I often get ask about a “typical” Disabled Explorers Day Trip, well the problem is none of them are ever “typical”. Our goal as an all volunteer non-profit is for the disabled participant to pick where we go, what we do and how long we stay. Not only that but recently we had a tag along for a Day Trip when a former participant brought his new big shinny silver rig to give a test run. For me (Lance) as an amputee who can get around easily, I really respect the folks who aren’t as mobile yet are willing to take a chance and get out to remote areas. So join the adventure as I show you a typically not-typical Disabled Explorers (DE) Day Trip.
Here is our cast for today's overcast adventure into the Table Mesa area north of Phoenix. We have the Sportsmobile WAVE (Wheelchair Accessible Van for Expeditions), having just turned 38,000 miles in the year it has been built I am very happy with it (although not with the payments so much). Following faithfully is the utility trailer hauling our new Action Trackchair. They have made some recent upgrades and excellent design changes. And behind the DE setup we have a very nice Quigley 4x4 van with a number of recent upgrades itself.
That’s Rod our participant for today, very cool para who is looking to help the disabled get into sports. He is up for an adventure into the unknown!
And there is Loren the happy Quigley owner, is has been on previous DE day trips, is a killer photographer and has a great website http://www.accessingarizona.com
He brought along the lovely Karla and young Jared who also brought a friend. Everyone was ready to roll once the air was out of the tires.
Table Mesa is a wasteland of shooting areas, OHV trails, mining history and killer desert views. It is so easy to get to that often far too many people are there blasting away with every firearm known to man while others are dashing all over the desert in anything that has wheels. However this day we were lucky to have almost no one around.
One of the many benefits to being the most able bodied disabled person on our outings is that I often get to scout the way. No matter how many times you run a trail the conditions change with weather, previous use and your memory. That is why on this first starter section I chose to walk the route and show Rod where to place his tires on the climb.
Loren’s Quigley did a great job following the Sportsmobile WAVE and allowed Loren to get a feel for how much “bouncing around” he could take as an incomplete quad. One of our task at DE is to help people figure out solutions like chest restraints, various hand control grips and nifty tricks to make sure they enjoy the outdoors.
You can see that Loren uses a tri-post style steering wheel knob. This helps folks with less grip strength but please be aware of the possible “kickback” that can happen off road. Take is slow and easy and usually everything is fine.
I would say Rod is pretty happy after his first taste of overland driving. That or he found my travel humidor with the choice cigars!
Funny how I can usually tell if someone enjoys overland travel by their question “ok where to next?”
You will notice the little orange device above the dash, that is our Spot Satellite Messenger, yeah we are just north of Phoenix, but that puppy is always there, ready to go and I hope never actually used in an emergency.
For us desert folks water crossing are a rare treat, and one to be treated with respect. We don’t go madly splashing through, we don’t muck around digging up ruts and we don’t go off trail. Lucky for us this is a major crossing that can’t really be damaged. And it let Loren get a feel for how his van travels through water.
Before long we made it over to an area with some ruins I was told are Native American, not sure but any excuse to get out and play is a good one.
Rod was able to transfer to the Action Trackchair easily and then it was up to me to keep up.
I would say he digs it!
Meanwhile Karla and the boys were up on the hill top checking out the fortified ruins. They really enjoyed imagining times long ago, that is why we all get outdoors!
Rod and Loren were talking about how to transfer, make use of the Action Trackchair and the fun of getting into the backcountry.
Rod was off and exploring quickly, and while pictures rarely show the steepness of grades I will say that this was not an easy area for me as an amputee.
This might give you a better idea of the angle he was climbing.
Soon we were loading and running again, with dark skies threatening we didn’t want to get wet and lose the fun factor.
Loren enjoyed getting a decent test run going with the Quigley, this climb made use of low range and took a bit of turning while off camber. While you able bodied folks might think it was nothing I would like to see you try it with your feet lifted up off the floor, using your left hand to manage throttle/brake and steering with the right...no trouble right?
Loren was having a blast and looking forward to more adventures down dirt trails.
Sadly light was fading and we needed to get out before the clouds opened up on us.
However nothing like an Arizona sunset to top the desert hills as you are heading home.
All in all it was a great few hours, and those first few hours are key to a quality Day Trip. Not so short as to keep a participant from trying a range of driving, and not so long as to wear them out. Also this first taste allows me to teach the basics that we can build on later in tougher terrain or over longer distances. Of course none of this happens without donations and volunteer support. I work overtime as an ICU RN but that only can go so far, please help make more trips like this happen by volunteering or donating.