Living On A Prayer
After some suspicious incidents just before bed of some locals climbing over a fence and disappearing for a bit then returning, nothing untoward happened overnight and I had gotten up early to calculate exactly how far I needed to go that day to reach the 1000 mile mark. It was just over 11 miles, so a second run thang. My discipline was impressive today and I got my fluoro and LED'd self on the road was before sunrise and caught it in the most amazing way as I was passing over a bridge and it was creeping over a hill, curious to see what I was up to and whether it could burn me or not. Sorry if I'm suspicious, but I've heard most things in West Texas are out to get you, in a way similar to Australian fauna and flora. Passing along the I-10 service road, I saw a group of small wild pigs, called Javelina. I couldn't be sure if they were all babies as one was a bit bigger, but they all looked young and a bit scared, so sped away from them after a couple of blurry photos, so as not to drive them across me and potentially onto the interstate. A little further on, the same happened with two deer and seeing as speeding away from them was not an option, I just had a nervous half mile or so as they sought to find a gap in the fence that could provide an escape. No animals were hurt in the making of this blog chapter. Phew.
After Olivia had nearly drove down the wrong way on the interstate trying to film me running, she rejoined Nads for the 1000 mile mark. I was worried it would be an anti-climax, but it wasn't, I felt pretty emotional and was glad it was a few hundred yards upstream of the guys so I could take it all in. I scrawled 1000 Miles on a bridge with a rock, just to confuse the guys who might find it when deciding where to put the next bit of pipe or whatever. After lunch it was a ramrod straight section of road to Fort Stockton, a town with an interesting military history and now a base for many of the industries in the area, but let's forget that – it's got the biggest statue of a roadrunner in the world!! We picked an RV park that is apparently being renovated and it showed. I wasn't really happy about this as a base when there a good few in the area, though the owner was very nice on the phone to Nads, so we'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
After setting up, we headed out to Bienvenidos Mexican Restaurant after Crystal, a tech at the local vet practice who had helped us so much with our roadrunner had scoured Fort Stockton for good veggie fare, as both Liv and Nads are doing it right by the animals. She was accompanied by Carla, an old work buddy and soon enough, by Tony, her recently betrothed who as well as a mechanic, was a font of knowledge on all that will getcha' in Texas. The highlight of this briefing was hearing about the tarantula hawk wasp which is black with red wings and has a sting likened to sticking a fork in a plug socket whilst having a red hot branding iron plunged into your skin for 10 minutes. Apparently it's the second worst sting you can get for pain and Wikipedia quotes an expert as saying it “disables all function apart from the ability to scream”. Lovely. The meal was pretty good and seeing as they had special draft beer from the local Big Bend Brewing Company, it was even better. The guys presented Nads and I with a roadrunner figurine which has taken pride of place in Jenny and they very naughtily paid for the bill for all three of us, which was so kind of them. The card with the gift read “Thank you for running to help those that can't help themselves”.
Start: Exxon just off I-10 Bakersfield. Finish: Unnamed RV park (Get well soon.). 34.9 miles
Whilst we had gotten some photos of the amazing roadrunner statue after dinner, I took the opportunity to get some more after we'd said goodbye to Olivia who had an 11am flight to get in Odessa, about 70 miles away. What an epic mission to come and see us. So impressive and well received. During the photo session, I noted a chap running towards me and asked if he minded me joining him. His name was Ricky and he was an ultra-runner, training for a 100km race in the Big Bend National Park. In the past he'd been burned when he let someone run with him for the last part of a race to help the guy, only for the scumbag to sprint off and leave him when he saw the finish. Fortunately, he hasn't been scarred by the experience and we had a good couple of miles together. He had a better beard (for the moment), better tattoos (probably for good) and a better tan (we'll see), but at least I could keep pace! After he carried on I headed north west on the 285 highway, past the Pecos Cowboy Church – Pastor Gary Dunn came out and said hi as I was taking photos, so he was also framed for immortality outside his church and he wished me luck. I hope that luck included no encounters with big black wasps. It did include an encounter with my first diamondback rattlesnake, but it was sadly for it and me (as long as it wasn't biting me), rattling no longer. The first part of the road was pretty quiet and crossing the 1776, someone had taken advantage of this by leaving evidence of their previous night's tyre burnout. I know I shouldn't say this, but it did look like they'd had a lot of fun. A more legit form of vehicular art was on the approach to our camping spot. An old abandoned school type bus, painted canary yellow by a field with sunflowers dotted here and there. I indulged in my side habit of mild trespassing and jogged across the field to take some photos. She was in a pretty bad way, apart from the paint job and I imagined how cool she would be to renovate and have as an RV. Maybe one day her prince will come.
I beat Nads to our final resting place for the evening, a large gravel car park where water tankers would fill up from a large artificial pond. I assume the water was the reason, as the bushes nearby were full of young or just small (I didn't ask them) electric blue dragonflies - one of Nads' favourites and she got some really good photos. I'd love to see what she could do with a decent camera. It was a slightly risky spot to stop, but no issues were encountered apart from a lack of internet which meant navigating the next day's early runs was going to be interesting.
Start: RV Park in Fort Stockton. Finish: Water pumping station on 285, 20 miles south of Pecos. 31.51
I mostly contemplated my urinary system for the first few miles. I usually debate the previous evening when I should have my last drink (water, guys – come on!), so I'm not peeing loads in the night. If I get it wrong it's either three or none, with the latter meaning I start dehydrated and play catch up. There is a phenomenon called renal washout where if you take in too much fluid without salt, you can flush your kidneys out and they will really struggle to concentrate urine. This is pretty hard to do by drinking without causing other problems, but I was wondering if I had managed to do it by chronically depleting my sodium reserves through sweating so much and not taking enough in. As a result I often have to have about 3-4 pees on my first run. I've also thought about whether I've just upset my bladder by jiggling it so much in that it always feels full. I can't find much about either of those on the net, just a thing called rhabdomyolysis where you break your muscle down excessively and the proteins clog your kidneys up, damages them and you die in agony. Somewhere there, I got sensationalist. I don't think I'm pushing hard enough to do this, and I can't do anything about the second thing (probably the reason), so I've just decided to eat more crisps (chips – US and Oz people, maybe the whole world apart from us.). I resent health boards worldwide now for reducing salt levels in these.
When not sneaking behind a bush, I was running to Pecos, a hub for the local oil and gas industries and as such on a hugely busy road, given the size of it and the town. Trucks, trailers, tankers, oversize loads, one after the other. Another big marker was to happen today – the half way point of this crossing. Whilst all of them are going to be a bit vague – hey – I don't even know my final route, I got Nads to park at the designated point and she made a cool ribbon with a HALFWAY sign that I got to run through...twice, as filming didn't go to plan first time round! This was of course, a source of great amusement for Nads, who really enjoyed the dangerous position of the RV on a thin shoulder as trucks gave her dirty looks as I approached. This didn't feel as “big” as the 1,000 mile mark, as hopefully, this is nowhere near halfway of the total distance, but it was sweet nonetheless.
Pecos is another town with an interesting history and was the site of world's first rodeo in 1883, with a big rodeo arena still present. Heading down the main street I noted some tell tale satellite dishes and popped in for a chat with Christy Martinez of the local KPTX-KIUN radio station. She took my details and got me some mentions on the news. Every now and again, I would get a load of honks from passing drivers in a short space of time. As I was playing sensible Rob and running at the safest/furthest extremity of the road, I can only assume it was because of these and they were the best sort of distraction from the feeling of impending doom! I've since found out that Pecos has a population where over 25% live below the poverty line and I find this hard to align with the fact that some people (probably not from the area) are getting VERY rich from the local resources.
After getting about 14 miles past, we returned to the local truck stop. Not to stay, but to plunder their Wi-Fi and refillable drinks while trying to do a lot of uploading/downloading...whilst freeloading. This continued as we stayed in the local picnic area as we are getting very money conscious at the moment.
Start: Water pumping station on 285, 20 miles south of Pecos. Finish: Jct Highway 285 and County Road 437. 37.6 miles
Total: 1092.24 miles