This day was Father’s Day. While James was out running the night before, in Missiouri, the kids had covered the RV with sweet notes for him. We knew he would be a zombie when he entered the RV that night to sleep, and wouldn’t even notice the notes. We were right. We had left Missouri early that morning, and Quinn had a high fever. James had snuggled that morning with Quinn, and had fallen back to sleep. He did not notice any of the notes, as it was still dark, while we drove to Illinois. When he woke up, ready to start his day, he saw all of his Father’s Day notes all over the RV. He loved it, and it was a great way to start day 16, in Illinois.
We pulled off the side of the road, and needed to figure out how to park the RV. In theory, you can just park right on the side of the road, but with the RV and trailer, it was more complex than that. It took a few loops, driving back and forth, until we finally figured it out. We got out of the RV, and there in front of us stood the buffest woman we had ever seen. I fell in love with Karen the minute I saw her! I am passionate about fitness; when I was young, I had thought about going into body building. Life took me in a different direction, but I have continued to love body building, and admired the dedication that I knew it took for Karen to look the way she did.
She extended a warm welcome, with many other people. We were friendly, but somewhat disoriented. I was so tired, and knew that I needed to act more pulled together than I really was. I know that this was the case for Casey as well. We would be talking to someone, and I could tell that he wasn’t processing a single thing that they were saying. I would make an effort to retain what was being said, slug Casey to wake his brain up, and then I would translate for him.
My relationship with Casey is like a close brother. His sense of humor is on 24/7, and most people have trouble keeping up. But I live for humor, and love all doses, even an overdose. To take it a step further, when I am grumpy, and he is ‘on,’ he knows exactly how to annoy me until I end up laughing, even though I still wanting to punch him. He was definitely my saving grace through this summer. If he had not have supported me and the kids the way that he did, and kept me laughing (even when I did not want to), I may have snapped. Casey helped me to keep it together, by doing the most hilarious and annoying stuff he could think of.
Just outside of the RV was a load of food! Karen had prepared a buffet of Paleo food for us to take along with us in the RV. Again, I was so pumped that someone cared enough to go the extra mile! On top of that, super healthy stuff, which oddly seemed hard to come by on our journey. I can’t tell you how many donuts were brought to the RV during the summer!!! It was crazy!
We headed toward the little ramp as James prepped for his swim. A friend came up with McDonald’s breakfast for everyone. I personally hate McDonalds, and happily declined, remembering the food Karen had prepared in the RV. The guys and our Zyto crew were starving and stoked! They devoured the gift of breakfast and James was ready to start his swim.
The kids ran around and played while James swam. It was going to be a warm day, but not as hot as we had experienced the last couple of days. They were happy to entertain themselves, enjoying the sunshine as they waited for their daddy! When he finished, he was smothered with hugs and kisses, “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD!!!!” He acknowledged all of the notes in the RV, gave Quinn an extra snuggle (he was sick), and started to eat. His furnace was running hot with these long days, and he was always starving, especially once he actually woke up and his brain came to!
The place to park for the day was a campground. This was well thought out, what better place to park an RV than a campground! When we arrived at the campground, it felt mildly luxurious; it wasn’t everyday that we had a comfortable place to park the RV. There was even an outlet to plug in, which was amazing because our generator hadn’t been working for a day or two, so no air conditioning unless we plugged in. It was shaded and beautiful, and something about this place just felt ‘right’ to me. As a matter of fact, there was some irony to this day: it was Father’s Day, it was Abraham Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, he was the 16 president, it was our 16th race, and we parked right by the little village that displayed old homes and a little village of structures from that time era. The energy in the air this day was special, it was special enough that I thought about it all day long. It was going to be a great day!
James took off, and my heart becomes anxious, but anxious in a great way! My friend Tina was coming to see me today. Tina and I have been best friends since the 7th grade, when we were just 12 years old. We were on the basketball team together, and had been inseparable from the minute we met. Tina’s sister, Cherie, is just 13 months older than Tina, she joined right in the mix. We have all been close ever since.
Tina had been dealt an unfair hand in life. She has been a survivor of many ‘hard and horrible things’ throughout her life. She has always been an example to me of strength and resilience. In the ugliest of times, she can always find something to be happy about, make others laugh, show love, and have a positive attitude. She always defends the underdog and always sees the good in people. She will forever be a hero of mine! Tina has 2 children. Kaleb is just a few days younger than Lucy, and her daughter Kara is just younger than Lily. Kara is severely autistic, and handicapped, requiring 24-hour care. Tina is amazing, and has raised her children with her whole heart. On this day, just Kaleb was coming with her. She didn’t care what we were doing, we were just excited to see each other.
Tina lived 45 minutes away, so I anxiously awaited her arrival. When she arrived, we were both overwhelmed with love, but for our own different reasons. We decided that we would head over to the little village behind the campground. It was several blocks of things to see, so the kids could just run free for a couple of hours, which was delightful for everyone! We got to see original houses from Abraham Lincoln’s era. Abe’s time era is absolutely my favorite time in history, the Civil War era. I get emotional when I think about Abraham Lincoln, abolition/freeing slaves, and the culture of this time. I love the dresses, log cabins, and the simplicity with which they lived. Needless to say, I was very excited to go through this cute village.
Next we were headed into Springfield. We went to the Abraham Lincoln museum. Now this place made my heart really beat! There were wax displays of the different stages of Abe’s life. There was a kid’s area where they could dress-up like people in that era, and have a little taste of what it was like to live during that time period. As we walked through the different displays, I was overwhelmed with the incredible adversity he faced throughout his life. He struggled with severe depression, and yet managed to be strong enough to change our future. He lost loved ones that he cared about. He had the world turned against him, enough to kill him, and yet he stood firm and changed the course of this nation by standing up for something he believed in! Through the visit of the museum, I pondered my own life. How do I compare to Abraham Lincoln? Do I have this same courage? Do I persevere when things seem impossible? How to I handle people who are difficult to associate with? He is truly a hero. I am honored to be an American, and to benefit from the fruits of his courageous life.
After this emotional display, that I highly recommend to anyone going through Springfield, we headed into the gift shop. Yes, another win! There were all sorts of knick-knacks for the kids to spend their hard, earned money on. Everyone was happy, full of life, and had enjoyed a really great day! In addition to our Illinois experience, I was able to spend time with my dear friend, who had left her husband at home, on Father’s Day, to come and support us.
We looked everywhere for somewhere to eat, and there was nothing! We seriously couldn’t find anything, it was weird. It was a 30 min drive back to the RV, through farmland, so we needed to eat before we headed back. We finally came across a Little Caesars in the ghetto. I was seriously nervous about this area, but zipped in to grab pizza anyway. After several circles, trying to get through the one-way streets, we managed to find a park. This park was sketchy too, I must have gone the wrong direction, out of the city, to find food or a park that wasn’t rundown. We decided we didn’t care, and stopped so that the kids could run around and eat pizza. I am crazy for pizza, but Little Caesars is not welcome in this stomach of mine. I figured I would just wait until we got back to the RV, then eat some of the food Karen had brought us.
For James’ Father’s Day gift, Lucy and Lily decided that they would bike the marathon with him. We needed to head back so that they would be ready to bike with him. Tina and I went our separate ways, vowing to take a girl’s trip sooner than later (which we did the following Feb, with Cherie, to Chicago!), and we loaded our GPS to find our way back to the RV, in The Little White Mazda.
We arrived back to the campground early in the evening. The kids ran around and played while they waited for James to return from his bike ride. I was in the RV while Casey was on the phone with his wife. The two of them were really struggling with their family being separated for the past 2 weeks. His family desperately missed him, but not nearly as much as he missed them. He broke down in tears, and cried for a good hour. I expressed my support, then left the RV to give him time to himself. Many people made sacrifices for this 50/50/50 to happen, and we will forever be indebted to every single person, and we owe a huge part of our success to our Wingmen!
The girls hopped on their bikes for the marathon. Aaron and I got The Little White Mazda loaded back onto the trailer. We decided that we should have everything ready for when James finished. The kids played with chalk, bubbles and other fun things that supporters had brought us. I was thrilled to see our friend Al, who used to live in Utah, but was now living in Chicago. This guy has a smile and heart the size of a summer watermelon! He and his wife Jaquie are so kind, immeasurably kind, and to see his smiling face made us forget our woes, even for just that night.
The night was quiet, and this campground was beautiful and pleasant. The little kids were now down, after having enjoyed fireflies for their first time, catching them and putting them in bottles. Once Lucy and Lily were done biking with James, we let the fireflies go. Lucy then went out to finish up the run with her dad on Father’s Day. Aaron loaded their bikes back up, everyone got settled and we waited for James to finish day 16.
Next stop Kentucky!