From ghosts to you believe? Days 109-111

One of those days where you wish I had a pair of those trainers with wheels on that you see little kids buzzing around shopping malls with as there was going to be almost 3,000 feet of descending today, which meant warmer times ahead. The main themes for the day were William H. Bonney, or Billy the Kid, as there were a number of historic markers on the 70 that would tell of his exploits and if not ghost towns, then certainly lots of cool ghost buildings. Running wise, it was mostly a case of constantly looking at the pace indicator on my watch to make sure I wasn't going to quick. I've only really got an interest in pace as a self-preservation tool. If I'm behind in the day, I just try and be more efficient at breaks, as speeding up doesn't really to save a significant amount of time, but certainly contributes significantly to tiredness that and the next day. One of the early stops was a place called the Fox Cave – a disused gem mine that once served as an outlaw hideout (How cool!). We had a bit of a moment there as Nads really wanted to visit (as did I), but I didn't feel we had enough time to do it justice and I'd arrived at rhe RV weirdly more tired than usual and in a bit of a grump. I got on the road sharpish and tried to run myself into a better mood. The sun always helping, we passed through the settlements (often one-horse towns round here) of Glencoe (Population: I'm not sure apart from a shop) and San Patricio (Ransacked by a posse looking for that pesky Billy, now home to artist Peter Hurd) before we got to Hondo, which was the biggest of these places, home of the Eagles and a Western curio shop with a great line in signs. “Build the wall – where my wife can't go back” and “Bad decisions make great stories.” I can identify with that one. A gloriously Aussie-style named place called Tinnie was next up, which had a number of decidely ghostly looking buildings but was still very much alive and kicking with a new post office, fancy looking restaurant and fantastic metal sculptures rising into the sky near the old gas station. These were by a chap called William Goodman – have a quick google, they're pretty funky. In the fading light I reached my final little place, Picacho, where we'd decided to stay in the Post Office car park, as it seemed the easiest option. I'd loved my day of descent through these little pieces of history, both written and being written still, often in some really beautiful locations. The thing is with places like this, is you imagine seeing the run down buildings that the whole town is on the way out, but this is often just a case of someone moving away and not being able to resell that building. People build new, bring trailers. Life ebbs and flows in these areas with the times and I have grown to have amazing respect for people who tough it out, or even make steps to improve things. It's a bit like nature – life finds a way. In these cases it might not necessarily be on the highway for people like me and you to gawp at. I just wish I'd met a few of the people to tell their side. I bet it'd be a good listen.

Start: Apache Summit, US-70. Finish: Picacho Post Office. 41.8 miles. Day 109 Tune of the Day: First Aid Kit – Ghost Town. To the Bills. Bonney and Goodman and all the good people of the Hondo Valley.

No early morning Postman's knock, real or otherwise, but we got a move on fairly sharpish before he/she arrived to ask awkward questions. Another reason to get moving early was the earlier we finished, the earlier we would be in Roswell, the site of our proposed day off tomorrow. Well...when I say day off, I mean half day. Time wise. Not distance wise. That would be a 3/8th day off. A morning off, anyway. I'd also arranged an interview with Tim, from the Roswell Daily Record – the same paper that publicised the infamous Roswell incident of 1947, where an unidentified object landed in farmland nearby and the remains were taken to a nearby airbase to either be covered up/autopsied/acknowledged as a weather balloon, depending on what you believe. The date seemed a bit familiar to me for some reason, so I did some research and it happened the same year that David Bowie appeared on earth. I wonder...

The running, in all honesty was fairly unspectacular, with the last views of the hills disappearing behind and hints of vast plains opening up in front. This came with, excepting of a fairly big hump, a steady downhill and a nice spot for lunch – just by the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile silos which apparently are empty no longer pointing at Mr Putin and are privately owned. Who buys these things? All types apparently, from people looking for a secure marijuana farm, to people building Doomsday condos. Whatever floats your nuclear submarine, I guess.

I met Tim for a quick interview in front of the International UFO Museum and Research Centre, obviously then trotted the last two miles past precisely no craft beer pubs. My Saturday night was going to be a quiet one, even with a 3/8th day off tomorrow.

Start: Picacho Post Office. Finish: Trailer Village RV Park, Roswell. 40.25 miles. Day 110 Tune of the Day: David Bowie – Starman

Roswell loves a good alien story. That's pretty fortunate as there were a lot of people in town looking for just that and the museum where I had my interview was first on our list. For the bargainous entry fee of $5 we were let in on the secrets. Now, as a scientist, I'll declare my position. I figure that in this infinite universe, the odds of there being life are in my opinion, fairly favourable. This life being intelligent, maybe less, but what is intelligence? That's another debate entirely, but there certainly COULD be a lifeform or...something that could theoretically be capable of travelling the many light years...but why do they always seem to be taking a look at a farmer's field in Idaho? So yeah, I'm probably a sceptic. I don't think they'd wear the look of man, as they're often reported to. However, the more you read the eye-witness accounts of a large number of responsible people, you start to wonder. Then the ridiculous explanations and evidence switching of the US air Force, including that the alien bodies were crash dummies that they used from 1954-1959 (Hang on, wasn't the “crash” in 1947) you start to really think that they could have been onto something. As my favourite approach to potentially stressful situations that I'm unlikely to unravel to a degree that satisfies me is to remain ignorant, I decided to move on. My absolute favourite bit of the whole exhibit though was one fella who'd been “abducted” before being arrested after a high speed police chase where he was topping out over 110mph, who said that the alien who'd picked him at alien speed dating previously was in the passenger seat alongside him, egging him on, but disappeared just as the police were walking up to his door. Priceless. There was also the fact that “Foo Fighters” were a real/imagined Nazi phenomenon, not just a band (Note: I am not suggesting that Dave Grohl is an imaginary Nazi). In an article someone used the phrase “There's no foo without fire”. Strange that hasn't caught on, eh?

Foo-d for thought indeed. We were hungry and I had 5/8ths of running to fuel for, so we headed to the Stellar Coffee Shop on Main, which was pretty stellar indeed. Alien hunters amongst you – take note for sustenance. Lacing (forcing) on my shoes, I set off with a full belly with the Rolling Stones in my ears, as suggested by Nads and Roswell began to fade into the distance, with the Double Eagle Ranch, home of the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, “Mine That Bird” passing by on my left and the ornate metalwork sign of LA Ranch on my right. Seeing some wild deer is always a pleasure, especially with the sun starting to drop. On the last run of the day I had the peculiar situation where the road was so straight, with a dip, I saw Nads go past me at one mile, then watched her move 5 or so miles down the road and pull over. I thought it couldn't have been her, as I obviously didn't watch ALL the time, but sure enough, as I arrived, minutes after missing a great sunset behind me, there Jenny was, where my eyes had had a tough job of convincing my brain she was. It was starting to look a lot less like New Mexico, as if I'd been picked up and dropped hundreds of miles away. Surely not, but remember, the truth is out there.

Start: Trailer Village RV Park, Roswell. Finish: Highway 380, by a big pile of dirt. 25.4 miles (according to my watch, I don't know how long I was on that ship for). Day 111 Tune of the Day: Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly. Those alien fellas should have taken a few more lessons, I reckon. This video is an absolute beauty.

Total: 3513.14 miles