Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Colorado River Headwaters

We have been hired by Los Caminos Antiguos and Colorado Scenic Byways to asses four of Colorado's famous driving tours known as the scenic byways. The evaluation tool we will create for this group will hopefully become a model for accessibility in historic towns and along other byways in the state and perhaps the country! We're very excited to do this project, and thank Judy Walden of the Walden Mills Group, Sally Pearce, Program Coordinator for Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways, & Anne Marie Velasquez of the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway for hiring us for this ground-breaking evaluation project!

Now, on to our first byway!!
Closest to us is the Colorado River Headwaters Byway, stretching from the little river spot of State Bridge to the town of Kremmling, about 50 miles from Steamboat, and on through Hot Sulfur Springs to Granby and ultimately finishing at the tourist-mecca of Grand Lake, just outside of the state's most famous Rocky Mountain National Park.

A drive mixed with Colorado's highlights of history, hot springs, impressive mountain ranges, fish-filled rivers and waterfalls, flavorful ranches, and small town friendliness, Colorado Headwaters seemed a great place for us to start this summer-long journey of scenic drives.

A big highlight for us and accessibility on this tour were the ever-improving cabin and music hotspot of State Bridge. Under new ownership and bright ideas, the accessibilty of this river "town" (loosely, more a rafters paradise) improves with every year we visit it. Well worth the stop along 131 to Vail, we have often spent the night to see our favorite jam bands play into the wee hours along the Colorado River.

Other highlights include the pizza at Our Family Kitchen in Kremmling, the do-able and flavorful Bar-Lazy-J Ranch near Parshall, the fully accessible Hot Sulfur Springs Resort, with pools and cabins especially designated for wheelchairs, the Longbranch Restaurant in Granby, and the Kaufman Museum in Grand Lake.

Also don’t miss the great accessible viewing area and interpretive walk at Willow Creek, just before Granby (picture above)!

Happy Trails, and see you on the next beautiful scenic byway!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

World of Possibilities Disabilities Expo

Last weekend while in Washington DC we attended our first expo on disabilities. We attended the first of a three-day even at the Maryland State Fair Grounds building, which was full of booths and attendants, and bustling with networking and great ideas. We spoke with innovators, engineers, artists, caretakers, service providers, and Maryland state agencies specifically geared towards people with disabilities and their families.

Our highlights were getting into the fully accessible RV and onto the adapted Harley Davidson trike (pictured), but there were many wonderful companies that are worth mention as well. One that I personally was most impressed with was the Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VMA), an agency that places gifted and experienced engineers on home and office projects for people with disabilities that struggle with adapting their world to their needs. One project they showed me was a crib adaptation. The mother, a wheelchair user, could not reach into her baby's crib to pull her out, and the existing mechanism for lowering the side wall was no help. The VMA volunteer adapted the crib wall to swing outward, so the entire crib was now accessible! Sounds easy enough, but if you're no tinkering engineer, and/or have no time to tinker, these simple adaptations just don't exist. The VMA are always looking for more volunteers, so if you're in the DC area and think this agency sounds like a great idea, contact them for more information.

Other impressive agencies include: The Long and Foster Real Estate group that showed us a list of over 100 local MD and DC homes that were accessible and up for sale; the famed Kennedy-Krieger Institute, an internationally acclaimed center for research, treatment, education, and training for spinal cord injuries and children with disabilities; and Canine Companions for Independence, providing service dogs for people with disabilities. Mohawkie got to meet a one-year-old service dog in training who seemed to be doing very well with her instructor.

Keep an eye out for some of these businesses in our "Company Highlight" section of our monthly newsletter! And put the World of Possibilities Expo on your calendar for next year!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Eureka Tent sees Utah!

Recently we took the Freedom Tent from Eureka out to Utah to test out it's accessibility.

There are many traits to this tent that we found highly impressive:

The front vestibule is spacious enough for two wheelchairs, one wheelchair and a dog, one additional person to sleep, or all your excess gear, and is an excellent space for a changing room. The stiffened, sliding front door of this vestibule is one of the tent’s best features. It’s something we’ve never seen on a tent before, and found it very easy to use and a beneficial feature to this tent.

Another feature we found highly useful for campers with disabilities and their accompaniment is the second two inside window-doors to this tent. If there is a wheelchair in the front vestibule and the caregiver or partner needs to exit the tent in the am or during the night, these side doors are wonderful additions.

In addition, the pull tab zippers are excellent for all to use and could be added to all tents under the category of universal design. People with arthritis and other milder hand mobility restraints would also benefit from this design.

Overall we found this tent to be very spacious, and we loved sleeping in it for two nights. We highly recommend this tent to anyone with disabilities, as well as those with arthritis or anyone in need of additional storage and added features (such as the side doors) in their tent design.