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Holidays: My 4 hidden gems and why you still can learn while on holiday.

And we are back! G’day my friends and welcome to the first blog in two weeks! I have just got back from a blissful 2 week holiday at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. I honestly think I have found my place. The perfect mix of sun, sand and hinterland. Let’s not forget the warmth!!

If you missed my Insta story a couple of days ago, we left the coast and it was 26 degrees Celsius, as soon as we got home it was a chilly 9 degrees. It certainly was not the homecoming we wanted for sure! It was all made worth while though when we saw our beloved fur baby. Her greeting never gets old!

This week I wanted to talk about my journeys on my holiday and how I got around the coast, the hurdles but also the lessons I learnt while away.

So let’s get cracking!!

Coolangatta: The most accessible holiday

trees lining a sand pathway with green guide fencing. the ocean is in the middle of the photo with a silhouette of Surfers Paradise in the far distance. the sky is blue with white clouds.
a picture i took on my last afternoon. See no Stairs!! best thing ever!

I honestly thought nothing could top my vacay earlier this year in terms of accessibility and independence. Oh, how I was wrong!

The location was spot on! Shops and cafes underneath our accommodation, and the beach was a stroll across the road.

Usually, we are Burleigh Heads people. We had stayed in the same accommodation building for 10+ years.  However, it was becoming a little tricky with stairs to get to the indoor pool, stairs to get out of the complex as well as stairs to get onto the beach. It was becoming no longer ideal, so we had to search for somewhere else.

Long story short we came upon Reflections at Coolangatta. It had Sunshine Coast vibes, no stairs in reception, ramp around the BBQ area, accessible lounge, and no stairs to get on the beach! It was a match made in heaven!!!

The only thing that was not the most accessible was our room. Do not get me wrong, wide hallways and walk in showers are always good. However, there was a large step down to get onto the balcony, and the kitchen would be too small to accommodate a wheelchair, as well as the bathroom. In saying that, I honestly forgot all that thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that backed onto the hinterland as well as the ocean from the balcony.

I honestly did not mind having as much independence, because every time we go away that is just something that I have come to accept.

I need my mother to help me off the toilet, as well as helping with the dirty work (TMI I know, sorry not sorry!).

I had to also have help getting onto the balcony and back into our room. This didn’t happen as much due to the weather and mother nature deciding to cry most days. She must have been having a tough few days.

However, what was a blessing was the gorgeous walkways that was totally accessible, as well as the beach!!

Holiday Bliss: Getting around

we called this walk Turkey Hill.. Not sure if it is actually called that… but the reason why is in the name. So many Turkeys!

This part had to be my favourite. I could not get over the number of concreted pathways with amazing views. There were several days where I would go for a drive in my Scooter to check out the surfers… I mean the surf.

There was just something about driving along the esplanade and looking out at the ocean. Your mind goes quiet, and you feel completely present.

Like I said earlier, I could not have done that without the accessibility being top notch! Each pathway was ramped for the most part. Sure, there were stairs to get to the top viewing platforms, but I honestly didn’t mind not getting up there, the views were just as impressive on the lower observations platforms.

Getting to the beach was as easy as one two three. We packed a roll of strapping tape because we were assuming that my ankles would roll so much more being on sand, and would need to be strapped. Try walking on your tip toes on soft sand… Not easy at all. However, we were presently surprised! All the exercise and physio treatments paid off.

The access to the beach was amazing. Sure, there wasn’t a disabled rubber ramp over the sand, but I am used to slogging it out when I am feeling strong enough. The bonus though was there was no steps or hill of sand to climb up! It was completely flat. Mixed with the rain we had; the sand was compact enough to make it a bit easier. BONUS!

Originally, I have had to be carried the whole way on the beach or really struggle with my legs turning to complete jelly after only a few metres.

As much as a I love the beach, the sand is my enemy. It certainly gives me one hell of a good workout! So I stayed clear of the gym the whole time! Yes i still did some Pilates when i felt up to it, but i felt the sand still smashed me.

This time around, I got both carried, held onto someone, and got through the sand unassisted!

My brother opted to carry me which I was so grateful for, and it was hilarious listening to him struggle towards to end on the super soft sand. Although it would not have been so fun if he had dropped me!

Holding on to someone’s arm gives me a bit more stability and knowing their arm will act like a bungee cord should I fall.

Although, I promised myself one afternoon that I would walk across the beach without holding onto anyone. It took me a while, but the feeling of trusting my body to get me to where I wanted to go was super liberating!!

How I made the holiday work for me!

blue and turquoise pillows stacked on top of each other in between a mirrored door. there are two big white pillows underneath them. holiday apartments are in the background.
I always have to think on my feet. Stacking pillows like this makes it so much easier! i don’t have to bend down hardly at all!

I think it is clear now throughout my blog I like to share with people how I make things work for me and my situation.

I have already mentioned the extra help in the bathroom and sand travel department; however, I haven’t mentioned more of the things that may be something all of us do without thinking.

One of these things is the bed situation. We were lucky enough to have a three-bedroom apartment, which enabled me to choose my bed. You may be thinking, what on earth is she doing being so picky?? I am not one to bounce on beds and pick one based on firmness or lack thereof.

However, for me I have to choose the highest bed possible. My good old lack of quad strength makes this a necessity. The lower the bed the harder it is to get up out of it. Safe to say I picked the highest bed and that enabled me to get out when I wanted. Usually if it is a lower bed, I lay there and wait until I hear people up and then either call out or message someone to grab me. Fun I know!

The next thing with the bedroom is where to put all the pillows?! Usually, you would just dump them on the floor and just pick them up in the morning. Not this gal! I must be creative with how I place my pillows before bed. If I dump them on the floor, I must juggle them with my feet the next morning to get them to the best height to pick them up.

Having spinal rodding and weak back and leg muscles means picking up things off the ground is tricky. So, I had to come up with a way to stack all the pillows in a way I could reach them. So, I wedged them in a door and had the two big pillows leaning up against the wall. That meant come the morning I could just un-wedge and be done! Happy days!!!

As for the chair situation, we had bar stools, so I spent most of my time on those. It reduced the time waiting for someone to get me off a low couch, which equalled more independence.

The only thing that was tricky was the fridge. I am used to having a freezer down the bottom and the fridge at eye level. That was reversed on this holiday. This made it so much harder for me to reach the vegetable bin or things up the back since the fridge compartment was so low! I could not change that, so I just had to keep things at the front as much as possible or just ask someone to grab stuff for me. So safe to say I will be sticking with my type of fridge! You do not realise how good the set up is at home until you are away from it!

You can always learn something about yourself on holiday!

a road going down a steep hill. there concrete pathways either side of the road. the sky and ocean is in the distance which are both blue. there are also trees and a crane in the distance.
this picture does not do this hill justice. it was super impressive! Gold Coast locals will know where this is! The reward was the view once you reach the top

This now brings me to my last topic! That is what I learnt about myself while I was away. I always think you can learn something regardless of if you are in your own backyard or on a holiday.

For me this is no different. Not only did I trust myself to get onto the sand and near the water, I had to trust those around me and my equipment.

I have never been one for swimming in the ocean. For as young as I can remember the waves terrified me. Perhaps it was because me and strong waves never mixed. Combined with sand that would give out on you in the water, I was the perfect candidate for being wiped out in ankle deep water… Yes, I was that person people would laugh at landing on her backside in the water from a small wave.

So fair to say I keep my distance from the ocean. However, while we were away, the first morning we woke up and the ocean was like glass. Barely a ripple. I felt like my body was strong enough, and so I grabbed my dad and brother and said I wanted to go swimming. I had to trust them to make sure that I did not fall or get dunked if a random wave was to appear.

It was a massive trust exercise. I was anxious at the beginning but with their reassurance we stayed in the water for about 20 minutes. I was up to my stomach in water, and I probably could have floated, but did not want to risk my chances of not getting up. I guess the trust thing with others is still a work in progress… I am only human after all!

I also had to trust my dad one afternoon we went for a walk. We had done our usual route but he told me about this hill that had guaranteed amazing views of the ocean. We got to the base of it, and I said that I could not do it because it was too steep, and my battery on my scooter was losing power. I did not want to get stranded halfway up or even all the way up and not be able to get down.

After a debate, going back and forth for 5 minutes, I agreed to do it. This was only on the condition that I would kill him if it went wrong and I either rolled my scooter and my battery died.

This was again another trust exercise. We had to trust each other in different ways. He trusted that after 22 years I knew how to drive my mobility scooter well, and I had to trust him to tell me if my wheel placement was off or that he had my back should something happened. We had to work together to get the job done.

My word though was the views worth every minute of anxiety. It was gorgeous, and to see some padlocks people had engraved and locked onto the fence line made me go all googly with love.

The way down I had to again rely on dad and my own driving skills to get me down the hill. Fair to say he was impressed with my skills and patience! safe to say we made it down in one piece and i even did it again the following day!

A wrap on another great holiday.

my brother helping me get through the sand. I am blessed to have him as my brother. Even if he is a Lions Supporter.

All in all, in was another great holiday. We went to a driving range and I did not do too badly. I could have done better but hey I have not played golf since they made me in Primary School. I ate some good food and spent time with those I love.

It was amazing to have somewhere that was 90% accessible, and to have a break from life before the last month of Uni kicks off for the semester. Being independent was just the icing on the cake of a amazing time away… that is until we got home to the 9 degree weather!!!!!

I learnt more about what my body is capable of, as well as what my Scooter is capable of! There are always lessons or revelations to learn regardless of the circumstances. When you open yourself to finding those revelations and continuing to work on yourself, that is when you start Living Abled.

– Rhi

P.s did you know while i was away i did a instagram live with my american friend and fellow MD warrior Amy? go and check it out by clicking the link

Also check out my Staycay blog post that went live a few months ago for more independent inspo!

2 thoughts on “Holidays: My 4 hidden gems and why you still can learn while on holiday.”

  1. Pingback: A Day in the life- An epic holiday with a little help - Living Abled

  2. Pingback: Confidence: The Beautiful Art Of Becoming Teachable Again - Living Abled

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