On our second attempt, we made it all the way there. I waved the handicapped placard at the people directing traffic, and they waved us down to the handicapped parking. The non-handicapped people were parking up on the grass above the farther parking lots. Mom let me out in front of the Visitors' Center. One of the people directing traffic there pushed my wheelchair up to the Will Call table, and I picked up our tickets. I saw Mom circling around a couple of times, and got worried, but she found a space.
I didn't expect we'd get a scooter. Surprisingly, there were several there. The girl volunteering at the scooter and wheelchair area said that the Garden had closed to day visitors at 6:00 p.m.. so several scooters had just come back. All those people parked in the parking lots and grass were there for the fireworks and fountains. It had sold out a couple of hours after we called for tickets.
I got my scooter-driving lessons, then we headed off to the Main Conservatory. The scooter seemed painfully slow going uphill, so I dialed it up to near maximum speed. I quickly outpaced Mom, who started yelling for me to slow down. We headed directly into the Main Conservatory. (http://www.longwoodgardens.org/docs/MapIndoor2009.pdf) I made a round around it. Cannas seemed to be the theme flower. They had those huge hanging baskets of fuchias, too -- three feet across and four feet long or more.
I drove through the indoor Garden Path, then the Exhibit Hall, and headed out to see the water lilies. I circled around the water lily pools several times. There were lotuses and cannas in bloom, as well as a number of other water-loving flowers and plants, and those that grow on pond margins. Mom sat down on a bench by the central pond, the one with the water lilies with the leaves that are three feet across.
We headed back through the Conservatory, and Mom sat down on another bench. I circled around the East Conservatory. Cannas were a theme there, too. After seeing all the fountains and waterfalls, I decided to head to the restroom. The door was really pretty narrow. I suppose we should have brought the walker with us, but Mom and I wrapped our arms around each other's waists, and somehow manuevered me into the handicapped stall. Once I got to the part with the bars, I was fine. Then I could swing with my hands instead of just hopping. We decided that that restroom wasn't as handicapped-accessible as advertised.
We went out to the terrace outside the Main Conservatory at 8:00 to get seats for fireworks. The show was scheduled to start at 9:15. I tried to reverse the scooter into a place by a bench. A mentally disabled young woman helped me back the scooter into the space. She was calling out direction and then trying to pull the scooter back manually. The reverse speed on the machine was extremely slow to non-existent, though I guess it was safer that way. I told the young woman not to hurt herself tugging on the scooter. She was really pretty sweet. "What are friends for?" she asked.
We ended up near the seating on the left side of the terrace as you face the fountains, and mostly behind a big tree. I could see the very tops of the fountains when the jets of water were up high, but I'd seen the fountains with colored lights many times before. I could see the fireworks through the tree branches, and they were awesome. Mom sang along to the Beatles songs, which didn't surprise me.
Afterwards, there was quite the rush of people headed back to the Visitors' Center, even though the conservatories stayed open until 10:30. I asked Mom if she wanted to go in the conservatories again, but she didn't really want to. It took quite a while to get back through the Visitors' Center, as there were people heading there from two of the main paths, as well as through the grass. It took a very long time for the traffic in the parking lot to clear up. Mom and I sat in front of the Visitors' Center, me back in the wheelchair and she on a bench, for a good half hour or so, as cars passed by the entrance area to pick people up, interspersed with crowds heading for their cars. A couple of men who'd been waiting near us came with us to the car and lifted the wheelchair into the car. We thanked them profusely. Several people were really very kind to us. I directed Mom to the way out. It seemed like a long trip home. I answered some e-mails, and finally went to sleep.