When we last left you, we were at our hotel, while the rest of the family was riding horses or taking a nap. Probably not at the same time. When they got done riding horses, they decided to get ice cream at a wheelchair-inaccessible place attached to the horse barn area. So Brad and I chose to head down to the beach! The beaches at Hilton Head all have mats that go down on the sand out pretty far close to the water. So all the beaches are wheelchair accessible, at least for sitting in one spot! We were super excited to get out there at sunset and take some portraits!
The first set of portraits we took, Brad put an orange filter on his off-camera flash, which when color corrected for your skin tone, really brought out the blue background of the ocean and sky. These pictures are almost all of both Brad and me together, posing lovingly with Felix the Japanese Chin in my lap.
Then Brad got out a green filter, which really made everything look very purple after the color correction edit! These pictures have a really cool look to them!
In the pictures, I am wearing a green dress, and Brad is wearing a pink vest and white coat with a black bowler hat. We are both sitting in our wheelchairs, and Felix the sable and white Japanese Chin is on my lap. After some shots of us together, Brad took some experimental shots of just me and Felix, and some with me and Felix looking in the same direction.
Finally, Brad took the filter off the flash and we got some pictures during “blue hour” which is the time after sundown when all the colors naturally look blue. These are a deeper blue than the first set of pictures. He took a few pictures of Felix and me that look normal, and a couple of pictures with a halo lens filter that causes a swirl around our faces.
Once it got dark, we headed back towards our hotel, but got stopped looking at beautiful Christmas lights! Brad got a few pictures of Felix and me with a snowflake bokeh shaper on his camera so that the points of light all looked like snowflakes!
We also got a video of me rolling along admiring the lights.
My aunt and uncle called us up and wanted to meet for a late dinner, so we went to a restaurant near the light display. Unfortunately they had blocked the accessible entrance to the restaurant with patio tables, so we had to ask everyone to move for us, sigh. But we were able to get a nice table outside and enjoy some yummy food!
The next morning, Brad and I went to a restaurant we found that no one else wanted to go to for breakfast. It served super fruit bowls which have fruit sorbet bases with fresh fruit and healthy toppings on them. It was very cold eating them outside in the morning, but they were very tasty!
Then we headed to the beach again. Everyone else was out walking, running, and riding bikes on the beach in the morning, which we couldn’t do in our wheelchairs. But we were able to sit at the edge of the mats and saw a few people as they passed by.
Lunch was next, and it was the most inaccessible place we’ve ever eaten! We drove my cousin Genelle and her kids with us to lunch, and none of us could find any van accessible parking spots in the whole lot. They just didn’t exist—zero of the diagonally striped access aisles they’re required to have! That should have been our first sign. We double parked way out in the lot, and walked over to the restaurant. I wasn’t in my chair because I don’t typically get my chair out when I won’t be walking or standing for a while. But Brad needs his chair always.
We approached the front door and it was all steps leading up to the restaurant with no ramp in sight, and no sign about where there was an accessible entrance. I walked up to the hostess stand and was accosted about my service dog. Once I got that straightened out, I asked for the accessible entrance. They said you had to go find a ramp in the back and go through several restaurants to get to the restaurant everyone else was at.
Now at this point if we had been on our own, we would have just left. But everyone else had a dolphin tour scheduled at the business next door and didn’t have time to find another restaurant. And they were all seated and comfortable. So Brad went around to try to find the entrance and couldn’t find it. It was a mess in the back and there were no signs to point the way. So I sent a restaurant server to try to find him. She couldn’t find Brad, and returned empty handed. By this point we were both getting quite upset! So finally I told the server to take me with her to go find Brad and bring him through. It was a long, convoluted path that was not clear at all, and snaked its way through other businesses and restaurants!
By the time we got to the restaurant, we were pretty upset. So we tried to sit down and enjoy ourselves, but then another server came over and demanded paperwork for Felix! Ugh!
Plus it was super noisy and overwhelming inside the restaurant, so Brad and I accompanied Genelle’s family and sat outside on the patio. We just got really small things so as not to give a lot of money to the inaccessible and non-disability friendly restaurant, plus we did have a larger breakfast. Brad wrote a note on his receipt (from Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe) about how disappointed he was, and how he felt like a second class citizen. That’s in the pictures below, along with a restroom door nearby that is unusually labeled “Ladies and handicap only”.
When the rest of the family went on the dolphin tour, which was inaccessible so Brad couldn’t go, Brad and I headed back to the beach near our hotel. Brad was tired and so didn’t feel like taking more pictures, but he did agree to film several short videos for youtube! All of them are under 60 seconds.
Here is a video about the beach mats:
Here is a video of Felix enjoying all the sights and sounds of the beach:
Here are the beach wheelchairs that you can rent:
Here’s information about planning an accessible vacation:
On the way back to our hotel, we took a video of Felix heeling next to my wheelchair, and I didn’t see a grate in the ground and ran Felix right over it! Luckily he was able to jump over the grate pretty well!
When the dolphin tour was done, most of the family wanted to go to a beach and comb the mudflats for shells. So Brad and I went and hung out on the beach mats there. Luckily my cousin Genelle was kind enough to come check on us every once in a while, as everyone else was way far out and we couldn’t hang out.
That night, all 18 of us headed to a restaurant for dinner. We had a really fun time talking and eating together! Luckily since we made reservations, they were able to seat us at a table for 10 and a table for 8 right next to each other.
In the morning, we met for coffee before people started leaving. We really filled up the coffee shop, even though not all of us showed up! After some people left for the airport, those remaining headed to a park in nearby Bluffton for the kids to blow off some steam. We had a good time talking and watching the kids play!
We had a late lunch at a pizza place that had gluten free pizza, and even though we didn’t make a reservation, we were able to all fit in there and make it work!
Brad and I left after lunch and drove back home. Luckily our drive home was much easier than the drive there!
Overall it was really good to see family, though I wished we had been able to do more accessible things together. Maybe next time!