Butterflies head to France

Butterflies in flight

Butterflies in flightOur bicycling trip to France is on the horizon.

An emotional self-check finds me all over the place. Getting the logistics in place for this trip has been daunting and exhausting. The latest tally of the cost, including what I’m dubbing the “disability surcharge”, is frightening. The “disability surcharge” includes both the obvious costs of transporting the handcycle, but also “optional” items like renting cars. I put “optional” in quotes because, well, they are optional. If I were hardier and more adventurous, I’d skip the expensive car rental and try to get myself, my wheelchair, my handcycle and our luggage on a train when I’m jetlagged and in a country where my grasp of the language is tenuous and my husband’s is non-existent. Car rental: optional. But I’m doing it anyway.

So I’m tired, tired of arranging things. Tired of arguing with car rental companies (“No, madam, we have no cars larger than a Renault Twingo to rent”, “No, madam, we have no cars with hand controls to rent”), with SuperShuttle (“Wait, you have a wheelchair and an oversized box? We don’t do that”), with Lufthansa (“I’m traveling with two, count them, two wheelchairs – the one under my butt and the one in this box”, “No, it is not acceptable for you to require me to check my personal wheelchair at the gate and get into your stupid airport wheelchair for hours”). I haven’t even begun to worry about hotels (why, yes, I am trusting able-bodied people who have no experience with disability travel to have reserved wheelchair accessible rooms in a foreign country for me) or restaurants or canoe trips or caves (all part of the tour). I haven’t managed to re-learn French.

On the other hand, I’ve taken care of the big stuff. We have rented a mini-van to get us from the airport to our first town. Because we can’t get one going back to the airport on the last day, I’ve set up a Fedex account so that we can ship the handcycle back (at monstrous expense, part of the disability surcharge). I’m excited about leaving my every day life for a while and doing something new and different. Since our weather has been uncharacteristically dark and damp all spring, I’m happy to be going somewhere where it’s actually summer in June.

At the same time, my head is messing with me. The other night I woke up, heart pounding, from a dream in which I suddenly realized I had no passport. I have a passport. I’ve had a passport practically since birth, and it’s always been valid. So there are some butterflies fluttering around in there, wondering if this is all going to work out.



  1. karen

    Have a great trip. I know that tiredness well and i like the idea of a ‘disability surcharge’. I am preparing for a big adventure too. We will be moving to Bogota Colombia for the year! I have been inspired by reading your blog and plan to do something similar while I am away.

    I am looking forward to hearing about your adventures in France. Maybe I’ll try a cycle trip there some day too.


  2. Jennifer Fitz

    Whew. Yes.

    Excited for you, though!

  3. wheelchairdancer

    Yes! It will work out. Despite the taxes and the unseen extras. I am so looking forward to the occasional blogpost, too.


  4. Katja (Post author)

    Wow, Karen – Bogota! Time to start a blog! FYI, I know people in Bogota – if you want me to hook you up, send me an email.

    Now that the Bolder Boulder is behind me, I’m feeling much more relaxed. A couple more days at work, a packing day, and then we’re off. I probably won’t be posting from the road (yes, Virginia, I am not taking a computer on this trip!), but will be keeping a journal and hope to be better about posting when I get back.


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