Maryland was an open water swim. The sky was gray, but the weather was nice. We were welcomed by a nice sized group, excited to see the Iron Cowboy. We waited for over an hour, and still no James. We texted his ‘driver’ several times, and they never responded. Finally, there was a response, and they were still over an hour out. We couldn’t figure out how they were so far behind us. We had a nice breakfast as we waited for James, thanks to the kindness of the people of Maryland.
Casey and Aaron decided to swim while they waited. They eased into the water, but Casey slipped on a slimy rock, and fell into the water. He had a huge gauge in his shin, a nasty wound. He finished his swim, then came and showed us the battle wound. I loaded it up with essential oils; it was gnarly for sure!
While they swam, I visited with the supporters. I spent most of my time visiting with Jill and her husband Paul. It was such a nice morning, getting to know them. They do triathlons, and they are grandparents! It always amazes me to see grandparents fit, healthy and young looking. She easily looked 10 years younger than she actually was. It really had an impact on me, and how I want to take care of my body as I age.
It started raining, then pouring, and we all ran for cover. I went into the RV, figuring I could get a start on the day, getting the kids up and going. It continued to pour, and then James finally pulled in. It poured more, and then there was an addition, lightning. There was no way that he was swimming in this open water now! It was such a bummer that he had been so late, he would have been out of the water by the time that the lightning started.
We were directed to a pool, that was a backup. When we got there, they wouldn’t let James swim, because of lightning. Yep, you heard me, no indoor swimming because of lightning. That didn’t make sense to any of us, but that was the rule, and they were sticking to it. We were in the RV forever, but hadn’t been informed about the situation. Again, for the second time that day, I had no idea what was taking James so long. After an hour, someone brought me up to speed; he had just gotten into the pool, after pleading for an exception.
It was STILL pouring like a tropical storm! We had visitors coming in and out of the RV, and everything was getting soaked. We had to go in and out to prep The Little White Mazda for the day. It was already so late, we needed to use this time to get organized. I had really wanted to head into Washington D.C. for the day. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to D.C. and couldn’t believe how close we were. I was informed that because of holiday traffic (it was 4th of July weekend), it would take me 2 hours each way to get there. I was so bummed! D.C. was out, and we needed a new plan.
People brought us groceries, to express their love and appreciation for our journey! I couldn’t believe it! They knew that we were having trouble getting healthy food, because we had no fridge and we were basically living off of whatever food people brought us. So they loaded us up with several bags of fresh produce and healthy food. Simply amazing! And, the AirBnB host had also brought donuts for the kids. There was love coming our way, from every direction.
I asked the kids what they wanted to do for the day, and they decided that they wanted to go see the movie Inside Out. They had wanted to see it since it was released, and they were so excited! We rarely go to the theater, only during holidays or special occasions, so they were especially excited! There also was nothing else to do in this area, so it worked out to be a great plan.
By the time James was ready to bike, the weather had cleared and there was a beautiful blue sky. Everyone celebrated that things had turned around, when the day had started very difficult! He started the bike with a large group of supporters, and we knew that we wouldn’t see him again until evening.
We drove back to the park, to leave the RV for the day. I unloaded The Little White Mazda, and prepped to head out for the day. Maryland became a very hard day for me, and even after it is over and done, it is still upsetting for me to write about. I got a call from ‘the’ crew member. A little quick history, I had told ‘them’ that I was no longer going to use the AirBnB houses, several weeks ago. Just the crew would be using the houses from there on out. It was just too complicated, and when I had hosts that expected me to spend the day with them, it really messed our day up. Not only did it complicate things, but it really stressed me out, more than one could imagine. Our AirBnB host that day, had made us a nice breakfast, and this crew member wanted to know when I was coming. Well, we had talked about it earlier that morning when we had driven to the pool, and I told them that I was NOT going to the breakfast, period. I now got another call, “When are you coming? They are waiting. You HAVE to come. It would be so rude of you not to come when they made YOU breakfast.” I can’t figure out how they were ever told that I would even be coming to the house, when I had never intended to set foot in the house. Let’s just say, promises were made ‘by us’ through this whole journey that WE never knew about.
I was livid. I had made it very clear, many times, that I was not going to this or any of the houses. I just couldn’t make it work with the type of experience that my family and I were having while out on the 50/50/50. After a while, I finally gave in, “FINE! I will make an appearance!” I looked at the clock, the last movie started at 2:30 (there were only 2 times), so there was enough time to stop by.
When we arrived, it was very clear that this was not going to be a stop in. I will spare the details, we were there for over 2 hours and missed our movie. That was 2 hours after I had declined to play games with them; they had expected us to stay longer. I swear I had flames coming out of my nose and ears! This house should have been a house where our crew was staying, not a house where the crew was staying WITH people. Remember way back in Las Vegas, when I was stuck with the host and her roommate, as she solicited to me and annoyed me. Then in Colorado, when a very kind lady waited up all night for us, when I had never intended to show up there. And then many other situations along the way. It didn’t make sense for my family to hang out in the AirBnB, it was for the crew. I don’t know how I could have made this more clear.
In addition to that, I had been notified by my friend Dano that Jamie Oliver Foundation was STILL ignoring him. We needed this link for our website, for people to make their donations. I was already ready to blow my top, and now I was being pushed over the edge. “Give me their contact! They are about to get a phone call from Mrs. Iron Cowboy.” I called and left a message, something like this, “Hi this is Sunny Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy’s wife. I have had my people trying to contact you for over 3 weeks, and you have ignored them. We have close to $30,000 to donate to YOUR charity. But for some reason, you are having a hard time getting me the info to wire you the money. And getting me the link to have donations go directly to you appears to be impossible. Either you call me back right away, or I will donate this money to a different charity!”
I got a call back in just 5 minutes. When I took the call, and spent 45 minutes on the phone, out on the front porch, working it out. ‘The’ crew member came outside twice to guilt trip me for being rude and leaving breakfast to take the call. Remember, we should have been in a movie, not sitting in a house with people we don’t know. They were very sweet, and very kind, but the circumstances were beyond frustrating!
“We have had over 100 emails wanting to know if you guys were really raising money for us,” was what the representative said to me on the phone. I responded and said, “You took the time to answer ONE HUNDRED EMAILS, but you couldn’t get me your wire information and a link to collect donations directly?!?!?!??!” “Yeah, I guess that doesn’t make sense does it…” Our ‘project manager’ aka ‘the’ crew member was the person that should have been handling this! How did we get this far in the journey without this being handled? Why was my friend back in AZ doing this for me? And how did it ever get to the point, that it had to be ME that called and left a ‘do or die’ message?!?! I kept my cool, but I was VERY clear when I spoke with her, “This needs to be handled in the next two hours, or you will NOT receive this donation, and I will find a different charity!” She then informed me of the ‘friends’ that we had back home who had reported us. They even wrote in the email that we were ‘former friends’. She BCCed me on all of the emails that had gone back and forth between them. I saw every, single email!
Something that really annoyed me is that the representative for the charity never took accountability for anything. I would have felt so much better had she said something like, “I am so sorry! I don’t know how this slipped through the cracks, and I will take care of this right away!” Instead, it was a run-around, and in her emails she simply blamed it on us being rookies that the link hadn’t be posted, saying that we didn’t really know what we were doing. Bull, it was that they never bother getting back to us, after committing to being involved. We knew exactly what to do, but we could not get them to cooperate. The whole reason we picked the Jamie Oliver Foundation, instead of a smaller charity, was because we were hoping for exposure from them as well. We thought that if we both worked together, we could raise a lot more money. That never happened, we should have gone with a smaller charity; THAT was our rookie mistake!
When we finally got out of that house, my kids were so upset. “What? Why aren’t we going to the movie? You told us we were going to the movie! Why did we have to go to that house and spend time with those people we don’t know? Why can’t we do anything fun today?” Remember, it is MY job to make sure that these kids have the best summer of their lives. They are not snooty, spoiled, or high-maintenance, they were simply expecting to go to a movie, one that they were really looking forward to. Along with this, they haven’t seen their dad as much as they want, they haven’t been home, they are missing their cousins and friends, and they too have made sacrifices for this journey. So when things suck for them, it really bothers me.
We went back to the RV and played at the park. It was uncomfortably warm, the park wasn’t much fun in the heat. There were some other kids there, whom they played with, and these kids were dying to see inside the RV. Before I knew it, there were 6 extra kids in the RV!!! The kids did a good job entertaining themselves, but I was bugged about all of things I was trying to balance, and how it never matter to ‘the’ crew member that they were making an already hard situation, harder for me. Under ANY circumstances, if there was a mom with 5 kids anywhere, I would do what I could do to make their life easier. It wouldn’t matter if it was a friend or stranger, I would be there to help her. I don’t understand how ‘they’ overlooked the family, distracted by their own wants and desires. Especially the Iron Cowboy’s family!
You know who did do everything they could to make my life better, Casey, Aaron, Kyle, Dano, the Zyto crew, and ALL of the other people who were working together to make this project a success. I am so grateful to all of these people who were looking out for me and my ducklings, and more importantly, who were looking out for James. We are blessed with amazing people in our lives, many amazing people!
Later that night I hung out with Valerie Dix. She was with us in Maryland (in addition to being in Virginia), and I got to know her well. We had no water in the RV (we had gone through the bottles that I had bought at Target the day before), and there was nowhere to fill it up. She drove me to a gas station to get more jugs of water. I will always remember how weird the drive was, because of the maze we had to drive through to honor the one-way streets; it was close, but took a long time. When we got back, I cut one of the gallon bottles and created a funnel. I poured 5 gallons into the RV, and it still wasn’t full. But at least now the water could come out of the tap and the toilet would flush normally.
She and I visited until late into the night. I was in denial about what needed to be done inside. The kids were in there, I could hear them, and they were giggling and playing games. I told them if they needed me, I would be outside the RV door. It was 11:30 before I told Valerie that I need to get the RV prepped, and stop procrastinating. I went in, kids were sleeping, and I just tried to keep it together emotionally. We were more than half-way, we were doing this, and I was feeling like things were never going to go smoothly or get any easier. Between the charity issues, the negative posts, ‘the’ crew member, missing James, no sleep, no exercise, crappy food, and then all of the regular things that I was responsible for, I was stretched thin, very thin.
James finished not much longer after I went into the RV. It was a good day for him, and this made me happy. I worried about him, and it was heart-wrenching that I was simply a spectator in his journey, wanting so desperately to be there for him. I felt that there were a million barricades between us, we could see each other, but we would never be able to reach each other. This too, was only temporary.