Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Highlight of my return to the USA

Traveling internationally with a guide dog is tricky in terms of relief areas at airports. Almost without exception, they are outside the airport so if you are changing flights, you have to go out through security, find the relieving place and come back through security with all its fun procedures. On domestic flights, there often isn't enough time to do this and the overall flight time makes it manageable if you limit water and food before traveling. I do make a point of marking these relieving areas with GPS when I find them.

I often try to get a Service Director to take my dog on the tarmac but this only works 1 out of ten times. I did have success recently at the F gates in Chicago O'Hare where two policemen took me and Tank on the tarmac, something that hasn't happened for over 10 years.

So, why am I going to have a drink to celebrate over a dog relief issue? After my 8.5 hour flight from Geneva to Washington Dulles, I went through my normal drill and assumed I would have to go outside Dulles, not an easy
trek. I do have 3 hours so the time isn't the issue other than I can't make Tank wait until we get to Sacramento, 21 hours after he would have last been relieved.

I learned from an agent in the United Red Carpet Club about a "pet room" across from D1. I thought she was confused but sure enough, it is a dedicated pet relief area replete with a water bowl, baggies, hand sanitizer, fenced area with indoor-outdoor carpeting and even a fire hydrant. When you are finished with the room, you push a big red button and some sprinklers come on to self clean. Nothing worse than worrying if one's dog is going to have an accident or is uncomfortable. What a huge relief to know about this new facility at Dulles.

It is across from the D1 gate, near where you cross to the C Gates. There is a set of elevators right next to the doorway. A metal carpet strip crosses the hallway at the point where you turn into the room. Once I went in there
the first time, Tank made a bee-line for it when I came back to take a picture.

Please post this message far and wide. Apparently this room has been here for a year and nobody told me about it.

The things people get excited about!

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Road Report from Europe

I used to send emails about GPS experiences around the globe but have not done so in a while. I guess it feels so commonplace for me and many others, that I don't think it would be interesting, probably not something I should take for granted however.

I flew over for the SightCity conference in Frankfurt Wednesday through Friday. This was the first overseas trip for my new Seeing Eye dog, Tank and he did wonderfully. All the normal interesting technology at the exhibits. I did see one thing that was a surprise. We have used something called the Loc8tor for finding lost keys, phones, etc but this device has not been accessible. Loc8tor was at the show with a more simple and accessible locating device. I believe it is available for $99. It was 50 Euros at the show. It does not have the separation alert of the $199 model but it does allow you to establish 4 connections with the locator fobs. When you lose a device, you simple point this device and it beeps faster when pointing in the direction of the fob and it goes faster as you get closer.

Oh yes, GPS. That was very useful finding an Indian restaurant in Frankfurt. I still maintain my policy of not eating at the hotel restaurant. It came in handy figuring out the taxi situation, whether to drop off a friend first and then go to the hotel or the other way around.

It took 4 trains for me to reach this small village I am now at in Switzerland. Because of the language barrier, I really depend on the GPS to tell me how far I am from the transfer station. With only minutes to spare, the train transfer is the trickiest part of train travel. Finding the right track requires sighted assistance.

I went out for a walk in this village this morning with Tank. It is beautiful but pretty early and nobody around to ask for directions, not to mention my French is nonexistent. Managed to find my way back to my friend's house, built in 1690 by the way.

Should be fun exploring Geneva today. Going to the home of a wonderful person I met at TechShare for dinner tonight who works for the UN. Will definitely need the GPS to get there. One slightly tricky thing is entering address names with accents in them, especially if you don't know what those accents are. For example, cities like Basel and Geneva. Still haven't figured out Basel I used the point of interest database to fine the train station but entering the city name only works if you know the proper accent character.

In any event, remember it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.


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