What goes up, must come down and after what felt like a free rocket-propelled ascent yesterday, I felt like I was getting something for nothing. Always welcome. I didn't really get the chance to build up much speed as I was too busy stopping to take pictures and videos. I couldn't rely on just memory for these views. I felt really lucky. That's happened a lot to be fair. After rolling my way down to the RV, I went over a few plans with Nads for a new lip syncing video. If you haven't seen any of these (small but growing number) go to my YouTube channel (runroblarun) and check them out. I hope they give you a laugh :) The filming went ok, with a curious car driver parked at a junction taking in the last bit. Lucky I'm not self-conscious as I do look a bit of an idiot when I do these. Little did I know that the intrigued onlookers were members of the Texas Police, who were in the area due to a potential space rocket launch that day. They'd already checked in with Nads, whose explanation of “I'm just waiting here for my boyfriend who's running across America to go past filming himself singing...(I'm not giving the game away!)” was not what they expected, but it made sure they were in a good place to watch me be said idiot. I went over afterwards and thanked them for not arresting me and kept an eye out for a launch that never came as I continued west.
Something for nothing eh? Not quite, I got a little present after the descent. Shin pain. The nature of tibialis anterior tendinopathy means it's often aggravated by going downhill. The creak hadn't returned, but he was a late arrival to the party last time. I was a little more sanguine about it this time, knowing I'd already come a long way. Long enough to feel I'd achieved something tangible anyway. I monitored it during the day and eased back on the pace again and later that evening arranged an appointment with a razor for my almost back-to-normal hirsuteness on my left lower leg and the K-tape was retrieved from my box of running tricks. It hadn't gotten worse during the day, so that was at least something. In fact the worst thing was the cafe we'd planned to stop at for lunch at Salt Flat was shut and it looked like it had been for a while. I peered through the window which led to the kitchen and saw a lady sitting there. I quickly ducked out of sight and waited to tell Nads the news. This place was in the middle of nowhere, but was a Greyhound Bus Stop and on a busy enough highway, so I wondered what had happened. Sure it would be so logistically hard to get supplies with the nearest town at least 50 miles away...I'd have loved to have asked her, but I thought it might make her sad, if this wasn't a decision that was hers to make. I hoped it was just a seasonal thing. The Salt Flats themselves were a great sight. They used to be a vital source of income for the Native Americans and later Hispanic people before the local grandees in El Paso decided they'd have some, in fact, all of it and there was a war fought over it, which the El Paso mob won. Progress? Seemed more like a bit of good old fashioned robbery. My attempt on the World Land Speed Record was aborted due to concerns that my shin may not be able to cope with breaking the sound barrier, in case you were wondering. It was on, for sure.
Wildlife sighting of the day: A grasshopper that looked like he was in fancy dress from the film “Kick-Ass”. Halloween came early for the insect world.
Interesting food of day: Chicken Noodle soup/bread/last night's left-over mash and beans/ham, all mixed in a bowl. We're trying to use up what we've got! Give us a break! P.S. It was surprisingly good.
Start: Guadalupe Mountains Visitor centre. Finish: Jct of Highway 62/180 and road to Dell City. 31.36 miles
Last night was the first night where I've been consistently cold in bed and waking up as a result, a bit like hibernating bats suffering from White Nose Syndrome (Look it up – very sad.). As you do though, you pretend it isn't really happening and instead of putting on a t-shirt or getting another blanket you rearrange your current blanket and try to go asleep again. Repeat in 20 minutes. This isn't a moan though, I felt alright when I woke up (after many an alarm snooze) and it wasn't that cold when I got out. In fact, the weather is getting pretty pleasant to run in. Alright, the sun is still super powerful, but I feel I'm sweating as much from just running now as much as being cooked.
The lack of internet meant we had to guess where to stop and the only solid info we had on places where Nads could navigate the Enterprise into were at 10 and 16 miles, so a big first stint was the order of the day. I actually prefer these and have only shied away from them in an attempt to stop my tib-ant from flaring up again...oh yeah. I forgot. It has flared up again and I'm taped up. Hey ho, safety wins and 10 miles it is. 6 miles after this, was the “town” of Cornudas. On the approach, it was as it looked on the map last time I could check – i.e. a few buildings and that was it. These did show signs of life and a slightly faded sign on the approach spoke of May's Café and the “World-famous Cornudas Burger”. A big boast indeed. Even though it was only about 11 and I'd had a bowl of cereal about an hour ago, opportunities like this can't be taken for granted in this environment and Nads was I think pretty chuffed when I said that not only could this be a place to get lunch, but we should sit in and have it now. You can guess what I went for. I fiddled with it slightly to get rid of the cheese and mustard, but it should still have resembled that renowned worldwide, I hoped. Terri the owner brought it over as Nads was checking out the lovely trinkets and curios in the other part of the room, that, if we didn't have to bring it all back to the UK, some of which would have found its way into the RV, especially a pair of red leather boots that were just too small for her. The burger itself was amazing. The previous best I'd had on this trip was in the post-office-cum-diner in Hext, but this topped even that. On the tables we sat at, there were cards and napkins from previous visitors and after explaining my mission, Terri, May and Carolyn, a friend from ALABAMA, no less, now living 4 miles away told me of previous visitors, including a Veteran who ran to New Jersey and passed through and also Rosie Swale-Pope, an English lady who I already know of, who ran through as part of her USA crossing (I'm not sure if this was part of her round the world trip, but I think it may have been.). She's an extraordinary lady, who they ladies said was very chatty. Between Rosie, myself and a chap called Steve Pope who ran across the States with my pal Chris Finnill, I wonder if the Popes will be the group who have completed the most crossings, if I make it? Rosie did her run pushing a cart that she slept in at night and housed all her supplies. Check out her story – it's a great read. I added my details and put the next to hers – that'll be a find for the next person in that seat. Another customer asked the ladies where the rest of the town was. “This is it!”, replied Terri. As we left to go, clutching our cakes that were to be our nighttime treat, Terri informed us that she'd covered our bill and would have no arguments about us paying. Another amazing example of the hospitality we've encountered. People can be so lovely.
The ladies had told us of a rest area 20 miles away that would be good for the night, so another big hit of 10 miles in my favoured post-lunch slot gave me two 5 milers at the end, with me racing through the break to just get it done. Done it was and cake was eaten. Cake has also been saved as it was too good to force in on a full stomach of pasta and weirdly good veggie meatballs (Couldn't tell difference!). I'd had a binge on Neil Young and Bob Dylan during the day as they were just right for the time and place and now I'm here, mulling over Texas and especially the last few days in the beautiful wilderness. If it wasn't pitch black, you could go outside and see Guadalupe Peak still, despite it being almost 70 miles away. I'll wave good bye to it in the morning and then set my sights on El Paso. Outskirts tomorrow night, centre and Halloween/Dia del Muertos fun on Monday/Tuesday with half doses of mileage to allow us to celebrate the adventure that has been Texas. After that, New Mexico and a new chapter.
Start: Jct of Highway 62/180 and road to Dell City. Finish: Rest area 20 miles west of Cornudas on Highway 62/180. 35.45 miles
Total: 1249.17 miles