I blogged about my flying, but I’m not sure I mentioned where I went. Tom and I went to visit my brother and his wife in the Denver area. We hadn’t seen them since our wedding and that has been almost two years now, which is too long!
On Friday my brother had to work, although we had plans to pick him up from work in the afternoon downtown. While Ashley was driving us downtown Tom asked how far from Wyoming we were. She said not far at all. Then he clarified, “how far are you from Cheyenne, specifically?” She responded, “about an hour and ten minutes”. Tom looked at me and made it clear that we needed to plan to come back sometime while the Cheyenne Frontier Days was going on. Ashley paused then quickly explained that this weekend was actually the final weekend for the Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Wait, really?! Tom explained that he has always wanted to go and Ashley filled in that it had always been on her bucket list too. (Meanwhile, I’m sitting up front quietly Googling this thing to figure out what in the world they were talking about). RODEO. Oh! This makes sense. This is one of the top three rodeos in the United States, in fact. Anyone who knows anything about rodeo knows about Cheyenne Frontier Days. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m NOT anyone who knows anything about rodeo).
We threw around the idea of getting up the next morning and jaunting off to Wyoming for the day, but it wasn’t really feasible last minute. Handicap accessible seats aren’t available on the internet or at the ticket office. A form must be filled out online in advance. Then there is the issue of parking and not having any sort of disabled placard in Wyoming. Any event of that size is going to kill me walking from the parking lot to the gate, not to mention actually getting from the gate to my seat.
Saturday morning rolled around with still no plan in place for the day. Were we hanging by the pool and playing games? Were we going to randomly drive to Wyoming? The clock was ticking and if we were going to go we needed to get ready and buy tickets and get on the road.
In the end, they left the decision up to me. I knew how bad Tom and Ashley wanted to go. I also knew how much they both liked to scope things out ahead of time, plan, and be completely prepared for anything. Yes, I knew this greatly increased the chances of me getting sick or increased symptoms. Yes, it would have been smart to wait until the next year so that we could completely plan and know what we were walking (rolling) into before getting there, but this was now and it just happened to be so perfectly timed that we were in town for the final weekend, that I just knew we needed to go. This would require all four of us being prepared to roll with the punches and go with the flow with what health-wise worked best for me. Luckily, none of them have any issues being inconvenienced by me.
As I was taking pills and getting pretty Tom gave me one final out, “Are you sure you don’t want to wait until next year so we can be better prepared?” “Nope. I’m sure. I’m buying tickets now.” Plus, this plan included driving through Longmont which had a Dunkin’ Donuts and that was the official breakfast plan: Iced coffee and donuts. Count me in.
After loading my 90-year-old accessories of wheelchair and oxygen and making sure I had my Go Bag, salt tablets, sunscreen, umbrella, and water and Gatorade for the ride (because of course you can’t bring that inside the gates) off we went!
We arrived at the park and ride and parked in a perfect rodeo Prius-free and truck only row.
Tom wheeled me about 300 yards across that lovely rocky parking lot ( I never used to think about how hard these tasks are for people in wheelchairs before now) to get on a Laramie County school bus which took us on the five minute ride to the entrance. After grabbing our tickets and waiting in the 15 minute line to get in the gate, we had just enough time to visit the bathrooms and buy 40 ounces of water (my favorite way to spend 8 dollars) before heading up to our seats. Ya ya Tom, you were right, if I had left my wheelchair in the truck I would have passed out long before making it in the gates, and maybe before making it to the school bus.
What a fantastically fun experience for the four of us to share. This was my second rodeo ever and I think Tom’s 2000th. He grew up participating and his dad was on the professional rodeo circuit.
Check out this gigantic turkey leg. Ashley and Tom were VERY excited about this. Josh and I were very excited about beer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
That’s right… I’m rocking fringe.
I’m so thankful for these people and their willingness to put my health first: taking turns with pushing my wheelchair up the giant ramps to the top of the stadium, taking me on bathroom runs (and stopping on the one hour drive for me to go to the bathroom), getting me water, packing umbrella and sunscreen for me, and always being prepared for the just-in-case and knowing we might have to leave at any moment.
Not only is this the arena where world champion bull rider Lane Frost died, but the day we were there and sitting in the stands happened to be exactly the day he died, 27 years ago.
We didn’t know this event was going on when we bought plane tickets and just based it on a weekend that Tom had off. We had no idea when this rodeo was taking place. We planned in no way ahead of time with buying tickets. We didn’t even think about the fact that Lane died here until we were in the stands. We didn’t realize this was the anniversary of his death until that night.
Don’t tell me this whole event working out the way it did was just a random coincidence.