Epic is how I’d describe Sunday. When our planned day of skiing at Mt. Bachelor was scrubbed because of poor conditions, we went advenchairing at Shevlin Park. On a sunny 45 degree day Yvonne, Emory, and Robin (with help from Casper) pushed and pulled me around the 6 mile Shevlin Loop Trail along Tumalo Creek on the west side of Bend. Advenchairing is what we call taking my chair off the beaten path and it is our connection to nature and outdoor adventures.
Shevlin Park is a place that my wife Yvonne and I often go because she can easily push me on the paved road and packed gravel trail in the park’s upper and lower sections. With my son Emory and good friend Robin though, we had the horsepower to try the more difficult middle portion of the trail that had eluded us. My off-road wheelchair, which we call the Advenchair, has been constantly evolving, with the intention of being as ergonomically efficient as possible for the pusher and puller. A friend had recently mounted a mountain bike handle bar that gave the pusher a higher, wider, and horizontal grip. We were also testing a towing system using 7 foot copper tubes attached to a hip belt. The results were better than any of us had expected: with the puller providing 80% of the power, the pusher could focus on steering and maneuvering over and around roots and rocks. Emory and Robin powered up steep inclines and deftly navigated some pretty technical spots.
As we came down a particularly steep and rocky stretch I looked downhill to see that the trail crossed the creek by way of a log. We pondered fording the narrow, but fast, waters, as well as me getting out of the chair and scooching across on my butt (turning around really wasn't something we considered – Onward!), and finally decided to straddle the flat-topped log with the chair’s axle. Before we knew it we were across and high fiving!
After lunch and the steepest climb of the day we had an unexpected test of the equipment when Emory misjudged a rock and laid me over on my left side, with me looking down at the creek below. With Emory and Robin’s strength, and Yvonne’s quick reaction from behind, I was stabilized and quickly upright again. The handle bar gave Emory great control as he broke my fall and was strong and solid as he pulled to right me. The seat belt held me so well that I really didn't need to readjust my position. We did all agree that a helmet would be a good idea next time.
“To inspire, encourage, and enable outdoor adventures for people of all physical abilities”….this website and blog are my way sharing my journey since my stroke, and how my family, especially my wife Yvonne has treated it as an adventure.
Onward is the motivational expression I latched onto several years ago and The Onward Project has grown from that simple, yet strong word (I once asked a Spanish colleague for a translation and he replied “adelante…go forward; move ahead. Sounds kind of Che Guevara-esque doesn’t it” Francisco said). We often meet or see people that inspire us, particularly if they have an obvious challenge, and we’d say “that’s an Onward person.” So my hope is that through sharing my story and those of others (such a Karri Vanderbom), people will look at the challenges that life throws at us as adventures, rather than obstacles that can’t be surmounted.
I’m launching The Onward Project website now because MLK weekend has a special spot on my calendar. I was released from the hospital on January 12, 2006 (unfortunately I didn't receive walking papers) and because the following weekend was a holiday, Robin drove up from Chico to visit. He has continued the annual visit and over the years it became a ski day at Mt. Bachelor, but after yesterday it may destined for more advenchairing!