On Sunday, April 22nd we went to Stone Mountain Park. We packed a lunch in a cooler and were on our way. The drive was about 40 minutes long, and it was a really hot day. When we got there we found a disabled parking space near the entrance and got everything ready for the day.
We didn’t have a long wait at all in the line at the entrence, and once we got our tickets and bracelets for the park we decided to take a ride on the train. It has a lot of open cars with seats for passengers and it goes around the the mountain. We had to wait for about 20 minutes before the next train came, so we waited in the shade by some benches. Once the train came we were told to go through the exit. Of course this meant going against the flow of people getting off the train, but once we were halfway to the train we figured out why. The width of the space where people entered the train platform was just way too narrow for a wheelchair. After waiting for some people to come down the ramp and the exit we waited at the very last car of the train. This one had a wheelchair lift! The guy who worked on the train was very good and chatted as he operated the lift. Sophie likes riding them, maybe it’s because for once she is the height of a person and can see a lot more!
There was a lot of space for wheelchair users in the back of this car and a bench for anyone who went with them so they wouldn’t have to be split up. I noticed that there was spaces on the floor for tie downs, but they weren’t used. It’s not like they needed to be. The train rattled and rumbled a lot over the tracks, but it was suprisingly smooth when starting and stopping! The train stopped for a bit of a show called “Dueling Wagons”, and there was a recording about the history of the trains and music. We also stopped at another station where you could get off and hike the trails on the mountian. I decided not to do this, but if I had a One-Off handcycle I would have totally did it! (You can click on the link to watch a video of these handcycles in action). When we got back to the main station Sophie jumped off the wheelchair lift when it touched the ground. She decided that she didn’t want to wait for the front of the lift to fold down first. She just stepped over it!
We went up a hill and sat in front of the carving on the side of the mountain and and ate our lunch. It said “slight incline” on the map, but believe me, it was a “hill”! They have lazer light shows there on Saturday nights. Then we went to the musume. It was nice and cool inside, and we watched a short 11 minute movie about the carving on the mountain. The most annoying thing was that when sitting in the wheelchair space the speakers were set up in a way that if you sat on the left side you could only hear the movie in your right ear! (This kind of sucks slightly when you already can’t see the movie!) I moved all the way over to the right and it was much better.
The gift stores were a bit crowded with both shelves and people, but for the most part I could get around and we ended up buying two t-shirts. Then we deicded to take the Sky Ride up to the top of the mountian. We went through a very crowded gift store and lined up. By this time I was in the very early stages of AD (Autonomic Dysreflexia). The older lady who operated that car was very helpful (a bit overly helpful actually), but still nice. She got out the ramp and put it accross the gap that was between the platform and car. It was weird because it was still pretty flat but as I wheeled off of it the metal ramp made a huge noise! The ride up the mountain was pretty cool, knowing we were dangling hundreds of feet in the air by a cable! Sophie didn’t mind it at all. When we got off a young girl had gotten her arm stuck between the railing and window though. I guess they got her arm out once we were off. Her father was trying to pull it out and she was crying, but the lady who worked there was trying to get him to calm down and she would do it. I think he freaked the kid out more than the fact that her arm was caught!
When we got to the top while I was waiting for Julian to come out fo the washroom a security guard who was working there came up to me and asked if I wanted to get out (I’m not a dog!), and after telling her no I was sure I didn’t want to go out and I was just waiting for someone she started talking to someone else. Julian came out and it was my turn to go to the bathroom. I had taken my sandles off while we were eating because my feet were swollen and I had to try my best not to let my feet touch the icky bathroom floor! As I transfered I also realized that the backpack on the back of my wheelchair caused it to tip backwards. Luckily Sophie had this under control because it was attached to her colar. On my way out, some pre-teen walked into me after I opened the door. She just stood there while I was holding the door open and then proceeded to squeeze her way past us. She has to squeeze between Sophie and the wall to get in because it was a really tight space! Why didn’t she just back up and wait the extra few seconds it would have taken us to get past?! I swear I feel so invisible sometimes! Julian said she was listening to music with earbuds so she obviously wasn’t paying much attention!
We went outside on a few of the lookout areas. They were all very hot with the sun blazing down on us. There was a ramp on two of the three platforms to go out onto the rocks. When we went out onto the last the same security guard stopped us in the restraunt and was in a bit of a panic telling us that the disabled button to open the d oors was broken. Julian had to repeat that we knew about three times before she let us go through. (It was the button for hte doors we used to get inside the building). This time there was a shady area where we gave Sophie some ice and viewing thing ate Julian’s quarter without actually letting him “view” anything!
I noticed that while I was on the mountian I was dizzy and it felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen when I was breathing. I wasn’t to the point of passing out or anything, but I felt like I had to breathe more deeply than I could to get the same amount of air in my lungs as I needed. We totally skipped the line getting into the Sky ride to go back down the mountain, and on the way down we were right up in front. Sophie laid on the floor and waited until we reached the bottom. I wonder if she realized where we were?
We had planned on going on the river boat, but by then I wasn’t feeling so great with all the heat and things, so we decided to skip that part and come back later. I waited near some benches while Julian walked to the other parking lot to get the car. It was slightly amusing when the tram that took people to the river boat showed up and stopped right next to me while he was gone! I was sitting at the stop for it! We could have gotten a ride right to it! They also had an accessible part with a ramp on it. I thought this was pretty cool. Apparently the duck rides (vehicles that can drive on land and water) are also accessible, but we didn’t ride them. Julian came by as the tram was getting ready to leave and we packed up the car and drove around to the camp sites. We are planning on maybe going camping there this summer because they have accessible sites.
It’s really nice there. If your ever around Stone Mountain, you should go check it out. Overall it’s very accessible!