Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dear Friend is Inducted...

Not that this club is the all-around best to be inducted to, but the SCI (spinal cord injury) club is a tight one. Wherever we go we recognize people we know, people who know people we know, or people who have heard of us or organizations we know. It's tightknit like a small community of friends who have been through the same life-altering experience, and when needed, it pulls together like a family.

On December 21, a cherished member of the PowderCats family suffered a T-1/C-7 spinal cord injury while snowboarding in the backcountry on fairly easy terrain. Dave Genchi, PowderCat's photographer and videographer and relatively-new Steamboat local, made a surf-turn off a rock and fell. The backpack full of equipment didn't help, but his helmet sure did. He split the darn thing in half, and without it, either wouldn't be with us today, or would have a serious brain injury on top of his spinal one.

Steamboat is rallying to Dave's side with many visits to the hospital, and by opening a foundation for donation at Wells Fargo Bank locally. We hope all our readers who have been through this will support Dave in his progress towards recovery. Because of the intense storms that hit Denver at the time of Dave's accident, he was brought to St Mary's hospital in Grand Junction. We have great news thought that Dave will be transferred to top-knotch Craig Hospital in Denver when his body is ready.

Dave, we hope you know that we are here for you, with all our hearts, prayers, and network, and will be encouraging you whole-heartedly to Go Anywhere, Do Anything when you're ready. Welcome to the club, however comforting that isn't, your network is ready when you are...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gearing up for the storms

This was a great year NOT to travel in and out of Denver, and although we're glad we stayed put ourselves, several of our friends suffered delays, cancellations, and reroutes during travel, and many more who didn't travel suffered power outages, destruction, and other obstacles during the time that was supposed to be a holiday.

So we've decided to throw in a few tips for travelers over the next few remaining months of winter, in case you should see storms this bad again.

First, always put 1-3 days worth of supplies in a carry-on bag. This includes everyday necessities such as medical supplies and clothes, but remember you can wash clothes and buy some items, so we always stick with the items we could neither find easily while either trapped in an aiport or at our destination without our other luggage.

Next, always carry all your medical phone numbers in case you do need to order anything, including your insurance numbers, doctor's numbers, medical supply company, and a list of your usual orders from there in case someone else has to order. We know this might sound obvious, but you can never be too prepared.

We also recommend having the airlines label your itinerary with all your special needs and requirements; disabled individuals with documented special needs are usually taken care of first in case of rescheduling, and if the airlines don't have record of this, it's harder for them to help you. Although your pride may usually keep you from spelling out any special needs, your pride will not get your needs handled quickly and efficiently.

We always have backup batteries or chargers for your power wheelchair, cell phone, computer or PDA in our carry ons, so if we are separated from your luggage, we don't lose the ability to use your chair or locate your important numbers in case of emergency. We also use the same cell phones and PDAs so we only have to bring one cord for both.

Last, stay in contact. If people are expecting you, notify them of your delays and your possibilities so someone on the other end is aware of your location, your needs, and your status. Having someone on the "outside" is always a key element in finding solutions. For instance, when we fly through connecting cities, if we have contacts in these cities we'll make contact during tentative weather so they know if we get stuck, we have them as an option.

Playing it safe and being prepared for anything weather- or travel-related will certainly ease your mind and lower stress levels (and assist your overall health!) while you play-it-cool amidst the storm!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


What's better than hot pumpkin pie jammed into your oozing belly on top of all that turkey and stuffing? 15" of powder 2 days after all the leftovers are gone, that's what!

Yeah, our first 4 days of the 06-07 Steamboat Ski Season were seriously anticlimactic: too much sun and not enough groomers. But today we all woke up with much bigger smiles on our faces. And for me, a killer reason to write!

Dump-a-gé! Supposedly it's not supposed to stop until some time late on Wednesday. Not as in-shape for it as we gym-addicts were last year, the depths took their toll on us early today and we had to come down around 10:30 for some major-muscle-group relief. But we'll be back up bright and early tomorrow...

Until then, keep on dumping!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

RAMP IT-Stage 4

Hot Damn, we came home from California to an absolutely wonderful thing: we're under cover and the snow has melted (some)! The addition looks great and we're super excited to have the finishing touches put on- shingles, paneling in the front, side panels to keep the snow out, and maybe a decorative touch or two!

The neighbors are jealous! Stay tuned for a completed-look when all the details are ironed out!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

RAMP IT- Stage 3

The ramp and carport have made some excellent progress despite some unseasonably wet weather in September, and much thanks to our neighborly workers who have been assisting on their days off!

The ramp has inched along to the driveway now, with pickets and the startings of a carport!

We've gone and returned from Hawaii, and come home to a mostly-completed project and what seems to be MID-WINTER!

Many many thanks to Jonas and Michael Gabriel for their amazing hard work!!

Next stage: The shelter (roofing)! Here Nelly Nelly Nelly! Anyone know a roofer with nothing to do??

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Renting Cars on the Hawai'ian Islands

Renting Cars on Hawai’i

We tried three companies while on the islands: Alamo, Thrifty, and Budget.

All three were familiar with hand controls, although none could guarantee providing them; we bring ours anyway, because Craig’s portable set is reliable and familiar, and none had any problems with Craig being our driver (we used to have problems with this occasionally, but no longer come across anyone in the car industry that is unaware of disabled drivers).

The thing to remember with hand controls is the weight of them. Ours break down to pretty small pieces, but they do weigh a few pounds. With 50lbs being the max for airlines these days, and suitcases just getting bigger and sturdier, we had to take ours out of the big case and slide them in the middle of the padded duffel bag.

Of all three, we liked the cars with Thrifty the best, and rented a Dodge Charger through them on Kauai. Our biggest find was that for both of us, convertibles weren’t all they were cracked up to be. The Chrysler Seabring was perhaps the worst car we’ve ever driven, and we returned it the next day: a) with the sun beating down on you under no roof, the AC doesn’t work; b) with 2 longer doors, there’s no car frame for Craig to lean on while breaking his chair down; c) last, you always have to make sure the hand controls fit into the petals nicely, and sometimes we have to return cars for just this reason.

The other two tips we have are gas mileage and internet booking. Something to think about when on the islands, or anywhere that gas is more expensive, is that although perhaps inconvenient for the first trip to the hotel (for space), it made more sense to rent a smaller car, which wound up having a bigger trunk than the Seabring anyway. As for deals, internet booking ALWAYS winds up being cheaper than day-of booking. It's also the best way to guarantee your car type. The early bookings get noted in their computers, and when you wait to book or you wait until arrival, any special choices (hand controls, jeeps, convertibles) are usually sold out by then. And trust us, rent that Dodge Charger at least once, what a muscle car!

Last, we'd like to pass on the best part of Hawai'ian driving: No Road Rage. With Honolulu aside, the island residents have all seem to have adopted one main concept: share the road. We saw a sign on Kauai that said Don't tailgate, Drive the Speedlimit, and Let your neighbor pass on the single-lane bridges (many of them here!). And it wasn't a suggestion. It was plainly a way of life, and completely refreshing. This is one thing we hope never changes here!

Go Anywhere, Do Anything!
Andy & Craig

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

RAMP IT!- Stage 2

The ramp progress has been steady over the past two weeks, and hopefully the weather will hold for us to complete this project. Next in line is the carport, and extending the roof over both for cover! We've got 3 weeks until the wedding!

Friday, August 18, 2006

RAMP IT- Stage 1

Over the next few weeks, you can watch us take some of our own ADA-consulting medicine, as we do some renovations of our own to OUR NEW HOME! Yeah, that's right! We're homeowners! (Ain't she a cutie?) 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a deck out back, and a sweet view of "Sleeping Giant." (Not it's not warped like this, the camera's panoramic feature likes to do that!)
But before we can move in, we've got the challenge of taking that tiny staircase Craig is pictured here on and turning it into something useful, but easy on the eyes, without destroying our entire front yard. (No, I sure don't intend bumping him up that more than a few more times!)
As usual, we'll keep you posted! Any professional suggestions are welcome! (We've already applied to HGTV's My First Home, and cornered all the builders we know!)
Until next time,
Andy & Craig

Monday, July 31, 2006

" 'Sfor Goat!"

Our newest friend from Los Caminos Antiguos byway! Seeking cover from the storm under a warm but dirty Mountain Girl. She had no intention of leaving, and Craig had to roll the truck forward to get her out! BLEEEE!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Los Caminos Antiguos

Located in one of the most magnificent locations of Colorado, Los Caminos Antiquos, or the ancient roads, stretches from Alamosa, CO to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, through several quaint and hispanic-cultural towns, down to New Mexico through the pass of the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad, the nation's longest and highest narrow gauge railway between Antonito, CO and border-town Chama, NM. The byway meaders through the San Luis Valley between the impressive high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the San Juan foothills.

Greatly accessible due to high-traffic for most of this byway, the Sand Dunes park is a great place to start. Start with one of their special sand wheelchairs with adapted bulbous wheels and a second pair of strong arms to see this fascinating natural wonder, where the sand of the San Luis Valley floor gets swept up to the base of the Sangre de Cristos and creates miles of dunes against the mountains.

The largest town on this trek is Alamosa, widely accessible in both lodging and dining, and located centrally for either both the end or the beginning (or both!) of your tour. We stayed in the accessible cottage side-house of the Cottonwood B&B (719-589-3882; 123 San Juan Ave, and had a marvelous soak in their hot tub after a long day of travel, as well as an excellent breakfast to awake to on their quaint patio.

The food is especially good in this region, and were especially recommended to the Dos Hermanas Restaurant in Antonito, "the food is out of this world," one customer told us, as the aromas of hispanic flavor drifted out the door.

Don't miss the excellent views of the tour on the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad, complete with one accessible car and bathroom; but reserve early, the car must be booked a week in advance!

Happy Trails!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Behind the 'Boat

Thanks to many sponsors, volunteers, donations, and co-organizers at Adaptive Adventures, our first wakeboard and waterski camp in Steamboat went off without a glitch and was deemed a huge success by AA, pros at organizing these camps all over the state for nearly ten years.

A dozen disabled waterskiers and wakeboarders of all levels got to test their abilities on Bald Eagle Lake, Steamboat’s private waterski lake, owned and donated generously by Ed MacArthur of Native Excavating.

Thanks to Steamboat’s huge support and welcoming attitude to these adventurers, we hope to continue this summer event, as well as our all-mountain ski winter event, on an annual basis. If you would like to know more about volunteering or donating to these two wonderful events, please contact us!

For the 7-minute video of this amazing summer waterski and wakeboard camp, we welcome you to email us! (You will need the latest version of Pando for this quick download.)

Casey Owens, disabled Veteran of the United States Marine Corps from the Iraq War, is pictured here in his first attempt at waterskiing!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway

For our third of four scenic byways to evaluate the accessibility of for Colorado Scenic Byways, we visited the Flat Tops Trail, just barely southwest of Steamboat, and the shortest of our evaluations in total. Unlike the other three on our list, this byway is mostly scenery and four-wheel driving, with only a few very small towns to assess, making Mountain Girl, our rugged Toyota Tacoma, a must for the driving on this trip! Anytime we can get Mountain Girl full of dirt and mud-slinging, we're happy.

The trip follows an old trapper road from Yampa to Meeker, along one of the more scenic roads in the northwestern and somewhat flatter territory of Colorado. Only 82 miles total, this slow road meanders through the White River National Forest, an area abundant in history as well as animals, water, and scenic views. Beautiful in scenery and small historic towns, we found this byway to be quite accessible, even though the two towns of Yampa and Meeker are very small and without many modern renovations.

There is a wonderful cabin complex in Yampa we'd highly recommend, Van Camp Cabins (303 Rich, Yampa, 970-638-4254), that have a huge communal bathhouse that's fully accessible with showers, stalls, a hottub and sauna as well. The cabins have one step up to them, but the owners have a portable ramp they put out when guests with special needs visit.

To our pleasant surprise, Meeker had several options for accessible lodging, including the Valley Motel, the Valley View Motel, and the White River Inn. The most historic, Meeker Hotel (1896) does have two rooms on their ground floor, but with 19" bathrooms, wheelchair-users should find another option.

Don't miss the view from the top of this magnicifent pass! Camping at the top is also accessible; we saw plenty of wildlife up there!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway

One of the more fascinating trips we've seen in Colorado, this byway seemed to have a bit of everything; from small-town local flavor, gold mining, four-wheel drive roads, and historic hotels, it's all packed into the Gold Belt Byway!

Starting in Florissant, and the ancient fossil beds of this dually named National Park, the byway begins in south-central Colorado, just west of Colorado Springs (south of Denver). Taking you through the towns of Cripple Creek, Victor, Florence, and Cañon City, the four-wheel drive roads climb from 7 to 10,000 feet in elevation, peaking at Victor, perhaps one of the cutest mining towns in the state. We spent the night at the historic (1890) Victor Hotel, complete with a birdcage elevator, a 100-year old vault, and an accessible room on the third floor! Don't miss the American Eagle Overlook, a 4-wheel drive road to with 360º views of the valley and cavernous gold mining canyons below. Also have some New York style pizza at Sally's, seemingly an old brothel now owned by two NY-ers who pride themselves in their brick oven goodies.

Cripple Creek gets the most action on this tour, like a little Las Vegas with nearly a dozen casinos and busloads of tourists filling their halls. Neighboring to Victor, we'd recommend rolling the boardwalks of this historic town over the glitz of Cripple Creek (even dispite its ironic name) anyday. The mining train that starts here is worth help up the few stairs to the train, however, with views of the million$ half-century gold-mining empire mentioned in Victor.

Definitely take the Phantom Canyon Road to Victor for the best views in the area, that is if you've got 4-wheel drive!

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.

Friday, April 21, 2006

April Events for Access Anything

Access Anything participated in two great events in April; the 20th anniversary open house for the Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network in Salem, NH and the annual Scott Remington Fundraiser for spinal cord research donations to the Christopher Reeve Foundation in Brant Lake, NY. Both events were great networking events for Access Anything and were amazing and inspiring for both of us.

The open house on April 1st was a bi-centennial celebration as well as a showing for iBot. The Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network is the only iBot evaulation and instruction center in the New England area.

If you haven't seen the iBot live or on TV yet, you're in for a dose of modern technology's current advancements. This 21st century machine can climb stairs, roll through mud, stand its rider upright, and balance on two of its six wheels using gyroscopes and computers.

We also made some great connections at this open house with some of our peers in the disability-travel community. Wheelchair Escapes, travel agent and wheelchair-user husband Kristy and Jerry Lacroiz, specialize in wheelchair travel and are members of the SATH organization. Northeast Passage, one of the area's largest adaptive sports and recreation programs was also at the open house. Well known for their unique feature of individual equipment rental, Northeast Passage is one of the largest adaptive programs in the New England area and is a DSUSA affiliate.

In New York the following weekend the Scott Remington Fundraiser topped all previous years with over 300 attendees and over $40,000 in donations for the Christopher Reeve Foundation and spinal cord research. This event truly touches our hearts, as Scott is a distant cousin of Craig's, and has done this wonderful event since his recovery from a severe logging accident in 1998. This year we were lucky enough to present Scott with a special donation from one of our sponsors, the Freedom Tent, a fully independent tent for people in wheelchairs or with mobility disabilities made by Eureka! and Blue Sky Designs. Scott has always been an avid outdoorsman, and has not done much camping since his accident. He has kept up many of his outdoor activities such as snowmobiling and hunting, but plans to start camping again this summer!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Adaptive Ski Week a Success!

With over 30 participants and over 35" of snow in 3 days, Steamboat's first Adaptive Ski Week was a screaming success! The participants got their skis warmed up on Saturday, March 11, and then were dowsed with 12" new powder on Sunday, and another 22" on Monday. Tuesday the group went up for a sunshine-filled backcountry cat-skiing day with Steamboat Powder Cats. This day was an amazingly inspiring day for every adaptive skier to learn the deep powder and for the volunteer to be witness to their smiles, appreciation, and new found skills!

Thanks to Adaptive Adventures, Steamboat Ski Area, and Steamboat Powder Cats, this week was an eye-opening event for not only the camp's participants, but the Steamboat community as well. Our local volunteers were excited to be a part of this new event, and plans for the second annual ski week in 2007 are already being determined.

Read Steamboat Today's article on our heros!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Adaptive Ski Week

Access Anything is proud to be co-organizing the first advanced monoskier clinic in Steamboat Springs, March 10-14, in conjuction with Adaptive Adventures and Steamboat Ski Area.

The All Mountain Camp event will include top level adaptive coaches, plenty of sherpa's, video, NASTAR fun, a variety of terrain and snow conditions, a social group setting and one of the best mountains anywhere. A great opportunity to improve your skills and/or just have a great time at the Boat!An added bonus to the camp will be the opportunity to venture into the Steamboat backcountry with Steamboat Powdercats. This one day excursion will be on the last day of the camp, March 14. For those not comfortable on the snowcat trip, a day of group free-skiing will be available on Steamboat Mountain.

The camp will cost $100 per day. The daily fee includes lodging, video, group pizza party, group dinner, and loads of fun! SIGN UP NOW! Space is limited!

We're proud to host members from the Wounded Warrior Project and also proud to have double amputee and motivational speaker, Bill Demby, will be our guest speaker for the event! "Life is a game, the only way to win is to play."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Off to the SATH World Congress

Today we head down to Miami to be a part of a twenty-year legacy, the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality's World Congress. A meeting of the minds for adaptive travel and expanding the market and its awareness, this exposition and congressional-type gathering is known for bringing the future to the present.

Access Anything will be representing Colorado as an adventure tourism option for people with disabilities, supported by the Colorado Tourism Office and Steamboat Ski Area while displaying our first guidebook in the Access Anything series, AA:Colorado.

This year we’ll be getting our feet wet networking with some of the industry’s leaders and innovators. We hope to make this Congress an annual event for Access Anything, including speaking opportunities on adventure travel and expanding this market in years to come.

We’ll have some photos and our update on this event in our next entry!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Welcome to the first edition of the Access Anything Blog!

We specialize in adaptive travel for people of all abilities. The first guidebook in our series, Access Anything: Colorado is available for purchse on our website.

For monthly updates of adaptive travel tips, stories, and calendars, sign up for our newsletter at

Stay tuned for a regular update of adventure travel highlights here at our blog.