Return to the Real World

When you come home from a vacation, you often have mixed emotions. The get-away was great, but there’s nothing like home sweet home. Right? For those of us who are visually impaired, however, there’s another layer of emotions. At the end of a vacation, such as the hen Hike or Ski for Light, it’s a return to the real world.

For 6 days, I’ve been in the company of 10 like-minded women, 5 of whom were fully sighted. These 5 women were extraordinary in that even though they were in the company of 5 blind women as well, they regarded us as like-minded women, period. Even though we may have needed an arm to hold onto as we made our way to the dining room, a description of what was on our plates, a backpack to hold onto as we hiked down the trail, and someone else to do the driving to the trail head, we had too many things in common to be divided into two separate groups.

One thing I love about this group of friends is that each and every one is an avid reader. We have similar values and varying tastes, so for one evening each Hen Hike week, we gather for what we call our book club. Each of us tells about 3 of our favorite books that we’ve read during the past year. Although we all have read many more books than 3, we limit ourselves, so we don’t keep going until 2:00 in the morning. Sometimes, we have our book club on a rainy morning, but this year the weather was perfect the whole week.

Several of the gals knit, so each time we gathered for wine and conversation, the knitting needles would come out. Bjorg, one of the original hens, is from Norway and is a consummate knitter. She didn’t bring her knitting this year but kept busy helping the newer knitters when they dropped a stitch or had to rip out a row. When one knitter started to rip out a bunch of rows, Bjorg exclaimed, You don’t have to kill it! You can just. I wont say which knitters were sighted and which were not, because frankly, it doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t add anything to this story.

All the other women are outdoorsy active types, like me, and that’s only one of many reasons why we have so much to talk about. Betty told us that one of her friends at home said, You mean you’re going to be together for a whole week? Don’t you run out of things to talk about? Are you kidding? Even as we gathered in the lobby to say goodbye, we were still yakking and cackling, like a bunch of happy hens.

I had a perfect travel day yesterday, because for the first time since I’ve been an adult traveling alone, nobody insisted that I ride in a wheelchair. Were finally making progress. I recall with a laugh the time that my sky cap assisting me to the next gate couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to use his wheelchair. I guess he thought I was carrying those hiking boots tied to my back pak for decoration. No, the truth is, he didn’t think at all. For my souvenir for this trip, I bought a Life Is Good Shirt that says, These boots were meant for walkin. I have many funny travel stories, but yesterday went so smoothly that its not worth writing about.

My reunion with my dear little Pippen was tender and joyous. My friend Tricia picked me up at the airport with Pippen in the car. Did I ever get a face-washing from a loving little lab. It was the perfect ending to a fabulous week.

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