Jacquie and I, and of course Miss Lily were on the last leg of a long road trip from our home in Kelowna to Cold Lake, Alberta and back. We spent a week there visiting our grandchildren. We had planned to spend 4 days in Salmon Arm before heading to Kelowna. Time needed to unwind and recover from “Road Bounce”. An affliction suffered by RV’ers who have to travel the back roads of Alberta. We love Alberta but the hard winter frost heaves sure does a number on some of the roads. I don’t believe in coincidence; everything we experience in our lives seems to happen for a reason.
We stopped at the Save-On-Foods store in Salmon Arm to pick up supplies before we got to our site at the Salmon Arm Campground and RV resort (SACR). I had the shopping cart at full speed when I came around a corner and almost ran down a couple walking arm in arm coming out of an aisle. “Kaye, Wayne” I enthusiastically exclaimed. I had just greeted a couple we had met the year before at the campground we were heading to. They said they were camping there again this year. “Great, let’s get together later and have a good old fireside chat”. Now meeting someone you met briefly a year ago is not so unusual, the real story is this extraordinary couple.
Last year we were camped at the SACR when a couple pulled up to the campsite next to us and just parked on the road in front of their site. A few minutes later, the campground host came to our site and asked me if I could back their rig in for them. They had just changed RV’s, sold their truck camper and bought an 18 foot 5th wheel trailer. They were experiencing the typical stresses and fears of having to back up their new trailer. I got in their truck and Wayne got in the passenger side and said he wanted to get some tips on how to back this thing up. “No problem” I said, I backed the rig into position and described everything I was doing in detail. Wayne said this information was great and he would help Kaye the next time she had to back up the trailer. We got out of the truck and Kay and Wayne complimented me on my skill at acing the parking. I was very proud of myself and felt like a superhero. We chatted as I helped get the dollies down and hook up the services. Then it hit me and I felt just a little sheepish. I watched Wayne get his rig set up, after all he was a veteran camper, and only the trailer was new and different. What I hadn’t noticed throughout this entire time was that, Wayne was totally blind. He sat beside me in the truck absorbing every detail and this man could not see a thing. I was blown away. So here we are a year later. I know now why we met them again; their story was important and needed to be told. A story dedicated to all disabled persons.
Kaye and Wayne Cropper are the poster children of those that enjoy their RV and the great outdoors while coping with their disabilities.
Kaye has solved the lack of storage space in their trailer. She reconfigured their hanging closet by using 2 rows of 1 foot square boxes. They are laid on their side with the clothes neatly stacked and organized. This setup is great because you can identify every item because all are visible and not buried under each other as in a typical drawer.
She has a blue colored Flipfolder, so all of the items are folded to the exact same size and stack neatly in the boxes. They have a his and her side. Wayne takes care of his own clothing so he knows where everything is. He said he has ordered special labels for the blind that can be sewn onto a garment label. In the picture below he is holding a technical aid that is called a “Pen Friend”. This tool allows him to transfer information about any item to the label on the item. Using the Pen Friend, he can retrieve the description of the clothing, such as color and style. The Pen Friend will dictate back to him the information through a built in speaker. No more clown outfits here
His Pen Friend also allows him to play Sudoku. Kaye has invented a white board that she puts labels on. The information she puts on these can be read back to Wayne using the Pen Friend.
Another tool Wayne uses is his “Parrot Voice Mate” shown above. This tool has the following functions PHONE, BOOK, MEMO, APPOINTMENT, CLOCK, CALCULATOR & PHONE DIALING ASSISTANCE. It was specifically designed to aid the blind. Unfortunately it was discontinued in 2006. He is looking for a replacement for the voice mate, they don’t last forever. The latest cell phones now have most of these functions but not all.
He also has a liquid level indicator. This device buzzes and vibrates when any liquid, hot or cold touches its metal probes. Next to this is his watch, it can tell him the time at the push of a button.
Kaye handles the washing with her “Technosonic” 110 volt portable washing machine. The dryer is a portable clothes rack with Mother Nature providing the energy. When finished, the washer’s enclosed motor and laundry soaps all fit inside the 5 gallon laundry tub, close the lid and store wherever.
This article has been somewhat of a departure from my previous submissions. I hope you have enjoyed learning just a small part of the incredible abilities the handicapped have. My wife Jacquie struggles with a walker and electric scooter to get around, so we are well aware of the effort it takes to enjoy the outdoors.
Please respect this sign when you see it and leave the parking space for those that need it.
My sincere thanks to Kaye and Wayne Cropper for this article. We both now have new friends. You can contact them for more information or just to say hi.