A week in Colorado!

Posted: 29th January 2013 by in Journal

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We are back in Bethesda after a week of skiing/snowboarding in the Colorado. The trip consisted of a mixture of learning to snowboard for the first time all over again, lots of wipe outs, hot tub time to soothe the achy muscles, enjoying the beautiful scenery, watching the daredevil athletes compete in the Xgames, and having some downtime with others from the hospital.

The flight to Colorado went flawlessly. We grabbed our bags (or so we thought) and headed to the hotel. Taylor had been wearing his legs all day, so once we were all settled in we popped off his legs to give them a breather. That’s when I opened the luggage to grab some shrinkers and bandages to find it wasn’t our bag. This bag is huge; big enough to fit a few sets of prosthetic arms and legs, plus all our clothing! Our group was the last to grab our bags at the airport. We grabbed what we thought was our bag and didn’t think twice about it. I mean this isn’t your typical luggage; it is an oversized military issue Black Water bag. Turns out they issue this bag to more than one person. Thank God we met that other military member while leaving the airport. Fortunately, he gave us his business card and told us to give him a call when we came to the Xgames. The Navy was sponsoring the Xgames so he would be down there overseeing events throughout the weekend. Thanks to that business card we were able to track down our bag. I explained to him that we must have switched luggage at the airport and unless he has a need for prosthetic arms and legs than we should switch back. Luckily, he didn’t. We switched back and had the equipment necessary for the week of snowboarding and skiing.

Initially, the ski instructors had down that Taylor wanted to learn to sit ski. When Taylor told him he had planned to snowboard, they were a little taken back. Saying things such as, “we would never tell you, you can’t do something but logistically it may be painful without knees to absorb the shock” or “yeah, you can try it but we will keep the sit ski available, just in case you decide it doesn’t work out”. So come day one on the slopes, Taylor got suited up to snowboard. Our prosthesis developed these bindings that would attach directly from the bottom of his sockets to the snowboard. I think Taylor surprised the instructors as well as himself with how well the system worked out and quickly he was able to pick up snowboarding.

The instructors took us to a bunny hill to test out Taylor’s ability. Then we moved up to a steeper bunny hill. A little steeper but Taylor wanted more. He felt confident enough that he wanted to ski all the way down and across the mountain to our hotel. This is when he started to get frustrated. He fell a lot, he fell hard! I think this was a combination of: being overconfident (jumping from the bunny hills up to several skill levels) and fatigue setting in since it was the end of day. Plus the more and more frustrated he got, the harder he fell.
We made it a portion of the way back before Taylor threw in the towel. We strapped him into the sit ski and the instructor pushed him back to the hotel. He said that every fall brought him back to when he first learned to ride. Then over lunch Taylor told us his game plan… to sleep on everything he had learned throughout day one, storing the information in his long term memory…He did a paper on how sleep effects your learning abilities a few years back. Lets just say he references his findings quite a bit haha

Looks like it worked. Day 2 was a huge improvement!! We never saw the bunny hills after day one. Taylor seemed to go down the slopes faster each time and cut harder with each turn. It was a successful day. Even though we soaked our sore muscles in the hot tub each night, day 3 brought a slower speed and a few more falls than the previous day. But day 4 we were right back at it. We went higher up the mountain and tried steeper slopes with more trees to navigate around. In four days Taylor improved more than either of us expected.

Throughout our trip everyone complained that Colorado was in desperate need of snow. All we heard all week is how much the mountains needed fresh powder. Lucky for them, come Sunday (the day before we were scheduled to leave), the skies opened up and the snow came pouring down. Unfortunately for us it was too much snow for the airports to handle. We were supposed to leave the hotel promptly at 11:30am. Instead we were on the phone with the airlines and airports for several hours, trying to figure out what was the best way to make it back to the hospital as soon as possible. After plan A, B, and C… we decided to drive two hours to a bigger airport and fly out Tuesday morning instead of Monday. Due to the snow that two hour drive turned into a 4.5 hour drive but everyone made it safe and sound, rolling into the hotel around 10pm! We grabbed a quick drink before setting the alarm for 3:45am.

The morning came quick but we made our flight to Denver without any issues, then pretty much walked onto our connection flight. We are back at the hospital! Bags are unpacked, laundry is going, and alarms are set for a day of catch up at the hospital!

We like to take something away from each trip. This trip we learned that we need a better system for using the wheelchair in the snow. The front wheels get stuck in the slush, making it almost impossible to push the wheelchair without dumping Taylor onto the ground. We found the best way to get through the snow this time around was so push Taylor in the wheelie position the whole time. It worked for this week but my arms were BURNING each time we had to venture through the snow, plus Taylor continued to tell me how scared he was!!!! Our plan to improve this situation, is to put short skis on the front two wheels so the chair can glide across the snow. We have a plan all drawn up in our heads, we just need to put it to paper! Half wheelchair, half skis…coming right up!!



  1. Jacques DuBoisw says:

    After all is said and done….it’s still sucks…

  2. Jake says:

    I was working a uniform patrol at the airport back in January when you guys came through the airport. I immediately recognized Taylor, but didn’t want to say anything. Glad your trip went well. KCCO

  3. It is so fun to read about your adventures! We cannot wait to see what kind of inventions U two will conjure up, out of necessities & sheer determination.Fantastic idea to put or adapt skis in place of front wheel casters! Snow, Sandy Beaches & even packed dirt hiking trails, are quite the challenging course for your arms for the pushee or the self wheeler. Refused to give up on going to the ocean side, so I popped the wheelchair on back two tires & pulled my son backwards while gripping handle bars down at my hips and walking forward..I always joked, “I am the Ox & he’s the cart! Sooo glad noth’n is stopping U-Two…Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us…ROLL-ON!!!!

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