Three and a half months ago, Ian Brown was crushed by a tree and broke his back, both shoulders, and multiple ribs. He was pretty beat up. But, as his wife Helen reports below, sometimes the road to rehabilitation includes hilarious quests around the city, awkward photos with strangers, and some quality time with public transit (which, despite an unfortunate snag here or there, really can be your friend.)
112 days since Ian’s injury. 41 days in rehab. And home (hopefully) in 49 days… But today, we have a different mission.
Recently, SCI BC staff at GF recruited Ian and me for the Bus Stop Hop, Vancouver’s only wheelchair accessible scavenger hunt. We’re taking a leap of faith by agreeing to spend the day out of the hospital and embark on a weird, time-sensitive journey with a group of strangers.
“Bus Stop Hop”: it sounds innocent, fun, sort of makes you think “hop, hop, furry little bunny” and ” what a nice way to spend a day.” But first, you have to get to the Athlete’s Village starting line. GF Strong to Cambie is about four blocks away: straight along King Edward to the Sky Train station on the corner. Easy peasy. In Ian and I go, and figure out how to purchase our tickets (it’s been just a few years since my train days). We head down the elevator and along comes a train.
After the mass exodus of disembarkers, Ian goes in. And halfway in…he stalls! I don’t know if his wheels are stuck or if it’s just an awkward angle, but there he is: half in, half out. And now the alarms begin to sound…PANIC… his chair won’t move. Finally, three burly sorts grab hold and shove him into the train. And now, his chair has no power. No lights, bells or whistles! We probably should have tried the hazard lights—the only instance they would be of use.
As I bend over to look at the back of the chair, we see a dangling wire harness. Yipee! I find the appropriate hole, shove it in and…voila! Power ON.
BP levels go down a bit—for both of us—and before you know it, we’re at our stop. Off we get and I turn on the map app. I’m sure we should follow the blue arrow to the Athlete’s Village. We do a block before we realize we’re going the wrong way. Damn arrow (guess it needed to re-calculate.)
Back on track, we finally get there— in the end we find the Athlete’s Village by following other guys in chairs. Let the game begin! Scavenger hunt extraordinaire! We open the Goose Chase app, which contains all of our team missions, and away we go. We have to complete a shitload of challenges. When you take a photo of the challenge it is uploaded, and scores are kept current as people finish quests.
Some of these quests, of course, are almost too easy: “take a selfie of the team”; “find two black cars side by side.” But then they get tougher! On the SeaBus: “get at least eight people to do the Macarena.” Sounds easy, huh? You try it! Sometimes, Vancouverites do not have a sense of humour. Or “have the entire team walk a stranger’s dog.” Our team—now dog-walking crew—consists of Ian, me, Isaac (also in a chair,) his wife Vilumene and her sister Mary.
“Get at least eight people to do the Macarena.” Sounds easy, huh? You try it!
At Lonsdale Quay: try to find a mother willing to let her under 10 year old feed ice cream to a strange man in a wheelchair! Then we’re off again, all the way to YVR, to take a picture of a current world event in a newspaper! We hit the River Rock Casino—old pros that we are, we easily give Isaac and girls directions here—to snap a shot of us blowing on a pair of fuzzy dice.
There are so many other fun and bizarre quests. (I get a young hottie—male, approximately 26 years old or so—to take off his shirt on the SkyTrain!) There must be 40 things to find and we nail some of the really tough ones: find a set of identical twins, and someone celebrating a birthday. We end up in 2nd or 3rd place—we can’t quite hear the announcement but win tickets to two different Canadian games in August!
112 days since Ian’s injury, 41 days in rehab, and what did we accomplish today? Let your imaginations run wild. We got strangers to do a sing-along, a whole crowd to do “the wave,” we arm wrestled with a stranger, scouted out a guy with an impressive mustache, and so much more! I really hope to come back next year. And to really kick some butt. And, who are we kidding, to go for the top spot. (The way the challenges are set up, it’s really anybody’s game.)