(Who ever drove this puppy knows exactly what I’m talking about)
(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 If it seems outdated, thats because it is…)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…
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.
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…
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
Who wants to fly?
‘Para’gliding… seems like a misnomer after last weeks adventure.
Could be called tetragliding now…
”It’s not so much the flying part that I’m worried about. It’s more the taking off and landing,” I questioned one of the paragliding instructors at Jackson Hole Paragliding.
“Well, once we take off we will land” Matt assured me with a chuckle. “You’ll be fine.”
Works for me, I thought and continued with my ‘sign your life away’ check in papers.
The fact of the matter is, I had never really thought about paragliding prior to seeing The Intouchables at the movie theater the night before. There is a very memorable scene in the film when a C4 quadriplegic paraglide’s off a mountainside somewhere in Europe. I was obviously not in Europe but AM a quadriplegic and had a mountainside with paraglide’s at my disposal so…. Why the hell not?
The whole process was quite effortless on my part. I took the tram to the summit and transferred to the ground where I strapped up in the harness. I had a couple of guys carry me for the initial lift off but with a little help from a gust of wind, I watched as the ground fell out from beneath me and gravity became more of a myth than reality.
“Saaaawwwwweeeeeeetttttt!!” Is all I could get out of my mouth, “This is fuckin awesome!”
We flew all over the mountain whizzing over treetops and soaring to another paraglider, my dad, who I also convinced to join in.
“Do you like roller coasters?” Matt said yanking his right arm down by his side causing the right side of the shoot to dive and undoubtedly us too.
My stomach lurched as the feeling of free fall followed by intense G forces impacted my body. He let go of his right arm and pulled down with the left causing us to swing swiftly to the other side! Whoa!!!
After voluntarily making my stomach feel deathly ill and finally leveling off, Matt offered for me to take the controls. I reminded him that I don’t have hand function so hanging on to the controls could be problematic but he assured me I’d be fine. Looping the straps around my wrist, I began to steer.
“I could get used to this” I exclaimed!
“We could teach you to do so!”
Coming into the landing zone Matt offered to take the controls to which I happily obliged.
“See if you can lift your knees up,” he instructed. “I should be able to take care of the rest.”
He was right. He set me so softly on the ground that I questioned whether someone had snuck a foam pad beneath of us.
“Piece of cake,” were the only words I could squeak out.
I was hurriedly carried out of the landing zone before the other came ripping in. Looking up in awe, I watched as a solo pilot practiced some form of front flip maneuver over and over above us.
”Maybe one day,” I said then forcefully looked away before I threw up just thinking about how tricks like that would make my stomach react.
As much as I enjoyed the paragliding scene in the movie, it doesn’t scratch the surface of how it feels in real life!
A day for the books
-Keep on Keepin’ on
What does this look like to you?
For most of you it looks like a dream refrigerator filled with endless numbers of condiments, leftovers, juices, vegetables, you name it – chances are we’ve got it! It’s something that any frat house would dream of filled with endless surprises and combinations.
Well, not me.
For me and looks more like a very carefully planned out game of Jenga. A game that is just one move away from completely and uncontrollably collapsing. The game that when I attempt to grab my strawberry yogurt from the very back shelf will ultimately crashing my face causing me to swear and moan until everything is either back in the fridge, eaten by Bella, or left to rot out of out of just sheer frustration. So I decided to go with the protein shake that was accessible in the other fridge and headed down the street to get a sandwich.
But I am happy to say that these days are coming to an end. I ran some numbers not too long ago on how much I spend each month on food and it completely blew my mind! It’s time to budget! And the fridge also reminded me that I need to shed some weight. Not literally of course, if I lost anymore weight I would fly when the wind blew! But it’s time to do a good spring\fall cleaning.
I need to not only clean out this fridge but also my closet full of 500 T-shirts that I rarely wear! Though this fridge frustrated the shit out of me when I first saw it, it actually is a good reminder that more is not always better!
While I’m on the topic of food, I noticed that I have an advantage on all of you that I hadn’t thought of before. When I was at the grocery store shopping today I realized that if anything is above 4 1/2 feet tall, I can’t reach it, and therefore don’t want it. So, to all of you tall able-bodied people standing there googely-eyed in the seemingly endless cereal aisle, my choice is 1/3 easier because of what I can reach. So take that!
If you’re not interested in seeing Aspokinlife’s longest blog post, go ahead and leave now.
Still here? I’m going to take you on a mostly visual whirlwind journey through 3 countries with short captions and lots of pictures… Hope you enjoy
Before I get started, I forgot to mention when I was at the hotel in London taking a shower the fire alarm went off. I hardly do anything fast these days and getting out the shower is no exception. I turned off the water, said out loud, “are you kidding me?” and began to transfer back into my chair. Somebody from the hotel came rushing in my room to take me to the stairs but gave me a minute to grab a shirt and all the valuable items. I took my passport, some money, and most importantly my camera. Here is the picture I had the hotel employee snap of me waiting at the stairwell refugee point. Fortunately there was no fire!
Clay and I visited a nice little town on the Germany/Austria border that I can’t remember the name of to save my life. It was on an enormous lake with the mountains deep in the distance. It was a neat traditional town but did feel slightly like a tourist trap. I did enjoy the numerous floral creations though.
There were many of these random rose bushes growing up the walls of the buildings. Clayton stopped to take a sniff which worked perfectly for showing you just how tall they grow
Continuing along, we eventually reached the side of town located lake side. I thought these boats would make for a neat picture but it was quite cloudy out. The sun shone through the clouds just long enough to tease me as I was getting my camera set up and then disappeared again. I must’ve sat for at least 10 minutes waiting for the sun to come back out. It never did, that is, until I started moving away. Within 30 seconds of me leaving the spot the sun shone again. Still turned out to be a cool shot but the sun would’ve made it much stronger
Once again, one of these rosebushes growing up a wall that is more than likely older than our entire country
After Austria, we finally took an overnight trip to Switzerland. The drive was absolutely beautiful and reminded me much of the mountains out here in Colorado. When we finally reached the town of Vals, Switzerland I was quite excited to spend some time away from people. We visited the thermal baths that are nothing shy of an architectural icon. It was a wonderful evening and also happen to be Clayton’s birthday.
The way these one lane roads wind through these mountains fascinated me. They harvest the grass or wheat growing on the hillsides and stored it in these little huts you see everywhere. It looks like incredibly hard work because it is such a steep hillside that they have to walk and Sling Blade then rake most of it.
Here in Switzerland they actually use real slate rock for their roof. You can see a close-up here of the roofs of one of the houses in town with moss growing on it. I can’t even imagine the amount of snow these slates see in the wintertime! Heavy!
I have to give credit where credit is due and I must admit I would not have made it very long without Mist’R Lizard here. This is my artificial sweatener which I use to spray water all over myself to keep from overheating. It has saved my life hey countless number of times. Thanks Mist’R Lizard!
On the way back to Austria from Switzerland Clay and I decided that it would be fun to take an alternate route. We pulled out the map and picked a back road that would cut off a good chunk of the highway but not take too long. As we drove up this road it went from a two lane road, to a one lane road, to a questionable road at best. The road drove straight into sheer cliffs. Clayton and I were sure that there is no way this road could possibly go on but we continued on driving. After passing some multi-hundred foot exposed cliffs just off the road we came upon this seemingly handmade tunnel through the middle of the mountain. We stopped to take some pictures and then slowly crept through the 200 yard tunnel. When we popped out the other side this is what we saw.
And pushed our little rental card to the limit. 182 km an hour on the autobahn and we were still getting passed like we were sitting still. I’ve always wanted to check out the autobahn and now I can check that off my bucket list. It’s crazy, it’s just like any highway here in the US. I always imagined it to be some mega road with multiple lanes for the no speed limit rule but it is just as small as any two lane highway here except with no speed limit.
Before we reached Munich, I looked up the top things to do in the city. It came as no surprise that visiting the BMW headquarters was on the list. Clay and I headed straight there from Austria to try and get in on one of the tours of the factory. I’ve seen them on the Discovery Channel but would love to see it in real life. Unfortunately, turns out so did so do many other people. There was no available spots in any tours for the next two weeks so we just looked around in the main building and cruised over to the museum.
So I drank
And we drank
And she started to look pretty darn cute….
Then Clay accidentally knocked my camera off his seat..
This is my, ”That camera better be ok” face..
The following day, Clayton and I decided to take it easy and chill at one of the parks in town. There is this man-made surf wave on one of the rivers flowing through the park where people try their odds on their surfboards. There is a mix from people just learning to people who can throw 360s. Wild
Of course we had to visit one of the cathedrals and the area to witness the incredible craftsmanship used to create the ceilings.
This picture of Mozart’s statue was taking just seconds before I flipped over backwards. I had forgotten to lock the brakes on my chair and because of the way I was sitting once I lifted the camera to my eye, the chair rolled underneath me and I flipped backwards. A couple local guys came over laughing said, “That must be a heavy camera!”
When I was out wandering around by myself one afternoon I was stopped crossing a bridge by a lady with these four dogs. With the very little English that she knew we were able to exchange just enough jesters for her to want to take a picture of me. She wanted a picture of me with the castle in the background which she took but I told her I wanted a picture with her four dogs. She was flattered!
This astronomical clock is located in the main square of Prague. This clock was first installed and 1410 making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. If you look closely at it you can see that it shows the zodiac ring of different astrological signs. It shows where the sun is in the planet and where the moon is. It amazing that it was designed so long ago
We had heard that there is a wonderful view of the city from a park just uphill from town and wanted to check it out. I warmed up my muscles and got ready for the intense climb.
Then had Clay push me the whole way up
Once we made it, it was quite scenic the top. A beautiful view of the ancient city of Prague
In closing, this is just a picture of the Prague skyline with a storm moving in. I tried for a while to capture the lightning but turns out it’s really hard to do.
Hope you enjoyed my trip to Europe. See you down the road
Keep on Keepin’ on
As beautiful and picturesque as Europe was I figured I would take this time to show you just how pretty the United States of America can be too! Actually, I’m in Virginia and although I have all my pictures with me on a hard drive I will be re-editing a bunch of work on my dad’s computer (which doesn’t like my file sizes) that I already have completed back in Colorado so I am going to wait to continue my Europe experience until I return home tomorrow.
Now, all that being said, I went up to Aspen about a week ago to hang out with a buddy and watch the Colorado Pro cycling challenge road bicycle race. We drove up to close to 12,000 feet in elevation to watch the athletes come over the crest and start descending. For those of you didn’t never been at high altitude it is extremely hard to breathe! I was out of breath just trying to take off my sweatshirt and after just a few sips off a Coors light I felt as though I had drank a case all by myself! Whammy!
Meanwhile, all the cyclists were doing a 130 mile stage with almost 10,000 feet of climbing! The average well over 23 mph for the entire state which is practically inhuman! Many of these guys competed in the Tour De France just months before.
Where we posted up on the descent had a good vantage point because we could see them coming towards us as well as the road wrapped around beneath us. We could easily see a few miles of road from this one spot being that the trees are sparse this high up.
Some of these riders hit speeds had excess of 65 mph on the descent!
Sounds a lot like a death wish to me!
As you can see, Bella was thrilled
I played with the fish eye
This is who won!
So the real reason I came back to Virginia was to go to my good friend Bobby and now Emily Carson’s wedding. They live on the farm where we hosted the Rollout last year and had a beautiful wedding. Although it was raining throughout most of the day, the rain stopped just long enough to do the ceremony and get into the tent for the after party!
Waiting for the bride
Leaving with her
It’s always fun to come home and see old friends
Dance a little bit
And of course hang out with the family
Only one more day of humidity and then back to CO.
-Keep on Keepin’ on
Waking up this morning after spending the entire day yesterday drinking at the Lyons folk festival lets just say I was less than the eager to be productive. Rolling slowly through my house weaving through shirts and tennis shoes I stumbled upon the fortune cookie on the counter from my Chinese food a few nights ago. Smashing it open, it told me all I need to know. I guess you can’t really complain when you base your Sunday around what a fortune cookie tells you. So here are my words of the day. The deeds will follow
After checking Italy off the list of countries to see we moved on to Innsbruck, Austria. Innsbruck was the home of the winter Olympics in both 1964 and 1976. We spent a couple days here checking out with the streets and taking in the beautiful scenery. It was mostly overcast and cloudy but we had a few chances to see the peaks from time to time. The ski jump peers over the town with athority as if it were there first.
I didn’t take this next shot but it gives the feeling of what it would be like to stand atop this sucker..
We started through the park
Where Clay pondered the meaning of life
Cruised over bridges
To find where Austrian’s go for fun
Hung out with street performers
And payed attention to what was close
As well as far
Greeted those passerby’s
And found paths less traveled
Then rented a car and were on our way to the corner of Germany..
Keep on Keepin’ on
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
Catching the sunset
From another angle
Dinner in the alley
Passing the hundreds of wine vineyards on the way to Austria
We just kept on keeping’ on
NEVER EVER EVER EVER MESS WITH COMPUTER CODING!!!!!
I thought I lost EVERYTHING!! Getting back on track
more to come
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.
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