for myself, too! Did you see sights in DC? I'd love to try that with Janey some day.

bikermom3 said...

So we had a 5 hour layover in DC we saw a little around union station but not too much. There are some good food places and shops there so the time went pretty fast. I was dragging a carry on so that hindered me from venturing too far and by then I was pretty ready to take it easy and get home cause we had done so much. As far as I know there are 2 amtrak trains that go to toledo only, the lakeshore from ny penn and the capital limited from dc. So we took one there and the other was the logical choice as we were heading back to florida. Amtrak provided us with a charter bus to Michigan from the toledo station and even with that included the one way cost was 89 for an adult. Everyone brings pillows and blankets on the train and the coach seats recline and are huge and also you get an outlet. The train employee jots where you are going on a piece of paper and sticks it above you. Love the old school of train travel where they still use ink and paper. I find it a very relaxing, there is a snack car and also a dining car which is fancier and has great food. I think we were on trains for 60 hours total. As the train heads into upstate ny after you board the views are very pretty.