Taking Forever

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(I wrote most this over a month ago am just now hitting that little blue ‘publish’ button. If it seems outdated, thats because it is…)

I’m sitting in my room and noticing just what condition my life is currently in. Long story short, it’s a mess…

I haven’t cleaned my van in over three months and I have basically been living out of it. I have anything from open bottles of Crown Royal to 10+ pairs of clothes, random rzr parts, dog hair galore, stuff from Lake Powell, photography equipment, oh yeah and did I mention the large hot mocha and ketchup packets that Bella exploded all over the dash and windshield for me?

My room isn’t much better where I have 3 unopened boxes of back-stock medical supplies, suitcases filled with half filthy clothes, dog hair piling up in every corner rolling across the floor like tumbleweed every time I pass, and my pee infested bed I have been sleeping on for at least 2 weeks. Nasty

I wish I could blame Bella for the pee but you see I have a temperamental bladder. I’m still trying to figure out why it doesn’t alway cooperate the way it should. It’s frustrating but another ‘perk’ to being an SCI. You get to know your pee on a real personal level. More personal than anyone ever should.

Therefore, rather than cleaning, I’ve just been sleeping fully clothed. I really do this for two main reasons.
1. I don’t have to strain every functional muscle I have in the morning to put my pants right back on.
2. Let’s be serious, I don’t want to touch pee infested shit either.

So I sit here and ask myself, “Why is this? Come on Kirk, something’s gotta change.”

My conclusion is because I am stubborn as hell! I now do everything almost entirely on my own. It takes one hell of a lot longer than it used to. 15min to put the wash in the drier instead of 30sec…ect… and when you’re busy having so much fun like I’ve been it’s hard for me to take that much time to stay organized. I feel much better when everything is clean and a remarkable satisfaction when I do it myself but it just plain takes FOREVER.

So in a way, I’ll be the first to say I’m excited for the daylight savings time change. Less daylight means less time outdoors and more time inside to get myself organized. It’s crazy how on top of it I have to act in order for life to move smoothly.

The way I figure it…. this new scale of how long it takes to do things is my new ‘normal’ so I might as well start practicing my skills now. Like everything else, with time it’ll just become second nature and hopefully much faster.

Now, check out some visual recaps of why my life is in such disorganized filthy unsanitary shambles here at the house.

I think it’s totally worth it… 🙂

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Welcome to Lake Powell

It’s really an amazing piece of landscape.

This 80ft beaute is where I called home for about a week. No cell signal, no chores, and no obligations other than to relax and feed Bella twice a day.

We had access to adaptive waterskiing off of two different ski boats.

Some of us are better than others…

I’m particularly good at drinking beer in an inner tube 😉

As usual, Topher killed it on the ski. I conveniently took this photo from my nice comfy bed on the engine cover on the back of the boat. Snap a few pics and go back to sleep. It’s a rough job but somebody has got to do it.

Topher had a terrible time as you can see.

So did I

But as they say, all good things must come to an end and this was no exception. The week ended, the packing began and the 10+ hour drive to Jackson hole was under way.

I drove a few hours the first night and set up camp in a quaint little junkyard/parking lot with Topher right off of I70.Topher did his usual superman quadriplegic tent pitch while I lazily rolled out of my chair into my bed in the back of my van. God I love how easy my van is, I don’t know where I’d be without it!

Morning came with the sweet smell of diesel fuel and roar of semi-trucks buzzing up the highway.

“Good morning Gizmo” Topher yells from outside, “I’m going to get on the road.”

Topher calls me Gizmo now because of all the gizmo’s and gadgets I use to make my life as easy as possible.

“I’ve been injured for 17 years and you still teach me new tricks,” Topher says .

“I still have a lot to learn old man” I reply with a smirk.

Apparently the diesel fumes affected Topher more than me for while I was still sleeping, Topher managed to get up, put his tent away, brush his teeth, and snack on a bite to eat.

“See ya man, it was fun. Drive safe,” I yell from my warm sleeping bag.

“You too,” and he hopped in his car and left.

I slowly climbed out of bed and lit a breakfast bowl (which is legal in CO now) because I was on vacation… after all. Almost immediately after my first toke, my productivity plummeted. All I had to do that day was set up my bathroom chair, use the restroom, and drive the remaining 8 hours to Jackson. It suddenly seemed like unmanageable, never possible, checklist.

Shuffling through my van I was able to find one last Starbucks Frappachino and I knew I’d make it through the day after all.

I took care of my business, threw everything else on top of the bed and climbed into the drivers seat for the long drive ahead.

Somewhere along the Wyoming/Utah border in BFE cow country the sun setting lit up the sky with multiple shades of red, blue, purple, and orange. With a fresh tank of gas, windows cracked, a good song on the radio, and a fresh cup of ice coffee from McDonalds drive through (so I didn’t have to get out) I hadn’t a care in the world.

Leaving the city limits of Randolph with its population of 474, I began to speed back up to 60mph.

“Making good time” I said over to Bella who was passed out drooling on the armrest of the passenger seat.

Admiring the sunset one last time before it dissaped behind the horizon line, my car suddenly jerked, SLAM!!!

I knew exactly what it was. Bambie

“Shit Bella! This isn’t good” as I look down at my dash that just lit up like a Christmas tree w check engine lights, cruise, ABS, and every other electronic warning system.

As the steam began to billow from under my hood, I knew that trip to Jackson just got a bit more interesting.

After talking to AAA about getting a tow, a local rancher informed me that they buy brush guards to see how far they can boot deer rather than hitting the brakes.

Little late for that tip.

3 hours later around 10:00 the tow truck finally pulled up. I asked the driver if he would take be the remaining 150 miles to Jackson to which he replied, “Son, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

“My boss said to do whatever is easiest for you,” the he continued, “so if you want to stay in your van, or ride in the cab with me, it’s up to you.”

“You don’t have to say that twice” I replied, “I have a bed in the back of my van so I’ll stay here.”

Once we were all loaded it up, I wished him a safe drive and had him snap a pic real quick for the record.

“flash your lights if you need anything,” he said as he climbed into the drivers seat and we took off.

I spent my first of two nights in the parking lot of the auto body place to save money on hotels. It wasn’t the nicest of campsites but not to bad all things considered.

Thankfully insurance covered everything and I’m back up and rolling again.

 

Then my folks got into Jackson. Dad rode his motorcycle out while mom took the more time efficient means, flight.

Had to go to the legendary Oxbow Bend

Where early morning reflections are practically handed to you on a silver platter.

Back to the Mormon Barns

Up to Yellowstone

And just had a fantastic trip.

The following week I attended a photography workshop that was amazingly inspiring.

Bella modeled

And I tried some new angles

And some more normal..

Was just really nice out there, though a few clouds would have made for much more interesting pictures…

Moving on….

Finally got my rzr back from being fixed

 

And it’s running better than it ever has before 🙂

ANNNNDDD thats as far as I’ve made it. More to come..

Keep on Keepin’ on

Italy

Italy was a bit of a whirlwind on my trip. I flew in to meet up with Clayton but we only actually spent one day in the country. The weather there was much hotter than London and as most of you know I don’t do well with heat. I flew into Milan and stayed a night at a hostel before going to the town of Verona. Most of these pictures were taking and Verona because it was much more “Italian” feeling than Milan. We spent the one day and then hopped on a train to head to Austria.

Clay doing some scetching

Sightseeing

Catching the sunset

Panoramic castle

From another angle

Dinner in the alley

Delicious it was

Passing the hundreds of wine vineyards on the way to Austria

We just kept on keeping’ on

London

You know out of 946 shots, 89 showable and 12 true keepers really isn’t all that bad. Or at least thats what I’ve been telling myself.

So Europe…

My trip began in London. After an all night flight from Denver to Montreal to London. I arrived mid morning and set out to grab a bite to eat before taking my fist nap of the trip.

Looking back at some of the notes I took my first day in town, I laugh at what I wrote.

I remember it vividly. I was sitting at a nice Italian restaurant, sunglasses on top of my head, fanny pack around my waist, camera sitting adjacent on top of the table. Doing anything within my power to not look like the obvious, a tourist. That lasted 2 hours.

I pulled out my phone and jotted down anything that came to mind.

– I’m going to have to get better at curbs
– What was I thinking!?
– Maybe I am a little crazy?
– I should have had more stuff planned, absolutely no idea what to do.

As the first of many fantastic cups of Illy espresso entered my system my notes changed slightly:

– Maybe this is exactly what I needed to get the creative juices flowing?
– Maybe its good to get out of the comfort zone?
– Maybe fanny packs are cool!?

After a delicious lunch, I decided to stroll down the boardwalk and see what presented itself to me.

Passing street performers, The London Eye and looking at Big Ben in the distance, I whispered quietly under my breath,”what the hell am I going to do with myself?” I traveled all night to get there and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do while I was there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take pictures I guess? And so that’s what I did.

The weather wasn’t always optimal for picture taking, but hey, then again, neither was my timing. I was traveling to try and capture great images, but also to get away and enjoy myself. The best time for pictures is sunrise, and sunset. Let’s just say I didn’t get a single sunrise shot- which left me with sunsets. Coincidentally, sunsets are the same time your body gets thirsty for beer then food and then bed. It was an ongoing battle.

A couple neat tidbits about London.

First, almost all of there taxis are wheelchair accessible. In most, they simply unravel a ramp that is factory built into the floor and push you in. It’s simply fantastic. The taxi drivers are self employed, eager to help, actual English speaking gentlemen and therefor making getting around the city quite enjoyable.

Secondly, beer. Delicious, cellar temperature, hand pumped luxury. Easy to see why the cities pubs are the hot spots on those rainy afternoons.

 

Third, magnificent gardens and buildings. Pushing around aimlessly I was often caught gaping at all the beautifully landscaped buildings. They definitely pay attention to detail over there. It seemed like even the flowers grew completely level in their freshly manicured rows.

London reminded me of an upscale New York. Much older buildings but tourist attractions, sightseeing, and more than enough places to find entertainment should you feel the urge. Much better food! I must add.

I had a wonderful 4 days and to be honest, it wasn’t an issue at all to get around on my own. No more of a pain in the ass than any other large city I’ve visited in the USA.

With London under my belt it was time to head to Italy and meet up with Clay for the two weeks….

Keep on keepin’ on

Must be tough…

I’m always up for a new experience. I think it’s important to try almost anything at least once. Life is too short to shy away from the “more interesting” things if you will. This being said, I have now been to a desert music festival similar to what I would imagine Burning Man to be like. I have trudged through sideways sand storms and in turn experienced the exfoliating pleasure that sand has to offer in each and every crevice your body. I have scorched in the desert sun and dreamt of a cold shower like its the only thing that matters in life. I have been to this not so far away land where bandanas over your mouth and ski goggles over your eyes are acts of  survival rather than merely comfort or fashion. I have now been to Desert Rocks music festival  in Green River, UT. Experience captured.


It wasn’t all bad though. There was a wide variety of music to listen to and thankfully a refreshing river close by to cool you back to life. There were lots of extraordinarily happy people drifting around and the people watching so entertaining that it makes JFK airport seem boring. Honestly, I don’t think it would have been that bad if I hadn’t of spent three days in paradise before I got there.


Telluride is one of my favorite places on the planet. I usually only get up there for festivals like the infamous Telluride Bluegrass Festival, but with a few days free in my schedule I decided to make the trip. I ventured down there with my good friend Allison to escape the heat of boulder and camp out for a few days before heading to Desert Rocks. I have a good friend living out there who conveniently runs a classy mountain lodge bar overlooking some of the most beautiful peaks Colorado has to offer. When we weren’t camping beside gorgeous high alpine lake or strolling through the seemingly empty mountain town, you could find us shallaxing poolside with any number of cocktails pressed against our lips. Abbot kept bringing us Piña coladas, strawberry daiquiris, and others on the house because he apparently ‘made to much’ for other customers. I’ll tell you right now, it doesn’t take long at 9,600ft basking poolside in the sun with a spectacular view and a few drinks in your system to feel like sometimes the world just treats you right. Life is good and I was soaking up every last drop, and still am.


We ended up staying one extra night up there because it was so nice and slept at the lodge to give us a chance to shower up before heading to the desert. Needless to say, it was tough to leave, but the show must go on.


I just got back this morning from hanging with some younger people in wheelchairs at a kids camp. Our rugby team always helps out at the camp where all different types of children with disabilities get to jump in our chairs and try it out for themselves. There are some 9 year olds out there that make pushing a wheelchair uphill through quicksand look easy. I was super impressed and of course Bella was a rockstar.

It’s rewarding to see these guys learning about all the different opportunities that still exist for people in chairs. Be it dancing, tae kwon do, fencing, rugby, tennis, basketball, whatever it is, this is the place to go check it out. A neat event indeed.


Speaking of sports, last weekend I completed my longest handcycle ride to date. I somehow managed to pull myself 50k or 31 long miles through the bike paths of Denver. It wasn’t easy by any stretch but I still felt good rolling into the parking lot at the end of the day. Its amazing how much more you feel the hills when you only use your arms. Next up, 50miles!


Okay, so I’m sure by now that all of you are feeling bad for me and my boring lifestyle. You wish that I would add a little excitement and adventure to my life and stop wasting the days away. Well…then…. This one’s for you.
I am extremely excited and fortunate to be able to go on a big trip next week. I have been saving money for some time now. I wasn’t sure where I would go or when, but when the opportunity presented itself, I was going to be ready. This summer, my brother has been studying architecture in Italy. He’s been over there for a few weeks now and his classes finish up June 22. I will be flying into London the 18th and traveling around solo until I meet up with Clayton in Milan, Italy the 22nd! From there we are heading north into Switzerland, possibly Austria, and then flying out of Prague two weeks later. Other than that, we are on the no plan plan. We have a few spots to check out and then the rest is up to fate. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and what better way than to travel with my bro. Rest assured that there will be many pictures and stories to come…

Things are obviously going pretty well for me right now. No real complaints. I hope all of you are having just as much good fortune. I might not get another post done before I get back July 7th but I’m sure I’ll have much to tell you then.

Keep on Keepin’ on

Back ‘N Action

Oh yeah! I’m back and ready to bring the blog back up to speed. I’ve had a bit of a leave if absence for some time now along with a few technical difficulties but those days are over and I’m back for vengeance. So prepare you eyes to be bombarded with pictures, videos, and possibly a word here and there to glue it all together.

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To say that a lot has happened in the last few weeks would be an utter understatement. I flew to VA, rented a car with a ghetto hand control setup, hung w friends, had an incredible Rollout, got a cold, drove to KY, played in the national quad rugby tournament, flew home and finally slept in to name a few.

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Topher and I riding two days before the Roll-Out

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Easy Ryder Style

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Storm rolling in

As some of you know, mother nature tested us at this years Roll-Out. It’s not very often that the weather predicts a 100% chance of rain but on April 22, they did just that. They were right. It must have rained for 30 hours straight. But the show must go on… As a good friend and neighbor put it, “They didn’t cancel Woodstock because of rain,” So neither did we.

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Here it comes…

Out of almost 70 preregistered participants for the 64mile ride, there was only this crew of Badasses. 52 degrees and rain wasn’t ideal conditions but it’s a sure tell way to separate the boys from the men.

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The Crew

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Of course I can talk all of this shit because my buddy Topher and I rode 15 miles in the pouring rain with a wheel directly between our legs blasting our face with street grime the whole time. Haha

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These four braved and froze on the 40mile loop!

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A little rain never hurt anybody

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the home stretch

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The turn out for the run still held quite strong. The course went through a farm, past delicious smelling manure piles and out and back on a nice country road. As everyone returned to the barn w steam radiating from all directions, there was only one way to turn- towards the beer truck.

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 Getting ready

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Heading out

Can’t forget about the fuzzy muddy buddy walk!

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Of course, as in years past, we were lucky to have delicious home made BBQ with baked beans, cole slaw, and a variety of other tasty treats. Thanks everyone who made this possible.

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A little fish eye

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Full house/barn

There was a delicious cupcake assortment to choose from

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All in all a great success

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Our rugby team had Nationals the following weekend in Louisville, KY. Louisville, KY is really a neat city. There’s all sorts of music, shops, and of course bourbon to indulge in. The team stayed at the Galt House hotel which has over 2500 rooms. It was nice to have the hotel just pushing distance from the convention center where everything was held. We ended up taking 3rd in division 2 which is quite an accomplishment considering how we started the year.

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Getting ready to play

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The arena (1 of 3 courts)

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Adam about to score

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Big guy going over

What better way to finish a blog than pictures of Ol Smeller all over…

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Reflecting life

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Fox mill dawg

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Bell in Charlottesville 

See ya down the road

Keep on Keepin’ on

The Constant Reminder

Certain days I am reminded more than others. Whether I reach for the radio to change the station, grab my watch to adjust the time, or just bend over to try and tie my own shoe it feels like a hammer to my face knocking; “You can’t do that anymore Kirk!” I’m trying to break lifelong habits.  For 22 years I’ve done things a certain way, and now I have to relearn them. If you think it’s hard to stop biting your nails, you can’t possibly imagine!

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not that I can’t do these things anymore, instead I have to do it in a different manner.  Like a simple zipper on my jacket, for instance, I attached a zip tie creating a thumb loop and now I can unzip on my own. Or making breakfast in the morning. I just have my brother around and it’s done for me.  I actually kind of enjoy trying to figure out ways to make things easier. It’s as if everything is a big puzzle. Luckily for me, I’m not the first to go through all this. Many people have come up with different adaptive tools to make daily tasks such as eating or transferring in and out of a car 1 trillion times easier. Hell, they even have stuff now available to open jars!

The moral of the story here is that it may be easier to dwell on the large things that frustrate you, but focusing on the simple successes will carry you forward.