Mojave, Mo Problems. Days 79-80

After the previous days' baptism of fire for the second leg, today was bliss. I headed north still in the bright California sunshine in temperatures in the mid teens (oC), with hardly any wind noticeable. One of a large number of State Parks called Red Rock Canyon, or similar, is in California and this formed the mid part of the run and whilst i's not the biggest it is stunning with different layers and shades of rock visible on the hills stretching into the distance. Idyllic, or at least it was till I just about avoided tripping on a 3 litre bottle containing a dark yellow liquid with a makeshift handle on it. I'm pretty sure this was a trucker's toilet. I quite like truckers, they give me space on the roads, they wave and the fun-loving ones will even give a long toot on their horn as they speed past – but listen: I understand that you're on a schedule and places to pull over aren't easy to find in an 18-wheeler – but this is rank. Unfortunately it's not a rare occurrence. Keep it in your cab.

Not as a result of the near miss, but more likely a result of the otherwise perfect conditions, I was feeling quite giddy for some reason and decided that even though it was quite busy, traffic wise, I'd try to get a reaction out of as many of the oncoming drivers/passengers as I could. Pretty much everyone coming back seemed to have skis on their roof, likely taking advantage of the long weekend afforded by Martin Luther King Day (I'm sure that's what he would have wanted) and were in similar high spirits so it was a pretty successful fishing trip for me, with waves, honks and “Yeah!”'s coming my way. If I can raise the energy for antics like this it's great as it makes the miles fly by. Obviously the converse is true and it's so important that I try and stay positive when I'm having a bad day to make sure I can take advantage of any good vibes that come my way. My good mood on arrival unfortunately didn't coincide with Nad's mood, as she's finding being out again a little tougher than last time. She misses her normal life and while I'm super glad to have her here, there is a bit of me that will be happy for her to get back to some sense of normality. I only have her here till the end of March, though she might come back out later on. Once I get settled into the routine again, we're going to start a transition period for me possibly going solo, in the likely event I don't get anyone else with the patience of a saint to take over. Applications are welcome!

Start: West of California City, just off Highway 14. Finish: Just south of Indian Wells on Highway 14. 37.11 miles. Day 77 Tune of the Day: Pride – U2 (In honour of Martin Luther King – the song is all about him y'see!)

Today was going to be a long day, full of ups and downs. Emotional ones. First down: Running past the Indian Wells Brewery that was only 2 miles from where we stopped the previous night, completely unbeknown to us and it was too early to be open. Oh well. Plans were hatched to come back as some quick research revealed extra hidden treasures such as the fact they make their own sweets and soda pop – over 150 flavours! First up: I was running on the main road and saw a couple of old wooden shacks the far side of a parallel road. There appeared to be a really cool looking Joshua tree outside, but as I approached (after wriggling under a barbed wire fence, of course), it became clear that it was a statue made of silver and bronze coloured metal and when I was right in front of it, I realised that its trunk was made of horseshoes, in a nod to the strong Western style history of the area. Hats off to Skip Gorman, a man far more talented than I will ever be! When I caught up with Nads and Olivia at Pearsonville - “The Hubcap Capital of the World” and home to a pretty cool statue itself (20ft high Lucy Pearson – the lady who had collected over 80,000 hubcaps..., I as quite excited about our return to the brewery. Olivia had spied a roadrunner in the distance and she went to investigate. She returned with a concerned face and a warning of some impending bad news. Hoping it was nothing too dramatic, we invited the revelation. We should have known. Roadrunners and Jenny equal one thing. A tyre had gone. This put paid to any trip back to the brewery and sent the crew to Ridgecrest to get a new one fitted, as the RV can drive with a rear puncture, due to it having two rear wheels on each side. I made plans to get lunch from the Subway, took extra water and grabbed a few other “I'm going long” provisions. Nads questioned this, but while I may not be the most prepared at times, I had a feeling this was going to be a long diversion. This was confirmed as I was about 20 minutes down the road. Our errant tyre had taken out its buddy and Jenny was stricken. While I was upset about the delay and the increased cost that this was going to concur, I was glad I'd stocked up. 18 miles later and after a progression of signs telling me how close I was getting to a beef jerky shop (still very far away), we were reunited and I learned that we had been separated from $485 dollars. Though I'm assured we got a good deal for two proper quality tyres, it still is a huge blow and not what you wanted to hear after a long day on your feet. I resolved that even though I'd only planned on doing 37 miles, taking us 7 miles south of the RV park where we were going to stay, I was going to bash out the 44 and take something positive from the day, or night, as it would turn out to be. Using my new run lights from Decathlon, I descended into Olancha far less dangerously than the previous leg's night-time excursions and in a pretty good frame of mind. What was done was done and at least we could have a lie in tomorrow.

Final up: The guys had picked up some of the Death Valley Pale Ale from a local gas station.

Final down: The jump in mileage was met with a big protest from my occasionally troublesome right achilles. A nervous night's sleep lay ahead.

Start: Just south of Indian Wells on Highway 14. Finish: Olancha RV Park. 44.3 miles. Day 78 Tune of the Day: Radiohead – Idioteque. Last song of the day and contains a line “Everything all of the time...” I know that feeling.