Friday, December 28, 2012

Ten years of adaptive travel went by in a blink...

When we first started this quest in 2003, after returning from a trip to Alaska with a completely jaded viewpoint of accessibility, there wasn't much out there for people with disabilities (PWD) looking to travel, or more specifically, for us, adventure travel in a wheelchair.  There were pockets of information at the many adaptive programs throughout the country and the few medical and rehabilitation centers, but as for guidebooks, travel agents, and paths to follow, there were only a handful back then.

Times change quickly however.  The landscape is completely different now.

Back then, we felt a calling to help change the horizon, and began writing our guidebook on Colorado in 2003.  Ten years later, there are countless guidebooks on traveling with a disability, even one written by Rick Steves.

Soon after our guidebook was published in 2005, we joined the network of the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH), who at the time, were THE central hub connecting all the few spokes of the accessible travel wheel. It was eye-opening for us to meet travel agents from South Africa, Ireland, Egypt and New York who specifically catered to PWD.  Again, the list was short.  But in this decade, that list has expanded so vastly that we gave up trying to keep up with our Resources page.  Now when you search "access travel" on Google, you get a world of information on any location you desire. ANY.  What a blessing!

We've watched adaptive travel magazines and websites come and go, change titles, change editors, change content, all trying to keep up with this once-completely-new and now vastly-growing market of the travel industry.  The statistics of this market are staggering; we heard them at our first SATH conference from the Open Doors Organization (ODO) and knew immediately that this was the company we should keep our eye on.  In just a few years, we would be working with ODO on many projects, trainings, and educational pieces to help shape that horizon and landscape before us. Also a cherished blessing!

We were torn between the travel industry and the adaptive sports industry, paving a local path for accessibility here in Steamboat Springs, while traveling to events throughout the country networking, selling our guidebooks, and watching the industry grow.  We were regulars on the Abilities Expo circuit for several years, we still attend the amazing No Barriers Festivals (bi-annually since 2007), we were invited to join the Continental Airlines Disability Advisory Board in 2008 (now the United Airlines Accessible Travel Advisory Board), and we helped ODO train 8000 Amtrak Employees with their Handling Customers with Disabilities trainings in 17 cities throughout our great country in 2011.  All the while, forging out a place for Steamboat in the headlines: consulting with Haymaker Golf Course on purchasing a SoloRider adaptive golf cart (2003) and Steamboat Ski Area on purchasing an accessible gondola car (2004), starting our adaptive sports camps with Adaptive Adventures (2006), working with countless favorite local businesses like Cafe Diva on improving their access and recreation companies like Wild West Balloon Adventures market to these visiting customers.

It soon became apparent we might have to choose between the two worlds of travel and recreation as they pulled us in two different directions.  As STARS took over our adaptive camps in 2010, Craig was hired as Program Director, and I had to make a choice: continue Access Anything or follow my own path that has always included writing, photography, sustainability, and metaphysics.  It was a bittersweet choice because after decade of helping to expand this amazing industry, it would be hard to walk away.  Yet I am, and I know it will continue to improve, grow, unify, open eyes, doors, hearts, and pocketbooks... all for the better, for which, we will still benefit until Craig no longer needs that ti-lite wheelchair, hopefully someday within in our lifetime.

What will the next ten years look like for adaptive recreation and accessible travel?  I can only imagine... and hope.

Happy Holidays to our global network, may 2013 and the next decade be a bright one for all of us!!  Thanks to all of you mentioned above and those not mentioned (you know who you are!) who have helped us through this amazing decade and who have helped make Access Anything the online asset it has become. We will always try to keep this site live for those who want to Go Anywhere, Do Anything!
- Andy Kennedy

2012 Highlights: 
  • For skiing highlights this year, follow us at In the Deep, although I don't get to follow my monoskier as much as I used to, we still both love to post when we get powder!
  • Follow our videos on our YouTube page
  • And for our 5th annual holiday video of where we've been check out our BipTV page

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kickstart helps PWD relearn to walk

From Cadence Biomedical
Imagine if you could leave your wheelchair behind and get back to doing the activities you love again. Cadence Biomedical in Seattle recently created Kickstart, the world’s first Kinetic Orthosis to enable walking for those recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, MS and other neurological injuries. Unlike many braces, Kickstart provides stability as well as assistance with swinging your whole leg through by guiding and propelling your legs to move the way they are supposed to. Kickstart can offer users greater endurance to get where they want, a sense of confidence, and freedom to move - all without the expense of robotic devices.

Donna (a stroke survivor, travel enthusiast, and Kickstart user) had a stroke twenty years ago and couldn’t walk more than a block at a time. She relied on a Segway for mobility until she found Kickstart. With Kickstart, she has been able to increase her endurance (and longer uses a Segway) and reduce hip pain from improved gait.

“Kickstart has really changed my life.  I used to be kind of sedentary because I was trying to save myself from that hip replacement operation that I’m hoping I’m not going to have to have now.  So now I do three days a week adaptive PE, two days a week of OT clinic, and now I got my husband to commit to ballroom dancing.  We’re working our way up to that trip to China.”

“If I did any kind of walking at all, I had so much pain that I had to take a couple of naproxin.  So now I can go anywhere, I can walk most anywhere, and I can walk around the house without a cane – most of the time actually.  And I’m more stable when I stand up.”

Kickstart is custom fit to individual patients by Cadence-trained Orthotists across the country. Patients may use Cadence Biomedical’s Patient Contact Form to receive more information, or call directly at (206) 659-0614.

Learn more at

Monday, September 03, 2012

Wheelchair Lacrosse: Show your support!

Wheelchair Lacrosse is a newly adapted sport but is gaining momentum across the country.  We were lucky enough to have a free weekend to attend the camp in Colorado Springs, about four hours south of us, and what a good time it was. 

Craig's words: I'd play this sport for sure, it's challenging, fun, and great exercise! 

There were about 15 participants who joined the 3 founding coaches from San Diego - Wheelchair Lacrosse's hometown.  Only a few years old, this sport is gathering a following, and the coaches have a great arsenal of equipment - bringing chairs, sticks, helmets, pads, gloves, balls, and smiles where ever they land. 

Longtime Access Anything friend and Wheelchair Lacrosse Founder Ryan Baker lead the two days of drills and matches, and has big hopes for the sport. "We just have to expose people to this sport and get sticks in their hands and prey that they are going to be as passionate about lacrosse as we are," Baker said to Michael Ciaglo of The Gazette (Colorado Springs) on Sunday.  The crew headed back to San Diego that evening, but has been touring the country, sharing the new sport with as many as possible.

WLAX Facebook page
Our photos from the weekend
The Gazette article

Join the legion and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for adventure travel and sports news, updates, links and more!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kulula fun for the day

We haven't posted in a while, and got this in our inbox from dad today and thought it sure would be fun to share.  Anyone have experiences with disabilities on Kulula to share? Doubt it... but thought we'd put it out there. Scroll all the way down for their on-board humor as well.

"Kulula is a low-cost South-African airline that doesn't take itself too seriously. Check out their new paint job!









Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg . Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want)             passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it !"

On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said,
"Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it 's something we'd like to have."

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."

"Thank you for flying Kulula.  We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo, a flight attendant on a flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

From a Kulula employee:
"Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling.  Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."

"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings.                             Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.."

And from the pilot during his welcome message:
"Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town :                                The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town, on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile,  and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline". He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane.  She said, ~ "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it ?"
The little old lady said,
"Did we land, or were we shot down?"

After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg, the attendant came on with,
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.."

Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement:
"We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today.                                                     And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube,  we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."

Heard on a Kulula flight:
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.  If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vote for our partners at Adaptive Adventures for Toyota's 100 Cars for Good

Adaptive Adventures, THE leading name in adventure camps these days in our opinion, including the three STARS does with them in Steamboat, is in desperate need of a vehicle so they can keep traveling the country providing progressive outdoor sports opportunities to improve quality of life for children, adults, and veterans with physical disabilities and their families.

Check out the video and VOTE this weekend!! VOTE VOTE VOTE! And vote again.

Vote here; 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

United Airlines Accessible Travel Advisory Board, 2012 Update

This past week Craig and I traveled to Chicago for the second annual United Airlines Accessible Travel Advisory Board (ATAB) meeting. While this is only our second meeting with United, the board was formed in 2008 with Continental Airlines and was carried over during the merger.  Needless to say there was some concern from its 15 members that the meetings would not continue, as it's no small feat to bring 15 people together from all over the country and feed and house them for 3 days.  So it was remarkable to see that not only has United accepted this responsibility, but is invested in its success. This meeting saw the largest turnout ever, with over 100 United employees and partner company employees sitting in on the 2 days of discussions.

View more... 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 3: Ski Camp - Fresh Snow!

We'll take what we can get this year, and the 2" last night turned into 5 or  6 on Morningside in the afternoon due to all the winds!  I took some late-day turns with the monos down Kodak and had a blast!  But brr, was it cold and windy!

Tomorrow is the last day of the camp, and the first time in 7 years that we've been unable to do Powdercats for lack of snow.  While as sad as that seems, it'll be nice to spend one more day with these amazing athletes on the hill! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 2: Ski Camp - How you can help!

We're heading out for another great day on the slopes, and if you want to help by donating to these amazing partnering program that bring adaptive adventure to Steamboat, check out this movie tonight - call STARS to pick up the last tickets before it sells out!

Featuring many skiers and riders you might know, including Adaptive Adventure's own Matt "Hollywood" Feeney. :)