Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

No Barriers, Dolomiti, Exploring the Northeastern hills of Italy

The No Barriers event features world class mountain climbers who happen to be blind and disabled sharing their skills and attitudes with others. I was invited to show how GPS navigation takes away some navigation barriers, helping blind people to hike and explore the Italian Dolomites.

Flying with a GPS unit running gives one almost as much contact with the ground as one gets when driving. Out of San Francisco, we headed for Frankfort Germany via Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Canada, Greenland and more, with a heading of 33 to 40 degrees North. When you hear names like Joe's Towing in Garden Valley, Idaho, or the LDS Church. One gets a sense of the real people you are flying over. They are not so anonymous. I wonder what the farmer in his field thinks as a jet passes far above him. Does he know I am wondering about him too?

We flew 25 miles away from Cascade Idaho where I did a presentation last year and coincidentally, over Cascade Montana as well. Macintosh Insurance in Boise gave way to places in Montana like Goat Creek, Deer Creek. Lots of mines and wells out there too.

The first leg of the trip from SF to Frankfort took 10 hours although once in the Frankfort airport the next day, it seemed like it happened only in the blink of an eye.

On the next leg from Frankfort to Venice, the city names and places below us became unrecognizable let alone pronounceable, first in Germany and then into Italy. I have never used the GPS in Italy before so I was pleased to find an address match for our hotel in Venice as well as in Cortina, 79 miles Northeast and much higher in altitude.

The drive from Venice to Cortina took a couple hours, very windy roads with stunning valley and mountain peak views on the second half of the journey. We passed through several small villages before we reached Cortina D’Apezzo at 1300 metres.

Mike exploring around, stopping long enough to pose for a picture in front of a mountain range in Cortina

We took no time to succumb to jet lag, taking a shower and hitting the streets right away. This quaint town is full of bike paths, pedestrian streets and many shops and restaurants. There is lots of history of course with Italian and Austrian influences. At any point, we could stop and look up to see one of dozens of mountain peaks surrounding Cortina.

We hooked up with some of the other No Barriers participants for dinner, a high school student from Greenwich CT, Andrew Johnson and his uncle. That is always the best part of an adventure like this. The people make the places!

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