I awoke to the sound of semi-trucks rumbling over the bridge at 4 a.m. Slightly board and a bit cold, I crawled out of the hammock to rebuild the fire. After watching the sunrise I packed up Ruby and hit the road. The camping site worked well and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll try the method again. It has been cold in the mornings, and I usually leave night gear on for the first few miles before slowly shedding layers as the day goes on. I occupy my time by playing games like trying to keep Ruby’s front wheel on the white line.
I had never been more excited to make it to a town where the population sign read 100 (I think they rounded up). I walked to the only place open, JB tire. The guy built the place himself in 1961, and I’m sure at one point the business had its glory years. Our dialogue went something like this, “do you have an outlet I can plug my phone into?” His reply, “right over there in the wall.” My response, “thanks.” His annoyed statement, “don’t park your buggy there I might get a customer.” The other 10 citizens of Essex may have been loyal customers of the old tire garage but I had my doubts that there was a customer within 100 miles.
The next 10 miles felt like the earth had doubled its gravitational pull and my legs were heavier than logs. I kept thinking there were Ninjas hiding on the side of the road throwing knives into my legs. I don’t know where these shooting pains were coming from, but they had no rhyme or reason and usually left as quickly as they came. However, I had housing in Goffs and was determined not to spend another lonely night in the desert. When I got to interstate 40 there was a slightly normal gas station where I sat in the shade and stared out over the Mojave Desert for who knows how long. Before I left I bought a hot dog and snickers bar. It made for a good lunch when combined with a power bar and energy gel. A few minutes later I was flying down the road to Goffs and throwing my fists in the air to get a toot toot from the train conductor. I’m not sure what they put in those energy gels, but it was awfully powerful for 3 or 4 miles. I could see Goffs in the distance and was thrilled when two older men came out to meet me in their golf carts.
I awoke at sunrise and found that the wind had died down to a calm breeze. I later found out that the wind yesterday was gusting up to 45 mph. I slept a lot better compared to my evening at the wildlife refuge. I still get pretty cold at night, and wish I would have brought an extra layer. I had five t-shirts and wore every last one. My hammock location had worked well. Since there were no trees around I tied one end to a telephone pole and the other to Ruby’s wheel for a ground set up. The hum of the power lines put me right to sleep. It was 7am and I hit the road. Telephone poles turned into tooth picks as they disappeared over the horizon. It took me a long time to get loosened up, and I only made 12 miles before noon. Roys Gas Station on Route 66 was one of the surviors from the glory years. I was excited to have a sandwich at the, “cafe”. I guess that description on the sign was a work in progress. The lady working was as nice as could be. She would drive 75 miles from Yucca Valley to work at the Gas station for a couple of days before driving back. We took a picture in-front of the gas station sign for their facebook fan page. After I mailed a post card from the Amboy post office, finished my soda pop and orange I took off down Route 66.
I didn’t know what it was about the road but I was excited to be on it. Maybe it was all the strange items that peaked my interest along the route. There were not many trees but when I spotted one it usually held strange things like underwear and shoes. People would write their names on a mound that ran along the side of the road. They would use anything from colored rocks to clay pigeons. I thought it silly at first but after a couple of miles I started reading every single name written. I would wonder who they were and what they where doing. Throughout the day the roads were long and straighter than an arrow. I ran 34 miles only making two turns.
My body would go through these strange energy cycles. One minute I would be rattling off 5k’s like I had been training for a race. After about 25 minutes of this, I would slow to an awfully painful slow jog. Eventually, I would walk and then sit down on the side of the road, take a picture, have some kind of energy thing then 15 minutes later… It would start all over again. I did this all day long. The sun was getting low in the sky as I crossed a ridge and stepped into a vast bowl that looked exactly like the one that just took me a full day to cross. I ran three more miles shirtless then decided to set up camp under a bridge. It proved to be a good choice for a couple of reasons 1) It had a roof and two walls
2) strong poles to hang my hammock
3) I felt safe. I’m not sure why but I felt safe being connected to the road. Maybe I was spending so much time on it during the day my brain just assumed I should be under it at night. I built a giant fire, watched a distant train roll across the night desert and stared up at the biggest ring around the moon I had ever seen.
Day two is behind me and I must admit, I’m starting to feel the mileage. Kiki picked Jon and I up this morning and drove me to where I left off the day before. We had a few issues finding the location but figured it out and said our goodbyes. She took Jon to the airport, and I was off running. It was comforting to have Jon accompany me yesterday, and I’m grateful for the footage he was able to capture.
I ended up taking a different route then planned. I believed it to be less hilly even though it added a few miles. I have not fully tested its accuracy, but the odometer read 30 miles. Non-the-less it was a long route.
Today’s run did prove to be flat. It seemed like I was running along in the valleys for most of the day, though I did pass over two hilly ridges. These ridges were both long and gradual which were easier than the steep hills I experienced yesterday. A couple of hours into my run, I saw a hot air balloon rising above the approaching hills. Four hours later, I found its source. Balloon rides and indoor skydiving peaked my interest, but I had a lot of ground to cover due to my navigational errors yesterday and such childish games would have to wait.
At sunset I was losing energy and stopped at an ice cream shop. I downed a medium and ran a pretty impressive 5k in the dark. I reached my second day check point and waited on the corner for my host family to pick me up. Around 7:30 they arrived and ordered me a large pizza! They threw me in the shower and sent me to bed in a large double. I had no complaints. I wasn’t sore when I woke up but have little confidence in giving the same report tomorrow morning.