The Return of the Giants...This Time They Had Company. Days 93-95

Nads had parked well out of the way here, so no-one would bother us and as a result it was very quiet and quiet increases the chance of a good sleep. Things followed the playbook and I felt a lot better this morning. The forecast was great for the day and after the first run I decided that it was time for the suncream to be retrieved from the back of the cupboard. Not bad for the start of February. The 4-2-1 plan was reinstituted and we were back on for a bigger day. I passed one of the last junctions that would give me the option of heading due east to Flagstaff and I'd decided that I was quite enjoying the nice weather and no love for finding myself (or Jenny with Nads) in minus temperatures when we didn't have to be. We always wanted to get Flagstaff near the end of the run anyway, so I didn't want tot empt fate by making that now. I was heading south. This was a good decision, especially as Nads had already gone south to our meeting point and had parked just outside a property boundary that stated that if we were to trespass, we would meet Jesus. This was of course very exciting – who wouldn't turn down this opportunity? What would we talk about? Does he like Arizona? Did he vote? Is he happy? I was about to head up to knock on his door, but then I thought he was probably busy with very important matters, so left him alone in peace. He can always follow on Facebook and get in touch if he wants, I guess. I will of course, keep the address to myself.

What a good day. They often happen after rubbish ones, which is fortunate as the run, like Forrest's, will continue as long as I'm enjoying or “feeling” it. If it became a burden beyond the physical and every day was a drag, you don't want to hear about that and I'd call it a day. This wasn't that day. Nearly 40 miles after I started I entered the town of Wikieup – a Mohave name meaning “Home”. We stayed at the Hidden Oasis RV Park, which was fortunately easy to find, due to the quirky, large metalwork sculptures that provided a cool frontage for the park. I popped in to the office and had a good old chat and was plied with chocolates by the staff of the park and cafe. Photos and goodbyes/good lucks said I headed back to the RV to grab my towel and head to the shower as a matter of urgency as public health considerations were starting to be mentioned...

Start: Petro Truck Stop, Kingman. Finish: Hidden Oasis RV Park, Wikieup. 38.5 miles. Day 93 Tune of the Day: BRMC – Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll (Punk Song). Sometimes the Tune of the Day has no connection to a time or place, but its arrival via the great randomiser brings joy. This was the case here. Coming on late in the day it was a nod to regaining the good vibes.

I do like starting where we finished. Sometimes it means a lie-in, an excuse to procrastinate over first breakfast, or in this case, a useful early start. Heading off just at sunrise, with most of the town still indoors, I grabbed a few photos of the sculptures and soon enough I was surrounded by nature's own. I was back in Saguaro country. I absolutely love them and also the fact that apart from obviously relocated/specially grown ones, they seem to be an Arizona preserve. I was in no doubt where I was. Arizona has been good to us and having a constant visual reminder you were back was no bad thing. My other constant during the early part of the day was a convoy of trucks from the WWE – not a typo – this is the World Wrestling Entertainment organisation and I have to admit it's a guilty pleasure of mine. Nads tells me it isn't real, but what does she know. If a man jumps fifteen foot off a metal cage and doesn't die, I think that's impressive anyway, so bravo to them. I will also be excited to watch Wrestlemania in April at a time that isn't the early hours of the morning. It also made me chuckle that I was running for the WWF, which was also the former name of the WWE, before the Panda delivered a bodyslam to Macho Man Randy Savage et al. and reclaimed their name, which to be fair, they had first. The drivers were a fun bunch, all giving me the thumbs up and cheery faces to a man. As the country was pretty undulating, distractions from the hills were welcome, so this fitted the bill for me, as did crossing Burro Creek via a huge arch bridge. Now I've seen tons of rivers, dry as a bone, so for this creek to be a good 20 foot wide with solid flow, with Saguaros coming to the water's edge almost as if they were headed for a drink was a rare and impressive sight to finish a run leg off with. Nads hadn't arrived yet, so I got my stretching done and waited...and waited. I called on WhatsApp. Nothing. Urg. Then I saw her. We were both on Burro Creek Road, but she was at the other end, a good two miles back. A local ranger, Matt, pulled up and asked if he could help. It was then that Nads noticed and I saw her set off. Matt was a top guy and said that as a civil servant he “tries to actually help people when he can”, with a smile. I was a bit sad that he didn't get to, but thanked him for caring and told him it's great that people are doing things like this, both in his line of work and for me. Nads arrived and we resolved to both be a bit more careful when discussing meeting points.

Our next meeting point was Nothing. There was something at Nothing, but not much. A big sign saying Nothing. Half full litter bins surrounded with litter on the floor (Nnngggg...trying to...stop...going on...rant…), a derelict hut and a telecoms mast. A lot of people parked here, at the top of a big hill and Nads remarked that it would be a great place to open a cafe – it's about 25 miles from anywhere and you'd probably do a roaring trade in novelty t-shirts and keyrings. She said that person may not be her though. It would require a tough soul, I reckon. Leaving Nothing, looking for something, the next sight was not expected at all. A Joshua Tree. Hang on… There's always seemed to be of an unwritten law, that Joshuas and Saguaros generally have their own patches, like feuding Mafia families, they stick to their own, but there it was. A Joshua Tree. I imagined he was the representative of a family, sent into hostile territory to make peace, or carve up a new territory according to the laws of the time. This was different though. He seemed cockier and looking down the road he had company. This was a full on turf war – Saguaros ganging up on Joshua here, but hopelessly outnumbered elsewhere. I felt like I'd walked into a bar room brawl and the music had stopped. Bottles and chairs were being placed back down, while someone whistled in the corner. Two of them were so engrossed in their battle, I grabbed a sneaky photo and you'll see it as the blog's thumbnail pic. Enough amusement for me, I moved on, eventually coming to a sign near our place of rest for the night saying “Joshua Forest Parkway of Arizona”. That explains that then.

Start: Hidden Oasis RV Park. Finish: Highway 93 near Hackberry Springs. 42.7 miles. Day 94 Tune of the Day: Rick Derringer – I Am The Real American. Hulk Hogan's song in his heyday. I don't think he was driving any of those trucks though. They're the real Americans!

A great view from the RV meant that the eyes had it in the morning, though the ears did all night. We were really close to the busy road which had a real rough surface so you could gear a truck coming a half mile away. You never know how much it truly disturbs your sleep, but it felt like it took a long time to drop off and my period where I lie semi-awake listening for the alarm that I hope will never come seemed a lot longer. As an extra present it was a solid six miles of up to begin with. Hold the pace, run easy, don't push because you can, it'll come back to bite you later. My mind often wanders, running within myself, at least until I think “Hmmmm. This feels harder” and I realise I'm going too quickly. Pull back. This morning I compiled a few lists. One of these was under the category: Things a Trans-Continental Runner Needs to Know but Never Thought About Before. Entry number 16: Ranking truck types in order of those most likely to take your cap off as they go past.

3: Car transporters 2: Trucks carrying pipes 1: Hay lorries. Hay lorries grip the air like a vice and if I ever fall out of a plane without a parachute, I hope there's hay on board. If I don't remember to grab my cap or put my chin to my chest, it's gone and I have to retreat 20 yards or so. Chin to chest is also good for hay lorries as there's less chance of stuff going in your eyes. A combination of two trucks closely following each other is another sure-fire winner.

One day I'll write the full list, just in case any of you are getting ideas (P.S. Get the idea. If anyone is contemplating it – just give it a go. You never know, I might even be able to crew for you for a bit. NB! Chances increase if you fancy seeing how it's done from the master – Nadine, first! We have a spare bed...)

Another distraction, borrowed from Chris and Steve's successful crossing was to assemble a tool kit on the road. Now these guys actually did it, rather than my mental notes, but a haul of a 12mm spanner, an adjustable wrench, flat head screwdriver, needle nose pliers and wire cutters in a 24h period would have had them salivating. Chris has talked about another running adventure and he went further north than me on his, so I left them there for him. Over to you!

Our town for the day was Wickenburg – a fairly big place, with a period centre – a proper western town. The other striking feature was an abundance of roundabouts, or traffic circles! Wickenburg struck me as a place that put one in and was like: “OMG! These things are brilliant! Put more in! Traffic like, flows around them, rather than nervously looking at each other on a four way stop! Hang on, let's not just put them in, let's put SCULPTURES on them all. BIG sculptures!” So they did. Big sculptures on roundabouts everywhere. If I get the chance to come back and I hope I do, I expect to see no straight roads anywhere, just a contiguous flow of circles. The satellite pictures will baffle anyone who wasn't there when it all began. Leaving Wickenburg meant we passed through Allah, before we stopped for the day. I didn't see any signs on the road stating that, but we knew from Google Maps. Insert topical quip here…41 miles meant an average of 41, pretty much for the last three days. 4-2-1. 4-2-1...

Start: Highway 93 near Hackberry Springs. Finish: San Domingo Parkway, just south of Allah. 41.0 miles. Day 95 Tune of the Day: Bob Marley – Get Up, Stand Up. Lovely sunny days always make an appearance from Mr Marley better. What a message too? If you don't stand up for your rights, who will?