JUST ANOTHER TRAVEL BLOG? NOT QUITE.
Today is the first day of my new blogging life and I’d like to start it off by paying tribute to my old computer programming background with a big “HELLO WORLD”. My name is Patrick and Planit Patrick is my new and evolving blog. I am getting started on this blogging thing a little later in life than most bloggers do. You see I am a younger than usual retiree that finds he wants to fill up his life with new and exciting things. That includes using this blog to share my love of travel with anyone who wishes to come along for the ride.
Oh, I know, you’re thinking “It’s just another travel blog so what makes Planit Patrick’s site so special?” Well, there is a bit of a twist to mine. You see, I am outa sight! That is to say I am legally blind. Which means that unlike so many other folks I can’t just jump in a car on a moment’s whim and drive off anywhere the open road takes me. (Well, not legally that is.) Here’s the deal. Being low vision or blind is not easy. It’s often no piece of cake. And if it were we’d have to feel around for it anyway. And for those of you who are, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. One of the most challenging things for us in this fully sighted world is travel. I know you folks already know this but let’s just put it out there. Travel, in particular, for us can be a big challenge. That is, of course, unless you’re one of the fortunate people that have drivers in your life. So trips to the grocery store, trips to sporting events or concerts, trips to cousin Joey’s house, heck, trips to and from just about anywhere have to be planned out. Spontaneity is a wonderful thing and I am all for it. But for us, when it comes to travel, ours has to be planned spontaneity. (Wow, talk about polar opposites, huh.) You may be familiar with Point A and Point B but it’s those rascally surprises in between that literally trip you up and need attention so you don’t scrape your shins in the process. (Doesn’t it really bug you when that happens?) Where’s the bus stop? How far is it to the front door? Oh great, where in the world IS the front door? OK, so, you and I are independent people. We (kinda) like a challenge. For example, I can get to the airport from my house, but once I’m out of the cab at the curb which direction do I head to catch the escalator up to the ticket counter? Thankfully there’s always someone who is glad to tell you that your destination is “Over there.” and “You can’t miss it.” (Oh, yes you can and you don’t even have to try hard to do it.) Or, once I get to the airport in Baltimore can I grab public transportation to get into Washington DC from there? (BTW the answer to that last one is Yes, absolutely). I want to make that easier and more enjoyable for all of us. I’m going to help you figure out those kinds of challenges. And we’ll have a good time doing it.
You may be wondering how I get this travel bug anyway? When I was starting to think about putting this Planit Patrick blog together I wondered that as well. Where’d it all start? Let’s see if I can pin that down for you. When I was about 6 years old, I guess, my folks took me to the eye doctor for a checkup. Being born as a 2 pound 6 ounce premature baby at a little more than 7 months gestation I suffered severe retinal damage, (I have RLF/ROP), eye doctor visits were routinely, well let’s just say, non-routine. During this particular visit the docs advised my folks that I would go completely blind within the year and that they should get ready for raising a blind child. I can only imagine how hard it was for them to hear those words and to be given that news. But they were troopers and very positive people who vowed, as all parents would, to provide for me in the best ways they knew how. Well, one of those ways was to provide me with a trip of a lifetime. One that would provide me with a lifetime of visual memories that I could take into my blindness before it was too late. A trip that would be a thrill for any youngster. A trip to Disneyland in California. And yes, I still have those wonderful memories. One of the things that sticks out in my mind as much as the Disneyland experiences was the getting there part. Growing up in New York meant that we had to travel coast to coast. Stagecoaches and steam engine trains had actually gone by the wayside by then in favor of luxurious air travel. It’s a good thing that my Dad worked for a major airline. We traveled from New York to Los Angeles not just on the plane but we flew in front of the curtain in the first class cabin. The stewardesses (that’s what they called them back then) all fell in love with me. I guess I was pretty cute or something. They introduced me to the Captain. In the cockpit. While in the air. Sure wish he’d let me fly that DC-7 but all I got was some pretty cool gold colored wings pinned on my shirt. Anyway, the stews also let me help them with their duties as they served all the passengers. As you might imagine, it was a big deal to fly first class then as it still is today. And perks always go with that territory. So they gave me a tray of snacks and cigarettes to pass out to the passengers in first class. But they never told me that I was only to be serving the first class people. I didn’t know that I was supposed to stop at the curtain that divided first class from the rest of the plane. So, off I went, a “real” member of the team, and when I got to that curtain, yep, I just kept going. As you can imagine everyone on the flight, from front to back, was very appreciative. Or at least all the passengers were anyway. You see, they too, were given fond memories of the day they flew to California and the little blind boy served up goodies to one and all. And, by the way, the doctors were wrong. I never did go totally blind. But I did get a great trip!
Ever since that first trip to Mickey’s Magic Kingdom I have had a love for flying and traveling to new places. Visiting with new and old friends. And kind of always wanting to go somewhere. Since my Dad worked at the airport it was nothing to find me crawling around airplanes all the time. I’ve been on tarmacs both in and out of airliners. I can still remember my first walk around of a brand new 747. Everything on it was new, shiny and huge. And inside, they even had a piano bar at the back. One regret I have is that I never got to fly on one of those super sonic jets before they were taken out of service. That, would have been pretty awesome!
Now, I am retired from a long career in the Federal Government as an IT Support guy with lots of support for Assistive Technology users. And I even had a gig as an IT User Support Manager. It was a great career that allowed me to teach and help lots of folks with their computer problems all over the country. In my job I was fortunate to get the opportunity to see lots of incredible places within the US borders and to meet many interesting people. So the travel saga continued and as we go along with this blog I am sure I will be sharing lots of stories of fun and challenging adventures on the road, on the water and in the skies. Like the time when my plane was the last one to land in a blizzard at the Cincinnati airport before they shut her down. The landing wasn’t too bad but the ride to the hotel was…let’s just say…very exciting.
Living the life of leisure, as they say, I stay active with lots of folks that are blind and low vision through travel planning, cruising, IT and assistive technology support and I even host an online game from time to time. Since both my wife and I are full time retirees now and our children are grown and on their own we’re either going on trips or planning out our future travels a lot of the time. I think that planning travel is part of the fun of actually doing the travel. Well, one of the things I want to do with this blog is open up the world to all of us and not keep us limited to only those places and things available only to those with wheels. Don’t get me wrong, wheels are a good thing. I rank them right up there with fire and my iPhone. Even my grill out on the patio has wheels on it. But unlike a car, I can actually legally drive my grill. So you now know where my tagline “No License No Limits” comes from. I’m a let me show you what I can do rather than can’t do kind of guy. We less than 20/20 visionaries are a unique bunch of folks. And I want to share lots of ideas with you. Not everything will be directly related to travel but lots of things will be. Hopefully in humorous ways I will make everyone’s life and journeys, either actually or vicariously, more action packed and fulfilling.
Well, there’s a snippet about me but perhaps you’re still wondering about this whole Planet Patrick blog thingy. Here’s the deal. All through my life I have risen above what most sighted folks thought a blind person’s capabilities are or could be. Like the time when I got a job as a TV cameraman at a local station in Missouri. What a great, fun job that was! I know, you’re thinking, OK, how’d he do THAT? It wasn’t easy but after they decided to take a chance with me I was determined to prove that I could do it. I guess I did cause I stayed with them for more than three years. Anyway, I know that blindness is a challenge. But I also know that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to doing. That is the heart and soul of my blog. That is the heart and soul of me. Go ahead, tell me I can’t do it and I’ll show you that I absolutely can. With that one driving exception thing cause I don’t want anyone to get hurt. But even though I can’t drive I am still going to go and do the things I want to go and do. I’m still going to experience the world around me. Even if that has to be in that up close and personal, touchy feely kind of way. And as I make my way to this place and that I am going to share those experiences with you in ways that will help each of you do the same.
So that’s why I say “No License No Limits”. You ready? OK, Let’s go! See you on the next post.