I slept at the front of the RV leaving California, hoping to catch some of the fun, but knowing that it was ridiculous to think that I could stay awake long enough to enjoy Casey and Natalie. Deep in my slumber, I hear, “Sunny! Get up! We need your help!” I wasn’t sure what was happening, ”Where are we?” My friend Natalie gently says, “California, in the middle of nowhere.” I rubbed my whole face in disbelief, “Why are you waking me up? I am so tired, I can’t open my eyes.” She repentantly said, “We need you, outside, we need help with the Mazda.” Why me? Where was this magical crew that I had been promised when I gave James the okay on doing this project? I was supposed to do nothing but vacation with my family!
I drag myself out of bed, stumble to the door, and feel the cool night air. I look out and see an old, rundown gas station. There are 4 sketchy guys sitting by the building in the shadows. I look at my watch, it’s 2 am. I thought to myself, “What are these dudes doing at this gas station, when it is closed, at 2 am?” I obviously know they aren’t there playing a game of Scrabble, and hope that we are safe. I step down out of the RV and look around, we are literally in the middle of nowhere.
As I walk to the back of the RV, I am wondering what they could possibly need me for. Based on Natalie’s apologetic voice, I knew it was important. I knew that there was no way that she would wake me, unless it was important. I get to the back and look at the Mazda; I gasped as I see the Mazda falling off of the trailer! The front bumper is off of the car, the car is off of the trailer, and Casey and Natalie are standing to the side with concerned looks on their faces. This car needed attention ASAP! Natalie and Casey had done their best to figure out a solution to the problem, but had come up empty handed. Immediately the wheels in my head started to turn.
The Mazda wasn’t hooked on correctly, so it was unstable on the trailer. Casey had tried to back it off to see if he could correct the misalignment. The trailer is designed to tow ‘taller’ vehicles. Our Mazda is low to the ground, so there has to be two thick boards placed underneath the ramps in order to keep the car from scraping when loading or unloading. I am guessing Casey didn’t know, or forgot because his brain was fried, and when he tried to back the Mazda off, the front bumper caught and was pulled off.
I placed the wood underneath the ramps, and then figured out how to put the bumper back on. I cannot believe my luck, I knew that car wasn’t on right before we left California. I had protested to move our angled trailer to make sure that we loaded it straight on, but my vote lost and we left California with the car, on the trailer, crooked. Now it was the middle of the night, I was at a gas station with sketchy guys, putting the bumper back on, hoping we don’t get robbed or murdered, as I figure this whole thing out. It sucked so bad!
A quick side note, I was the only one in the group who could drive a standard, a stick shift, up the ramp slowly enough to do it correctly, so it became my permanent job. Aaron could do it, but he was with James the majority of the time, and wasn’t there when we would load up the Mazda. I hated this job so much, but no matter how much I hated it, it had to be done, and I was the only one who could do it.
Casey requested that I drive the car onto the trailer to load it again. The trailer was crooked, just like it was back at our previous location. “Dude! I am NOT loading this car unless you straighten out the trailer!” Straightening out the RV and trailer took FOREVER! It was such a small and awkward space, that it made it very tricky. To make it more complicated, we needed the lights from the gas station in order to see what we were doing with the trailer. Moving it out to the road was not an option. Our only option was to figure out how to straighten it all out in this horribly small space.
Casey tried over and over again to get it in the right position. I finally shoved Casey with an a sarcastic comment, got in the driver seat, and straightened out the trailer. Poor Casey was still trying to get his brain working, based on his own extreme exhaustion. I assume my sarcasm fired his thinking, since he didn’t hesitate to banter with me. I headed back to drive Mazda up onto the trailer. I climbed into the driver seat, looked around, the car was packed to the ceiling with STUFF! I had forgotten about all of the stuff that we had put in there, after taking it out of the Subaru, so that James could sleep in the back, as Aaron drove him to Las Vegas. I said a little prayer, “Please let this work right away!” I had a hard time even accessing the stick shift and emergency brake. It took a few tries, and I eventually got it on the trailer straight, in the tiny amount of space we had to navigate. It took Casey another 15 minutes to get the tires locked in, with the chains, onto the trailer. There was a very sincere prayer, from each of us, as we pulled out of that gas station. I could not do this another time that night.
After 90 minutes of working on that trailer situation, we were back on the road. That 90 minutes was what I had spent on the trailer; there was an additional 30 minutes that Natalie and Casey had spent working on it. We weren’t murdered or robbed, and as far as we knew, the Mazda was ship-shape. This was a 2 hour set back driving, which led us to arrive in Las Vegas 2 hours late.
We pulled into the neighborhood and looked around to find the AirBnB that was booked, it was around 10:00 am. James’ swim start was 40 min away; he was far away, and had already started the bike. We had several friends who had come down from Utah, so I figured he would have a great day with friends, even though he had started another day without us being there to support him. This would later prove to be a very trying day for him. Natalie ended up spending a bulk of the day with him. She has said to me many times, “After seeing what he survived in Las Vegas, I knew there was NO WAY he wouldn’t finish the 50! Everything that could have gone wrong did, and he still pushed through. We all saw miracles that day!”
My parents and my little sister, Holly Sue, came down to Las Vegas to spend some time with the kids and me. They had planned to stay with us in the AirBnB house, but when we all got there, we realized we were staying WITH an older lady and her older male roommate. Somehow this had become a room for rent, instead of renting the house. I was petrified and didn’t know what to do! How were we going to fit all of these people in this ‘room for rent’?!?! Turns out, all of the AirBnB places that were booked (by someone whom we hired to do so) weren’t booked to accommodate our family. It is an excellent company, but mistakes were made in our planning, so it was an oversight that we missed, and it messed us up.
We hung out at the house for a bit in the backyard. A real treat was that Aaron’s mom Sherry and his aunt came by to visit us. She is absolutely the sweetest lady, and it was delightful visiting with her. We ate breakfast with my family, and visited with them, before heading out on an adventure.
The kids were ready for an outing. My family insisted on taking the kids for me, but I too wanted to spend time with my family while they were here. Together we went to lunch, and then spent a nice, long time at the dollar store picking up souvenirs. When faces were smiling and hearts were full, we headed to a bowling alley. It was so much fun to feel normal for a few hours. When we finished up, we ran by an auto store to see if I could get some parts to permanently repair my bumper. Turns out, there were parts broken, so we had to jimmy rig it. We were headed back to the house, and my dad wanted to swim. I had to do laundry and prep for our travel, so he took the kids swimming and I stayed back and tried to get organized.
I went back to the house and started my chores. The lady hosting us talked non-stop about her book, how she had her own business, and how she was a life coach, etc. She was very nice, but I didn’t want to hang out with her, nor was I interested in buying or joining any of the things she was soliciting to me. This reiterated to me how annoyed I was that we didn’t have a house to ourselves. It was awkward the whole time we were there.
My parents returned with the kids, everyone got showered, I gathered laundry and we headed out to the sweltering hot RV. I was stopped by intrigued neighbors, visited with them for quite some time, while patiently waiting for the Wingmen. We had to wait for them to escort us to where we needed to go to find James. There were crazy mix-ups, left and right, and it took us FOREVER to get out of there! We also needed to pack Brittany and Natalie up, because they were headed back to Utah.
My sister and parents left for Arizona. Their plan was to check in to the AirBnB for us, then we could just go straight to the house when James finished up. I went to the park where James was running around the block, doing a 1 mile loop. When I got there, the table was filled with sushi! It was such a great surprise; it was so delicious and we chowed down. James was thrilled to see us! He had had a long and crazy day, and was relieved to finally see us. He couldn’t wait to shovel down some sushi. When he was done eating, Lucy and Lily jumped in and ran a couple of laps with him. It was so late; the 5ks were initially James’ last three miles of his run, and the time for the 5k was getting later and later in each state. Our friend Justin, who lives in Las Vegas, had been James’ sag wagon during the day. He is originally from Canada; he and James have been close friends for a very long time. Our close friend Kyle was also there, and as always, had been working hard to save the day. I enjoyed spending time visiting with both of them as James did his laps. There were a few spectators there who had assisted throughout the day, but the crowd was small.
The 5k was at another park, and it was time to drive over there and meet James. It was really late, around 11pm, when the 5k started. I just let the kids play on the awesome playground equipment until midnight. There was some issues with our crew, trying to figure out who was driving which vehicle. Everyone was going back and forth, trying to come up with a compromise. I pretended like I didn’t know, and walked far away with Justin. We visited and enjoyed each others company until the runners finished the 5k.
When the runners returned, I gathered my ducklings, and filed them all into the RV. I instructed everyone to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. James came into the RV, and there were a bunch of people talking to him. Some were addressing the car situation, others were asking for instructions to help him with whatever he needed. I was feeling Chlostraphobic; there were so many people, and everyone was talking at the same time. It was so hot, and I was doing everything I could to ignore the chaos around me. Finally, issues were resolved, some people were bugged, and everyone went their separate ways. We thanked our dear friend Justin for taking care of James. We found our spots, and I was so grateful that my spot was next to my husband, for the first time in several days.