Casey Robles shook me, “We are here.” I felt hot, really hot, and wet. My clothes were wet from the wet blankets in the van. I felt annoyed that I was so hot, then I calmed myself and realized what was going on. I climbed out of the van and looked around, I saw a parking lot and a lot of trees. “What state are we in?” Casey responded with a smirk, “Virginia smarty pants. It is a state, inside of the United States.” I shoved him and said, “What is the plan?”
It was time wake James, the dreaded task. We discussed a plan, and all of us tried to avoid being the one to wake him. Casey, Aaron, and I decided it really needed to be a team effort. We all worked together to sit him up for his oatmeal, talk to him, and I rubbed his feet. Just like every other day, it took serious effort. We tried to get him out of the van, thinking it would help him come to faster, but it wasn’t going to happen. We gently worked together to get the Iron Cowboy out of that van and ready for the day.
Valerie was the ambassador that day, and she had the plan all set up. The water was close, it was open water, so we walked with James down to start the swim. Aaron prepared James’ things for the bike ride, while Casey swam with James. The water was shallow, so Casey spent much of his time dancing and singing as he stood up and jogged. I stayed on the side of the water and visited with supporters. There was a couple there, probably in their 50’s, and they visited with me throughout the swim. They had driven from another state to come and see James, because they were going to be out of town when he came through their state. They offered to grab breakfast for the crew. The wife was off, and later came back with a variety of food, and enough pancakes to feed an army! It was appreciated more than they will ever know.
I had asked around to see what we could do that day to experience Virginia. There was a Colonial attraction just 20 minutes or so away, in Williamsburg. I thought that would be a great place to see for the day. I had a few errands to run: the post office, a pharmacy for some toiletries, etc., and figured we could do this on our way out to Williamsburg. Everyone was in the RV getting ready for the day, and the Wingmen decided to get gas right then, so they drove around and looked for a gas station. It took several attempts to actually get the tank filled, for several reasons: couldn’t fit the RV at a pump, could only pump $100, the card wouldn’t work after the first $100, etc.
We returned with the RV gassed up and ready to park for the day. We started the air conditioner and unloaded The Little White Mazda, and then moved all the boxes into the RV. The heat was making a statement that morning, it was hot! My helper Brytin came with me, and the 5 kids piled into the back of The Little White Mazda. Everyone waited in the car while I ran in and out, doing my errands, then we were off to the Colonial Park.
We parked at our destination and my mom called as we were walking in. She was just calling to check in and see how everything was going. I chatted with her for 15 min or so as we walked a ways to the ticket counter, having declined the shuttle and opting to walk. I purchased tickets that allowed us to participate in 3 events. We began our exploring inside the gates, the whole town was that of the Colonial era. This place was huge, many, many acres. I now knew how it felt during the Revolutionary War time, and it was freaking cool! Unfortunately the kids all thought it was lame, I guess some events are wins, other as loss. We misunderstood the employee at the blacksmith shop, as he told us that it would not cost us one of our three stamps to go in, and we went inside to check it out. It was cool, but we didn’t get to do anything in there. He punched our cards, and I was bummed that we had wasted a punch.
I looked on our map and there were 2 things that were a must for the kids. There was a brick making station, and then a family home, that had toys for the kids to play with. The kids mushed bricks clay with their feet and loved it! We made our way to the family home, all the way at the other end of the park. On the way, there was a jail that wouldn’t count as a punch, so we went inside and experienced that. I can’t imagine spending time in that jail; prisoners these days have no idea how good they have it!
We soon arrived at the home where they walked us through a traditional day at home. We sat down at the dinner table, with a real pig head, as a young man walked us through the traditions and customs of that time era. He rambled on forever, and the next thing I know I hear him say, “If everyone could be respectful and stay awake, it would be appreciated!” I guess I had dozed off, during his long presentation. If he only knew, he wouldn’t have given me a hard time. He seemed to be the kind of person who loves to hear themselves speak, because realistically it was over 30 min. We then moved to the family room where there were toys from that era for the kids to play with. There were also clothes that the kids could try on. My kids enjoyed this briefly, but really they had one things on their mind…the toy store.
As we walked back to the other end, to get to the toy store, there were so many cool things that we passed! There was a church, bakery, and other little town shops. I seriously loved it and could have spent all day in there! We had used all of our punches, so we couldn’t go into the other places, so I just looked from the outside. I am sure that my kids were glad that we only had 3 punches, and they still joke about how bored they were, and how much I loved it.
We made it to the toy store and it was full of toys from that era. The kids spent a solid 45 minutes in there, and it wasn’t even that big; it was just fun! They were deciding if they wanted to pay a higher price for these toys, since they had to ration our their money they had saved over the 50 days. The 3 littles decided it was worth it to get something! Quinn got a gun, and Dolly and Daisy got dolls, so they could play together. Lucy and Lily were old enough to have outgrown toys, and they were waiting for the perfect thing to splurge and spend more money on.
It was time to head back for the 5k. We were able to see more shops as we walked back to the exit. There was a shuttle to the car, but we opted to walk. It was only a quarter mile or so, and there was a path to follow. The kids walked ahead of us, following the path, chasing butterflies, finding bugs and appreciating the beautiful plants. They even got attention from other people walking, “Are these ALL yours?!?!”
Just before we reached the park where the RV was parked, we got caught in traffic. There was a bridge up ahead, and traffic was literally right at the entrance of the parking lot to the RV. I guess the bridge goes up and down for boats and the cars get way backed up, and have to wait. I managed to squeak through, very tightly, because I was turning right into the parking lot. It was strategic, and kind of freaky, but it saved me 30 minutes of waiting in line for a bridge we weren’t using. We still needed to get out of that parking lot to drive the RV to the 5k, which was at the high school. We loaded up The Little White Mazda and as we pulled up to the traffic, there happened to be a gap big enough to squeeze the RV through, talk about a blessing from heaven! When we arrived at the high school, there was an abundance of people. The girls got right out and set the T-shirt booth up. People were anxious and excited to see James, who came a bit later in a different car. The 5k went great, but toward the end, there was a huge lightning storm. Everyone was out in the parking lot, dancing and playing in the rain. I worked to get the RV cleaned up and filled a whole garbage can in the front of the school.
Some of the people accused me of being a party pooper, and encouraged me to feel confident dancing. If they only knew, dancing is my favorite thing, and I would have loved to have been out there, having a blast. I kept my emotions together as I worked in the RV. I often felt like everyone had time to play, but I never seemed to have that time. Even the activities during the day were for my kids, and on a day like our day in Virginia, my kids weren’t impressed, which makes my day harder.
James was whisked away to a gym to finish his run inside, to avoid the lightning. The RV left about an hour before James finished.
We had debated changing our West Virginia location. We could be to West Virginia in just 45 min, but the designated location was 7 hours away. The ambassador was adamant that we come to his city, because of the amount of people who would be there to support us. We ended up keeping the original location, driving 7 hours each way.