My love of being in a tent/caravan/RV when the rain is pouring overnight is starting to wane a bit. The impending day of running in said rain is good at dampening hopes for the day. Of course it was raining. The first place I ran through was called Manchester, just before the border with Oklahoma. Texas was done again. Both times it has tested me to near breaking point, though maybe the shorter crossing this time helped me cope better on leg 2. It certainly felt a lot quicker. Oklahoma was originally meant to be for the exclusive use of the Native American people- the Choctaw Nation, though in one of these lovely government mind changes, a “land grab” was allowed where people were held at the border until a starter's pistol was fired and you could basically race into the unclaimed land and plant a flag. There were strict penalties for people who tried to sneak in before the official start and hence people from Oklhaoma are called “Sooners”. There you go! I met a couple of these on the road, as they stopped to see if I was alright in the pouring rain, which went on all day. This was so depressing with it being cold as well and my head was perpetually bowed to avoid the headwind stinging my face. I don't really have a lot to report from what was going to a brief time in Native America, apart from that Idabel, our stopping place for the night has a very nice laundromat on the west of town and the RV park is very weird, with seemingly no-one around to pay and huge puddles that you couldn't see until they were lapping over the top of your shoes. Every day is different, I didn't even hate it. It wasn't Oklahoma's fault. I just hope this rain stopped, Sooner or later.
Start: Jct of County Roads 195 and 196, Faught. Finish: Idabel RV Park. 40.4 miles. 125 Tune of the Day: The Stone Roses – Waterfall. When in Rome… (or Manchester…). You make the best of what you've got and music was my buddy today.
So...no-one around in the morning. Free night's stay. We've been in this situation before and always paid, usually via an honesty box that these places have, but there literally was nothing and asking at the local gas station yielded no answers. Nads wanted to leave £20 on the little power point on our site, but I said that it was just going to get lifted by someone passing by, so reluctantly we left. I reckon that seeing this is for a good cause, it was alright, or...maybe OK. My right achilles had come back to the party as an uninvited guest the last few days, so I reverted to my old tactic of waking the muscles up by walking the first mile and amused myself looking at the #gumpchallenge videos that had come in overnight. I caught Idabel half asleep I think, with the town centre being relatively deserted. This corner of Oklahoma doesn't get many visitors I think so I did draw a little attention from the few people that were about as they probably don't see many people taking photos left, right and centre! I got a particularly cool one of a mural of a Choctaw Chief on his horse. The achilles was just there...just noticeable, but the key is always: “Is the pain increasing?” The answer was no, so I stayed in surveillance mode and resolved to step up my end-of-day maintenance regime. The Tiger Tail was going to get a lot more use – by the way – if you have tight calves – get yourself one of these. It's pretty much torture, but it does the job a treat. We were due to reach the Arkansas border by lunch and sped through the larger town of Broken Bow and its restored steam railway engine, stopping for breakfast by an auto glass repair shop that had a fairly extensive classic car graveyard behind. It was on the way to check this out that we had the pleasure of meeting Jean, the lovely owner of the shop who was enthralled by the adventure. She wants to sell up, get an RV and see the country – I advised it was a good idea, though the running does get in the way sometimes! She gave us a little something for the charities, as she was happy to see “someone doing something peaceful for a change”. She was heading to de Queen, AR, just like us. She jokingly offered me the lift, before she headed off.
At the border, we stopped at a bar for a celebratory beer – not much of a selection – Coronas it was! I assume people use designated drivers to get to here and its next door neighbour (that we thought we were at initially) as it's in the middle of nowhere and looks like it could be a fun place to do a mini crawl on a Friday night. So we crossed from Native America to the Nature State – did I tell you I was running for the WWF? Almost instantly the sun came out and I loved Arkansas. The weather didn't get me down yesterday, but it certainly bucked me up today! We reached de Queen, which seemed pretty well put together with a surprising number of hipster types apparent. I even saw Jean on the way back as she beeped and waved! I met Nads and asked permission to do a few more miles due to a late start and some intra-day delays, which was fine. This however led to us driving back in rapidly falling light, which was naughty of me, regardless of intention. It's crazy how running west, i.e. away from the sun makes such a big difference to how late you can run, in only a few days. Apologising, I resolved to finish no later than 18:15 until the next time zone or the clocks went forward. “How's your achilles?”. I realised it was fine. I know it will probably be back again tomorrow, but it was a cherry on the top of a solid 8/10 day.
Start: Idabel RV Park. Finish: Near Jct of Highway 70 and Noey Lane. 42.6 miles. Day 126 Tune of the Day: Queen - God Save De Queen (Did you see what I did there?). Brian May played this at the end of every Queen gig and also famously from the top of Buck House, for Lizzie herself couple of years back. I felt this was a more grand choice than the Pistols' version – especially as De Queen was very nice.
Total: 4139.74 miles