The weather was horrible as we drove from Texas to Louisiana! It doesn’t take a meteorologist to understand that this hurricane didn’t just hit Texas, but all states around it, like Louisiana. With only one headlight, it made driving in the rain almost impossible. I helped Casey drive many nights, and driving in the hurricane weather was one night that I will never forget.
When we got to Louisiana, the swim was at another medical-type facility. We parked way out in the parking lot, next to a field that was flooding. I wondered how many rainstorms they got like this, “Is this normal weather for them? Not all the time, but often?” Then I got thinking about alligators, and how much they would love that flooded field. Every time I am in an alligator state, I imagine all of the places that these alligators probably live. I imagined that they lived in the trees off in the distance, but made their way into this field if the water was high enough. But really, I just made all of that up as I was standing there.
James was prepping for the swim, and Lucy woke up. She and I went into the facility, but we found out that no one under 18 could go into the facility. I wondered why it mattered if she was with her parents, and wasn’t using the facility, was only watching from the pool deck. We went outside and watched him jump in the water through the windows; we then headed back to the RV. I was curious how many people would show up in the south, being that they are notorious for bad health. There was 1 person at the swim, not great support starting a new day. I was more excited about their fame for great hospitality!
I remember the kids and I waited patiently as they ate rice crispies. I had picked up two small milks at the gas station: one was for cereal in the morning, and the second was for my milk loving friend, Wingman Casey. This guy was going through major milk withdraws! He was definitely the most annoyed that the fridge never worked. No fridge = No milk.
James returned, and everyone was trying to come up with a solution. The ambassador has mentioned that we could do something at his house. Everyone was exploring ideas, and somehow we landed one. A news anchor was covering the story. I am not sure where we crossed paths with her, or if someone had talked to her, but Sherri was so kind to suggest we do it at her house. She suggested doing her interview while James trained; brilliant if you ask me!
We all headed over to her home, and the set up was perfect for the masses. At this point, one of our sponsors, Zyto, had sensed our desperation and short-handedness. They had sent out several people to help us: sisters Hannah and Sariah, Brytin, Josh and Brian. We were so relieved to have extra help, and essentially this would alleviate many struggles, and change the desperate struggle that we were experiencing every day!
Earlier in the campaign, we had a crew member who deemed himself project manager. As time passed, we didn’t realize that nothing was getting done. As mentioned earlier, we went several days into this journey, and had no idea that ‘they’ weren’t posting on social media. I was being contacted by business associates, sponsors, media, etc. as the new contact, because our crew member was just simply ignoring the emails, calls and texts. As of New Mexico, I had become the new project manager. I hate being in charge, and I was weighted heavily by this task. I was supposed to be on vacation, but I was now solely responsible to save our business!
Along with these issues, I had spent the last 12 days trying to get a link from the Jamie Oliver foundation. My friend Dano would later assist me in trying to get through to them, to no avail. We had talked with them in Hawaii, and they were in; yet, for some reason, it ended up taking them 30 days to get us a link for donations. We decided after a few days, we had to do something, or we would miss the opportunity to collect donations! All of this would have been for nothing. We then set it up to accept donations on our website, and to have it all itemized so that we could get the money to Jamie Oliver as soon as they provided the link. Unfortunately, this would be a battle that I would not only keep fighting, but would later give more haters bait to come after us.
When our Zyto friends showed up, they began stepping in anywhere we would let them. They were helping with marketing, media, assisting me with the kids, and Sariah and Hannah became our new Subaru drivers at night. They absolutely saved the day! They also helped with the kids; Hannah spent many hours playing with them throughout the 50, allowing me to handle pressing issues. Brytin became my assistant, and would do anything I needed. She would go with me during the day (while Hannah and Sariah tried to catch sleep from driving all night), she would do post office runs, errands to pick up things like milk, anything I needed. Over the 50/50/50, we grew very close with these people, and will forever be indebted to them, and to Zyto who sent the help!
Now all 15 of us piled into this house, and set up our stations. Casey and Aaron crashed hard on the couch. One minute they were laughing, I looked the other way, and when I turned back, they were out cold! James set up his bike, and began his interview with Sherri. There was a lap pool out back, so the kids threw on their suits and went out to swim in the rain. The hurricane rain was warm, much different than rain at home. Sherri’s dog was outside as well; the kids giggle and loved on that dog all day long. I started laundry, and kindly requested a shower.
James was talking to the ambassador and had mentioned wanting to try some southern food. Remember, James is Canadian, so the southern culture was very foreign to him. The ambassador went back and forth about all of the delicious places that could not be beat. Soon, he and his buddy were out the door in search for the best southern food. When they returned, they not only had loads of yummy food, but also 3 pies. We were supposed to try them all and see which kind we liked best. There was key lime, banana and a strawberry. We all enjoyed the food, the hospitality and a good laugh.
Sherri’s husband, Rufus, came home for a break in the day. I was dying to try some authentic Louisiana, Cajun food! I love different cultures, and I was really looking forward to learning about them, and immersing myself during this trip. He had Cajun ancestry and cooked up a delicious Cajun meal for me! He even introduced me to a new spice, creole seasoning. Again, another gracious act from this family, feeding us!!!
I later decided the kids needed an outing, so we headed to a trampoline place that was close. The Zyto girls took their own car, we unloaded The Little White Mazda, did the transfer and hopped in. I started the windshield wipers right away, the rain cleaned the windows, spic n’ span. The kids jumped around, while I answered emails, made calls and executed my new tasks, that I had now accepted were my responsibility.
James was headed to a gym to run. Like other days, kids under 18 weren’t allowed inside. They got him all set up and running, and we swung by to say goodbye for the night. Fortunately for us, the gym employees let us go upstairs, as a family, and give him a hug and a kiss, even though it was against their policy. It was going to be another late night for him, and with the bad weather and longer drive, the RV needed a head start. We went back to the RV, and prepped to leave to our next state Arkansas. I hopped on Iron Cowboy’s social media to respond to posts and messages, and people were starting to ‘talk’ about the indoor days.
Our new critics had decided to discount James’ indoor days. James pushed the same amount of power on his bike to mimic outside, but still people didn’t hesitate to voice their opinions, and discredit it. One guy said, “So tough huh! But not tough enough to do a real ironman outside. If you were really ‘that’ guy, you would brave the hurricane.” That is when I realized that we are dealing with idiots! How could people be so horrible? I have always made an effort to be kind, yet that didn’t always have the same effect. I was talking to my dad one day in our kitchen when I was in high school, concerned that I was nice to everyone, yet some people were just mean and cruel. His words have stuck with me my entire life, “People hated Jesus Christ enough to crucify him. Do you think that you are really going to go your whole life and not have people hate you?” I have never forgotten those words, and remind myself of these wise words whenever I am faced with difficult people.
When it was time to hit the road, we needed to swing by the AirBnB and grab Aaron’s things that he had left there. It took us a while to find it, but eventually we did, and it was so cool! It was seriously an old, old house that was filled with Voo Doo dolls and creepy stuff. It took us some time to find Aaron’s stuff that he had left, being that the host had moved it, but soon enough we found it. I took my time leaving, looking at all of the creepy stuff. I kind of wish I had a solid hour to look around, but we needed to get on the road.
The roads were narrow, and it made it tricky to drive the RV. We needed to make a U-turn, being that the roads all had medians with trees and grass, in order to follow our GPS instructions. Casey pulled to the side of the road, then began turning the RV. We heard a horrible sound, and when we completed the turn, we jumped out to see what it is. The awning had caught on the low-hanging trees and been pulled right off, hanging by only one screw. Casey about lost it! “Why do I keep destroying this RV?!?! Why does all of the bad stuff happen to me???” We didn’t know what to do. There was metal hanging, the awning dragging, what were we supposed to do with it. It took me about ten minutes, but eventually I figured that we could duck tape it to the back of the RV. We had to clean the back off, which took some serious effort, and then we duck taped everything to the back of the RV. We figured that would hold it until we thought of something better…maybe tomorrow.
The southern hospitality was everything that I had dreamed that it would be! I have heard about it my whole life, but it was 100 times more than I could have possibly imagined! This was just my first state in the south, and it had already filled my heart with a deep love and appreciation for the southern culture!