Day 96–Springerville, AZ!!!

That’s right!!  ARIZONA !!  I am in the last state before I get to California.  About 390 miles to the California border.  I guess you can tell I’m just a bit excited about being here.  Tomorrow, though, it will be business as usual.  I’ll go back to a day at the time and keep on plugging.  The excitement will have to wait until later.  There is still a long way to go to the Pacific.

Yesterday (11/07) Todd dropped me out 8 miles back into New Mexico.  I took the pack since there would be no crew today.  It was not too bad since I was only carrying food and water for 22 miles.  It was in the twenties for the first hour or so.  The sun really warms things up fast out here.  I decided that I would not push the pace today and try to recover a bit from the week’s effort.  I ambled along until lunch, found a sunny spot out of sight, and had lunch.  The sun felt so good that I decided to take a nap.  It has been a long time since I took a long nap after lunch.  An hour later I was up and putting my shoes back on, this time in shorts instead of tights and without a jacket.  About 3:30 I made it to town and found a coffee shop where I had a sandwich and really good coffee.  Todd came out to pick me up and we went to his house.  I had about an hour to get cleaned up before Todd and Julie took me out to dinner.  Bridget, Sandy, and Alice, his office workers, joined us.  We had a good Mexican dinner.

I did about 152 miles this week.  I feel good about the milage because this week was a bit more of a struggle because of the hills and cold weather.  I am taking the day off at Todd and Julie’s and will get things ready for a new week tomorrow.  Anita Fromm of Albuquerque will drive over a Sunday and crew for me this coming week.  The weather is predicted to be chilly again and I have been told there are some large climbs ahead.  I’ll be going through the Apache reservation on Hwy 60 and cross the Salt River Canyon.

Today is dedicated to my son-in-law, Ross Cooke.  Ross works hard and really enjoys his time with his family.  He also enjoys working in the yard and gardening.  Ross always greets me warmly and with a smile.  He is a pleasure to talk with and I admire him for his genuine show of interest when someone else is talking.

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Day 95–Red Hill, NM

I slept until 6:25 this morning.  I had my ear plugs in and did not hear the alarm.  Roger and I went to breakfast.  I had a vege-omelet with hashbrowns and a pancake.  I had stopped yesterday at the motel so we drove back there and I started at 8 a.m.  It was 21 degrees but there was no wind so it wasn’t bad.  The first few miles out of town were uphill and I walked them all.  Roger was doing a fine job of meeting me every 2 miles with aid.  I will miss him when he leaves this afternoon.  When I topped out on the hills, I began running the odd miles and managed to run about 6 miles before the uphill started again.  I finished just after Red Hill at about 7500 feet elevation.  There was a section just before I finished at milepost 15 of Hwy 60 that rivals any place I have seen.  How do you compare one beautiful place with another?  Here there were no trees and almost no brush.  The hills were covered in various grasses and the view went on for miles.  All I can say about it is that it was perfect.  Nothing could be added to improve the picture.  I could have stayed there the rest of the day and never tired of it.  But there were miles to go yet.

Roger drove me to Eagar, Arizona to meet my host for the next 3 days.  I will be staying at the home of Todd and Julie Bosen in Eagar.  Todd is the State Farm agent for Eagar.  He will drive me out to Red Hill tomorrow to finish New Mexico and begin Arizona.  This has been one of the tougher weeks. First there were hills and then cold weather and wind.  Roger was always there helping with whatever I needed.  I enjoyed his company and will miss him.

Some mornings I need inspiration to get going.  This one was one of those.  It would have been nice to lay in the bed or cut the day short.  But I do need to keep the pressure on for miles in order to finish before Christmas.  This morning I thought of Susan Dummar and her Umstead finish with the broken foot.  She is one tough lady.  I am healthy.  How could I let a little discomfort stop me?  Thank you Susan for providing the inspiration to push on today.  Today’s run was for you.

November 5-catching up, Days 92, 93, 94

We have been in an area with limited cell phone service and few places to access the internet for several days.  Because of cell service, I did not get to talk to Merrie tonight.  The one pay phone in town does not work and our motel has no phones in the rooms.  Hopefully, I’ll have better service soon.  In the mean time, I love you Merrie.  Sleep well tonight.

Day 92–4 miles shy of Datil  (11/3)

Roger and I got up at 5:30 and went to Burger King again. Then we were off for the 30 minute drive to Magdalena. I started at 7:20. It was 43 degrees and breezy so I had on a fleece top along with gloves and a hat. Within an hour it had warmed enough to change to my vest and John Deere visor. I ran 3 of the first 6 miles but the hills started again along with a stiff headwind. I topped out in hills covered with cedar and pinion pine and could see ahead a straight, flat road that stretched for miles. This area is called Plains of Saint Agustin and is home to the “Very Large Array”, the group of radio telescopes that were featured in the movie “Contact.” We counted 20 radio telescopes and think there were more. Highway 60 bisects one arm of the array so I was right among them part of the day and could see them until dark. I stayed out until after sundown and managed to get 30 miles for the day.

 

Roger had gone ahead during the afternoon to see if there was a motel in Datil. Indeed there was, along with a convenience store and restaurant all owned by the same person. The motel has 4 rooms with a small television, but no phone or internet. There was one room available and we were happy to get it to keep from driving back 30 miles to Magdalena. If you like steak, the restaurant would really please you. Roger got a ribeye wrapped in bacon and said it was the best he ever had. I had to settle for bits and pieces. I had a grilled cheese with tomato and onion, fries, mashed potatoes with butter, a piece of coconut cream pie, a glass of milk and coffee. It was all good but I’m not sure how much it will help me tomorrow.

The election will be over by the time I get this entry published in my journal. But I had already planned the dedication, so I’ll go ahead with it. Today is dedicated to John McCain and Barrack Obama. I think both are good men but I did choose and vote for the one I thought best for our country. I sincerely hope the winner is up to the task.

Day 93–Pie Town  (11/4)

I left the plains and entered the mountains this morning. I passed through Datil at 4 miles and continued to climb. The mountains were covered in pinon pine and cedar and some larger pines that I do not know. My stomach was not happy. Food in Datil did not suit me. I had awakened in the night hungry a couple of times and breakfast did not fill me up. I began eating early from my stash in the car and by lunch my energy was better. I took 2 twenty minute naps. They helped. At 3:30 I crossed the western Continental Divide and we took pictures. Another major milestone of my trip is now behind me. After 2 more miles, I stopped for the day with 25 miles in Pie Town. We drove ahead to Quemodo and found a motel and better food than last night.

Today is dedicated to my friend Tony Rouse. Tony is an MTC member and run lots of races. He is a talented runner and always humble. I admire him for his pleasant manner and the easy way he gets along with others.

Day 94–Quemado  (11/5)

I had planned a big day today and it was.  It’s just that the milage was not what I wanted.  We were at Pie Town for the start at 7:30.  The temperature was in the high 30’s.  The wind was in the 30’s too, and directly in my face.  I wore polypro and Gore-tex and was not too cold.  The wind though made me work hard all day.  I went hard and did 10 miles in the first 3 hours.  Then we drove into town for a break and some food.  I had a sandwich and hot tea and went back out.  The temperature was now 45 and the wind was still the same.  I managed 12 more miles and ended the day about 4:30 with 22 miles.  The effort today felt much like the 28 mile uphill day I did Sunday.  The weather report says less wind tomorrow but still from the west.  I’m 50 miles from the next town and Roger Coan leaves tomorrow evening.  I hope to get close enough tomorrow to call Todd Bosen, the State Farm agent in Eagar, Az.  He has said he will help me in that area.

My brother Roger and his wife Kim are coming again.  They helped me in Missouri and will join me for a week at Thanksgiving.  This time Kim is bringing grits to cook for me.  I like grits and Kim knows how to cook them.  I’m looking forward to a large bowl of grits several mornings while they are here.  Kim is also lots of fun to have around.  She laughs a lot and has a good time.  Together, Roger and Kim will make for a lively time and it will be a pleasure to be with them during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Kim, thanks for coming to help me again. You are a good sister-in-law and I love you.  Today’s run is dedicated to you.

Day 91–Magdalena, NM

Moving the clock back makes it seem like getting up earlier even though it’s not. We got up at 6:15 and went to Burger King for breakfast. The motel did not have wifi so I took the computer in to check email. Breakfast went quickly and I started walking at 7:45. I ran a couple of miles and then started up a long incline. I expected to climb a few miles but the incline turned out to be 2000 feet and 20 miles long. About half way up we got back to the high dessert terrain I have been used to for the past few days. I jumped a covey of quail with about 30 birds and Roger saw his first antelope. I also saw a snake. I don’t know what kind but believe it was non-poisonous. When I get the pictures updated again, one of you wildlife guys can let me know what kind it is. Near the end of the run we passed through Magdalena, historically a mining town but also a cattle destination in the old days since there was a railroad there. The visitor center also is a coffee shop so I had a very good cup of coffee. The I headed out of town for a bit and finished with 28 miles for the day.

Today is dedicated to my friends Regina and David Witherspoon. David and Regina have helped with the Ellerbe Springs Marathon every year since the beginning. They have done almost every job at the marathon and I always know the job they have will be well done. The race depends on good volunteers and David and Regina are among the best. Thanks, David and Regina for being my friends and for your service to the Ellerbe Springs Marathon.

Day 90–Socorro west city limits, Oct. 31

Eli and I went by Alpine Alley for the last time.  I have enjoyed my brief morning stops here and the conversation.  We headed to I-25.  Most of today’s run would be along interstate.  Eli would only see me at the exits that ranged from 2 to 7 miles apart.  Stopping and aiding me is not permitted on the interstate itself.  I ran every other mile and spent my walking miles talking on the phone.  I’m trying to work out details in the days ahead.  Thanks to Dana and John McRae of Iola, Kansas, I am re-connecting with State Farm agents in Arizona.  I am in touch with Todd Bosen in Eagar and will be there by the end of the coming week.  Roger Coan will be crewing this next week and will leave Thursday.  I will continue by myself and meet Todd in Bosen.

I finished the day in culture shock.  Socorro, NM is the largest town I have run through in several weeks.  I have been to Albuquerque by car on week-ends, but that does not have the effect that coming into a larger town on foot can have.  I have been running through smaller places, most with 500 to 1000 people.  Socorro has all the fast food places and lots of motels, a super Wal-mart, and lots of restaurants.  The strip I ran is the main drag through town and was about 2 miles long.  I saw the end of a fight and 2 wrecks on my way through.  I went to the far end of town and ended the day.  Eli and I headed to Albuquerque where he will fly out in the morning. 

Eli and I have had a good week.  He enjoyed meeting his namesake, Little Eli, my dog stick and companion since middle Tennessee.  Eli is my commander-in-chief when I work at the Troy Depot.  What that means is that he is “The Man.”  During my time working in Troy we became good friends.  He is a conscientous and caring supervisor who is always willing to listen to other’s ideas.  We occasionally have times to talk of things other than work.  We think the same on some things and quite differently on others.  I find our discussions enjoyable and interesting and when we differ in thought, sometimes enlightening.  It’s always good to see things from someone else’s viewpoint.  Eli has helped me by being willing to offer his.  Thanks, Eli, for an enjoyable week in New Mexico and for being my friend.

October 30

Pictures updated today.

Day 89–4 miles past Bernardo

We went by Alpine Alley again.  I have not been in a nice coffee shop in a long time, so this one is a real treat.  I had coffee and an omelet again along with more conversation.  I also ordered a sandwich to go, for lunch.  This time a couple of people called me by name.  Eli and I hung out there about 45 minutes but finally had to leave so I could get some miles.  It was almost 9 a.m. when I started running.  There was a mile down to the flat and then 18 more flat, completely straight miles to the interstate.  I ran/walked the first 10 miles.  Yesterday we found a tack in one tire.  It was losing air too fast, so at 10 miles I donned the pack and Eli set out to have the tire fixed.   He was gone about 2 hours.  During this time I went by several houses and trailers that have seen better days.  I took a picture of one and called it Barter Town after the Mad Max movie.  At another, ten dogs came out to the road!!!  Thankfully, most were pups and only 3 were a threat.  I snatched little Eli out of my pack and prepared to defend myself but a woman came out of the trailer and called the dogs back.  As I went by she said, “Nice day for a walk.”  I replied that it sure was and she said, “Do you want a smoke?”  I declined.  I don’t know what that was about, but it’s the first time I’ve been offered a smoke in a long time.  I wonder what she would have me smoke.  Shortly after, Eli showed up with the tire repaired and I made it to I-25.  I continued another 4 miles and stopped for the day with 24 total miles.

Today is dedicated to Meg DeMay.  She is married to Merrie’s son, Matt.  Meg works full time as a social worker.  She also has two active sons.  At anyone knows, a husband, children, and a full time job are lots of work.  Meg gives them all her best.  She is also a kind and considerate daughter-in-law and a pleasure to be around.  Meg, Merrie and I appreciate how special you are.  We love you.

Day 88–30 more miles

It seems we’re always getting a late start so I guess I should stop calling it late since it seems to be the normal start.  This morning we went looking for breakfast and found Alpine Alley, a coffee shop serving breakfast and lunch.  A vege omelet with toast and coffee was five something and was very good. The owners Scott and Mary are very personable and locals come in for conversation as well as food.  I met Dave, a guy who rode his 10-speed bike from Oklahoma City to the west coast in 13 days back in the 1960s.  I also met Pam who owns The Rock Motel here in Mountainair.  We are looking for a place here since the next motel west is about 60 miles. Pam called Melita, the clerk at the motel, and she had one room.  We liked it so much we took it for the 2 nights.  And she gave us a discount! 

My stomach did not feel like it had recovered from yesterday but I decided to push hard anyway.  I ran every other mile for the first 20 miles.  I did not eat and drank only water hoping my stomach would feel better.  In the end it did.  I finally ate lunch about 2:30 and then walked 10 more miles for a total of 30.  We left the flats and went through a 20 mile section of mountains today.  It was strange but nice to suddenly climb and have lots of cedars and pinion pines.  The mountains ended as suddenly as they started though, and we are looking at miles and miles of flat ahead.  Eli had a good day-he saw his first jack rabbit.

The minister at West Rockingham Methodist when I was a teen was Lee Phillips.  I really liked Mr. Phillips even though this was a time in my life that I thought all religion was a farce. Mr. Phillips was always nice to everybody and I remember the sincere way he always shook my hand.  He was a gentle and caring man who would ask you how you were and listen to your answer.  I also knew Mr Phillips outside the church.  His son Al and I were friends so I was often at his house.  His nature was the same at home as at church.  Later, when I no longer went to church, I still enjoyed seeing and talking to him.  Shaking his hand continued to be a pleasure.  I dedicate today’s run to Mr. Phillips, to the minister he was, and to the man he was.  I wish there were a lot more like him.

Day 87–almost Mountainair

We got off to a late start this morning.  Vaughn is a meat town.  At the third restaurant I was able to convince them to fix me a breakfast burrito without meat.  Then we had a 33 mile ride out to the start.  I began running ok but the fatigue of  2 hard days and the morning stress ended my running after a couple of miles and I decided to just walk.  Around noon I had some hummus and bagels for lunch.  Then my stomach decided it hated me.  I had a good start on the week with the two 28-mile days and did not want to give any back.  I stayed out until 5:45 and walked a total of 25 miles.  Hopefully tomorrow I will do better.

On the good side, I found a long stretch of frontage road along the railroad.  The highway has been following the railroad for days now.  But there has never been a frontage road close enough to the highway to allow my crew to help me.  This time though, I went about 15 miles along the dirt frontage road and avoided all traffic on the highway.  It was really nice.  I found three skulls today. My crewman, Eli, and I work for NC Wildlife, so we’re interested in such things.  Two skulls remain unidentified but one is an antelope.  Eli was happy to get it and plans to take it home on the plane.  I want to watch him go through security!  Also, I counted a record train.  That’s one of the things I do to pass time-count cars on a train.  I’ve been counting train cars since Dodge City.  That’s how long I’ve been beside or near the railroad.  There are many, many trains each day going in both directions.  Today’s train had four engines and 127 cars!

Running on dirt today brought back memories.  Lots of my training and racing has been on dirt, especially the ultra races.  I owe my entry into dirt and ultrarunning to David Horton.  I dedicate today to him.  I met him in 1990 at the Grandfather Mountain Marathon.  I found out he directed a 50 mile race called Mountain Masochist on trails in Virginia.  I did not finish that year but in 1992 it became my first ultra finish.  David had encouraged me to sign up.  David is known both for his running talent and accomplishments and as a race director.  David the race director is the one I want to talk about.  Just like he encouraged me, I have heard countless runners give David credit for introducing them to running and ultras.  He challenges them all to do a little more or a little better.  He congratulates them fast and slow at the finish. He also goes out and tests himself and in the process inspires us to test ourselves.  David, thanks for encouraging me to give ultras a try.  I would have missed out on a lot if you had not.

Day 86–28 more miles to the middle of nowhere

That’s right!  The towns here are really spread out.  I started just west of Vaughn, went through Encino, and on toward Mountainair.  It’s hard to believe all the open spaces out here.  The views are still amazing but things continue to get dryer.  The grasses are just stubble in lots of places and there are no trees and hardly any shrubs except around the few scattered ranch houses. I’m on Highway 60 and the wide shoulder is gone.  I have to step out of the road frequently for traffic.  But I do enjoy topping every rise and seeing the next grand view.  The last view today was at 28 miles.  There are miles of flat and downhill and in the distance, barely discernable, some real mountains.  The altitude where I am now is about 6000 feet.  I wonder what altitude the mountains will be.

Today is dedicated to Mike Samuelson.  Mike ran the Boogie several years ago and enjoyed it so much, he sent me a book.  It was “Running with Payne” by Randy Ellis.  Randy did his own run across the US and wrote about it.  I enjoyed the book and read it a second time last spring.  It was one of the first writings I read of runners and walkers crossing the US.  By giving me the book Mike helped set in motion my own journey.  Mike also crewed for me in Kentucky for a week-end and  I  stayed in his parents’ home a few days in Mayfield, Ky.  Mike, thanks for the book and your help in Kentucky.  l hope I can return the favor when you do your trans-USA run.