First tune straight out of the box: Lust For Life by Iggy Pop. Hear those tom drums! The sun was shining! I'd had a good sleep! I had the lust for life! I was semi-transformed to an Edinburgh street, being chased by the police...oh. That wasn't me, it was Trainspotting - check out the video! I've been on the 70 for a couple of days and would need to keep that enthusiasm up as I had many more days left. Meeting Jordan and Jamie helped. They both work in the reservation hospital and Jordan had seen me running for three days and felt compelled to wait for me at the top of the hill and find out what this crazy beard and its human were up to. This is my absolute favourite type of encounter, as I imagine what people think as they pass all the time! On through Bylas, one of the only real settlements of note with lots of just general marvelling at the scenery. We stopped for a break at a really cool ghost gas station. Someone had daubed “Help your soul – Free your mind” on the delapidated and broken doors. I reckon I'm doing just that right now. Running felt so easy today and I sort of just got lost in the music and surrounds, with my escaping mind. Hey, if it's uneventful as this for the rest of the run I'll take it. A sudden dive in the energy levels at the end due to maybe not eating enough wasn't a concern, though maybe taking my eye off the ball should be!
Start: Highway 70, 9.5 miles east of Apache Gold Casino RV resort. Finish: Jct of Highway 70 and Ashurst Road. 42.0 miles. Day 100 Tune of the Day: Iggy Pop – Lust For Life. The sun was shining, turn on shuffle... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQvUBf5l7Vw
Taking my eye off the ball obviously extended to the use of sunscreen. Nads had remarked that I looked a bit red when I came in, but it was bloody hot. This morning, my face, neck and shoulders were still pretty crimson, especially down the right side of my body which had been having a stare-off with the fireball for the previous day. The weather was going to be even warmer today, so maybe I got lucky with my laxity being yesterday. I set off down the Old West Highway, mostly through farm country and then...a Liverpudlian ran through Thatcher without incident (I was very well behaved – for American/Aussie and other readers who don't get that – Liverpool and the former Prime Minister were not the best of friends!). Home to one of the best “Welcome to...” signs I've seen with a swooping eagle being outdone by some kind of mean old lizard with a Stetson, six-shooter and an eye for trouble on it, as well as some really quirky residences, such a feature of small town America. I had a longer than expected rest in a Walmart, where I immediately bumped into someone else who'd seen me a few times in the last 100 miles and I also got talking to a local who knew pretty much...everything. The weather, terrain, highway laws, the problems in various towns, as well as things I can't really mention on here and even though I had an eye on the clock, a lot of the info was pretty useful. He's a big HAM radio man, so I told him to let the local truckers know I was going down the 70 and to give me a wave as they went by. Soon after Thatcher merged into Safford and this faded again into the open country that I've grown so fond of, with snow-capped Mount Graham keeping watch. On the horizon, a landmark loomed. Now this was more of an imaginary one, but at least there was a good physical marker – a crumbling grain silo/depot that formed the backdrop for my 5,000km celebration. That's 5 million metres. I remember wondering when I was little if anyone had ever counted to a million. Now my feet had done 2 and a half times that each in less than four months. I hope they didn't mind too much as the last ten miles or so were all going to be uphill. I was wondering what emotional bribe I could give my psyche to help me with the last few miles when it happened. The blue sky suddenly changed into a mixture of reds, oranges and yellows as the best sunset of the trip so far descended on us. I took so long getting photos and videos that it began to get dark. I realised I needed to get on my toes and put the hammer down for the last stretch. 200m before the end, a car pulls up and the occupants ask where I'm running to. "Maine". Cue much excitement in the car... "Unbelievable! I'm walking across the country!"
The voice was Chris, the cheery beardy chap, from Suttons Bay, Michigan, accompanied by his two intrepid companions, Eloisa and Ryan. These guys have only just teamed up, as Chris has walked all the way (over the winter) from Washington DC, self supported, pulling a cart and had just crossed the same state line with New Mexico that I'll cross today. Now I feel a bit guilty typing this on my phone as he's crossing in aid of his own initiative, Let's Talk, designed when he was at university in St Andrews, Scotland. The aim is to get America talking, face-to-face again, instead of an over reliance on technology. God knows, if recent world events have shown us anything, people need to talk and listen more. This was such a crazy chance meeting, if I hadn't been delayed at the shops, or taken those beautiful sunset photos (up later), I'd have covered those last few hundred metres and been in the RV, all of us oblivious to the others' presence!! Madness. Meant to be. Would be great if you can give his page a Like, I know how much your support means to me. He's got 600 miles to go before he finishes in LA! Go Chris!! https://m.facebook.com/LetsTalkUsaProject/ Turns out he'd also had a good brush with the sun in the last day or so, though his exposure was just the lower half of his face!
Start: Jct of Highway 70 and Ashurst Road. Finish: Jct of Highway 70 and Hackberry Road. 41.2 miles. Day 101 Tune of the Day: Muse – Sunburn. Looks like it wasn't just me who'd been slack on the suncream today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9SZaOJEWXU
Still buzzing from our encounter last night and the natural art show was a good fillip for a man who had another uphill start. This wasn't so bad to day and it wasn't long before we were descending to the Arizona town of Duncan, a cute little place of around 800 people that seemed a nice little community, though very sleepy, with many businesses appearing closed when I arrived. There was a grand old hotel called the Simpson Motel still in operation that would have been lovely to stay in, a theater (cinema) that seemed to have last shown a film at the time of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008) and a pie shop (closed – sad face). There was however a fully functioning Post Office where I picked up some Science in Sport replenishments and posted a few bits myself. After an interesting chat about the recent election (Always a delicate issue…) I went outside where a lady advised us to take some of the green peppers at the side of the road – they were free from a local farm Very nice they turned out to be, too. Soon after Duncan it was adios to Arizona, possibly for the last time, who knows? Certainly if we return, things will be getting really serious, so I hope we do and also because I like Arizona a lot! We were still enthused about New Mexico though as it was one of our favourite stretches last time, with the initially barren appearing landscape revealing more and more subtle beauty, the longer you looked. We were going to be a bit more “urban” if that is a thing in south NM, as we do not want to travel previously run roads, with crossings only allowed. As such we were going to shadow the I-10 for a good bit, which has got its pros and cons – readily available amenities and internet versus less scenic route, more traffic in places and actual availability of roads for me to run on. We stopped for the day just shy of Lordsburg, where we dropped into last time to pick up a certain Mr Richard Beer. I didn't think we'd have as nice a surprise this time...or was he keeping it quiet?
Start: Jct of Highway 70 and Hackberry Road. Finish: Just past Jct of Highway 70 and State Route A024. 39.9 miles. Day 102 Tune of the Day: Foo Fighters – All My Life. “Done, done, onto the next one!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ04WbgI9rg