Round 2 with the big guy...ding ding! Days 112-114

The last full day in New Mexico before the big guy again. To be fair, I think a lot of New Mexico's exciting things may be behind me, but there's always little gems to be had in unexpected places. A derelict gas station/store with some good graffiti, set against a stunning blue sky made for a good photo and as I was watching this, something, or things were watching me. A small herd of deer about 10 strong were curiously/nervously observing me from afar. When I started running, they ran towards me, but when I stopped to take a photo, they scattered, very quickly, with one poor fella lagging behind. That'd be me now, down at the track. I left them behind once they'd stopped at a safe vantage point and saw that Jenny was in the distance, next to a store advertising home-made pies. Lunch was sorted, in my mind, before my hopes were dashed by it being shut. We thought it might have something to do with it being President's Day, but NM doesn't observe it until the day after Thanksgiving, so maybe this was just another example of a business finding it was the end of the road. The local cattle appeared to be waiting for their lunch too, the other side of the farm gate. Maybe they were glad the pie shop was closed? Over lunch I chatted to Darrell Moody, a news reporter based in Florida who did the local news for Roswell, naturally! This was actually my first US radio interview, so quite exciting! A need to finish slightly earlier meant I left without really organising myself, so I elected for suncream rather than charging my mp3 player soon all I had for company were my thoughts, that is until the deer turned up, 10 miles or so down the road. I thought it was likely another herd, but there were 10 again and when they scattered, the slowcoach was again, left behind. I'm not sure if they thought I may be bringing food, or whether I was smelling like some sort of alpha deer (which is certainly a possibility), but it made me smile. I hope they didn't feel like their day was wasted following me. I managed, a little further on to download a radio app and cajole my phones headphone jack into just about working and managed to catch the interview in the last few metres before the close of play, sandwiched in between an advert for handguns and an article about pecan weevils. I think this is a pretty unique combo that may never be repeated!

Start: Highway 380, by a big pile of dirt. Finish: 2 miles short of Tatum on Highway 380. 43.4 miles. Day 112 Tune of the Day: Queen – Radio Ga Ga. Even though I've done radio interviews before, this was the first time I'd ever heard myself actually on the radio. Quite surreal and judging by the increase in attention from passing cars, radio may yet to have its finest hour...

Waking up in our free municipal RV park was a nice change – designed to encourage people into town, but there wasn't really anything to do in the immediate area as it was pretty much on the edge of town, hence no other RV's and maybe the reason why the power seemed to be off. Hey, it was quiet and no-one was going to move us on. This equals a good chance for a restful night, so for free...we'll take it. It was just sort of a shame that we didn't really get to go out and about one last time in NM. The reason was...Texas is the morning! I like Texas – it was the state that last time acted as a bridge from the green, hot, humid East, to the fairly hospitable deserts of the West. Seeing the landscape change over 893 miles was...I've just sat here for five minutes trying to think of a good description...but I think you'll just have to do it for yourselves. You may use a car. I recommend it heartily. That'll do as a description. This time it'll be just 500 miles. Running 40+ miles a day means twelve days, making it seem almost normal sized. It's not, obviously, which is a good reason to change time zone as we go over the border. It seems as though it has been getting darker earlier and light a lot earlier as we headed towards the opposite International Date Line, even at this speed!

So...we were in the Panhandle Plains. What would this look like? New Mexico had been preparing me for it, with the odd oil derrick dotted about, but Texas doesn't mess about. This land has a lot of oil, but it's great for farming cotton. What to do? Farm oil! The surreal scene of ploughing patterns around oil derricks, with eau de petroleum and a fair amount of noisy trucks was my backdrop. I'm weird about the smell of oil. I like it (I know I shouldn't), but it makes me hungry, so my senses were all on the go, as of course, there was always some pain, somewhere. This was just plain (sorry for the pun) wearing me out and stressing me out as negative thoughts filled my head. I needed to reset. I stopped at a semi-derelict barn and decided to have a poke about. I was trying to work out what had made some of the unusual droppings in the corner, when a barn owl swooped past my head and I could see another in the corner. This flew out then kept coming back to look through a hole in the roof at me, before flying off again. I could hear sounds indicating that there may have been some babies and figured I was stressing out their folks, so I left, with all troubles seemingly gone, as I notched the last miles of the day, down cotton lined roads and the sun at my back. Things ain't so bad.

Start: 2 miles short of Tatum on Highway 380. Finish: Just after Jct of Highway 380 and Cty Rd 435. 42.6 miles. Day 113 Tune of the Day: Nirvana – On A Plain. Weird coincidence. I was remarking that we were now on the plains, we stayed in a place called Plains and I later learned it was Kurt Cobain's birthday.

Farmland, as far as the eye can see, on a dead straight road and I didn't think there was going to be any change for a long time yet, so my mind needed something to occupy it. A healthy dose of continual fear of explosive diarrhoea was the unexpected and unwelcome diversion. I hadn't eaten anything funny, but I was in trouble. I don't know if you guys really want to know this, but hey, this is REAL maaaan. Early morning occurrences had indicated that this was a possibility and I was only a few miles down the road when it was on. S**t was going down and it was on the verge of becoming literal. No cover, anywhere. It was either going to be limping to the houses I could see a mile away, or being the worst scarecrow you've ever seen. I now know here are few greater humiliations than asking a complete stranger firstly can you use their toilet, then inquiring where the toilet paper is, leaving no doubt your intentions. My unusual guardian angel was Gerald. Gerald is 73 and while he recently retired from his second job with a fertiliser company, he still farms cotton and stays active, having been a good track runner in his youth. He's a Gomez man, through and through living next door to his daughter-in-law, granddaughter and grandson. We had a fascinating chat about cotton farming, the area and running. He even watched Forrest Gump the night before. You couldn't make it up. Fate had sorted me out and I waltzed down the road like one of those old-school Disney characters, with birds singing and prairie dogs/ground squirrels larking around at the roadside (these things were actually happening!). It was not without a smirk that I entered the next town – Brownfield, a proper farming/cowboy town with an old-time Rialto cinema, block paving and various shops servicing the local farming industry. The main attraction for me though was a Mk I convertible, gold VW Golf, which had seen better days but was only $500. If I lived in the US, I'd have bought it then and there and worked out if it drove afterwards, she was that pretty. I spent a lot of the day imaging Nads and I completing the rest of the route with the top down, listening to 80's tunes whilst wearing a white linen suit, loafers and no socks. That's right. Super cool.

Oh yeah… I did some pretty good running too. We even got to our RV park in time for sunset and met a great couple Dave and Ann, who've invited us to dinner in two weeks in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A day of a constant upswing. S**t happens. Sometimes.

Start: Just after Jct of Highway 380 and Cty Rd 435 Finish: Jct of Highway 62 and Parrot Road, Ropesville. 42.3 miles. Day 114 Tune of the Day: Rolling Stones – Turd on the Run. I don't think you need me to explain this…

Total 3641.44 miles