Wide open spaces

I’ve been slightly MIA for the past month as I was spending a few weeks on a much needed vacation in the great state of Wyoming.  When one thinks of handicapped accessibility and wheelchair convenience, they don’t often think about Wyoming.  That state is more often associated with cowboys and dusty trails.  This picture seems to sum it all up quite succinctly:

wyo ramp

My take on Wyoming’s theory of accessibility is “Look, we’ve given you a ramp.  You figure the rest out.”  There are ramps, but many have inch or more lips.  Or the handicapped spots at curbs don’t often have ramps to get onto said curb.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love this state.  In fact, I seriously want to move there.  It just isn’t for the faint of heart.  A state full of hearty, hard-working people means that they don’t roll over (pun intended) when adversity hits.  Many places have gravel drive-ways and roads.  This is hard to wheel over.  Hard, but not impossible if you have upper body strength.

The hubs tried to help me so many times.  But I would always snap at him to not help me.  He probably looked super rude to other people.  The kindly cowboys probably judged him for not pushing me.  My motto is: I don’t need no stinkin’ help.  Maybe I should have that made into a t-shirt.  Or a bumper sticker for my wheelchair.  And he can just point to it when people look.

For all of the accessibility drawbacks, Wyoming is so nice.  The people are beyond nice.  If there’s a place I can’t go, I’m sure someone would offer to pick me up and carry me.  In fact, that kind of happened.  At one touristy spot, the ramp was so steep and the doorway so narrow that I needed not only the hubs to help, but a complete stranger.  She’d asked me several times to help and I turned her down.  When she saw us struggling she finally just came over and helped.  I felt so bad, but I guess I need to start realizing that some people genuinely want to be helpful.  It’s hard to not feel like you’re putting them out.  I refuse to ever be a burden.

Maybe I’m going to start a new exercise trend called the Wyoming Wheelchair Workout.  Wcubed.  Everyone gets a wheelchair and pushes for 2 miles up and down hills on a gravel road.  I did that once (and in the name of honesty, it was only 1 mile) and I was sore for 3 days.  It was amazing!  I’m going to do a video and write a book about it.  Get some celebrity endorsements.  This workout is going to make me millions!  No one steal my idea.

Keep pushing ahead!

Thursday marked a huge day for me. Momentous. Amazing. You get the idea. It was big. It was another return to normalcy for me.

Before the surgery in 2013, I used to love taking cases on Catalina Island. Yes, the sleepy little island community has a one room court house and people do commit crimes there. Excuse me. They’re accused to committing crimes there. They’re mostly low level crimes revolving around drinking. I know I’ve talked about Catalina and my love of it before. I remember talking specifically about how stoked I was to go back there the first time. Well, I’ve check-mated that stokedness. (What, is that not a word??)

I had my first overnight solo trip since the big day occurred last August. I figured that there’s no time like the present to push myself. I’m walking better. I’m driving all over by myself. Why not try going to Catalina by myself? Plus, they changed the morning boat to 6:15am which means I would have had to leave my house at 3:45am. Um, yeah. I think I’ll cruise over the night before.

Most of the hotels there are old, multi-level, not so wheelchair friendly. But, there are a few that could work. The first one, that I was excited about, was booked when I called. Whoops. Did I wait too long?? I called the night before to book assuming there weren’t that many people in need of an ADA room on a random Thursday in their off-season. Guess I was wrong. Then I called two other hotels and they both had rooms available. I decided on one (it was $20 cheaper and well, I’m cheap) and booked it.

I left work on Thursday and drove down to Long Beach for the ferry. The cool thing is that I wasn’t even nervous. I practically grew up on Catalina. I know it pretty well. And the young guys who work on the ferry are so helpful to me. I knew that I’d be ok. The interesting thing was that when I was in line to get on the ferry, a man in line came over to ask if I needed any help getting on the boat or with my bags. I politely declined and informed him that the guys who work there always help me and that I would be OK. I thought that was super nice of him to offer though! The boat ride over was peaceful and uneventful (read: no dolphin sightings and no big swells). When we docked, a random lady in a really nice suit (yes, I notice those things because you can’t beat a beautifully made suit! In fact, my goal in life is to be so successful at my job that I can have all custom suits hand-made for me by some old Italian man. Not sure why he has to be Italian. It’s just the way I’ve always pictured it) asked me if I needed any help getting off the boat. People are so nice! Have you ever noticed that we focus on the bad things people do and not the nice ones? If you think about it, most people are nice. At least, in my post-trip confidence boost glow, I’m all happy on the human race.

I rolled over to the hotel and checked in with ease. In fact, after I checked in, I noticed that I beat some other people from the ferry to the hotel. I do tend to roll pretty fast. Why not?? You can’t beat the thrill of the wind in your face.

My room was so nice! Very easy to access and get around. I may or may not have fallen once when trying to transfer to this cool lounge chair. If my mom is reading this: definitely may not have happened. To everyone else: whoops, I did. But the rest of the night was pretty status quo: rolled over to a little pizza joint to grab a slice (man, my Italian roots are really coming out in this post!!), hung out near the bay for a minute (but it was cold and drizzly, so that was only a minute), did work and talked to a client for a while. The next morning I rolled on over to my favorite courthouse in California (it was literally one block from my hotel), did my business and before I knew it, was back on the ferry going home. Nothing scary or worrisome. All very easy and great! The kind of thing that makes you want to keep on trying new things!

I guess that’s the goal in life: to keep moving forward, keep progressing, and keep pushing yourself to try new things!