Tag Archives: autism travel

Our Route Plan Through Eastern Canada

The 9 sections of our route in eastern Canada (see below) all packed into one neat little photo.

Average milage is 1,100m per week – which may be ambitious going from past experience…. but the past experience has always included problems that I hope we won’t have on this journey!

Newfoundland will be place where we make up time as the plan is to stay no longer than 3 weeks, giving us extra time else where to do some back country roads.

Thankfully wild camping is common in most areas, however, it’s mostly done with RVs so we may have an interesting time finding locations suitable for a tent!
An interesting fact: Nova Scotia is a major blueberry exporter and from middle to late august various towns will be holding a blueberry festival which we hope to hook into for Sofia’s birthday on the 18th.

We are riding to raise awareness for autism please make a donation (Virgin Money Giving or Paypal links in the left column under menu)

 

 

 

It’s Personal Development for Both of Us

I’ve spoken quite a bit about preparing Sofia for #Canada, and we have some great clearly marked objectives. We may only achieve them in part, but it will still be a big success for her.

Critical to this is going to be me. In the past travelling as been a survival effort for me. The critical aspect being getting her out & about & encouraging her to ‘see’ the wider world, to destress & if she learns a new skill or makes a development step then mission achieved & it was all worth it.

This year is different. This year my own mental attitude is going to be a model for her main goal on this trip which is to find the present moment of ‘doing’.

So in the coming 3 months (eek! It’s a little less now!) I will be pracitising being in my own zen & fortifying it as much as possible. This is not easy after 13 years of constant high stress & being entirely focused on her needs, but possible now she is at residential school so we are both now more independent of each other.

Sofia is very ready right now to develop this scaffolding for self management evidenced by her increasing awareness of her world. This year on the bike she is aware of vulnerability for the first time & expressed nervousness about going down hills. She is also starting to show signs of reflective thought/self talk. She was zero out of 10 at Christmas, she is now 1 out of 10. This is a huge step forward & now there is a crack in the door I want to fill it with the most powerful strategy I know that will protect her from mental illness in the future.

Please donate to help us raise autism awareness (£10 = 100miles) 

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The Battle of The Tents

Tents have been a thorn in our side since we started travelling.

We went through Africa with a cheap dome tent that was heavy & we didn’t use it much so I dumped it in Zimbabwe and picked up light throw away ‘made in China’.

Then we went through Europe with a super light 2 man Vaude tent which was too cramped and Sofia especially struggled with this which meant the battle was on to camp – we did camp, but not as much as I would have liked due to the added stress on both of us. I love the tent though. It is easy packing and setting up, and one I (or hopefully Sofia) will use as a solo #traveller.

After that trip I discovered the perfect tent someone was using at the annual Overland Event. An Exped super light tunnel the only problem was that Exped had stopped production 15yrs ago and refused to sell me a spare.

All hope lost I got a cheap 3 man last year that at least gave enough bearable space for Sofia, only it is heavy (7kgs) and fills an entire pannier, so now we have a packing space issue. Otherwise a good tent that didn’t spark any major issues with Sofia so a big thumbs up on that front.

Canada, however, has to be a purely #campingtrip due to costs but now we have a lack of packing space, & at best there is no room for food negating one of the cost benefits of camping.

So today I started looking at tents again not thinking a solution was out there with only a year since last looking, when Vaude popped up with a super light (4.2kg) 3 man tent with standing room porch.

I can’t begin to describe the relief at finally finding a suitable tent. It’s like a weight of stress off my shoulders knowing that Sofia, who has been amazingly good considering her own battles, will finally have a tent that she will like and be #happy enough to stay in night after night or in wet weather hold ups, whilst meeting our packing needs.

The tent is £419 on sale, so we need your help! Please could you sponsor our tent with a donation (every penny helps!) – we would both really appreciate it!

Please donate to help us raise awareness for autism.

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Vaude comes up trumps for two up camping! We love this tent.

 

 

Canada Preparations

Canada preping on #Dartmoor ride. Ride – walk 2 hrs – then ride a distance.
Lesson learnt- not a good plan walking 2 hrs with biker trousers and boots! Not helped by me trying a kit variation involving keeping lining in making the trousers heavy to walk in. It was a good ride though, Dartmoor is stunning.

A big part of our #Canada trip is to slow down and ‘do’ more. Sofia really struggles with the concept of ‘doing’ and it triggers her pathological demand avoidance (#PDA) which is part of her #autism profile – this effectively means she refuses to ‘do’ that which she percieves is expected of her which is felt intensely and must be fought against and/or reinterpreted to her own liking. It is an anxiety state. From the outside this is often percieved by others as laziness, but actually it is anxiety driven.

Yet for her living in the future (aka in a state of anxiety) is more ‘relaxing’ than living in the present moment she tells me. A miss conception I hope to help her resolve in #Canada & hope in turn it will help her manage her PDA and enable her to do more. Because the frustrating thing for her is that it is not that she doesn’t want to go for a walk for example or draw the picture somone has asked her to, but she doesn’t understand why she can’t let herself ‘do’ these things.

How do I get her to do as much as she does with PDA? Constant negotiation and a huge amount of planning to ensure negotiations are successful. I don’t sweat the small stuff either, thats where the really big resistance is – in big stuff like travelling there is a fate à complis and serves as a distraction so small stuff can enter through the back door of her mind.

 

Please help us with a donation via our website (£10 =100miles) to raise #autismawareness

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Schools, Sunshine and Scotland

The tension and pressure of the court hearing for Sofia’s school placement reached its pitch on the 25th June where the hearing turned into a non-event.  The Local Authority really hadn’t prepared a case and by the time they had realised that there was a case to answer, it was too late for them and eventually they conceded that Sofia would start at the school of our choice in September but as yet have not conceeded that she needs a residential placement and we are now waiting for the judge’s decision (yes still!)

All the time the sun has roared above since our return from Dubai and as the weeks have ticked by my feet became increasingly itchy and it seems mine weren’t the only ones.  Sofia, who has been generally negative about biking this year, was only to happy to jump on the bike and head up to Scotland with only a few days notice.

If only it was to be so easy.

The only thing that the bike really needed was a new battery.  I had no idea there was such a thing as a dud battery, but now I do.  So at the last-minute I was phoning around to find a new one, and racing off to get it, praying is wasn’t another dud.  This put a kink in our plans time wise and time had suddenly become important on this trip the day before setting off.  Leaving on the Saturday, we had to be back by the following Sunday so Sofia could spend time at her new school on Monday to help her mentally prepare becoming a student there (the transition).

We set off on Saturday half a day late and stopped by Mick the mechanic on our way north for a chain check and the leaky fork seal to be fixed and then pushed on for another couple of hours, stopping the night in a field just next to the Peak District.  Wonderful to think we would be driving through in the morning, this trip was looking good already and I was glad for our minor delay.

Until the next morning, when I discover the adaptor for the bike to charge the phone wasn’t working.  So the morning was instead spent finding a garage, and waiting for the phone (which was now only 2% charged) to give us enough charge to find our next stop.   We didn’t hit the road until midday, by which point there was only one thing left to do, ride directly to our destination for the night, counsins’ who live in the Boarders of Scotland.

It had been a long time since I last saw them and it was lovely to reconnect and catch up and Sofia got to make a new friend (a cousin 3 times removed perhaps?  I’m still not 100% on the nomenclature of cousins, but effectively my cousin’s, wife’s niece) who had exactly the same interests as Sofia it was no nice to see her hitting it off with someone so well, it really doesn’t happen often, certainly not to that degree!

We spent some time pouring over maps and it became clear that a full trip may not be possible in the time frame.  What I was certain of was that I didn’t want to race around anymore and already it was starting to feel that way with the big push up to Scotland that day seeing nothing along the way.

So we set off Monday with a carefree attitude of what will be will be, but to start heading south again on Wednesday, and to meet up with a group of lady adventurers on the Saturday camping in the Yorshire Dales.  This Monday night though, we were meeting up with Salla.

We met Salla last year at a bike meet in Estonia.  She was part of a Finnish contingent who we hung out with.  She was now touring the UK and had stayed with us several weeks before on her way to Ireland.  Now we were going to meet up in Scotland for a night of wild camping before parting ways once more.

It was such a lovely day of driving.  No rush, no big decisions, just wonderful weather, wonderful roads and wonderful scenery.   We met with Salla, and as happens with the universe is agreeing with your actions, we found the perfect wild camping spot next to a river in about 10 minutes!  Finding wild camping spots are usually a lot more challenging.  After setting up camp Salla and Sofia went for a wild swim in the lovely warm water of the river whilst I went through the discovery of realising that my wonderful Optimus cooking stove was not going to work and the spare part I needed wasn’t in the spare parts pack!    Why was this important?  Haggis of course!

Yes, I decided that we should cook a Scottish bonanza that night and had bought a small haggis earlier in the day.

Thankfully Salla had her kit and in the late evening sunshine we watched eagerly as the pot steamed wanting to see the results.  I was warned by the butcher that the bag would pop if it was too hot for too long, but simmering is a subjective measurement we discovered, and sure enough the bag had popped!   we were too hungry to care, and most of the haggis still in its bag seemed fine.  We woofed it down.  Not the best haggis I’ve had, but glad we gave it a go, and glad Sofia tried some too.

Tuesday morning, the sun high in the sky once more, we headed North to see how far we would get.  Inverness it would seem.   I had run out of chain oil and needed to get some as well as getting the chain tightened (again! – we riding heavy it seems :D)  Whilst this was taking place the phone, the centre of navigation and communication, was dropped, never to rise again.

I can’t tell you the pain I went through to reach a decision!   There we were, in Scotland and the sun was shining!  But the bottom line was, despite a group of guys who were also on a riding visit tempting me with news of the amazing roads they had been riding, I would not enjoy Scotland if I tried to stay without automated navigation, not with a deadline to be home by Sunday night.

So that afternoon we headed south again.  It was hard going when it was hot, but as the air cooled in the late evening, with no traffic and the Northumberland NP for scenery, I have to say it was not a wasted day at all.  We stopped in Newcastle for the night and the following day we were home by late afternoon.  It was almost like we had woken up from a dream.  Such good memories in such a short space of time so far away.

I’m already planning a return trip at the end of July early August – hopefully the weather will be with us again!

 

We travel and I publish our travel experience on Social Media to help raise awareness for Autism, please could you help us continue this effort by making a small donation – Thank you:  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498