Flying on the airplane from Alaska to Washington was another rough night, but there was a glimmer of hope with this flight. Not only was it the last commercial flight, but also upon arrival, I was expecting my closest friends. Brittany, Natalie and Carlee and I have been close friends for about 5 years. They were all going to be there, waiting for me in the RV, when we got off of the plane. Our Wingmen, Aaron and Casey, would also be there, ready to be our worker bees for the next 48 days.
Before we left Utah, we had put all of our things in storage and we were staying with our friend Liz Lewis. She was vacationing in Croatia for 3 weeks, so we stayed at her house and watched her dogs. Wingman Aaron and his dad, Dennis, drove out to Indiana to pick up the RV. Because our family was leaving for Hawaii before they picked up the RV, we had put a nicely stacked pile of stuff in Liz’s garage that was to go into the RV. I was anxious to get to these items, being that many of them would help to create a routine on this journey, and we had done without them first two days.
Our flight landed late, due to the mechanical delay in Alaska. We gathered our bags, and headed out front to wait for our ‘family’ to pick us up. Without any disappointment, the RV pulled up, wrapped with the Iron Cowboy logo and sponsors (we hadn’t seen it yet), honking over and over, and swerving like a madman was driving it. Truth be told, there was a madman driving it, Mr. Casey Robles!
The joy I felt with the reunion of these people could not be put into words. We all piled in, examined the RV for the first time and the excitement set in! This thing is happening, and more importantly, we were done flying, which alleviated most of the traveling stress, so I thought.
We began to drive to Lake Stevens and I caught Natalie up with all of my stories as we drove. Carlee and Brittany had stayed at a hotel the night before and were waiting for us in Lake Stevens. Natalie is a sports therapy massage therapist. She had come to the airport so that she could work on James before he started day three.
We arrived at Lake Stevens and I was just flooded with gratitude as I saw friendly faces and realized we had made it through the toughest logistics. James began pulling his swim stuff together. It took a while because everything was all over the place. He eventually got in the water and I began to prepare for his bike ride. I looked in the RV for the things that I had put in the RV pile. I couldn’t find anything. I looked for any form of nutrition, for his water bottle, and found nothing. I didn’t even have anything in my purse, because we had eaten it while we were traveling over the past couple of days. I couldn’t figure out where all of the stuff was that I had had put in the RV pile. I asked the Wingmen, who were napping on the grass (they had driven all night to get to WA), they looked confused and just glazed over. I figured it would turn up, so I looked everywhere for something to have ready for James’ bike ride. I filled one water bottle with Dr. Pepper, and the other with samples that I found in a pouch; I had no clue where they even came from. Good thing James has a stomach of steel! This would at least buy me some time to pick up some REAL nutrition.
Natalie and I decided to head off to the AirBnB house. After driving for 20 minutes, I said, “How far away is this house?” Turns out, it was 45 min away. Not sure how anyone justified booking a place so far away. I said to Natalie, “We are NOT going back there until the 5k. We are WAY too far away!” We pulled up to the house, and we were told we could not park in the driveway. To this day, I have no idea why because there was a nice long driveway. We disregarded the instructions because everyone was so exhausted, and we needed the RV close to get organized. We figured once we had everything pulled together, we would come up with another solution, but actually ended up moving it shortly after we arrived. The house was on a main road, so we couldn’t park anywhere around it. It just so happens, there was a house being built right behind the one where we were staying. We pulled the RV on to the back of that property, the Mazda was in tow, and parked it there for the day. It was a little walk from the house, but not too bad. The van was also parked there, so everything was together.
I had volunteered to watch Carlee’s two youngest boys so that she could do the event with James that day. Her dad lives in the Seattle area and had taken the 2 oldest, but the two younger were just tiny, so it would have been too hard for him. I was happy to watch them for her, and had them with me at the house. Her baby was just a few months old, so he was in his carseat, and Finn just wandered around and played with Quinn.
I knew when we got to the house there was going to be a problem. This house had NO stuff! Furniture, but nothing else. There were no towels to shower, no utensils or dishes in the kitchen, and just 1/2 roll of toilet paper. I still can’t figure out how you can offer this as a place to stay, without having basic necessities for your guests. We had the film crew with us, plus our crew; this was not good. I knew we needed to go to the store ASAP so I could start laundry, get lunch ready, and prep to cook dinner for 15 people!
Carlee and Brittany did the event with James, while Nat Attack stayed with me to help me out. We went to health food store and got food. We stocked up for the next day as well, figuring I may not get to the store until later. She went to the dollar store next door and grabbed a few household things. Fortunately for us, Sherri, Aaron’s mom, had stocked the RV for us before we left, bedding, towels, soap, etc. That would have been a sudden surprise too, we had no idea that the RV would be completely empty when we picked it up. Man, were we ever grateful that she did that for us!
We got back and I had to figure out how to prepare the food without utensils. There was one cookie sheet, so I had purposely bought chicken nuggets, for the kids, that I knew I could cook easily in the oven. I threw them in the oven, chopped up veggies with a pocket knife and pulled out the paper plates that we had picked up while we were out. Within 30 min of being back, I got a call from James panicked. He didn’t have anything that he needed to complete his day. He needed shoes, food, water belt, etc. I about died, we were 45 min away and I had a house full of kids! I surrendered to the fact that we were definitely not doing anything fun in Washington. I left all the kids with friends from the crew, who were sleeping, and told Lucy and Lily to make sure everyone stayed inside and watched a show.
We took James the things that he needed, and then came back to the house. By now it was so late in the day, that we needed to get the girls over to James right away for the 5k. We got back to the race site, and I was so flustered. I didn’t understand how all of this stuff was happening. These are basic things that need to happen, it was the basic things that we were struggling with accomplishing. How does James not have shoes to run in? How is there no hat, water bottle, etc.? “Mom, when are we getting our souvenirs?” Dang it, I had almost forgotten! This souvenir task became a nagging task the entire 50/50/50. It was so important to the kids, but it rarely happened organically, and without chaos surrounding the visit to make it happen. There was a pharmacy across the street, so while we were waiting for the 5k to start, we zipped over there for the kids to find their treasures.
We left Lucy and Lily there to do the 5k, and drove back to the AirBnB We knew there was absolutely no way that the 5k was going to be a part of our evening. We had so many things to get in order before the night was over. Natalie and I decided that we should get organized. We went out to the van and I almost died of a heart-attack!!! Everything had been tossed in the van, it was a giant explosion of all of the things that I had set in the garage for the RV. I have an obsession with organization, it is a huge part of my sanity. When I married James, he taught me that it is okay to let some things slide, and I have definitely adapted and am more flexible, but in this moment, I almost have a nervous breakdown! I started to cry. Natalie immediately consoled me and said, “Let’s get this organized!” I knew in this moment, getting this van organized was the #1 priority. There were people who needed to sit in those seats that night, as well as having access to the things that we needed. When I am stressed or upset, I clean or organize things. I knew that it would be the perfect therapy for me, as well as a task that needed to be done.
I began finding things that I had been looking for earlier in the day. We could do this, we could get this van organized, have access to all of the things we need, and we will all live happily ever after! I later learned that there was a time conflict with the RV and van, and they weren’t available to pack until 2 hours before it was time for the Wingmen to leave and drive to meet us in Washington. They had to load everything into the van because there wasn’t time to put it in the RV. No wonder everything was so disorganized, they were stressed out of their whits on their end as well.
We spent the next 3 hours organizing the van and the RV. This organizing became a chronic task throughout the 50, and it haunted us until we finally used up a bunch of the stuff that we were hauling around, We were able to get a real organization going about 2/3 through the journey, and even then, things were always getting moved or changed around. Little did I know, the organizing that Natalie and I were doing was a knock-off job, and it would be redone many, many, many, many times! Once it was decent, I needed to get into the house and get dinner going.
I did a stir fry with rice noodles. I had found a wok in a bedroom closet, and used the pocket knife to cut up the veggies and meat. I had dinner ready and waiting for when the whole crew finished for the day. I had forgotten to get forks, so we had to take turns with the one fork, many of us ate with our hands. I fed and bathed kids, got the laundry folded and taken into the RV. Got the kids settled, and went back into the RV to keep figuring things out. I wasn’t sure how we were going to fit all the people riding with us that night!!! Even after organizing the van, there were no seats for people to sit in, it was packed with STUFF!
Later in the evening I found out that the owner of the AirBnB kept coming over to see when we were leaving. He came several times and was really pushy about us leaving. It didn’t make sense to me, since we had rented it for the day. It was an Asian guy, who was in his 30’s, and his dad kept coming back with him. He didn’t speak English well, which made it worse. I saw hm the first time he came, and so I opted to just stay in the RV and let everyone else deal with it.
Finally everyone was back. Carlee made it through the day with James, took her sweet boys, and headed back to Seattle to prep for her drive back to Utah. We were all very confused as to where to put everyone in the vehicles for the drive to Portland. Some people’s feelings were at risk of getting hurt, based on where they were asked to sit. I hate tip-toeing around feelings, I was definitely not raised that way. I tried to just stay out of it and focus on my family and James. It was finally sorted out, and we were on the the road. Natalie and I massaged James in the RV as we drove. I wanted so badly to stay awake and hang out, I had missed my friend dearly, especially though a tough couple of days, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I fell asleep, mid-sentence, I am sure, and we were off to Portland!