Amputee Perspectives: Bryce, Bryce Baby!

Written by: Beth Hudson LBK

Back in October, 2021, my husband pulled the trigger and decided to retire after teaching for the past twenty-one years. His forty-one year career includes twenty-nine as an educator. As of this writing, he has twelve school days left. By my count, I have made him approximately 6,500 sandwiches for his lunch since his first year teaching in 1981. But I digress.

Once HR accepted his request, we immediately began making plans for a retirement trip. Our original goal was to hit the only two states we had not visited yet – North Dakota and Alaska. North Dakota was on the way, so that was easy. We wanted to travel with Jay’s brother and his wife, but he hasn’t yet retired; we decided to put that trip on hold until we could go together.

Instead, we had heard fabulous things about Bryce National Canyon, particularly its hiking and biking trails. We have been to Arches, and we decided to check Bryce off our list. We started our planning and are just about ready. We did not anticipate $6.00/gal diesel prices but we decided to go and adjusted our budget accordingly. To help counter the cost, we will be staying in many Harvest Host locations across the country – a distillery in downtown Buffalo, a Speedway museum, a few wineries, and some hemp (pot) stores (legal in Colorado). The one place I’m really looking forward to, believe it or not, is in Iowa. We will be staying at the Dam Complex at Coralville Lake, Iowa. We’re looking forward to seeing the structure, and if you have an RV or motorhome, you can get a disabled site for $20. The site is a pull through with full hook-ups, paved, and near the facilities. It looks beautiful on the map.

Since my accident, we no longer just take off and hope to find a place to camp for the night – those days are over for us. We have planned our stays for the next six weeks. This is not only due to the high volume of campers nowadays, but also because of my medical issues. We need to be in a safe place – A Walmart parking lot is, and always will be, a very last resort.

Now, I’ve paid my dues with camping, including a three day solo camping experience where I was blindfolded and walked into an area, spent three days, and had to find my way out. Minimal supplies. I was in high school and it was a blast. I camped my way across the country for three years when I drove from NH to Colorado for college, and my husband and I tented until child #2 came along; that’s when we decided to get off the ground. Two pop-ups and three fifth wheels later, we’re still going strong. Our current RV is named “CC” after my youngest daughter named it the “Camping Castle.” Yeah, it’s glamping – and although we bought it before my amputation, the inside is perfectly suited for my needs.

And thanks to C.A.F. (Challenged Athletes Foundation), I was able to buy my Birkelbikepro – a highly modified recumbent trike. My husband has a foldable electric bike. After a bit of reconfiguring and removing stuff we never really used from the underbelly of CC, we managed to fit both of them in. I can’t wait to explore the biking trails that Bryce and the area have to offer.

My husband’s brother and his family will be joining us in Bryce with their children and grandchildren; it’s been ten years since we have all been together, and we are all looking forward to the reunion.There will be a day or two where the family will be hiking on trails that I just physically won’t be able to do. My good friend, who’s an RBKA from Las Vegas, is going to spend a few days at Bryce with us, and she’s bringing her kayak. Since I am training for an open water one mile swim in October, she’s going to be my wing woman while I get in some open water training. I’m so looking forward to meeting her in person instead of talking to her in her Zoom box. We may even take a trail ride on horses, too. So much to do!

My point? Find adventure and wonder this summer no matter what you do or where you go. We have traveled so much in our RV during the past forty-two years that we expect the unexpected and know that our attitude is everything. We may break down (done that), we may lose a window (done that), we may get kicked off a ferry (done that), we may get lost (done that, too) – you get the picture. We ARE as prepared as we can be, but no one can predict every possibility. We roll with the punches, laugh at the laughable, and troubleshoot problems together.

We did the same thing after my accident, which was by no means a laughing matter. But it made us both individually stronger and without a doubt strengthened our forty-one year marriage. I’m lucky to have such a great partner, and everyone needs someone to lean on. I hope you’ve found that person in your life, too.

You don’t have to travel 2,000 miles to find adventure. You can find it in your own backyard.
If you see me on the bike trails, stop and say hello! Watch out Bryce, here I come!

And remember: You don’t know how much strength you have until you are called upon to use it.