We’re done! We reached the Pacific on Sunday afternoon, completing the end of our journey from the Atlantic (yes, we walked every step of the way, and yes, we’ve enjoyed taking advantage of every escalator, travelator or moving walkway since finishing) and heralding the beginning of our next challenge; how little can two people walk over the next six months? Seriously, we’re knackered. Still, in spite of this, upon reaching the ocean Lucy insisted that we not just walk to the waters edge, but also walk to the end of the adjacent pier to complete the walk – seeing as technically that was land too… To be sure, we did both. Luckily, it wasn’t low tide.
We’ll be flying back home tomorrow, and are looking forward to returning to a world of fry ups, fish and chips and Cadbury’s (so I might think about food a bit too much…), and also rain; lovely, miserable rain. However, there’ll be other things we’ll miss, and other things we’ll be glad to leave behind too. Therefore, our final blog will be akin to one of those crappy TV clip shows which reminisce about all the other crap you already know. Woo.
We’ll definitely miss people being nice. At first, we were suspicious of random offers of kindness; people offering us lifts, food, money and shelter. The only people who are nice to you at home are those who wish to kidnap you and keep you in their basement (that’s how I met Lucy, anyway). Here, people are just nice. It still unnerves me, but then I get easily unnerved (for example, on three separate occasions since we’ve been walking, I’ve jumped when I’ve seen my shadow). Contrary to my previously understood stereotype, all the American police we’ve met have been friendly and unintimidating. To clarify, my understanding of American police before coming here was a mixture of Chief Wiggum of The Simpsons, the cast of Police Academy and Steven Seagal. Despite being stopped and having 911 called on us on numerous occasions, the most menacing a police officer has ever been to us is to offer us a bottle of water.
Food has been a mixed bag. Home made food, sugary pies and a few fast food chains have been excellent. However, a lot of the other food has left us baffled. I’m not a big tea drinker or anything, but I do know that it’s meant to be hot. Iced tea fails hideously at this. Cheese definitely isn’t meant to come in a can and chocolate needs no explanation; we haven’t even bothered trying Hershey’s after initially falling for its evil disguise as Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. What I will remember America for though, more than anything else, will be the magnificent 4×4 animal style at In N Out Burger; four mustard coated burgers, four slices of cheese, a pile of onions and a massive gloop of sauce. Mmmm…gloopy.
Whilst we won’t miss walking, we’ll miss our walking diet even less. In particular, we will never eat, smell, or be within 100 feet of a trail bar ever again. The idea of a trail bar stirs up feelings of violence within us. Especially a trail bar which has moulded in my pocket under the desert sun to the shape of my leg. Please, please, please – never again. On the other hand, Gatorade Number 2 Lemon and Lime flavour has become an essential part of our diet, which I can consume litres of at once. It’s going to be difficult to maintain my current diet of around 4,000 calories a day, but I’ll give it a go.
It’ll be odd adjusting to our British wildlife (‘ooh! – a pigeon’ is about as exciting as it gets). During our walk we’ve seen deer, possums, lizards, wild turkeys, snakes, coyotes, chipmunks, jack rabbits, road runners (humorously, whenever I see one, I always say ‘meep, meep’. It never gets old), hummingbirds and lots of other creatures too. Snakes aside, they’ve been a lot of fun. One animal we won’t miss though is The Dog. We’ve been chased by one labradoodle too many during our walk; small, yelpy dogs of Britain beware. We’re coming back radicalised, angry and possibly armed with small rocks.
I can’t pretend I’m not looking forward to watching Jon Snow front the news again (for Americans, Jon Snow is an increasingly befuddled but generally wonderful newsreader who also possesses the world’s greatest tie collection). Better than relying on either frothing at the mouth rants on Fox or local TV news coverage over the thrilling race for the Sanitation Commissioner. Coverage of the UK has almost solely focused on the royal family and what they’re wearing. Camilla Parker-Bowles has been featured more than David Cameron on the news. Mind you, the less Lucy sees of David Cameron, the better for her health. I couldn’t possibly comment, of course. However, despite not having any news, American news satire is way ahead of ours at home. Alastair McGowan’s impressions on BBC2 don’t quite match up.
We’ll be definitely be bringing stuff back with us; a suitcase of Mountain Dew, for starters. But also copious ice in drinks, vanilla in our Pepsi, pecans in everything and always having a cooler full of drinks on hand. But, most importantly, we’ll be bringing back the concept of ‘not walking’. It’ll be bloody ace.
We have reached Julian; 55 miles from San Diego, apple pie Mecca and crawling with hikers attempting the Pacific Crest Trail. These are the first other hikers we’ve seen since starting our walk, although they appear to exhibit somewhat different traits from us. For starters, they appear not to smell (oh yeah, I’ve been sniffing strangers again). Secondly, they look like they just fell off of Upper Street (for Americans, Upper Street is an area of London where you go to pay thrice the price for a pint of beer and have it served in a ridiculously small glass); clearly they haven’t yet taken advantage of the wonderful range of pudding bowl haircuts from Walmart. Finally, they all wear tights; I haven’t quite figured this one out yet, it seems like we’ve wandered into some weird Robin Hoodesque twilight zone. Anyway, in order to assimilate better into our trendy new world, we’ve purchased some Febreze to eliminate part of the problem. Tights to follow.
We’re beginning to plan our arrival in San Diego; ‘plane tickets have been booked, the zoo mapped out and a nice hotel booked on the cheap. To be honest, we’ll just be happy with a room which doesn’t come with a snake included, as with one of our more recent motels. Bed bugs and mice are one thing, but snakes!? The scene that ensued was akin to one off of Snakes on a Plane, with me playing the heroic Samuel L Jackson role (I stared at that damn snake so menacingly until it slithered out of the door in a panic). Over the past six months, Lucy has also developed a way with animals. When confronted with an impending dog attack, she yells “back off”. I was initially unimpressed, as she only seemed to pick on tiny chihuahuas and poodles, and frighten the life out of me in the process. However, when a Rottweiler scrambled away the other day, even I, master snake tamer, was a little impressed…
Over the last few days, we’ve had a great emptiness in our lives. After two months, 900 miles, three welds on its front wheel, one new wheel, countless punctures and repairs to the handlebars and fabric, we finally said goodbye to our cart which had carried our bags since Odessa, Texas. It hadn’t completely given up the ghost, but faced with a few days of wiggly mountain roads and a place to get water at the end of every day, we decided it was time to bid farewell. I commissioned Lucy to write an ode to mark the occasion; it was quite touching (the poem rhymed and everything). Approximately twenty seconds into our first day carrying bags again, we were regretting it.
We’ve clearly entered California. Roadside detritus now consists of half eaten flatbreads, bottles of expensive white wine and Fiji water and we have experienced one of the great culinary institutions of America; In N Out Burger. For some reason, we only seem to get the dregs of fast food in the UK; why give us KFC when you have so much better? In N Out Burger shares the top of the tree with Texan chain Whataburger in burgery goodness, but has the added benefit of a secret menu. I ordered a 3×3 animal style with well done fries, even though none of these things were on the menu. That’s right, we went renegade.
Perhaps more integrally than fast food, we’ve also now raised over £4,000 ($6,500, ¥519,000 or 346,000 Rupees, if you’d prefer) for The Pamir Trust so far. We’re really grateful to everyone who’s donated so far, raising money for the charity has helped us carry on when waking up at 4am and having to walk 30 miles on our blistered feet. We’ll be able to use the money to really help the villages we’ll be working with in Tajikistan. We’re hoping to raise even more though; and all donations via https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/walkamerica are hugely appreciated. I’m hoping to reward all donors from now on with a tip of the hat. If that isn’t incentive enough, then I don’t know what is.
We have made it to Wellton, about 30 miles from the California state line. We had a very short day today from Tacna, where we were staying at the Chapparal Motel. If I were to set up a fashion label for gentlemen who consider themselves ‘chaps’, I’d probably call it ‘Chapparal’. And maybe it would be good for the owners to consider a change in profession too, given that nothing in the room worked aside from the air conditioner (mind you, that’s the most important thing of all). There also appeared to be a pile of dog food on the floor. Surprisingly, I did not request this. Regardless, we were very grateful to have a roof over our heads for the night, following some very hot and stuffy nights in the tent during the past week.
Despite being viciously run over by a car just outside of Tucson, I only required a day’s recuperation before we were on our way again. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that I sustained no noticeable injuries and everything to do with my warrior spirit. However, I do seem to attract rather bad luck when abroad and around cars; this being my third car ‘crash’ I’ve been in outside of the UK. In Russia, after the taxi driver told Lucy and I that “in Russia, we have no need for your pesky seatbelts”, he became distracted by telling us how big the Volga river is and missed a red light, slamming into another car. To be fair to him, he was right; it was a very big river. Then, in Tajikistan, the car I was travelling in was hit by a bomb whilst by the Afghan border*. My bad luck with cars clearly continues.
Anyway, car crashes and searing heat aside, we’ve had a nice few days walking through some lovely mountain scenery along pleasant enough roads. We also got to stay at an Indian run casino on a small reservation along the way. Not only did we get a discount on the room rate, but we also managed to get $20 free on the slots and a free buffet. Lucy’s winning streak continues, as she leaves a trail of broke casino owners in her wake. $7 was the total damage done to this one. As for the buffet, we were expecting the usual fare of mushy cornbread, fried chicken and steamed broccoli. Instead, we got rare steak, roast pork, dolmades, deep fried ravioli and Hawaiian pork butt. To say we were glad that we didn’t try and pitch the tent that night instead would be an understatement.
Since leaving the casino, we’ve been continuing to try and avoid walking on the interstate at every opportunity. And, so far, we’ve succeeded, largely thanks to swathes of public access land. This has meant we’ve been able to take our stroller off road and galavant through the desert, pitching our tent where we please. I say this, but despite the freedom to roam, we’ve stuck religiously to the ‘wilderness’ within half a mile of the interstate. Hey, it’s scary out there and our navigational skills are poor at best.
We were looking forward to our first night of camping in the Sonoran Desert and were expecting a beautiful starry night. Instead, it blew a gale and pissed it down. The rest of the time, we’d have been pretty grateful for those conditions, as the temperature hovers around 35 degree centigrade. This is about 20 degrees too hot for me. Yesterday, in order to try and escape the heat, we decamped for three hours over lunch at a travel centre in a place called Dateland; so called because they grow a lot of dates there, oddly enough. The cafe there manages to pull in many an unsuspecting visitor off the road with their signs proclaiming that they sell their ‘world famous’ date milkshakes. Even though I can’t think of a less appetising flavour of milkshake than date, I got suckered in and ordered one too. Let’s just say it fully lived up to expectations and I might have been a tad jealous of Lucy’s chocolate ice cream…
* I may have missed out some minor/key facts here to make me appear more hardcore. Such as the trivial details that I was outside of the car when it was hit and the ‘bomb’ was actually a small fragment of metal which probably wasn’t a bomb (although I chose to believe the little old lady sat next to me, who was clearly a munitions expert, and was convinced we were under attack).
Sorry for the silence for the last week or so. Sadly it’s not because we’re one of the winners of the gazillion dollar lottery that everyone is hunting for. Sitting in our tent last week, checking the numbers on a surprisingly good Internet connection (seriously, camping’s not what it used to be) we had a brief moment of hope when one of our numbers was tantalisingly close to being a winning number, but all to no avail. Our thoughts of buying a giant RV complete with gold clad foot spa and chauffeur to pick us up at the end of a day’s walking were gone and instead we crawled into our sleeping bags for the night.
We’ve had a bit of mixed luck lately. Walking by the railroad last week we managed to avoid the interstate entirely. Technically, for the most part it’s not a road, at least not on any maps weve found, but no one seems to mind us walking there too much. Whilst walking by the rail tracks doesn’t sound very fun, it’s actually very nice, an occasional lumbering freight train goes by so you don’t feel completely in the wilderness, but other than that you can enjoy your surroundings. Plus, train drivers round here have been good to us. It’s been getting hotter the last few days, and every so often we’ve seen bottles of water flying out of the train drivers window ahead of us. It turns out plastic bottles don’t bear up too well after being hurtled from a moving train, but some manage to survive the impact, and there’s nothing quite like a cold drink on a sweltering day. Plus, it’s better than the mysterious bottles full of a yellowish liquid truck drivers throw out of their windows by the interstate….that would be less refreshing.
We also had a pleasant few days walking through a couple of ranches; jumping through canyons, again on roads that aren’t really public roads. Still, far better than roads that are really big roads. The heat tempered our enjoyment of this slightly, especially for me, since Nick made the super stylish decision to purchase a new hat to help keep the sun off. In his wisdom he opted for one which is a hybrid between a straw boater and a sombrero, great, just great.
All was going well, and for once we were on track until kabaam (I think that’s the appropriate sound effect anyway). Yesterday, right at the end of our day’s walking, we were crossing the last road to our hotel. After waiting forever, finally the pedestrian crossing said to walk, so controversially, that’s what we did. Only, just as Nick got in front of the stationary car, it’s driver decided (looking the other way completely, busy talking on her mobile phone) that now was a good time to start moving, regardless of what the lights might say. Initially, Nick’s screams to stop didn’t seem to do the trick, but finally as she made contact with the trailer and Nick, and began to push both along she realised something was amiss, stopped the car and apologised profusely and checked we were ok. This left us with the quandary – what do you say to the person who almost flattened you. We decided that the correct thing to do (probably some form of British guilt complex), was to apologise to the woman for inconsiderately getting in the way of her poor little car. Luckily (well, not for the trailer), our trailer bore the brunt of it, Nick’s legs remain intact, but even though the car didn’t get up much speed a wheel on the trailer buckled so it was off to a bike repair shop.
Today we’re taking a duvet day, we figured Nick getting hit by a car, however slowly, is probably the most valid reason we’ll ever have, and, looking on the bright side, at least it wasn’t an SUV.
We have made it to Lordsburg, our final stop in New Mexico. After learning from numerous television shows on the matter, we managed to snag ourselves a nice hotel room using a coupon. I feel that coupon usage is another important step on the ladder towards us becoming properly Americanified.
The theme of our walking for the last few days has been ‘try to avoid walking on the Interstate by any means possible’. After all, who thinks to themselves “I know what would make a nice stroll; a quick circuit of the M25″ (a not very interesting fact is that our walk so far is the equivalent of walking the length of the M25, sixteen times. Which would be pretty hellish, imagine going to Watford…sixteen times). Anyway, our Interstate avoidance has led us to taking a combination of Interstate frontage roads, railway frontage roads, state roads….and sandy tracks which, on reflection, appeared to just not be roads at all.
For the first few days, this seemed to go rather well. ‘Rather well’, of course, being a relative concept; we still had dog attacks, unexpected dead ends, and our trailer swinging up and whacking me in the shin with its front wheel. Still, the walking was pleasant enough, all things considered.
On our final day, things got tougher. The plan was to do the 62 miles from Deming to Lordsburg in two days. Day one, we made it almost halfway, and had a rest area where we could pitch our tent for the night. Day two, it all went a little Pete Tong (yeah, I’m just that street). The day began with my shin, which had been getting increasingly painful since being viciously attacked by an inanimate object, not wanting me to put any weight on it. This wasn’t ideal, with a little over 31 miles to cover in the day. We got the first 19 miles done without too many problems (although it was getting very hot). Then the cart entered stage two of its evil plan to cause us problems, with the front wheel giving up the ghost along a gravelly track and snapping off completely. The superglue we’d brought along for just such an occasion was about as useful as water, and after briefly contemplating forming a splint for the wheel out of chopsticks (I’m not quite sure why we’re carrying chopsticks with us, come to think of it…) and duck tape we gave up and ended up hobbling the remaining 12 miles on a boiling hot day, not only pushing a broken cart, but also suffering from the unaccustomed act of carrying our rucksacks actually on our backs for once.
We eventually made it to Lordsburg around twelve and a half hours after setting off. We’re now taking a couple of days off to rest my shin which has swelled to the size of, well, a slightly larger shin, and fix the cart. The second of these tasks has led to me seeking out auto repair shops in the town, a new experience which I didn’t think I would have when setting out to walk for six months. And when at home, I have no need to seek out a professional mechanic; I’m quite capable of replacing the sparknuts or calibrating the washer fluid by myself, I’m just that practical. Most towns have almost as many auto repair shops as they do houses, all of which have about five school buses parked outside. The first two repair shops were too busy fixing school buses to help me (obviously, the buses fulfil the purpose of palming off weird English visitors bearing miniature trailer wheels). Finally, I found a place which could help; although I was slightly suspicious upon walking in and not finding any people, but instead a legion of cats. It remains to be seen how long the $5 weld will last…we’re not holding our breath.
We finally managed to drag ourselves away from our enjoyable period of immobility and leave Van Horn to begin our walk towards our final stop in Texas; El Paso.
The absence of bags on our backs has removed one of our major conversation sources. No longer can we fill minutes on end by discussing our shoulder pain (no stopping our discussing of ankle, knee or foot ailments though). Instead, we’re reliant on other things to entertain us whilst walking. One activity we have is picking up pennies. Lucy is a superstitious type, and insists on picking up any coinage that’s in our path, whilst muttering some form of fishwife’s curse; “see a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck”.
I have no problem with this; I’m one of those modern folk, who are happy for women to earn a living (I’ve been learning from Rush Limbaugh). And normally it’s not too disruptive. This changed last week, when we walked three miles down one road and, in the process of walking, picked up around 140 cents. That meant stopping, bending down to pick up a penny and saying the rhyme, 140 separate times. Whilst it gets a bit tiresome, on the plus side we can now afford to buy a Hershey bar with the proceeds (not that I’d ever, ever want to do that). This did raise the question as to how all the pennies got there; failed piggy bank robbery perhaps?
Our walk into Sierra Blanca was our longest day thus far and at the end of it we were very ready to have a good meal and put our feet up. We were a little sceptical about our chances, seeing as all Wikipedia told us about the town we were heading to is that until 2001, it was the final destination for 15 train carriages of sewage from New York City every day, spread like peanut butter over one of the hills behind the town.
However, the first of our objectives was achieved thanks to a local schoolteacher, who having seen us at the start of the day, looking dishevelled, and then 33 miles away at the end of the day, and looking even more dishevelled, took pity and brought us dinner at a local hamburger joint (I think you can only use the word ‘joints’ in the States, I can’t imagine going to my local kebab joint). Which was very kind and greatly appreciated. However, I don’t think I’m quite used to ordering food from joints yet. When the waitress asked me how I wanted my cheeseburger, I replied ‘medium, please’. She looked oddly at me for a while, and then replied ‘oh, I meant did you want all the salad in with it?’. Cue hysterical laughter from Lucy.
We also managed to achieve our second objective, and find a very welcome bed for the night. Leaving the town, we began walking on the side of the interstate alongside the Mexican border; pushing a baby stroller has left us feeling that we might look slightly more suspicious than usual. We’d already had a 911 call on us reporting “two strange folk walking by the road” a few days ago (is it bad that I was strangely pleased to have had 911 called on us?), helping to confirm that we are definitely a roadside oddity. This was further confirmed on our last day of walking when, minutes after one border patrol car passed by us suspiciously slowly, another sped by and did a quick u-turn to pull us over….quickly backed up by another four patrol cars, lights flashing. After an initial moment of mild terror, wondering what we’d done, all was quickly resolved, with the patrolmen more interested in our walk than anything else. I guess walking by the side of the busiest road in the area, pushing a bright yellow cart, wouldn’t be the best cover to have if we were up to something dodgy.
So, after four days of camping in the middle of nowhere, eating packets of Skittles (Note to self; a diet based exclusively on Skittles is not advisable. We’ll try the Snickers mono-diet next week instead), tuna, and the odd fruit rollup (we’re convinced they must have some nutritional value) we have arrived in Van Horn for a much needed shower and the opportunity to have a roof over our heads for a night or two.
These past few days we’ve discovered camping isn’t our forte. You don’t even get basic cable in a tent; zut alors, as the French would say. And, as the temperature is less than sub-tropical, Lucy turns into a broken record; apparently ‘it’s cold’, this despite her wearing of every feasible layer. Still, the lack of comforts does mean we can walk further, we managed to cover 31 miles on one of the days, so maybe the loss of tv isn’t too bad (oh, who am I kidding?).
Obviously upon finding our hotel our first priorities were washing and tv. Television managed to educate as well as interest us; with Bear Grylls galavanting around the Baja Desert in Mexico. He promised to teach us survival skills when confronted with rattlesnakes or crossing ravines. We ended up watching him peeing into a snakeskin and angering killer bees. Cheers Bear, well useful that is.
As well as TV, upon arrival here we have also been able to consume proper food. Well, to some extent anyway. The town has one very fancy restaurant (tablecloths and everything!)…and also a Dairy Queen, Wendy’s and a Subway. Our stomachs don’t know how to cope with the mixture of curly fries and ice cream for lunch, then vegetables and identifiable meats for dinner.
The outdoors played a vicious attack on me; slightly chapping my lips, which I am still recovering from the trauma of. A slightly spicy enchilada left me near comatose after brushing against the affected portion of my lip. Peril, that’s what that is. Bear Grylls needs to stop pissing around with snakes and start discussing the dangers of mildly spiced foodstuffs.
Tomorrow we begin the 120 miles to El Paso. I had an epiphany moment yesterday, when connecting the town and the brand Old El Paso for the first time (despite seeing signs for the city for the past 500 miles). Lucy was in awe of my deductive skills.
In an all too familiar occurrence of late we are moving, well, nowhere. Today’s obstacle was severe winds and resulting attack of sand, stopping us 15 miles into our 26 mile day (weaklings, I hear you say; well you try walking into a 50 mph wind for nine hours!). The turning point was when we were attacked by a speeding twig, hurtling at terrifying speeds towards us. This follows other unscheduled days off in recent weeks as a result of things like freezing weather and trailer malfunctions; further proving both my theory that Lucy is really a lizard and can’t deal with anything less than tropical temperatures and also that I am perhaps the least practical person on earth. Not that you need much proof for the latter.
This slowing down comes after a period where we had been speeding along as if we were continent crossing gazelle. Well, gazelle which move at around 3mph. The last couple of weeks though have made timings a bit tight; so hopefully we’ll be able to extend our visas so we don’t need to run the remaining 1,000 miles (besides, that’d be cheating).
All this stationary behaviour would be quite nice if we were in places where we could enjoy our environs. Alas, this hasn’t quite been the case. During the past two days, we’ve passed by, or near to, two of the region’s major tourist attractions; a meteor crater and a million barrel oil tank. Both of which actually sound reasonably exciting, until you discover that the meteor struck so long ago that the ‘crater’ is actually a small divot now (we decided not to take the five mile diversion to view said divot) and that the million barrel oil tank is, actually, just a slightly larger than average tank. Woo! This was all the more depressing when, on entering the ‘million barrel tank museum’ (hey, we were trying to escape the wind), you find out that it now appears to be a regional office for a bagged crushed ice distributor. Double woo!
So what, you say. Sit back, relax and enjoy the delights of American television. Well, we do. However, this comes at a cost. Seemingly, the only reason people come here is the abundance of oil. This means that almost every motel is full, and able to charge triple the going rate. If I was cool and an economist, I would explain this with some snazzy graph with an inelastic demand curve. But I’m not, so I’ll just call them bleedin’ rip off merchants instead. Bastards.
On the plus side, roadside generosity continues (the weather does nothing to detract from our dishevelled appearance), including a very welcome gift of some peanut butter and ‘jelly’ sandwiches from the local police deputy today.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we last managed to blog and we’ve now made it to Odessa (Texas, not the Ukraine), on the edge of the middle of nowhere. We’re definitely in Texas now; complete with obligatory cacti, tumbleweed and vast expanses of emptiness. It also seems that this comes coupled with bizarre weather; last week the temperature fell to -15 degrees with the wind chill (that’s Celsius, I haven’t got a maths degree to help me convert it to Fahrenheit yet), with it rising to 21 degrees over the following days. This has led to us walking whilst wrapped up in coat, fleece and gloves, perhaps a slightly surreal sight when surrounded by cacti and completely clear skies overhead. On top of this, the weather forecast has managed to be spectacularly wrong every day.
The colder weather has led to people being particularly friendly. Following one particularly long day, we ended up at a motel where the manager slashed the price of the room for us, and littered us with warm cookies, chocolate milk and a packed lunch for the next day. This was followed over the next few days by a very friendly couple bringing us a hot pizza, whilst we were camping out in our freezing tent, as well as a lovely breakfast, including plenty of something called fruit (it appears to be similar to Starburst, but just in less chewy format), for the next day. The next morning we were brought coffee by the campsite owner (neither of us drink coffee, but it was nonetheless very welcome) and then a passing driver took pity on us by pulling over and giving us both a cup of hot chocolate. Since then, we’ve also been given oranges, a burger and chips and a couple of t-shirts (yes, we really do smell that bad).
A lot of the kindness seems to come as a result of people thinking we’re homeless. To people who know me, this will not come as much of a surprise. Even on the best of days, I look pretty trampish. And after traipsing by the side of the road for 60 miles, we hardly look much better, either. However, I think the fact that we’re walking through the middle of nowhere is the main factor. After all, why wouldn’t we be driving? When we respond to folks with our English accents, I think it confuses things a bit…
We have also just purchased a baby bike trailer. No, we’re not cycling the rest of the way (nor have we acquired children…far too much excess weight), but as a way of carrying our food and water for the three or four day stints we have between towns. Otherwise, we’d be on a diet of cactus, road kill and polluted water from the oily rivers. Yum. It’s yet to be seen whether this will simply make us look more crazy.
We’ve reached Abilene, Texas, which means we’re now closer to San Diego than our starting point on Tybee Island. Only another 1,200 odd miles to go then.
Last Sunday was one of the great American traditions; Super Bowl Sunday. Seeing as we’re honorary Americans for six months, we felt we should join in with the festivities somehow.
Having watched television coverage in the weeks prior to the game, we understood that important parts of the Super Bowl ritual were the adverts shown during the game and the choice of soft furnishings and dips for your Super Bowl party. Why not spruce up your sofa with a selection of home-made football cushions? We chose to daringly pair salsa with tortilla chips for our Super Bowl soirée. Tres chic.
A few days before the game, we realised that the adverts would be rudely interrupted at points by a weird, rugby like game. Who knew? As neither Lucy nor I knew anything about the game, my Wikipedia research topic for the days before the game was American Football. By the time the game started, we were talking punts, long snappers, downs and all that shiz. Unfortunately, I failed to answer Lucy’s main question; why do all the players have towels hanging down from their arses?
Accompanying all major televisual events, there are always a flurry of facts about the amount of kettle boiling or toilet flushing during the breaks. As kettles don’t appear to be too common here, I had hoped to cover some interesting toilet flushing facts during my research into the Super Bowl. Like there’s always a tsunami in Kamchatka at half time during the Super Bowl due to increased flushing, that type of thing. But nada. I almost found an interesting avocado fact (that 67% of all avocados purchased annually in the USA are bought in the week before the game in a piqué of guacamole inspired enthusiasm), but alas! This too transpired to be a lie. Do not lie to me about avocados.
By 5.30 on Sunday, we were all set for the game having speedily walked the 25 miles to get to a motel in time. Snacks were in place, and the Dairy Queen had kindly provided our evening’s banquet. We had assigned teams; Lucy was a Giant, me a Patriot. Then, the game began! Woo! 10 seconds later, it stopped. Advert time. It was free flowing excitement, for at least half a minute at a time (and then the adverts ended and it went back to the game…no stripping M&Ms on the pitch, unfortunately).
Three and a half hours later, it was over. I’m going to be honest, the time didn’t exactly fly by. Still, at least the salsa was good.