Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Day 1: Mexico Cruise on Dawn Princess

First, a nice casual breakfast in the dining room. Then a meeting of our group at 10:30. Diana and Andi arranged for us to meet the other members of our group. In total there were about sixty persons consisting of 22 blind and visually impaired, nineteen guide dogs, and the remaining being family and friends. There were a couple of surprise reacquaintenances for me. The biggest surprise was to literally run into Tom and his guide Kola. I had met Tom in Dublin, Ireland last year when I was there with the WayFun group. Kola is the first Irish Guide dog to be allowed into the United States. His wife Briege was with him to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Briege also has a guide dog but they did not bring her. The other surprise was Ayaka and her guide Pablo. Ayaka and I originally met at the LightHouse of Marin a few years ago. I have mentioned a couple of others that we met at dinner last night. The rest will be mentioned as we encounter them along the way.

I will, however, mention at this point that there were three Judy’s in the group. Good thing their dogs did not have the same names. The first I would like to mention was Judy with guide Purdy. She and Purdy have been on over twenty cruises together including the crossing of the Atlantic, and visits to St. Petersburg, Russia and to Turkey.

The ship anchored in Avalon harbor, off Santa Catalina Island at 13:00. McCall and I chose to take a tour of the island, including a stop for a walk (nonguided) of the Botanical Gardens. This was my first opportunity to fire up the Braille Note GPS.I marked the dock where the tenders unloaded us. I later learned that this was valuable, as the tour ended in the main town of Avalon, a little over a quarter of a mile away.

Don and Katherine and her guide Cypress also chose to take this tour. They live near the Oregon campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind where she got Cypress. While we were in the Botanical Gardens I demonstrated the Braille Note and GPS system to Katherine. As is often the case with older persons, she had expressed a concern that it would be too complicated for her to learn, as she had tried a computer and just could not get the hang of it. She was quite surprised how easy it was to operate and in less than 15 minutes asked where she could get one.

The tour ended in town where McCall and I befriended two sisters, Diana and Joanie, who were on the cruise, but not part of our group. The four of us navigated our way into several shops and bought various souvenirs. They had some maps that they would have stamped in several of the shops while I would mark the shops as pois. I checked the route back to the ship with the GPS and the three of us and McCall walked back.

Before dinner Rod and I were given a letter to inform us that we had new table assignments for dinner. We both were assigned to a large round table of eight. The eight persons consisted of Rod and I, and our guides Justice and McCall; Don and his wife Katherine and her guide Cypress; and two couples; Steve and Nanette and Dennis and Judy. The two couples had been on a previous cruise to Alaska with Guide Dogs and were friends of Jim and Vicky and her guide Freida, who did not come on this trip because they were in the process of moving to Hawaii.

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