I sat up in the van, it was dark outside, and the drive was a little rough. I saw a sign, we were in Parley’s canyon, 3 hours into our drive from Idaho Falls. This canyon took us from Salt Lake City into Park City. Tommy Rivers Puzey was singing, “Rivs, you want me to drive?” “Nah, I am good.” I decided to stay awake with him the rest of the way, only another hour or so.
We were in contact with our Utah people to let them know where we were at, aka how far out. We were about 5 minutes out, going through Provo Canyon now, and there was some construction. The lane shifted us, which made us go over rumble strips. James sits straight up.”Rivers, do you want me to drive? Are you falling asleep? I can totally drive!” We busted up laughing! “James, he is doing great. There is construction. Lay back down.” He responds, “No really, I can drive.” We laughed even harder…
He clearly fell back asleep, because once we had parked and were settled at the swim location, it was a task getting him to wake up! It was so dark outside, and there were so many people. Everyone was so excited to see us, but I couldn’t see anyone unless they came into the light. I was going back and forth from the RV, and did my best to talk to those whom I saw.
I went back to the van to see if James was actually awake, and most importantly EATING! David Warden came up, probably the most emotionally invested person during the journey. He was extremely nervous and was anxious to see James. James was VERY excited to see him!
Next thing we know, there is a giant bunny standing there. Our friend Justin Leavitt was there with this bunny. After a couple of minutes of James trying to figure out who it was, the head came off. It was his best friend Quinn Powell! Justin, Quinn and James were besties in Canada. Quinn (who my sweet boy was named after) and James have been friends for 25 years! Justin had the idea to show up, and to make it work for Quinn to come, to surprise James. Guess what, it went just the way we had hoped. And to take you back, very early in our journey, Justin was the one who took care of James in Vegas. He supported him every step of the way!
Lily was going to sing the national anthem. We wanted her to sleep until the very last minute, knowing that James was taking much longer than expected. She woke up on her own, thought she had missed it, and was an emotional wreck. I could not calm her down. It took Lucy and me standing next to her to calm her enough to sing. The song was sang, and we made our way to the water.
I am going to leave out the details of James’ morning, since that is for the book (his side) and just share mine. We walked a ways to the water. There were so many people there. I was so grateful! I was also completely shocked…all of these people that showed up that morning to support us. It was truly incredible! For every face I recognized, it took effort to not just break down sobbing. All of these people are people we love, and have come to be there for us.
I visited with Trish McCarty and Cindy Hoover most of that morning. It was fun, light-hearted and I really enjoyed it! Trish came all the way from AZ, and Cindy is a very loyal, family friend. I was touched that they were there, and visiting with me! James had some issues in the water, and eventually finished the swim, making his way back, with a long walk, to the RV. Brittany Chatwin Light had provided a killer buffet breakfast! We stuffed our faces with her awesome food, being a close friend, she knew just what we would want, including the little extras like cottage cheese for our pancakes!
James spent a long time in the van, with the heater blasting, trying to get his body temp back up. He was shivering so much that his bacon, on his fork, would hit the plate over, and over, and over, before it would make it’s way to his mouth. Bikers were anxious, but waited patiently. Soon, he got out on his bike, and down the nice, cold canyon.
We were at the water destination for quite a while. I really wanted to head to the meeting spot for the bike, but there was so much to do. Everyone was gone, so it was time to get breakfast cleaned up, figure out the car situation, and so much more. It was easily an hour before we left, and we hoped to catch the start of the bike; unfortunately, we missed it. They had taken off, and we caught just a few bikes heading out. I was so sad…I would have loved to see all the people there to bike with James. Many of our friends met there, instead of coming up to the water, for good reason. I did manage to catch a few in the parking lot, like Deanna Watson and a few others.
Well, now what? I had 5 hours and nowhere to go. I didn’t have a home to go to, so I talked to Carlee Lilley Tulett and she told me to come to her house. First, I was instructed to drop the RV off at Thanksgiving Point, about 20 minutes away. I arranged a ride home, being that I only had the RV and no car, and drove to Thanksgiving Point. Apparently, this RV is a spectacle that people are dying to see! They wanted it at Thanksgiving Point as a visual.
My ride home from Thanksgiving Point fell through. I was now stranded. I had been there for 30 minutes already when my ride fell through, and if I waited for someone to come get me, it could be another 30 min. I about died, seriously, stranded at Thanksgiving Point. After a good while, trying to figure out a solution, the Zyto girls showed up in their rental car. I asked Sariah Ford, “Is there any way you can drive me to my friend’s house?!?!” “Of course!” It was a tiny car, but we were professional clown car people.
We were just about to load up when Brian Hancock showed up in our van. I approached him, “What is the plan with the van?” His words came from heaven, “I was just told to drop it off here.” “YEEEESSSSS!!!!!! I have a car!!!!!!!!!!” He started laughing, I grabbed the keys, thanking him profusely. “Thank you Sariah, but we have a car!!!” I started the van, blasted the AC, and said a little prayer!
As I was driving back to Carlee’s, I called my parents. They were on their way to Thanksgiving Point to meet Tyrell, to help with some of the events for the day. I met them off an exit, grabbed my mom, and took her with me to Carlee’s house. I hadn’t seen her since they came to help me in Vegas and Arizona! It was so nice to see my Mrs. Claus!
By the time we got to Carlee’s house, we only had time to grab some food and shower. We visited for maybe 30 minutes, as I waited for my ducklings to shower after me. “Does it feel good to be home?” they asked me. “It doesn’t feel like home. We are still in this thing neck deep. There is still so much to happen still today before we are actually done. No part of me feels like this was the last day, or like home.”
In a flash, it was time to get back to Thanksgiving Point for the transition to the run. I couldn’t believe that we were already this far in the day. I felt total panic, and absolutely no relief! Everyone went out to the van. Carlee had done more for me that day than she could possibly imagine.
Off we went. I felt very nervous. I had no idea what to expect. It was like there was adrenaline, but there was way more stress and fatigue that overpowered the adrenaline. As we pulled into the parking lot, there were SO MANY PEOPLE THERE!!!! When we were there hours earlier, it was NOT like this! There were booths, and music, and LOTS OF PEOPLE!!!! I just wanted to hide in my van, but reminded myself that this was the last day, and that these people were mostly my friends.
I don’t even remember parking the car. I just remember I was at the RV all of a sudden. I spent the next 6 hours visiting with every person I knew in the world, well, practically. I had friends from Ohio, friends from school (UVU, I had only graduated a few weeks before we left), old neighbors, cousins, siblings, triathlon friends, friends I grew up with, everyone…. I was overwhelmed by all the people who had come to support us, and who took the time to say hi. Then there were the strangers…people I never knew, people that I may never know, who came out to support us. It was absolutely insane, and I completely lost my voice!
There were a zillion people going in and out of the RV, dying to see what it looked like! Our friend Steve Gray came in (when he was in Idaho the day before), “Oh, I expected this to be WAY worse!” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It doesn’t stink! I thought for sure it would stink!” So I guess it wasn’t nearly as bad I thought it was! ha ha ha!
My besties were there, just like I knew they would be! They were there to show love, and to help with what we needed. I know there were food runs, and other tasks they were assigned.
I didn’t realize how ‘out of it’ I really was, until the next day. I guess that is what it is like to be high, I remembered everything, but looking back, I was totally out of it!
“Sunny! He is coming down the finish shoot in 4 miles.” I spent the next 4 miles trying to get to the finish line. So many people stopped me to share their love and support. It was seriously so incredible!!! I just could not believe it, and I still can’t. I am still in complete disbelief!!! “Sunny! Now, he is coming!” I was so out of it, someone grabbed my arm and pulled me to where I needed to be.
James crossed the finish line, down the shoot with all of the flags, one from each state. Was it really done? Pictures, video, cheering, people, I still can’t believe it. They asked me to say something, so I stood on the block, and then BOOM! I could see SO MANY MORE PEOPLE!!!!! I could not believe HOW MANY PEOPLE THERE WERE!!!!!!
My message, there is so much good in the world. Don’t buy into the fact that we live in a world of sadness, hurt and evil. During this journey, we had experienced far more love and generosity (mostly given to us by strangers!!!!) than we had bad or hard experiences. People can work hard, and achieve their dreams. Don’t listen to the negative messages, rise above it, and kick butt!
Still feeling completely out of it, I stepped down, and don’t remember what happened next. What I do remember, is talking with people afterwards. I talked to people until 10 pm. One guy I talked to was a Dead Head from Colorado. He had come to challenge us with his conspiracy theories. Heather Tenney English ripped him a new one as he came at me pretty thick. But guess what, I had been waiting for 50 days to talk to the people just like him, following us, with their negative opinions. So I visited with this guy for an hour, and it was delightful. I wasn’t scared of him, he was lucky I am nice…any other woman coming off a journey like this would have kicked him right in the nuts! But I wanted to so bad to visit with him. He left calm, happy, and surprised that I didn’t want to argue with him. He even came at James later in an email, but stated that his wife was very nice and well-spoken. I was glad that I had left a positive influence on him.
James signed every last autograph, and it was close to 11 pm when we finished. Everyone left, it was just us, and I looked around…we needed to clean up. It was so late…and James had already retired for the night in the van. I just started shoving stuff anywhere I could in the RV, there was no organization, just getting stuff in there. I knew I would later wish that it had been done differently, but I felt like I had no choice…
We drove back to our friend Liz’s house. We went in, brushed our teeth, and James was out. I prayed long and hard that night. I was next to this sweet man in bed, experiencing a fatigue that most will never know in their lifetime. I started to cry, finally, he could sleep as long as he wanted. He could sleep-in, take a nap, get a massage, eat delicious food, then sleep, then lay on the couch, then sleep…however he wanted. I thanked the Lord for sparing his life, and for helping James to see this journey through. I thanked him for the angels who stood by us, who supported us, for the sponsors who helped it all happen, for the ability to take our family… I thanked him that we were all safe, that we had tender mercies to keep us afloat just one more day. I thanked him for my Wingmen, I never would have survived without them. I thanked him for all of the people who stepped in when we needed them. I thanked him from the deepest part of my soul.
I hope that this journey has encouraged YOU to do something you thought you couldn’t do. I hope that you are empowered to conquer hardship and trials in your life. We all have them, but they are different for everyone. Don’t you dare victimize yourself, and tell yourself that no one has it as hard as you, there is ALWAYS someone that has it worse. Find strength through hardship; find courage, and enjoy the challenge. And for the love of all that is holy, find a way to laugh through it. Always look to find humor in everything, sometimes it will be all that you have.
Thank you, to all of you. Thank you for reading these posts. Thank you for supporting us, and thanking you for your prayers and encouragement!!!!