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Travel Journal

Dom's Wanderings

  • Amsterdam

    September, 2008


  • Beijing

    October, 2013


  • Cayman Brac

    June, 2009


  • Copenhagen, Denmark

    August, 2007


  • Deland, Florida

    April, 2010


  • Hong Kong

    May, 2007


  • Geneva, Switzerland

    March, 2007


  • Interlaken, Switzerland

    June, 2007


  • London

    July, 2007


  • Melbourne, Australia

    December, 2008


  • Muskegon, Michigan

    July, 2010


  • Paris, France

    July 20-24th, 2007


  • Pattaya, Thailand

    March, 2009


  • Rome, Italy

    September, 2007


  • Salzburg, Austria

    August, 2007


  • Shanghai


  • Singapore

    May, 2009


  • Sydney

    February, 2009


  • Washington D.C.


  • Whitefish, Montana


  • Whitehall, Michigan



  • Zion National Park

    March, 2013


Over the years, I have had the amazing experience of being able to travel the world and see many of its incredible locations all over this fine globe. In my adventures, I have tried my best to record what I saw, where I went, and how I got around in an effort to help others understand these places a bit better and hopefully entice everyone to go out and explore the places they always dreamed of.

In my writings I hope to give you just enough information to light that fire in you to explore on your own. If you would like more information, or even to swap stories of your own, please feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Keep an eye out for more and more entries to come! There is so much in this world to explore, and so much to learn. Life is a journey! Live it!

"Not all who wander are lost."
Someone Famous

Useful Information

Tips & Tricks

Travel Responsibly

  • Don't Be Rude – People respond to kindness much better than negativity. “You catch more bees with honey than vinegar”
  • Don't Litter – Keep places as beautiful as you found them. They didn't have that trash in the photo from the guidebook that got you wanting to go to that spot on the first place
  • Be Thoughtful of Surroundings – Some places have been there for hundreds of years, so be careful not to damage them so that others can continue to enjoy them
  • Tip When You Can - It is not necessary in every place around the world, but always welcome. Gratitude is always appreciated
  • Put a Little Slack in Your Schedule - You never know when you might want to stay somewhere a little longer. And, you might just get stuck somewhere involuntarily. Planes do get delayed from time to time. Despite what some people may think
  • Mind the Time of Year - Some places do have all four different seasons, and others don't. Do your research, pack for the estimated climate, but always pack a jacket or a swimsuit.
  • Remember, Not Everyone Speaks English - Learn a few words or phrases in the language of where you travel to. Not everyone around the world speaks English, so don’t expect them to. People respond kindly to someone even attempting to speak the local language.

Necessary Gear

Depending on the places you plan to go and some of your own personal needs, you are going to want to bring a few basic items.
  • Tire Repair Kit - If you run pnuematic (air-filled) tires, you will want to bring a spare tube or tube patches, tire sticks (atleast 2), and a small pump or CO2 cartridge with valve attachment.
  • Spare ID and Credit Card - Stash a driver's license or passport and a credit card in your luggage somewhere safe as a back up.
  • Change of Clothes - Bring a set of clothes (shirt, pants/shorts, socks, and underwear) in your carry-on bag just in case..

My Journal..

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Utah Canyon Trip - September 2011

Early on a Thursday morning, my good friend Kat -- who had just arrived in Las Vegas from Melbourne, Australia -- and I walked around the block from my apartment to the Avis Car Rental to get the car we reserved for our upcoming road trip. We were the fortunate renters of a nice, red Hyundai Sonata. The Sonata was considerably larger than I thought we were going to be getting when I reserved a “sub-compact” car.

I put on my hand controls and we packed the trunk with our gear. George at Avis was awesome, even after all the paperwork headaches I created for him. We stopped at Trader Joe’s for some “trail food” of Clif Bars, trail mix, granola, and some bread and peanut butter. In the same plaza we decided to grab some lunch at Amena Mediterranean Café and Bakery on Decatur. The chicken shawarma and falafel were way better than Subway, our first thought for food. The whole place was actually very accessible. I even had to check out the restroom and it was completely accessible; always a good surprise.

After a good meal we were on the road heading to the first stop on the trip, Zion National Park. The drive only took about 2 and a half hours from Las Vegas, NV and took us through this great mountain pass on Interstate 15 outside the north end of Las Vegas. Once we got to the park entrance, I asked about getting a Gold Access Pass. I had heard about this cool pass for people with permanent disabilities, that if you are handicapped it is free of charge and the pass is good for the rest of the person’s life. Pam, our ranger at the entrance set us up quickly right then and there at the entrance station and gave me my real card. No need to wait for one in the mail or suffer with a cheap paper temporary one. This gives the owner of the card free access to all the national parks across the entire country and half price camping at a lot of the campgrounds in them.

Right near the entrance and Visitor’s Center, we snagged a spot in the Watchman Campground. Loop D #40 has a spectacular view from all the way around the camp site. We stood in awe of the canyon surrounding us and the wonderful sunny, warm day. This is the best $16.00 anyone could spend. We made quick work of setting up the tent and getting our gear unloaded. The Eureka! Freedom is a fantastic tent! If you haven’t heard about it, the Freedom is the only wheelchair accessible tent on the market. It is a 2-room tent with a high enough ceiling to roll into and there is no floor or threshold in the first room. Also, all the windows have a privacy flap that can be zipped closed or open to the screen and the screens unzip as well, so you can access just about any part of the tent from the outside. The pea gravel that made up the ground of our camp spot was actually fairly easy to roll around on, but I spent most of the time in a wheelie and the knobby Kenda Kobras made it WAY easier.

After the tent was finally up and everything was sorted, we were off to the first trail. We made our way over to the Visitor’s Center to catch one of the buses to the far end of the park. After a quick pit stop in the restroom there, we wandered over to the bus area. I must say, the bathrooms in each spot of the park are very accessible and very clean. And, to my surprise, every bus in the park has a wheelchair lift and each is run by very knowledgeable and friendly drivers.

We made our way to the far end of the park to check out the Riverside Trail as it was listed as a “beginner’s trail” and as “wheelchair accessible”. The guide for the park had said that this trail was easy, but I don’t think they had wheelers pushing their own chair in mind when they wrote that. The trail is paved, however there was a lot of dirt covering it and it was littered with cracks and pot holes along with some pretty serious hill climbs. This 1.5 mile track winds through the canyon with the Virgin River racing alongside it. The river was pretty low this time of year but was still beautiful. The Riverside Trail is a really beautiful section of the canyon and is a very good level of difficulty to start out with and really test your abilities.

If you plan on taking any one of the trails in the park I would suggest even a small backpack with a good amount of water, something to eat (a Clif bar or something small) and some good knobby tires. Oh, and don’t forget your camera. There are too many beautiful spots that you are going to want to capture to go along with the memories.

After a long day of wandering around the park, we drove into the neighboring town of Springdale and sat down for a proper meal at Casa de Amigos. This restaurant is right on the main street and is very close to the park. The food is good, and for a great price-- very inexpensive. Once our bellies were full we went back to the camp site and crashed out excruciatingly early. No person should be in bed by 8:30pm! The moon lit up the canyon walls and made for some very interesting silhouettes all around us. It is so good to see stars! I have been in the city way too long.

Zion National Park and Watchman Campground – rating *****

Day 2-

Overnight it was a bit windy, but nothing blew over or away. It just made for a long, rough night and woke us both up way too early. I guess that is what you get when you are in bed before 9:00pm. We dined on a Clif bar each - -breakfast of champions – and packed up camp. We had to check out of the campground by 11:00am, so after we got the car loaded up we parked it in a spot at the Visitor’s Center and hopped on a bus, this time to the Big Bend lookout. After a sufficient number of oohs and ahhs and some great photos, we hopped another bus down to the lodge where we grabbed a bite to eat and a couple souvenirs.

The whole entire lodge was accessible, from the ramp up to the outdoor seating, to just being able to get around all the inner restaurants and the big gift shop. I had to pick up a patch to put on my pack as I do in all the various places I go. Then we caught the next bus back to the Visitor’s Center to get the car and be on our way to the next wonderful stop – Kolob Terrace Canyon.

The drive to Kolob Terrace Canyon took us on a bit of back tracking, but was a gorgeous drive, well worth the extra mileage. After a quick stop there we headed back through Zion and out the Tunnel Drive. This section was absolutely breathtaking, from the waterfalls all over to the fun switchback road up the mountain. There were quite a few killer tunnels on the way to Bryce Canyon. It took us 3 hours to drive to Bryce Canyon National Park where we grabbed a camp site in the Sunset Campground, loop B. The new Gold Pass gets us half price so it was only $7.50 for the night. We set up the tent, which was way easier this time and then took a ride to the General Store for a few odds and ends. The park is very easy to get around, and quite accessible. Then we decided to drive to Bryce Point with the remaining light of the day. This lookout is beyond amazing! The main look out was totally accessible but the path off to the side is pretty brutal. It was paved but a very steep hill and lots of pot holes. I would only recommend taking the side trail if you have someone to catch you if you do happen to get out of control.

Back at the camp site we made our way around to get the rest of the gear out and grab a bite to eat. The site was a bit hilly from where you park your vehicle to the spot where we put the tent, but not too treacherous. Daylight ends about 8:00pm and we are already feeling sleepy. The nights are chilly – car temperature says 50 degrees. We bundled up, dressed warm for the night and tucked tight in our sleeping bags. I sure love my Karrimor bag!

Bryce campground – rating ***

Day 3-

We woke up freezing! It had rained most of the night and was definitely colder than 50 degrees this time. We made haste in packing up the camp once again and headed out. We drove to a bunch of different look out points along the road, but none as good as Bryce Point. The drive around was fun and we got to see all sorts of different angles of the canyon. The canyon was littered with these orange and white stone spires all over. They looked so much like orange creamsicles. It was really an amazing sight.

After a few hours we headed towards Page, AZ and after another 3 hour drive we stopped at the Page Campground and got a spot for $18. This wasn’t a National Park so no cool Gold Pass discount. We just put up our tag on the post claiming our spot really quick and headed to Monument Valley straight away. We had to stop at Goulding’s Trading Post for cash as they didn’t take card at the ranger booth and then into the park we go. We took off on down the dirt trail through the valley. It had given warnings of a bit of wash out areas, but who cares, it’s a rental car! The Sonata took it on like a champ. I definitely got a lot of strange looks from other drivers out on the trail for bringing a sedan out in the muddy, rutted trails, but I felt confident in my own off-road driving abilities that I wasn’t worried one bit.

The valley is incredible. It was so amazing to see the flat land with these giant rock formations still standing tall in the middle of nowhere. The red clay that covered the ground as far as the eye could see was now piled on the shiny, red Hyundai. On the drive back to Page we caught a breathtaking sunset, so much sky on the horizon in front of us. Another proper meal for dinner at Fiesta Mexicana in downtown Page, then back to camp to set up tent in the dark, which didn’t go too badly. We had power now, so I got to charge my phone finally. It is amazing how attached some people become to their phones these days. The bathroom at the campground was not so accessible. After making the trek up a hill I got to the door that was up a large step and had a security code to enter, which we were given when we checked in. Once inside there was little room to get around and no capper stalls at all. Not cool…

Page campground – rating **

Day 4-

After a much better night’s sleep, we packed up camp for the last time and headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stopped off at Starbucks in Page on the way out for some wake up juice and set off on our last leg of the journey. I have to say Highway 89A is a fantastic drive! It is very curvy, beautiful, and very fun to drive on. The North Rim Lodge was accessible but the lift to the Sun Porch was broken. The front desk lady said “We have maintenance men with good, strong backs”. I figured what the heck. They helped me down the stairs to the Sun Porch level and said to just holler when I am ready to go back up. The view from Sun Porch was indescribable. Looking out over the enormous canyon really is a humbling experience. Seeing a little bump on the horizon that happens to be a mountain over 25 miles away helps to put things in a bit of a different perspective.

After a good picture taking session and some chill time, we headed back out and drove the route from Cape Royal lookout to Port Imperial lookout. Port Imperial view point had the best view out of the different ones. Once we made a few small stops along the way for photos, we gassed up in the canyon at the only spot for gas in a long stretch, right in the canyon park itself. We took the drive back up into Utah and drove through St. George again and onto the 15 again back to Las Vegas.

Once we got back into the lights and bright of the Sin City we stopped at the House of Stilla for some Korean food and back to the house to unpack the car and get some sleep in a real bed. Oh, and a shower that was, well, magical! A hot shower was another one of those luxuries forfeited on this trip so I was a bit filthy.

Day 5-

Back in Las Vegas now, and rested up after a memorable trip, we got up early so I could bring Kat to the Greyhound Bus station for her lovely 10 hour ride back to Santa Barbara, CA. We first brought the car down to a car wash and rinsed off all the mud. Couldn’t leave any evidence of the torture we put the poor car through along the way when I brought the car back to Avis. I dropped Kat off at the bus station and made my way over to the Avis agency. I ended up having a long talk with Dennis, the manager at that location. Then a quick push around the block to the house and time to relax…

Skydive Boogie - DeLand, FL

With a very, very early morning ride from a good friend to Grand Rapids Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I quickly made my way through the self check in at the Delta Airlines counter and up to Starbucks for a bit of food and a coffee. After my pit stop to put something in my stomach, I hopped on my first flight if the day to Cincinnati, OH. With this small of a commuter jet I have to load from the tarmac, an experience I have had many times before and it goes well. The lift is old and crude, but it does the job. By now the sun is up and the weather is warm already starting to warm up.

Once I landed in Ohio, I had to quickly make my way across the airport to catch my next plane. When you are the last one off the plane and the first passenger on the next one, a layover can be cut really short. I made it with only a few minutes to spare and boarded my flight to sunny Florida. Or so I thought..

On arrival in Orlando the airport was chaotic and no one told me that there were two different “sides” to the whole place and Delta Airlines takes one of them all to its very own. First try had me wandering around the baggage claim not being able to find my flight’s drop off for the life of me. Take 2 is met with success after one of the airport employees let me in on the little “A and B Side” secret.

Out to the curb I go to get my shuttle and I am met with rain and clouds, and cold. I was feeling misled by all the “sunny Florida” propaganda as I sat there for hours waiting for my particular shuttle to show up to take me to DeLand. I finally talked to one of the drivers who’s route was going close to where I needed. In the confusion I get dropped off at a Howard Johnson Hotel out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and had to call a cab to get me to my REAL hotel, the Comfort Inn.

Finally, I make it to my correct hotel and am able to join up with the rest of my group. This trip is for the Wounded Warrior Project and to put on a golf tournament and Skydive Boogie at Skydive DeLand. It should prove to be a real blast. These are a bunch of really cool guys and it will be my first time skydiving.

A 6:00 am wake up call comes all too early, but I am up and ready to go, charged for the day. We meet for a quick breakfast at the hotel and then we pile in the rental van and head out to the drop zone. The drive is short and we unload our gear to join the rest of the group again.

My time to jump comes up and I am so excited I can’t even contain myself. I get my harness on and we head out to the plane. Bob Crossman is my tandem master and Brian Festi (sorry if I screw up the spelling of your names guys) is my camera man. I get my full safety brief and we are up and out.

On the way up to our jump altitude one of the other jumpers sitting next to me has a petrified look on his face. I ask him, “So, is this your first time?” and he replies, “No, I have done this a couple times.” He then in turn asks me how many times I have gone up before. I tell him that this is my first time as a laugh and a smile come over his face. He retorts, “but, you don’t even look scared!” I give him some serious insight into my mind as I explain, “Ah man, I am too stupid to be scared”, which is met with an even bigger smile and a laugh. Now we are all having fun.

As we crab crawl to the open door of the plane, Bob and I are already strapped together. He makes all the final checks and gets us prepped to make the first jump. My adrenaline is going now for sure, as we lean forward and are off. Falling through the air at over 100 miles an hour is much like riding a motorcycle on the freeway with no helmet on. Very loud and the skin on your face gets distorted and makes for some great black mail photos.

And then with the tug on the ripcord, the chute deploys and it feels like we are instantly frozen in mid air. The tug from the parachute jars your mind back into reality as you are now in the most serene and peaceful place you can ever experience. Looking out over the clouds, Bob hands me the toggles and shows me how to control the canopy a bit as we slowly descend back down to earth with a soft slide in the glass. What a rush!

There are no words to describe the feeling this whole experience brings… euphoric is the only thing even that comes to mind.We all sat down to a killer bar-b-que lunch under a tent in the field at the drop zone. Just enough time to relax and chat about our amazing day. It was such a great time conversing with people and laughing in the sun. For some it is their first time, for others they are seasoned professionals, but we all share something unique in common now.

My ear is perked up by a faint announcement of open seats on an upcoming plane. I am at the counter before she can finish her words asking for anyone to be on that plane. We sign the paperwork and I am ready to go, AGAIN. Quickly rigged up and back with my guys Bob and Festi, we hop on the next flight up.

This jump brings a whole different feeling as we slide up to the door. Now, the adrenaline is pumping once again, but because I now know what to expect a little hint of fear creeps in. Just like any other time I embrace it. “Let’s do this!” After we exit the plane, I was given the reigns again and even allowed to pull the ripcord deploying the parachute. It is such an amazing feeling and even better to be in control of even some of it.

After another great jump successfully landed we hang around the place for a bit watching our videos and then head to the Fish House for dinner. All of our meals are donated by the restaurant as an awesome gesture by the owner. Fed, fat, and happy we retire to the hotel for some much needed rest after an unforgettable day. The Wounded Warrior Project puts on a golf tournament at Pelican Bay North Golf Course. This is their third year of this event in Florida and it draws a pretty big crowd of golfers onto the course. Food on the course was grilled up by a couple of local boys. Doug and DH, thanks for the killer burgers!

During the tournament at one of the stops along the course was a dunk tank with a couple of bikini-clad girls and somehow I was dared into getting in the tank myself. A Facebook auction was even posted up to try and raise enough money and I would be in the tank if the limit were reached. Unfortunately, the bids didn’t reach the reserve. Maybe next time guys..

The day was a bit overcast but we all had a great time. After the tournament was over we all met in the club house for lunch and the awards ceremony presenting the trophies for all the teams that participated in the golf day. My hats off to all the golfers. What a fun day!

Later, a few of us made our way into the booming downtown DeLand and had dinner at the Brickhouse Pub. A great spot with live music in the corner by a small band, good food and a real chill atmosphere.

Today we are invited to attend an Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital event at the PCH Caddy School golf course. The weather is against us a bit as it mists and rains sporadically throughout the day. Our canopy kept us dry for the most part, but from time to time we had to escape to the club house.

This day marks a big day for me because for the very first time ever I actually golfed a bit. Well, I goofed around on a putting green for a bit. I got myself strapped into this wild contraption called a Paragolfer by Otto Bock and was given some very in depth instruction in the world of golf.

Don’t worry, I won’t be donning the argyle socks and silly pants just yet! It was a great experience to be able to push a button raising myself upright and swing from a standing position. Sometimes I forget just how tall I am and what a difference it is to be at that height again.

After we all had enough of the silly weather we stopped for Italian and then to crash at the hotel. Yet another good day of new experiences in the bag. Thanks to the guys at PCH Caddy School for a fun day!

This morning the group met with Fred Williams at Complete Parachute Solutions. They are the main sponsor and organizer of the Wounded Warrior Project Skydive Boogie that we had the pleasure of attending earlier in the trip. These guys run an awesome shop with top notch products for military and civilian use.

Then back to Pelican Bay North for a golf exhibition to show more people the Otto Bock Paragolfer. The weather was much better today and gave us a way better turnout.

After the exhibition we had lunch in the club house with a few folks and then back to the hotel to checkout. We pack all our people and all our gear into the two rental Dodge Caravans and are off to find our way back to Orlando.

We drop the vans off at the rental office at the Orlando Airport and check into the Airport Hyatt Hotel for a short over-nighter. After we check in and drop our bags in our rooms we head to McCoy’s Bar and Grill, the hotel restaurant, for a good dinner. I really dig the atmosphere if this place, very swanky but not stuffy at all. A good burger and beer and it is time to hit the rack. We have an early morning flight back to our homes again tomorrow.

Dive Pirates Out Brac - Cayman Islands 2009

After a 7-day crash course in SCUBA diving at Adventure Scuba in Plano, TX under the excellent instruction of dive master and instructor Rodney Marshall, I was certified and ready to do my first big water dives. I made my way through the tests, the pool dives, and the lake dives. I am now Handicap SCUBA Association (HSA) Class A Certified!

Up at the crack of dawn to make an early morning flight from Dallas, where I was staying with a friend, we flew to Houston where we met up with the rest of the Dive Pirates group and boarded our second plane to Grand Cayman. Then after a short layover there, the whole crew hopped on yet another plane to Cayman Brac, the smallest of the islands.

Upon landing at the Cayman Brac airport I expressed my concern in just how well it was going to work in getting 24 crips off a plane. With 3 isle chairs and 6 knowledgeable ground crew members. we were off loaded quickly and easily. I must say, this is the best I have ever seen getting one person off a plane and down to the tarmac, let alone 20-some.

Once off the plane we made our way to the curb after grabbing our gear from baggage claim where we were greeted by a flatbed truck and 2 vans to take us to our resort. The Brac Reef Beach Resort is where we were intending to stay, but Hurricane Paloma had leveled the island only 7 months prior taking most of the resort with it. We arrived to some of the buildings still standing, some freshly rebuilt and some still in a state of construction, including all of the rooms.

Never fear, they have it under control! It was organized that we would be sleeping at the Alexander Hotel and using the rest of the Brac Reef Beach Resort and Reef Divers II for everything else. Our meals were all under killer canopies at the resort as the only people that were there at the time were our own group. Catered by the resort’s restaurant and staffed by the normal staff completely volunteering their time, it was an experience unmatched by even the best restaurants. The best food brought out to fill our bellies by the friendliest people only to stuff ourselves to the gills before heading to the Alexander to drop our bags and catch some sleep after the long day of travel.

The Alexander Hotel, which had done a fair bit of remodeling after the hurricane, had finished up just in time to be open for our group to arrive. Their rooms were extremely accessible and backed by a great staff willing to help with whatever they could. First thing the next morning we were up and charged to go diving. Greeted at the door by some familiar faces we were shuttled back to Brac Reef to get signed in and be treated to a wonderful breakfast before we were divided onto one of four boats for our first two dives of the day -- of the week.

After two dives we went back to the Brac Reef to be lavished once again with great food and wonderful people before heading back out for 2 more dives. With the best dive masters giving us very informative briefings and hitting the water with them as well, we were shown some of the most beautiful sights the human eye could behold. The water was as warm as bathwater and visibility as far as your eyes could take you.

We did our afternoon dives then headed back to the resort for dinner and then a bit of relaxing before collapsing in our beds in sheer exhaustion -- only to do it all over again the next day. I could totally get used to this! I am in absolute heaven.

Our first dives were on a Sunday. Monday was the same schedule, but Tuesday opened up a choice of a night dive, which I took without even a second thought. Night dives are a whole different world. It felt almost like being in a deep sea diving movie, such a cool experience! Swimming around, you can only see as far as your light is shining so it is a bit unnerving, but the water life you see is totally different.

Wednesday was back to the normal 4 dives and then “movie night” where we watched Cut Throat Island with Gina Davis -- a good pirate-themed film to keep the spirits high. Argh! Then off to crash again at the Alexander. Also, gives me a chance to go to the shopping plaza next door to the hotel with a laundry mat. Only $10 covered a whole bag of laundry washed, dried and folded by the wonderful lady that worked there.

Thursday went just as the days prior. Then back to Brac Reef for dinner and karaoke where I was coerced into singing a little tune by George Thoroughgood – Bad to the Bone, you may have heard it before. Many drinks and laughs later it was time to call it a night once again.

Friday and Saturday came and we dove our skinny butts off yet again. I was going to make sure and use every chance I could to dive. I mean, hey we were given the tanks to use, might as well use them. Besides, there was no way I was going to be left sitting on the boat and hear someone surface saying, “you will never believe what I saw” and I wasn’t there myself to see it. Even the bad weather that was fore-casted for the beginning of the week held off until the end.

Friday night we had an awards ceremony where we got our certification awards and then people received there “Pirate Spirit Award” for each of the four boats. I was picked for my boat and ecstatic to receive our dive flag as my award. I also received my HSA Advanced Scuba certificate with all the dives I racked up over the week.

Saturday morning we had to say our goodbyes and hopped a plane back to Grand Cayman with a long layover. Enough time to go to a sea turtle farm and pet the turtles before we got on our next plane back to Houston and then home.

At the end of the week we all pooled our money together to tip the dive masters and the restaurant staff. Omar and the rest of the fantastic wait-staff was working the whole week totally voluntary, even the transport drivers that drove us back and forth from the hotel to the resort all hours of the day. A true testament to what good people are really capable of.

This was the 5th year of the Dive Pirates diving at Cayman Brac and the 3rd year staying at the Brac Reef Beach Resort. This trip was absolutely amazing and I cannot wait to go back and see the resort rebuilt with even more accessible rooms than before. I cannot say enough about how well this trip went and how good everyone was in organizing and putting this event on.

If you are interested in taking this amazing trip with the Dive Pirates just give there site a click, but do it soon, because their slots fill up quickly.


May 9th

Today I am off to Singapore with a good friend of mine. We get our usual driver to the airport from Monarch Corporate Hire -- Bill always gets us there on time. We get dropped off at the curb and head in to the first class international check-in at Melbourne’s Tullemarine Airport. This check-in is the easiest I have ever been thru. Once we make our way thru the duty free section, that they seem to force you thru on your way out, we hopped on the elevator up to the first class lounge for Qantas Airlines. We tried to get ourselves ready for the long flight ahead by way of a massage but the spa was booked up for the rest of the day. Oh well, maybe next time…

After a good meal, we were summoned for our flight’s boarding. Quickly to our plane to get everything sorted at the gate. Unfortunately we met with a bit of a challenge once we had arrived at the plane. I was the second person they had to load from an isle chair and coincidentally we were in the same row and the other person had taken the middle seat. So, left with apparently quite the conundrum, I sat waiting for them to find me a better seat. Once the plane was fully loaded they had found a “perfect” seat for me. Andrew, the flight attendant, was very apologetic and offered anything I wanted for my troubles. Of course I wasn’t granted my first request in a first class seat, but was treated quite well after all even in an economy seat.

My buddy and I were booked on different tickets so I was banished to the economy seat as he took his seat in business class. No hard feelings, I don’t mind an economy seat. It is not like my legs are going to get cramped. The flight to Singapore from Melbourne is about 8 hours, so not the worst I have done at all.

After a few movies on the entertainment system and a bit of writing, the flight was over and we are off to the hotel. The Shangri La is the hot spot for this trip. After a nice, short ride with Khuhan in the hotel’s limo car we made our way up the driveway to be greeted by eager people and some eye candy in the form of a few high end Italian and German automotive marvels.

We checked in at the front desk and up to the room to drop our bags. Killer room, totally accessible!

May 10th

After a good night’s sleep we were woken up by the thunder and rain outside our room but, after a bit if lounging and planning the sun came out and we decided that game was on yet again. We opted to grab some food on the way out at the In Line restaurant inside the hotel and then off to the Singapore Zoo.

After wandering around the zoo we went over to the other side for a tram-guided night safari tour. The Singapore Zoo is great and totally accessible. I definitely recommend it. It is fairly small so it can be easily done in a day or less, if you are really ambitious. The night safari on the other hand is a bit lame and could be passed over in my book. It could have been from the boring radio DJ wannabe for a tour guide, but the animals themselves were very cool to see.

I was a bit misled by the “persons with disabilities free” part of the sign, that I later found it to be only for locals and members of some obscure Singapore groups. So, at the end of the day around $45 Sing dollars get’s you the whole package including tram rides in the zoo and during the night safari. Still well worth it, I think.

All done with the zoo, we headed back to the hotel for the night, a good day in the books. And the 20 minute cab ride it took us in either direction was only around $15 Sing dollars. I will say this though, the population has seen Tokyo Drift a few times. There were a large amount of racer-esque cars driving around.

May 11th

Today I spent the day in the hotel room working due to the rain that seemed it would never let up.

May 12th

Today was another day spent in the room watching the rain poor down outside. I will venture out, I promise…

May 13th

Today I ended up in the hotel room all day with an upset stomach and cold sweats. I am not sure what the cause was, but the fish and chips I had last night could have been the culprit. After a really hot shower and the rest of the day and night spent under a pile of sheets I felt better.

We will see what happens tomorrow…

May 14

Well, today I feel a whole lot better. I wandered up and down the main strip in the downtown area, a sort of touristy section of the city. Lots of shops and restaurants to choose from. Pretty much everything was accessible. The only tough part was some of the buildings that had multiple levels had only one elevator and it was usually only at one end. So, a bit of extra trekking was in order. All in all a very modern and accessible city. Another good trip in the books. Time to head back to Australia, my home away from home.


Everyone met up in St. Kilda first thing in the morning to get in our 2 town cars to head to Tullamarine Airport for yet another fun-filled adventure. This time we headed to Pattaya, Thailand. Our check in at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport went fast and smooth, especially for having 3 guys in chairs all flying together. We made a quick hop on Qantas Airlines to Sydney, which is only about an hour and a half. Then we changed planes there, with plenty of time and get on a British Airways 747 for Bangkok. The flight took about 9 hours for this leg of the journey.

Once we landed, we made our way through customs and then through baggage claim where we met our 2 drivers to take us on the 2 hour ride to the Marriott Hotel in Pattaya. The drivers were great and after hearing the horror stories from my friends about their last trip here, I am glad that I was able to experience the better ride. Once we made it to the hotel, we checked in and made our way to the Presidential Suite that made most people’s homes look tiny. This room had an enormous lounge and dining area, a separate kitchenette, with 2 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. This is living like a rock star!

Accessibility-wise this hotel took some effort. There were a few ramps and lifts to get you to pretty much everything you might need to see, but from time to time there were large humps in the sidewalk, or, in our case, the suite had a rather tricky step to get up to get in the room. After a polite request, we were able to get a ramp up said step setup for us. You really have to come to the city with an open understanding that this is still Thailand and not 100% into the modern age. Don’t let the commercial billboards and wide freeways fool you.

The next morning, we all woke up rested and ready to attack the day, so we decided to take a bit of time to wander around the attached Royal Garden Plaza looking for a few items. The shopping center was very wide open with 3 floors. There were elevators, but tucked away in corners so we all just used the escalators –easy to do if you know how, but otherwise don’t chance it.

Once we got what we were looking for we had a great lunch by the killer pool at the hotel. Of course, I could not let the righteous-looking water slide just sit there and not take it for a spin. So after climbing up the stairs I scratched the itch on the way down with a rather nice splash at the end.

After the sun finally went down, we all made the adventure down to Walking Street. It is actually named Walking Street, named due to the fact there is no car traffic allowed. I found this exceedingly ironic for a group including 3 guys who don’t walk. We chose to pop into one of the many Go Go clubs there and see what it was all about and after a few drinks, one of my friends and I decided to wander on to another bar and have a few drinks there whilst listening to a good band play before calling it a night early. Well, if you consider midnight early..

Today, we all were up fairly early and opted for breakfast by the pool, ok brunch. Then we crossed the street to the beach and with some help from the locals made our way to the water to hop on a group of jet skis that we rented for next to nothing and take a killer ride along the shore and out to a tiny little island and back. Some dropped off after about a half an hour but, Matty and I stayed out for the full hour. All of us were pretty spent after the workout on the jet skis so we rang room service and ate in with a good movie on the quite disappointing entertainment center in our room. I guess the catch of the room is its size and not that you will be spending a whole lot of time watching movies.

Friday the 13th.. Today, we split up and the rest of the guys went on a SCUBA trip for half of the day while I chose to stay in and get a bit of work done and some sleep as well. Once I had conquered a few hours of work I switched gears and did a little work in the huge comfy bed in my room. I was only able to nap for a couple hours before everyone got back in and started making noise again. Oh, well. At least I got a little rest before we headed out on the town again. Oh, the joyous nightlife of Pattaya!

Today’s adventure took us from the comfort of our hotel and down to the yacht club to board a 20 meter (60 feet) Catamaran to a nice little spot for some snorkeling and then on to the famed Monkey Island. Once we got to the island, though, we jumped (figuratively speaking) into the dingy and motored to the shore to feed the masses of monkeys a load of fruit and veggies that we had brought along. This is a great experience, I would recommend it highly.

Once the food was all gone we made our way back to boat and then back to the docks over the calm water and straight back to the hotel to clean up.

The night held more of the wild nightlife of Pattaya and yet another of the Go Go clubs. I bowed out early, but the party followed the rest of the guys back to the Hotel until all hours of the night. I gave in and got back out of bed to join in the festivities.

Now that all of us were sleep deprived and most were hung over, we all thought it was a great idea to just stay in the room with the curtains closed and just relax with room service. I have to say this hotel had the best selection of any hotel I have been in yet. You can choose from a simple burger and fries to the more adventurous Thai dishes.

I have to say, so far Pattaya is pretty tricky to get around. I mean, for me it takes some thought and looking ahead of me on the sidewalks. There is no ADA or anything like it here, so you are going to have to push on the streets or even hop curbs or steps from time to time. The one good thing is that the people there are more than willing to try and help in whatever way they can. This is one of the more populated cities in Thailand and I can only imagine what the more rural areas might bring. Make sure if you decide to take the trip to Thailand that you understand what you are getting into and bring a spare tube and repair kit as well in your carry on. You will thank me for it.

As all trips go, this one must come to an end. We pack up are things and call for the bell hope as we head down and check out. It is time to say fair well to the Presidential Suite and go back to real life. The ride back to the airport goes smoothly and after some rearranging of some of our tickets we get on the plane and make our way back to Melbourne. We land, but our trip isn’t over yet, as our chairs are making their way slowly to us. We all waited at least a half an hour before our chairs went to baggage claim instead of coming to the gate like we had requested. So, the assistance people (who knows if they have a real title) had to off load all of us and push us in the isle chairs all the way to baggage claim to pick up our suit cases AND our chairs. Now, thoroughly exhausted we make our way to the curb where, once again, waiting for us is a pair of cars to take us all home. Once home the rant continues, “Something has got to change!” “Qantas and the Australian airport system have got to work this out HEAPS better.” Oh well, maybe someday traveling in a wheelchair will be as easy as it can be all over. Until then, I will keep writing and ranting, helping out all I can.