James and I actually got to sleep together driving from Las Vegas to Flagstaff. And when I say together, I mean we slept next to each other in the twin beds, separated by a nightstand. But that was plenty close for me. It had been 6 days since we had had a conversation with each other. It is around 2 am and my phone rings, “Sunny, we can’t find the house!” It was my sister Holly Sue; she and my parents were in Flagstaff, trying to find the AirBnB house where we were supposed to be staying that night. It was the middle of the night, and they couldn’t find the house. Another issue to deal with in the middle of the night! I felt so bad that they had been driving late and couldn’t just find the place and relax! I told them that I would pay for a hotel, and we would try to solve the problem in the morning. My parents had lost everything during the recession. I had invited them and offered to pay for the whole trip, knowing it wasn’t a possibility and knowing they wanted to be there to support us. It was very important to me to make sure that they had a place to stay, and that they were comfortable. I was very grateful that there was a hotel available and hoped that they would all sleep late into the morning. I fell back asleep, feeling relieved that there was a solution for them. But it was definitely on my mind that we didn’t have anywhere to go in the morning…
I awoke to a loud thump and swerve. James sat directly up and yelled from the very back of the RV, “Casey! What did you hit?!?!” “Nothing, just a bump in the road.” James was adamant, “No! You hit something, pull over NOW!!!” He and I were both sitting straight up, and our adrenaline was pumping as we raced to the front of the RV to make sure that the kids were okay. They were all peacefully, sound asleep. It is moments like this that I am so glad I vacuumed next to my sleeping babies, they were all very deep sleepers.
We pulled over and dawn was on the horizon. We weren’t far from our destination, less than an hour. We opened the door and felt the cool mountain air. I love cold, and the fresh mountain smell reminded me of home. Without skipping a beat, James was out that door inspecting the RV. There was damage on the right front, the entire headlight was gone. “Just a bump in the road huh Casey?” Casey was totally confused, still convinced it was a bump in the road. In his mind, he didn’t hit anything. Then out of the blue he piped in, “I think I hit a deer!” I busted out laughing, “You THINK you hit a deer?! You thought you hit a bump in the road, and now we have moved onto a large animal that nearly made us crash!!!” I was dying of laughter! This poor guy was doing everything he could to be the best Wingman ever, and everyday he was smacked in the face unfairly!
Aaron was following in the Subaru. He had now pulled over and walked up to where we were standing. He witnessed a little of the conversation, “Oh, you definitely hit a deer. There was fur flying everywhere behind you.” This caused us to laugh even harder. It was such a bummer that calamity hit when we were so close to our destination.
We hopped back into the RV and figured we would assess the damage once we got James into the water in Flagstaff. There were people waiting for us, and we were actually going to be less than 3 hours late starting today, unlike all of the previous days. When we pulled into the parking lot, at the top of the mountains, Dayton and his family were there. His parents, Sherrine and Wes Hayward, are incredible people, and I consider it an honor to have them as friends. They have been such an incredible example to us, and we are always so grateful to spend time with them. They were prepping Dayton to begin his day with James, while we were all scrambling to get the morning started.
Our friend Mike Bechtol was going to be there to see us in Flagstaff. I love this guy, and we have deep-rooted memories with Mike. When James and I were first married, Mike spent every free minute at our house. He was newly divorced, and needed a ‘family’ to be around in order to keep his sanity. We loved having him around, and he was alway so sweet to Lucy and Lily when they were just toddlers. He was James’ first boss when he came to Utah, from Canada. Mike hired him at Thanksgiving Point Golf Course after James won him over with his ridiculous stories and experiences. He had since remarried and moved to Phoenix. He only had a couple of hours to support us, and still drove up to Flagstaff to support James. As a fun side note, Mike ran our first marathon with us. He was also a part of James’ triathlon career, way back in the early days, including James’ first ironman. It really meant a lot to us, knowing that he would be there in Flagstaff that day.
During the swim, I shot the breeze with Mike and his friend. He is the wittiest person I have ever known. Everything that comes out of his mouth is funny, and I that was exactly what I needed that morning. I also spent time with Dayton’s family and Trish and Steve McCarty. That morning, Steve rescued us by getting someone to help us get our keys out of the Mazda. Dolly and Quinn had been playing in the Mazda and locked them in; disaster averted, thanks to Steve. There were other spectators who had come from the Phoenix area to wish James well, and I was able to visit with them. I always enjoyed meeting people in each state, I loved it!
Once James was off onto the bike, I needed to figure out what to do with this RV. One headlight was out, and the bumper was damaged. I called my dad, and they volunteered to take the kids for the day. They wanted to take them to the Grand Canyon and just enjoy the day. I found a place to dump the septic and they met me there. I had never dumped the septic tank before, and was relieved that my dad was there to teach me how to do it. This would become an important task that haunted both me and the Wingmen.
They headed off and I started making phone calls to see about the RV. Every place was ‘to busy’ and kept sending me to other places. I continued to make phone calls for over an hour. I finally found a place, and had no idea what to expect, as far as time and cost went. I pulled into a rundown parking lot. There was an old warehouse, with cars all over the place. I looked around, trying to find the front door. I finally saw a man door, “This must be the entrance,” I thought to myself. I walked in and it felt like I was in a closet, “Can I help you ma’am?” “I called a few minutes ago about my RV.” “Yes, of course, come into my office.” Behind the desk there was a door, and a small office. There was so much stuff in that office, I didn’t know where to sit, let alone stand. After a small discussion, he told me they would see what they could do. This gentleman was so kind, I was so impressed, especially since everyone I had called was curt and cold.
There was nowhere for me to wait, so I decided I would see if there was somewhere I could grab breakfast. I asked them if they had any suggestions, “There ain’t nothin’ around here maam. But if you are willing to walk a ways, there is a diner a mile and a half up the road.” I thanked them and stepped outside. There was literally nothing, it was like an industrial area, except that I was on a main road. I saw what looked like a convenient store about half a mile down the road. I figured it was better than nothing, and I knew I didn’t have time to walk 3 miles round trip for the diner. I started walking and realized how much I was enjoying this walk. It was the fist time I had been alone in weeks, and the air was nice and cool. I love walking in general, and to be able to decompress a little from the crazy last week, was a precious gift that I had be given. Once inside the convenient store, from the 2 rows of merchandise and 1 fridge door, I grabbed a V8 and a bag of nuts.
I wasn’t sure if I should sit outside somewhere, walk back, or what. I knew that it would be a while until the RV was done, so I wasn’t sure where to go, or what to do, to kill time. I sat on the curb about half-way between the convenient store and auto shop. I decided to take advantage of this time alone. I did affirmations, visualized things going smoothly, and took deep breaths. There have been many setbacks, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t still have a positive experience out here on the 50/50/50.
Forty-five minutes had passed from the time that I had left the auto shop. I decided to walk back and see if there was any information. Upon my return, there as a gentleman outside next to the RV. I went inside and inquired. “Your battery is leaking, so it is being replaced right now. We don’t have the right part for the headlight, and as you can imagine, it would take a few days to get it ordered.” I was shocked, “That’s it?! There was leakage, but we had assumed it was something much worse!” “Well ma’am, had you not replaced your batter, you would have been in trouble. And had that there deer hit you in your grill, it would have completely destroyed your engine. Y’all would have been in BIG trouble!” I expressed extreme gratitude for them being willing to help me! I paid of the battery and went out to the RV. I called our friend who had insured the RV, “Call the insurance and let them know that we hit a deer. We won’t be able to fix it for 43 more days, but let them know that it happened so that it is documented.”
By now, the whole morning was gone, and it was afternoon. The 5k was at a Whole Foods, so I figured I would head over there and park the RV. I parked way in the back of the parking lot, and was excited to head in and pick up some groceries. But first, I decided to nap. There was no one around, and my kids wouldn’t be back for a while. I knew that I would feel better, but more importantly, I would be fresh and in a good mood for when the kids got back. I woke up feeling refreshed, and in disbelief that I had just caught a 2 hour nap! As I mentioned earlier, I love health food stores, and was excited to pick up groceries. I noticed the fridge was on, yes! I stocked up the fridge and other delicious foods. I love that they have a deli bar so that I could get fresh, organic food that was ready to eat. Everyone was going to be so excited to get in the RV and realize that there was a ton of food. I would later realize that this was a mistake, since the fridge turned off just a few hours later.
James was soon in the RV, with our new friend Rivers, who had done the whole bike ride with him on a mountain bike. He was in the RV massaging James and spreading his hippie cheer! The RV was packed with people, so I kissed James and I made my way outside to move out of the way. I visited with a supporter named Melanie outside and spent much of the evening with she and her son Walter. They were very kind and it was so nice to have their company. The kids soon returned, and my family headed back to Utah. The kids told me story, after story, about how funny my sister Holly Sue was, and all about how she sang funny songs and said funny things. They loved their day with Granny and Grampsy! This day had taken a surprisingly positive turn for me, and the kids and I were in good spirits.
We were asked to move the RV to a certain spot, and we did so. It was strategically placed out by the main road so that passing traffic could see it. Dr. Dallas Makin was flying in, and he called me from the airport, he had no ride. He was supposed to be picked up from the airport by someone specific on our crew. Not only did they not pick him up, but we couldn’t get ahold of them. They had the van, so we didn’t even have a vehicle to go get him. It was this big mess and I felt so bad that Dallas was sitting at the airport waiting to be picked up. Eventually he got picked up, but I was ticked at the circumstances surrounding him being abandoned. When Dallas arrived, my heart just felt happy, and was filled with love. This man isn’t just a chiropractor, but he is a healer. He has such a tender heart and he just emulates love. When he shows up, all of the world’s problems are solved. This feeling continued throughout the 50/50/50 whenever Dallas arrived.
When Dallas and I had a minute, he brought to my attention the social media concerns. “Sunny, no one is posting on social media. Your followers need to know what is going on. No one has any clue what is happening during the day. People don’t know if James is okay, or if he even finishes.” I was so confused, “What do you mean? I addressed this, and ‘they’ said they were posting all the time!” “Sunny, no one is posting, only James. And James gets to a point in the day when he shuts down, and stops posting.” We came up with a plan, if all of us post at least once a day, then there will be at least 6 posts a day. This was the new plan, and it couldn’t fail. Little did we know, ‘other people posting’ was going to become a dispute, that lasted us the entire 50 days.
“Mom, when are we getting souvenirs?” Oops, an oversight that I should have thought of earlier, because I could have asked my parents to do that when they were at the Grand Canyon. I asked where we could go to get souvenirs and I was directed to downtown. Downtown was beautiful and it was alive! College students were out and it was awesome; however, not a place for kids to get souvenirs. After walking up and down the street, there was only one option, a crystal shop. We decided that it was our only option, so each of the kids picked up some crystals. We hurried back so that Lucy and Lily would be ready for the 5k; their new friend Walter wanted to run with them.
When we got back to the RV, we realized that there was a little bit of extra time. The kids decided that they wanted to drive out and meet James on the run course. I leap-frogged for a little while, but was called back to the RV. I left Lucy and Lily with the group and drove back, only to find out that James wasn’t doing very well. I felt a sharp pain in my heart and offered a prayer. I started to organize the RV, now with more people and more stuff, so that it would be ready when it was time to go. There were groceries everywhere and just STUFF! I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t figure out how I was going to make this all fit. Daisy, Dolly and Quinn were running around out on the grass, but then came in because it was late, and they were hungry. Now the kids are all over on top of all of this stuff. I kept talking myself through it, “Be cool, be cool.” It had been a great day, I wasn’t going to forget that and stress out. I went to open the fridge, to get food for the kids, and the fridge was off. The food inside was already starting to become warm. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!
It was very late, and James was now outside. He was in bad shape. Dallas was called out and everyone was panicking. He was just finishing up the run, and people were freaking out! I calmed myself, not having any idea what was gong on, and offered another prayer. He was brought into the RV, and Dallas was looking after him, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. I looked to the back of the RV where James was being treated. I felt a deep sadness that I didn’t get to be the one to care for my husband. He was in the back of the RV in bad shape, and there was literally nothing that I could do. My job was to prepare the RV and take care of the kids. I got got right back to work; I needed to make sure that everything was picked up and the RV was ready to go.
People were beckoning James to get out of the RV. James got up and climbed out of the RV door. He got into Melanie’s car and she drove him to her house to shower. When the RV was ready, and when the kids were settled, we headed to her house to pick him up. It was now the middle of the night, we were way behind schedule, everyone was stressed about James, and tomorrow we would be in New Mexico. James walked back to his bed, laid down, and was sold asleep in seconds. Dallas was working on him, and continued to work on him through the night. I was in the other twin bed, I turned to the window, and cried quietly until I fell asleep.