We woke up at the ass crack of dawn, stuffed some passion fruit in our faces, and rolled swiftly down to the lobby of our hotel. We are meant to get on a bus at 7:20 AM and it's 7:13. We ignored the concierge's warnings that we won't make it and rolled right toward the glass doors that separated us from the bustling streets of Sydney. Julio, our skateboarding camera man, booked all the hotels with points he had accumulated from work travel (once again, Jules is making us look bad). The hotel he booked for us here is swanky. So swanky, that they keep their glass doors invisibly clean. We regret to inform you that Madeline did not see the glass doors in the glistening sun and rolled right into them with full force. Roxy had nothing to do but laugh as she breezed on through the automatic opening doors to her right. That'll wake you up.
We made it to the bus at 7:19 AM and rolled up the ramp they lied down for our wheels. Madeline followed closely behind Roxy, pushing back great anxiety she had about being told her rollerblades weren't allowed on a moving vehicle. It was too early to engage in an argument that would start like this: "do you even know who we are?!" and end with this: "GLOBEROLLERS! Look it up, girl!" To our dismay, no one said a word about acceptable vs. unacceptable wheels. America, you've got things to learn.
Today's excursion was in The Blue Mountains. This included Scenic World, the steepest train in the world, a roll through the rainforest, Echo Point, and a cuddle fest with koalas and kangaroos at a wildlife reserve.
All we thought we had signed up for were koala and kangaroo cuddles so we were alarmed to wake up on the bus 2 hours later to find ourselves at Scenic World. As we rolled off the bus, our driver told us there were three rides: a cable car, a skyway, and a railway. He enlightened us to the disenlightened idea that we would only be able to do the cable car and skyway because the railway was not suitable for wheelchair users. We enlightened him to the brilliant idea that now we must do the railway and rolled away as he fumbled to find the words to convince us otherwise.
We hopped on the cable car and were taken down to the epicenter of the rides. All rides took us over and/or through the gorgeous landscapes The Blue Mountains have to offer. A young girl named Izzy approached us with buckets of energy, explaining how she would be tagging along to help us skip lines and get free shit. The wheelchair card got us some VIP treatment. She also suggested we skip the railway and we demanded that she take us there right away. What is this forbidden railway that you speak of?
Izzy was nuts. Just nuts enough to facilitate us in our shenanigans. As we made our way to the railway, she warned us that this is the steepest train in the world and that we would be descending on an almost vertical slope. The plan was to leave Roxy's wheelchair at the entrance of the ride and take a round trip on the train, meeting those wheels right where we left them. Izzy chirped, "this is it" as we approached an enormous set of stairs. We looked at each other, Izzy, and the stairs, harmonizing in a giant "waaaaiiiiiitttttt". We love ourselves a challenge. But only when it is presented to us as something we cannot do. Izzy however, led us right into a death trap and was entirely too confident in our abilities. We were about to turn back and say that the ride wasn't worth the hassle when the train conductor looked up at us from below and said, "sorry there's no way to get you down here". THAT was the challenge we needed.
Madeline grabbed the front of Roxy's wheelchair as Jules grabbed onto the back. Izzy looked down at Madeline's rollerblades and asked sarcastically, "do those give you extra stability when lifting?" No. They do not.
One by one we slumped down the stairs. All the while, Roxy held intense eye contact with the train conductor whilst Madeline's legs turned to jelly. At the bottom, a roar of applause echoed through the railway chambers and the people of Bulgaria lifted us above their heads.
Izzy presented a lawn chair to Roxy, gesturing implications that this would be her new throne while we wait for the train. We asked why over and over until Izzy realized how bizarre her suggestion was. Or maybe she just gave up on it. Izzy was in an entirely different universe.
In came the train and down came our jaws. This girl chugalugged into the station on a completely vertical slant. She contained no seat belts and no safety precautions were given. She beckoned Roxy to leave her wheelchair in the unpredictable hands of Izzy and join her in this death wish. We all piled in and held onto anything we could. This included the seat in front of us, the ceiling, and Roxy's reckless legs.
The train left the station and dropped directly down into the rainforest. Roxy's upper body jetted forward as Jules and Madeline grabbed on to keep their Globeroller in an upright position. We screamed and laughed and cried and hung on for dear life. When reached the bottom we pleaded to be released from this nightmare, but alas, Roxy's wheelchair was calling our names from up yonder. Round 2 was doing the same damn thing but backwards. At the top Izzy grabbed Roxy's chair, rolled her over toward us, and asked us "wanna have another go?" No Izzy. That's enough.
Izzy suggested we then go on an accessible, pleasant stroll down a "walking" path in the rainforest. She got us to the path, and waved us goodbye and good luck. We wondered why Izzy did not want to continue on with us as we wandered down the brown wooden planked path toward nowhere. Roxy lifted her small front wheels to gain momentum and avoid the bumps as she steered. Madeline picked up speed by pushing forward, desperately clinging on to branches and vines whenever an out of place wooden plank would thrust her off course. And Jules was forced to skateboard along with us, and scolded whenever he was caught off his wheels. Our new motto is: we are the Globerollers. We roll the globe. One by choice. The other, by fate. And the third by force.
Thirty minutes later we reached a dead end. There was a modest gazebo with a wooden railing suitable for a honeymoon picture. It was only after the rainforest honeymoon photo shoot when we realized that thirty minutes of downhill means an unrealistic amount of uphill. The the bus leaves in 20 minutes. Roxy and I put our backs into it as we pushed and crept and panted and cursed our way upward. At the end of all that, we had only gone about 15 feet. Note to self: every downhill adventure into the rainforest comes at an unspeakable price. Roxy begged Jules to push her, while Madeline begged him to skateboard and feel the pain. In the end, Madeline ended up holding the skateboard while Jules pushed and Roxy did the wave. Now we know why Izzy ditched us...
We made it to the top all gasping for air. The bus was meant to leave in 2 minutes. We all raced to the parking lot and right as we were approaching the lobby doors, Roxy decided it was milkshake time. She stopped at the cafe counter to order as Jules ran to the bathroom to pee, and Madeline watched this all in horror. Madeline tried to remain calm. She convinced herself that the bus wouldn't leave without the Globerollers. We're kind of a big deal.
When the milkshake was bought and the pee was peed, we all raced out to the parking lot only to see our bus driving away. It was 4 minutes after the departure time. We huffed into Blue Mountain's customer service and the woman at the desk said, "you all are lost!" We asked how she knew that and she said the bus driver just called and said he left behind one rollerblader, one skateboarder, and one wheelchairer. He was on our way back for us. We all assumed the bus driver had read the blog and knew rule #1: no Globeroller gets left behind.
We were picked up 10 minutes later and brought to the next pit stop where the rest of the group was: Echo Point. A few selfies later we were off to the wildlife reserve.
2 hours later we wake up at the reserve. As we stumble off the bus a tour guide marvels at our wheels. He then looks at Madeline's blades and tells us they won't be allowed inside. We look at his sneakers and then reply, "you don't decide that".
The trick to wheel acceptance is confidence. Let people marvel at your glide, not question it. Make them envy your speed, not forbid it. We rolled right by the front desk and in to scout out kangaroos and koalas. Madeline would occasionally look at an authority figure along the way and whisper to Roxy "quick! Hide my wheels!" Roxy's quick and final response was, "never hide your wheels" as she rolled along with her nose pointed up.
The koalas, kangaroos, and countless other beautiful species we encountered at the wildlife reserve were breathtaking. This blog post has already been long enough so to save us the thousand words, here are the pictures.