From Buddy to Woody... Days 115-118

I think IF I was driving Jenny, I'd have developed some sort of teleportation device by now to avoid the frustrating drive 10 miles or so down the road to where we finished the previous evening, but alas, we don't have one, so it was up to Nads to valiantly do her duty. At least returning to the RV park for breakfast is less stressful than being on the hard shoulder of some highway. After said breakfast and a nice goodbye from the RV park staff, it was another 11 miles to get to central Lubbock, where much excitement awaited. I actually had some excitement during my 11 miles as I met a couple of times with Alyssa, intrepid reporter from KMAC Lubbock, looking glam despite the ferocious wind. The wind itself was a huge story in Lubbock that day as it was reaching 60mph and was implicated in a couple of fires, which nearly scuppered the interview! However, this was in the good news tray for me as it was squarely at my back. I turned off the highway onto 19th Street, which was something quite remarkable. I think you could live on this street, never leaving it and have a fully enriched life. You can be born at the hospital, which will hopefully keep an eye on you as you progress through the elementary school, high school and Texas Tech University, where you get a job and live in one of the beautiful houses lining the road, but a car at the local dealer, go to the theatre and have some great nights at the bars, coffee houses and restaurants, get christened, married and eventually eulogised over at your funeral at one of the churches. Most importantly though, you could make a pilgrimage to the monuments to one of the true sparks in the Rock and Roll revolution: Buddy Holly. I'd kindly been offered a tour of the museum as a result of the connection I'd made with Stephen Easley, trustee of the Buddy Holly Foundation, whom I'd bumped into whilst running in Austin, back in October! It was here I caught up again with Alyssa (a keen runner and Forrest Gump fan) who created a fantastic piece for the 6 o'clock news and with Vanessa of Fox34, who did a top bit for their website. The Buddy Holly museum and the Allison house next door, where Buddy wrote many of his hits, including “That'll Be The Day” were fascinating and the original artefacts there are something else. WE had Sebastian as our guide, who was very knowledgeable about the “home” subject but also about the Beatles, who stated that Buddy was their major influence. No Buddy, no Beatles – they were named to be aligned with the Crickets, Buddy's band. Tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, the sight of his famous glasses, recovered from the wreck, was super poignant and forced a deep intake of breath and certainly a reminder of my own mortality. In another wing of the museum, there was also a (surprisingly, for me) really good quilting exhibition. I still can't believe I've just typed that – but it was good!

On a couple of recommendations, we crossed the road to the Triple J Brewery and Chop House for lunch, passing the McCartney oak, planted to commemorate his concert in Lubbock in 2014 and were greeted by Cody, Jaquenette and Josh, who made our lunch pretty memorable. A free beer on the house for the runner (I like), donations for the charities (Like even more) and great food. So great in fact I was sluggish as a post-hibernation bear after lunch and whether it was the two bigger runs this morning, or the excitement, I really struggled with the third run (also big). Nads was late too and it was starting to get a bit chilly. I'd left my phone behind (with Nads, I thought), so no contact possible. After half an hour of waiting, I was getting a little worried and even ran half a mile down the road as I could see something that looked a bit like Jenny on the distance (it wasn't). Eventually she arrived. A catalogue of cock-ups. We'd left the lights on in Jenny all day. Flat battery. Josh was a superstar and had jump leads and sorted us out there. Meanwhile, the staff from the Buddy Holly Center had found my phone in the gift shop and managed to find the RV and returned the phone. The irony is that if Jenny hadn't failed to start, we'd have had a right palaver trying to find the phone. Oh boy! That'll do for the day.

Start: Jct of Highway 62 and Parrot Road, Ropesville. Finish: Jct of Highway 62 and Pecan St, Idalou. 32.8 miles Day 115 Tune of the Day: Buddy Holly – That'll Be The Day. Genius.

Friday was always going to have a lot to live up to after the excitement of yesterday and I secretly hoped it was too! It was certainly less windy, but that wind from yesterday seemed to have brought in a chill with it and one that I rugged up against stepping out of the RV. Now I think this is a “thing”, so bear with me if not, but you know when you're cold, you always seem to need a wee more? Well I do and I had to dive behind a tree very early on. As I emerged, I had the slight horror of someone pulling up right next to me on the road. This was my meeting with Jeff. He'd seen me on the news and seen me running and wanted to say hi. Fortunately I'd put my gloves back on, so was happy to shake his hand. I don't know if he knew what I'd been up to, but he was pretty chilled anyway. It was nice to meet someone interested in the run early on, as it always puts you in a good mood. On to Ralls, home of the Jackrabbits – not just a sports team, but also the World's Largest Jackrabbit, to be found in the grounds of the stadium. I guessed around 15 feet tall – there can't be many bigger if any at all – so I reckon it's a valid claim! Some further giants were to be seen down the road in the cute town of Crosbyton, complete with 50's style murals and a fossil museum – where the remains of mammoths and other prehistoric beasties were on display. That is, if it were open as the owner is poorly, currently. I took a few snaps through the window and had to make do. It stayed pretty cold all day, getting us nicely prepared for what we knew was going to be a super cold night, for what we've generally had at -3C/26f. I'd probably classify it as DEFCON 3 in terms of RV cold conditions – extra blankets on the bed, long sleeves AND a hat were called upon as we settled near a huge phone mast on top of a hill looking down towards Dickens. Would our defences hold up?

Start: Jct of Highway 62 and Pecan St, Idalou. Finish: Off Highway 82, approx 8 miles west of Dickens. 42.9 miles. Day 116 Tune of the Day: The Rolling Stones – Not Fade Away. Still struck by the poignancy of the Buddy Holly Centre exhibits, I reflected on his influence on music as we know it – this was a Buddy song and the Stones' first hit. Not a lotta people know that. After a late afternoon deflate yesterday, it was also a message to my psyche.

The answer to whether we'd judged our layering against the night time chill was yes, a surprising result as a good night's sleep was had by all. This is especially surprising as I seem to have huge temperature variations during the night, often waking up in the early hours drenched in sweat after my witching hour bodily repairs draw to a close and the furnace gets switched off, leaving a wet, cold Robla to get up and get changed before getting back into bed. So it was a refreshed team that began the day, still at -1C/30f, so it was the heavy gloves for me and it was these gloves that were soon shaking hands with Billy, a local of Dickens, on his way to work, who had seen me running and was worried I might need a lift. He remarked that it's a shame that people don't really give people rides any more and I felt a sense of pride when he told me he wasn't one of those people. He had a bloody strong handshake too. I let him know I was OK and off he went to work – I think I ran past his truck on the outskirts of Dickens (Cool name, huh?) after running past the old gaol and sheriff's office, where a sign told of a $25 fine for talking to the prisoners! I met Nads at a local rest stop after a good few undulations in the road and I felt that my mood was also undulating a bit, though just topping out ok, as the sun was out and it was George Harrison's birthday, so you can't be too glum, but despite the good sleep, I just felt tired, running wise. It was a possible portent of things to come, emotionally though. Our target was to just get past Guthrie for the day, passing the famous Pitchfork and 6666 ranches, the latter home to Dash For Cash – possibly the greatest quarter horse ever, apparently! I resisted the temptation to dash the last quarter mile, though Jenny fever always tries its best to get me to.

Start: Off Highway 82, approx 8 miles west of Dickens. Finish: Off Highway 82, 3 miles east of Guthrie. 42.88 miles Day 117 Tune of the Day: George Harrison – Here Comes The Sun. Happy birthday George – it may have been cold today, but at least it was sunny, so I say: “It's alright!”

Sundays are often pretty nice to run on the roads, as fewer people seem to be out and about. Maybe it's an American thing overall, or maybe regional, but I think there is more of a church based respect for Sunday as a day of rest and while I can't take advantage of that per se, I can certainly enjoy the repercussions, running in the middle of the carriageway in an attempt to beat the cambers of the road loading my joints unevenly. As such it was a pretty low impact morning on the senses, with mostly flat farm land, nice enough weather and peace and quiet. My major form of excitement came from running past herds of cattle and wondering if they'd be brave and stay put, or run away, or alongside me. Sometimes you couldn't work out quite whether they were in flight, or coming along for the ride. I loved the fact that if one was running away past another oblivious cow, it would headbutt, moo, or otherwise cajole his pal into scarpering too. Looking out for each other – I like it.

I reached the town of Benjamin where I met my final truck-driving local in Kevin, who was filming me from the other side of the road, so I went over and said hi. He'd seen me on the news and wanted to take something home to show the family. He was pretty adept at selfies, so a couple were taken and off again I went, eerily passing a roadside memorial with one of my friend's names on it. He's still alive (I checked), but it was pretty freaky. Could you imagine if it was your own name...shudder. I'd also run past a large statue of a single arrow embedded in the floor, making me think of the Twin Arrows Trading Post in Arizona, where Forrest gets a face full of mud and makes his “Have A Nice Day” shirt. How I'd love to get the chance to see that. The only way to dot hat is to keep running I guess and that's just what I did. Same distance pretty much as yesterday, no drama. Business like. Solid. Day's end: Vera. What a great name for a town, like Benjamin. I even saw a sign saying “Keep Benjamin Beautiful”. Brilliant. Was this some sort of “plant your flag and it's yours” land grab? I need to do some research.

Start: Off Highway 82, 3 miles east of Guthrie. Finish: Vera, TX. 42.8 miles. Day 118 Tune of the Day: Woody Guthrie: This Land is Your Land. A huge influence on Bob Dylan and later on, Bruce Springsteen – one of the first white American songwriters to get gritty and real.

Total: 3802.82 miles