Marcia and Michael Yale are seasoned travelers, from walking the Spanish roads of Mexico to Cuba, Portugal, Amsterdam to the frozen pavements of Alaska.
Although the Yales physically experience their extravaganzas, they can’t visually capture their scenery because both Marcia and Michael are physically impaired.
However, that doesn’t stop them from going where they want in life, and the next place they wanted to go was Dodge City.
“We’re old radio, old west fans,” Marcia Yale said. “We like all the wild west stuff.”
Marcia and Michael travel the world with their guide dog Narella, a 12-year-old golden retriever.
“She loves to travel and meet new people,” Marcia said.
Marcia and Michael flew from their home in Huntsville, Ontario to Kansas City, taking the train to Dodge City on Friday. So far they have visited the Boot Hill Museum, taken a trolley tour and even tried out some local Mexican food.
“The more interesting the food the more chance we’ll go there,” Marcia said.
They are huge fans of “Gunsmoke” and when a visit to Michael’s son drew them to Kansas City, they couldn’t resist taking a trip to Dodge. They like to listen to the old radio broadcasts of “Gunsmoke,” using their imaginations to fill the scenery, and say that listening to the broadcast while in Dodge City makes the experience even better.
Marcia and Michael met through an organization for the blind. Marcia has been blind since birth and Michael lost his vision in an explosion at age five. By the time they’d met they both had fulfilling careers. A journalism major at UC Berkeley, Michael worked as a human rights investigator and even performed as a concert pianist. Marcia worked for a telecommunications company. Now they spend most of their time enjoying each other’s company and exploring the world.
“We pick a place we want to go, set a goal and just go there,” Michael said.
Certain aspects of their trips still stand out to them, such as the time in Cuba when they rode a horse-drawn carriage through the main street in Havana while drinking mojitos.
Often before arriving in a new place the Yales will call ahead of time to set up the appropriate accommodations. This time they called the Visitors Center, who connected them to retired Dodge City Marshall Charlie Meade. Meade guided them around town and the Yales said they loved the experience.
“You just have to go into so much more detail describing things,” Meade said.
This isn’t the first time that Meade has guided a disabled person through town, but that didn’t make him any less amazed by the Yales’ traveling spirit.
Page 2 of 2 - “They totally amaze me with their ability to do everything they do,” Meade said. “… It’s been a great experience and we’ve had a great time.”
After all these years, the Yales’ disability can still be a struggle.
“It’s a battle every day to stay in touch,” Michael said.
Traveling without the ability to see presents it’s share of difficulties.
“I think it takes a lot of courage to do what we do,” Michael said.
Navigating airports can be a hassle, especially when flying out of Toronto. And not every place allows guide dogs, so the experience of traveling is still something they have to fight for. The first thing the Yales do when they arrive is take some time to learn their way around the hotel they’re staying in.
But in some ways their condition has made their adventures more interesting.
“I like traveling to see whether people are more accepting than they are at home,” Marcia said. “For me it’s always interesting to see what the attitudes are in different places.”
As for Dodge City, the Yales say it has been an enjoyable experience.
“We’re having a good time here,” Marcia said. “We just want to be respected and live a happy life and we want to find a place where it’s friendly.”
They say their favorite part about Dodge has just been the experience of being there and soaking up the history.
After departing Dodge today, the Yales will gear up for their next trip, this time to New Orleans.