First, I need to make clear that as a Jersey Girl (OK, I was born in Brooklyn so I’m a Brooklyn Girl too!) there is very little that can keep me away from the Shore, summer or winter. So, it is understandable that after spending so much time nursing my broken foot on the couch, I would soon start craving the sea.
One of our favorite places to go is Ocean Grove. The drive is short and traffic-free and the boardwalk is long, mostly smooth, and mostly quiet enough to hear the surf and the seagulls. Follow it long enough, you cross into historic Asbury Park, whose rebuilt-after-Hurricane-Sandy boardwalk is replete with shops and eateries. Go the other direction, and you are soon in Bradley Beach, another long stretch of smooth, rebuilt boardwalk. It is an excellent way to get in those thousands of steps to satisfy our step trackers.
We sometimes go around sunset to enjoy the changes in the sky, watch the moon rise over the ocean and take in the view of the Victorian homes as they light up for evening. Other times, we go in the daytime, spend some time on the sand, catch rays walking on the boardwalk, and stop for ice cream at Nagle’s. Easy, enjoyable walking.
Since having my mobility assisted by the knee scooter, I have become keenly aware of how many places are inaccessible, in a practical way. Sure, there may be a curb cut or a ramp, but some are dangerously sloped, others have cracks and holes. Sidewalks are full of sections lifted up by tree roots just waiting for you to slam into unexpectedly. I am lucky enough to be able to step off the knee scooter and lift it over such obstacles, but I have become aware that many who have mobility issues will not be able to navigate their wheelchair, walker or crutches over these things.
I’ve been to stores that have weather strips across their doorways that prevent smooth rolling into the establishment. I’ve been in elevators that do not have enough room to turn around in so I can get out facing forward. Again, I am able to drag the scooter around, and may even be working my arm muscles, but many people cannot.
Knowing this, I was very careful on the old sidewalks of Ocean Grove. Tree roots, broken cement, overhanging bushes and broken curbing all required my attention. When we finally got to the end of the street and crossed over to where the boardwalk was, I figured I was home free. One more ramp up to the boardwalk, and then smooth sailing.
I could not have been more wrong. I took my eyes off the ground to look at the ocean. I turned to smile at the Love of My Life. I hit a lifted piece of concrete in the middle of the ramp and my scooter pitched me off like a bucking bronco. My right shoulder, wrist and hip hit the sidewalk, and like a trained stunt woman, I immediately rolled over until I was flat on my back, arms outstretched, looking at the sky.
People came running from all over. Someone picked up the scooter, and the piece of brake handle that had broken off. Another grabbed my bag that had flown away. The Love of My Life bent down, and with his first aid training kicking in, he asked me to check all the parts of my body for injury before standing up. Then, two people help me get back up.
Luckily, I was not bleeding anywhere, wasn’t feeling any pain – although in the back of my mind I was already thinking, “this is going to hurt somewhere tomorrow.”
I was aware that my acrobatics had drawn attention from both directions on the boardwalk. I waved like a Nascar driver walking away from a crash. I was pleased to find out that, at my age, I can still bounce pretty well. The last thing I wanted was to have a police report issued somewhere saying “elderly woman breaks hip on Ocean Grove boardwalk.” And I suppose the last thing Ocean Grove wanted to hear was “elderly woman sues for damages because of faulty handicap ramp.” Although now that I think of it, I really should send them this so they know. And I’m wondering, do I need to file a police report for the damage to the scooter? Or will I be charged with leaving the scene of an accident?
In any event, I am still booted and scootered, so the adventures continue.