Recently, I had the opportunity to speak in Jupiter, Florida. I was very excited as it was in February and as we all know, it had been a cold winter! Florida in February sounded wonderful to me! The organization I spoke for told me to bring my family and they would put us up for several days after the event and let us have some vacation time.
We talked about trying to work in a trip to Disneyland, and believe it or not, our kids asked if instead, we could just spend the days at the beach. That was an affordable idea! My kids had never been to see the ocean before and they were so excited to go. So, off to Florida, we went!
We checked into the Comfort Inn and Suites on West Indiantown Rd. in Jupiter on Friday afternoon. It was a lovely hotel with a very room lobby and dining area. The staff was very helpful. We had a handicap-accessible room which was very nice with a large roll-in shower if you needed to roll in and a flip-down shower bench if you transfer. The room was spacious and I was able to maneuver great.
The next day was my event so I was not with my family that day. My husband took my children to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter. I was not with them, but if I had been, it was all accessible. My husband is always on the lookout for these things! After my speaking engagement was over, we took a couple of hours on Saturday evening and visited Dubois Beach. The children were so anxious to get in the water but it was way too cool for me! There was such a lovely pier though that overlooked the ocean and the beach area that the children played on. I sat on the pier with my camera and had a blast watching them and taking pictures.
On Sunday, we visited Berean Baptist Church in Jupiter. It was a beautiful facility that had well-identified handicap parking, an easy roll straight into the sanctuary, and nice wide aisles for easy seating. I even met a man who attended there that was a paraplegic. The people were very warm and friendly and the Sunday service was very enjoyable.
Monday was our first official day of vacation and so we headed out to the family-friendly Jupiter Beach. It is a lovely beach and offers a beach wheelchair. I had never experienced using a beach wheelchair I did not enjoy it. It was a model that was made out of PVC pipe. All of the wheels were stationary and would not turn. The seating was at the front and was very straight. I am used to a slight dump in my chair and so I felt like I was falling forward every time we moved. It was large and gawky and the width of it took up most of the ramp that led to the beach. It was hard for my husband to steer it and I was completely out of control of where I wanted to go. I do not like that feeling! So, I did not enjoy the beach chair that they had. Maybe soon they will update it with a much better model. If I lived in that area, I believe I would make that my personal mission to engage whoever is in charge of those things to get better beach chairs. If those who they are made for can’t enjoy them, then what is the purpose?
That being said, I kept most of my grumbling inside of me until the end of the day. I did not want my family to think I was not enjoying myself because I truly was. I just did not enjoy the beach chair. What I did enjoy was being out on the sand with my kids and enjoying watching them play! I also enjoyed soaking in the sun! I did not get into the water because I get cold so easily. I was afraid that if I got wet and cold we would have to leave and I could never have done that to my children. So, I enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the laughter of my precious family!
Tuesday, we decided to try a different beach to see if they had a better chair. We were not able to find another beach that had a chair so we went back to the original beach but they had already loaned the chair to someone else. So, we loaded back up and drove down the A1A highway along the ocean to just explore the beachfront. We found a spot that had a ramp most of the way to the sand edge. At the end of the ramp, there were two steps that my husband popped me down. It was closer to the ocean, but I could not budge an inch in the sand. I sat at the bottom of the steps, where some nice shade was, and enjoyed watching the kids play. Tuesday was a little cooler than the day before and so the kids didn’t want to stay in the water as long. When they were finished, they dried up and we went on down the A1A to Juno Beach.
Juno Beach is known for a very long fishing pier over the ocean that you pay a little bit of money to go out on. It was full of fishermen trying to catch their big catch of the day. It was really awesome and so easily accessible. We enjoyed watching the fisherman as much as looking at the waters around us.
On Wednesday, we left Jupiter and headed on down to Ft. Lauderdale, Flordia where I met up with two online friends that I had never met in person before. We had lunch at a fun hip place on the strip. The visit was enjoyable and did not last long enough.
After that visit, we loaded back up and started back north to Melbourne Beach, Florida. I was meeting another longtime online friend and she was putting our family up in her home for the night. The next morning, we continued back towards South Carolina and stopped briefly at Daytona Beach. We had always heard that you could drive on the beach there. That is my kind of beach chair! It was very windy so we stopped only long enough on that beach to take a quick picture.
We ended our vacation in South Carolina where we just moved. Our Florida trip just goes to prove that you don’t need a lot of money to have a good time. You don’t even need perfect beach chairs or accessible ramps. If you are willing to just go out there and make it happen, it will.