There must be something in the air on certain days, because it seems like James, the Wingmen and I were all super tired on the same days. Obviously, every day was hard, sleeping only 2-4 hours per night, but some days it hit us harder, and we managed to have those days in unison.
When I woke up, I wasn’t sure if I could open my eyes. Casey said to me, “Hey, get up, we need to walk down to the house.” I had no idea what he was talking about, after all, he was the one who had talked to the ambassador the night before. “What house?” I asked. “Just come with me, they are waiting for us,” he says as he heads out of the RV. I looked around, as I rubbed my face in disbelief that it was already time to wake up; the kids were sound asleep. I got out of the RV and followed the Wingmen down a long driveway.
As we walked toward the backyard, I could see a beautiful lake, with the sun reflecting off of the water. There was a boat dock connected to the yard, taunting me to do a flip off into that fresh Jesus water. When we got around to the back, there was a lush yard, with a nice patio area, filled with people. Everyone was buzzing and excited! It took me a minute to pull myself together, in order to come alive. When Casey and Aaron started messing around, I immediately snapped back and was ready to goof off.
People were so excited to see us and greeted us warmly. We had made it to state #24, just a day away from half-way! People this late in the game weren’t sure if we would make it to their state, so they were thrilled that we had made it! Now that we knew what the situation was, it was time to wake James and get him going. James followed obliviously as we led him to the backyard. He had no idea what day it was, which state we were in, or even what time it was. When we made it to the backyard, everyone started to cheer; this shook him a little and he tried to come alive. His efforts were useless, and he really struggled to stand upright and to converse with people.
He suited up and found his way to the water’s edge, a young girl sang the national anthem, and they started swimming. Our ambassador Izzy had told his wife that we wanted waffles, so she had prepared a nice breakfast for us. We skipped with excitement into the kitchen and enjoyed the first home cooked meal in many, many, many days. It was delicious, and I will never forget it. We cleared our plates, just as James was about finish the swim. We went out back to await his exit from the water.
There was a buffet of delicious food for everyone out on the patio, and James was thrilled to see it waiting there for him. Izzy had helped to arrange another blood test, and they were there waiting of James. James chowed down as the blood test started. They struggled to find his veins, which is hard to believe if you have ever seen James’ arms. They had to poke him several times, and James, who hates needles said, “Dang it, maybe there isn’t any blood in there after all.” They kept at it and finally managed to get a sample. There was a chiropractor there, Derek, and he worked on James inside of the house. James immediately fell asleep, and slept for 30 minutes or so. As much as we hated to, we had to wake him and get the bike started. Off they went on the bikes, with the biggest bike crew yet.
Izzy’s wife, Stephanie, had a great day planned for us. She took us to a zoo, but it was a wildlife zoo. This was not just any wildlife zoo, but the kind where you ride in a big truck, with big buckets of food, to feed the animals. It was so amazing! My kids loved every, single, second on it! She had her two kids, Hunter and Lexi, and my kids enjoyed having other kids to spend the day with. It was so great to see the giant tongue of the water buffalos as they slurped up the food out of our hand. There was an ostrich that pecked at your bucket to get some food. It was something that we will always remember. We grabbed ice cream at the food stand, played at the park and walked through the small animal section before we left. The landscape was a vibrant green and our company was perfect!
We went back to the house afterwards, where the kids paddle boarded, swam, played with toys and just enjoyed themselves the rest of the day. I started working on my phone, and before I knew it, I was sound asleep. I woke up 90 minutes later to the sound of the kids laughing and the smell of dinner cooking, it was ground beef! I made my way upstairs, where I could hear the TV, the sizzle of the beef cooking, and had a moment that reminded me of home. All of these things combined made me homesick, for the first time on the 50/50/50. I felt my heart drop, and I yearned for regular life back at home.
Stephanie had prepared tacos for us, which is my favorite home-cooked meal! She had asked around to see what we wanted for dinner, and apparently she was informed that all we wanted was a home-cooked meal. Well, she nailed it, and I was so happy! The only thing missing was my husband at dinner time. We ate out on the patio, overlooking the lake, and just relaxing in the shade. It was beautiful, the food was delicious, and it had been a really great day, even if I was feeling a little homesick.
It was soon time to go. I took the last load out of the dryer, the kids had all showered, we loaded The Little White Mazda, and we were off to meet up for the 5k. We drove the RV to the 5k finish location, where we parked for the next several hours. A tent was put up to provide shade for the shirt table. The kids rode their bikes around the parking lot, giggled and squealed with joy, having had a great day! When James arrived, he gave hugs, and grabbed some food and water. This was the 5k finish line, and we needed to drive to the 5k start. James wanted to run to the 5k start, in order to get the mileage. The van was there, so we got in the van and drove as a big group, to the start. When we arrived, the entire road was filled with people. I was absolutely shocked, and it was so exciting! North Carolina provided an incredible day for everyone!
James soon arrived to the 5k start, and was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the crowd. The 5k group ran through a beautiful park area and made their way back to the store, where the RV was parked. We drove back there, and were ready to see everyone as they finished the 5k. James was invited to the front, after the 5k was done, and gave a speech. They pulled me up there too, but I would have much rather stayed back and just watched. Everyone was taking pictures and video, they were just absolutely in awe. There were so many people there, and North Carolina did an incredible job raising money for the charity!
As for the charity, we still didn’t have a link. People had started to threaten to report us for charity fraud. We had people straight-up sending emails telling us that we were thieves, frauds and were stealing people’s money, pretending it was for a charity. Many of these are people whom we know. Why? Because the people we know decided that they were going to do anything they could to make our life harder. This was now haunting us heavily, because we were waiting for a stupid link! My friend Dano got on it and started to really push to get through to the Jamie Oliver Foundation, but they ignored him.
James ate some food, socialized, and then was headed out again to get through his run miles for the night. Before he went out to finish his run, he requested that I stay back and ride in the van with him that night. I hated the idea for many reasons, but if James was asking, he needed it. I gathered what I needed out of the RV, kissed my kids goodbye and prayed that they didn’t die while Casey drove that night. Once the RV was on it’s way to Virginia, I went into the tri shop to wait for James to finish his run.
Things had escalated with our crew member, whom we had been struggling with. I had sponsors saying they were going to drop us, because of this crew members inability to return phone calls or emails. I had ambassadors who were ticked off at this crew member, and things were at a breaking point. We were going to lose our business if something wasn’t done. So after being nice, asking questions like, “Are you overwhelmed? Is there something we can do to help alleviate your burden?” a million times, I had to be more direct.
I had consulted with friends on how to handle this appropriately from the beginning of this journey. I was very patient, which I kind of regret, but this day a post was erased that Lucy had posted. Lucy and Lily had been assigned as our social media agents, a title that they had chosen. We had told our girls to post every day, especially after we realized this crew member wasn’t posting the way that we were expecting. There were petty incidences where they would post at the same time as my girls, and so they would delete my girls’ posts. We wanted people to see our experience as raw as possible, from several different perspectives. People had loved the posts that our girls were doing, and were requesting more posts from them. So when ‘the crew member’ took it upon themselves to remove our girls’ post that day, because they weren’t professional enough, it was all I could take. Because they were never around, I decided to confront them through text. I took the emotion out of it, and only addressed the facts. They victimized them self, for which I have zero tolerance, and the 30 minutes back-and-forth exchange was fruitless. We had one goal, to conquer the 50/50/50. Each of us had our own micro-goals to make this happen, but every one of us put James first. This person wasn’t willing to do this, yet denied that being the case. None of this made sense to me, nor will it ever.
That night, James and I talked while he showered. As a crew, we had kept everything from him, but I had mentioned a few things here and there over the past couple of weeks. It needed to be handled, and ‘they’ would only listen to James. This person would roll their eyes at me when I, or anyone else, would discuss any concerns with them. This issue was at a breaking point, and James was the only one who could do anything about it. He was so overwhelmed with his part of the journey, but knew this problem was serious. He was going to have to find a time to figure this all out. I simply suggested asking his sponsors and ambassadors how they felt about their interactions with this crew member, and so he did.
Well, lucky for me, that night this crew member was the driver of the van. I had to ride in the van with them after nothing being resolved, and them having denied any accountability. When James finished showering at Izzy’s house, I gathered my things and we went out to meet our ride. This crew member passive aggressively acted like nothing had ever happened. Forget communication and working together, when we could sweep it under the rug and pretend that nothing ever happened. They just pretended that night, like everything was great, no big deal that our business’ future is in jeopardy.
As we drove in the van, I massaged James until I was too tired and he was sound asleep. I plopped down, onto the wet blankets, leaky water bottles had spilled all over. I just slept blanket-less on the floor, snuggling up to James for the first time since we had left Hawaii.