Weekend Trips

The Great American Eclipse 2017

Chasing the Eclipse

When we heard that there would be a total solar eclipse crossing the United States in 2017, we were very excited to have the opportunity to view such a rare event!

kyFirst, we consulted the NASA map to find a location near us that was in the path of the eclipse totality.  Then we checked for available hotels along I-65 that were in the totality zone.  We chose to drive to a Hampton Inn in Franklin, Kentucky on Sunday so that we would be on site for the eclipse the following afternoon.

Next, we ordered certified safe solar viewing glasses to allow us to see the eclipse.  It’s very important to protect your eyes from sun damage, so please consult solar eclipse viewing safety guidelines before engaging in any eclipse viewing or photographing activities.

Observing the Path

20915621_1515428125169410_6248226234749102105_nMonday, August 21 was a clear, warm day in Franklin, without any clouds to obstruct the sun.  The eclipse started at 11:58 am.  We used our eclipse viewing glasses to track the progress of the moon passing between the earth and the sun.

We kept our youngest son in the shade most of the time so that he wouldn’t get too hot or sunburned.  Unfortunately, he wouldn’t keep the viewing glasses on, so we showed him photos of the eclipse as it progressed.

IMG_9764The flat lens of the safety glasses made a really good filter to use over my phone’s camera to capture photos of the partial phases of the eclipse.

It stayed quite sunny until just a couple of minutes prior to the total eclipse, which occurred at 1:26 pm.  While we waited, we enjoyed talking to the other families that had gathered outside the hotel to view the eclipse.  One family even had a reunion there, as members came from neighboring states to meet up in Franklin for this major event!

Experiencing the Totality

IMG_9803There was a dramatic change as the eclipse approached totality.  The sunlight dimmed to dusk levels and then rapidly progressed to darkness.  Crickets started chirping as birds squawked and flew around.  Streetlights turned on as the sky became dark.  The air felt noticeably cooler.  It was awe-inspiring to experience sudden “nighttime” in the middle of the afternoon.

IMG_9783For 2 1/2 minutes, the sun was blocked by the moon, appearing as a big black disc surrounded by a thin silvery ring.  The sun’s corona looks much thicker in the photo, since there is still a enough of the sun’s light escaping around the edges of the moon to affect the camera’s light sensor.

Suddenly, the sky began to brighten as the moon continued on its path across the sky.  It was startling how much light a thin sliver of sun could produce!  It looked like full daylight again within just a minute or two.

Our family has been on many weekend trips, but this will always be one of the most memorable.  What an incredible experience to see this total solar eclipse together!



Let’s Go!

When Danny was diagnosed with Dandy-Walker malformation as a baby, we never imagined that we would be flying to Mexico 17 years later.  Just going out to a restaurant seemed like a major undertaking!  But local outings led to state parks, then road trips, then short flights (after things settled down with the TSA, lol).  We took it step by step, and were able to go farther and do more with each excursion.  And with every trip, Danny’s world expanded; we have often remarked on some new social or communication milestone that Danny developed while we were traveling.  Vacation time is quality family time!

On this site, we will share accessibility and medical travel tips and ideas with you so that you can experience the wonders of travel with your family.  Of course, our first piece of travel advice is to start small and slowly work up to larger trips.  We will show you how to put plans into place that can be scaled up as vacations become longer or more complex.  The important thing is that we give our special needs children a chance to experience the kinds of things that all kids enjoy doing.  So let’s get started on our journey together!

Packing & Prep

Packing 101

Packing for travel with a special needs, disabled, or medically complex child can be a daunting task.  Even when our kids are no longer infants, we find ourselves lugging around all those big bags and wheeled conveyances like the parents with babies do!  Or perhaps you’re like our family, where all the equipment gets even bulkier and more numerous as our kids get older.  How can all of this “stuff” be managed for travel?

Tackling a big job like this requires planning.  And the easiest way to plan is by making lists.  So let’s begin there!

Activity Lists

There was a time when taking my son to his therapy appointments was very challenging IMG_9594for me.  I was taking him to weekly speech & physical therapy by myself, so I often forgot to bring necessary items along during the morning rush of diapering, dressing, feeding, and loading him into the van.  After months of struggling to “get it together” on therapy day, I finally made a checklist on my 2Do app to make sure that I didn’t forget anything.  Since the list is on my smartphone, I always have it with me and it’s very easy to access and update.  If I ever think, “I really need to remember to bring _____ along next time,” I can immediately add it to the list on my phone before I forget.

You can make a list for each activity separately (such as going to a restaurant or to the park), or create a “master list” of items that you need for any outing with your special kid(s).


IMG_9808Vacation Lists

Of course, overnight and longer trips require more extensive planning.  For vacations, we have a 2-column Word document that we print out before packing.  Then the items are crossed out as they are packed.

It’s a pretty long list, isn’t it?  And I know that many disabled or medically complex kids require even more things than this!  How do you start to put together a comprehensive list for all your child’s daily needs?

Grab a notepad and write down the things that you are using as you go through your day.  You don’t have to do it all at once; it’s easier to break it down into activities, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, bedtime, etc.

Packing is much less stressful knowing that I can print up the list and get right to work.  The other handy thing about keeping the list on your computer is that it is easy to make changes or additions.  If I ever find myself wishing that we had brought an item along on vacation, I make a note to add it to the packing list.  Now we have a comprehensive list that makes travel with our special kid so much easier!

Your lists could also be kept in a notebook if computer or smartphone access is not available.

Advance Planning

IMG_9809For medically complex children, an additional planning list may be necessary for any preparations needed prior to packing for a trip.  Ordering supplies, refilling prescriptions, and preparing meals are just some of the things that may be required prior to traveling.

Although I use the 2Do app for travel planning, it can also be accomplished with a paper list, a calendar, or a computer document.  The most important thing is to keep a “master list” on hand so that you don’t have to start planning from scratch every time you travel.  The 2Do app works well for me because I can change the priority of the item instead of checking it off, allowing me to keep everything on my list for future reference.

The easier it is to pack, the more likely you’ll be to enjoy travel opportunities with your family.  I hope these tips help to get you started on your journey.  Let’s get packing!