I'm gearing up for the trek. It's now less than two weeks before the journey begins, and I've been busy fundraising, fine tuning routes, organizing all the moving parts, and training when possible. The logistics have been a bit trying. It's a lot of work to travel when you are a high-level quadriplegic. My "go bag" is more like a "go truckload". I'll have the second wheelchair, a ventilator, two cough assist machines, a large pushcart with all my hotel supplies, and a suitcase full of clothes. And that doesn't even include the road crews gear. It will be a fully loaded van when we leave August 13. Speaking of the van, I just recently was fortunate enough to be given a beautiful 2010 Honda Odyssey fully accessible minivan by my good friend, the man the myth the legend, Kenny Salvini. He upgraded to a newer model, and being the generous guy he is, offered me his old one. Now, for those that don't know me, I have never had anything close to a new vehicle. This minivan is the first car I've ever had that has cupholders. I believe it is 20 years newer than anything I've previously owned. It's a luxury I hadn't dreamed of, and I really can't thank Kenny enough. It's going to make this trip much more doable. Just having air-conditioning makes me feel spoiled rotten and will be invaluable on those hot days when I just need to get out of the sun for a little while.
This past Monday, while down in Kenny's neck of the woods, he took me and our friend Jesse Collins to scout the Foothills Trail near Sumner. We were quite the sight out there. We are all paralyzed from the neck down and we all use the same model of chair. We affectionately call ourselves "face drivers" yet we all use different methods to operate our chairs. Kenny uses a head array, Jesse uses a chin drive, and I use a sip and puff. The Foothills Trail was lovely; I'd really like to incorporate it into my ride. It goes a little further east than I have planned but I could probably take it to Orting and then cut west from there. If anyone's familiar with that area I would love some suggestions.
I brought my chair into the shop this past week to ensure that it is road ready. I needed to get a new arm/mount for my sip and puff so that both chairs were operable. They gave it a once over and declared it ready for the ride. I've been trying to switch between chairs throughout the week to confirm that they are both in equally good shape. In my opinion, they're both ready for some serious miles.
I was fortunate enough to speak with the Sequim Valley Lions Club this week and received a very warm welcome. They were very generous with their support and had many kind things to say. I can't thank them enough. I won't say much more because I believe this picture says it all.
I've also had a number of inquiries about tax deductibility for donations to Ian's Ride. Ian's Ride is not a 501 (c) nonprofit organization. However, Washington Bikes is! I'm doing this ride to demonstrate that wheelchair users put trails and bike paths to use as much as anyone else. In doing this, I'd also like to help bring more trails and bike paths to our state. Washington Bikes is a perfect advocate for this. They are the recipient for my fundraising, so checks can be made payable to Washington Bikes if it helps.
The support I've received for this ride has been heartwarming. I've started a supporters page to mention those who've helped make this possible. I want to particularly thank the Sequim Valley Lions Club, Nelson Boyd Law, and SCIAW. They have been very supportive and I can't thank them enough for making this ride a reality. This list is in no way complete. So many people have helped with suggestions, advice, and words of wisdom. I'm thrilled to undertake this journey and really appreciate all their help. Thank you, thank you, thank you!