We’re all sweaty around here

Heat, I love it. I am one of those people that can not bear the cold! In fact, I get angry about it.

When I was living in a flat, I was fairly poor and couldn’t really afford the lifestyle I wished to lead (not working, multiple holidays a month, having the heating on in the winter). I used to sit on the sofa inside a sleeping bag, with 4 hot water bottles and in my gloves and scarf. The Monsta (my beautiful best buddy) would curl up with me (he’s a large lurcher). I had to REALLY want to go to the loo or have a cup of tea to leave that little snug. If I did, I would often return to find The Monsta, curled up into a cookie shape, in my spot. It was horrible but eventually I started to earn enough that I could treat myself to some heating.

When Rob and I had planned to move to Australia a few people would tell me that they couldn’t do it because of the heat! Are you kidding me? That wasn’t even on my mind at all. I can lap it up and it’s never too hot…or so I thought.

We had a week in Melbourne where the temperature got up into the mid 40’s  (‘C). If we were in work, you just didn’t  know because of the aircon but as soon as you opened that door, It felt as though a hairdryer was blowing on full heat onto you. Even the wildlife was falling out of trees from heat exhaustion. We also travelled the West coast on a mini road trip and at some stages the temperature got up into the 50’s. I love the heat, but that’s ridiculous. 

So, we arrive in the deep south of America, where it’s not only hot (that’s fine) but humid too (not so fine). My hair hasn’t been down once and it’s not seen a hair straightener in weeks, there simply is no point. I doubt Rob ever realised my hair could resemble that of a lucky troll (if only I’d dyed my hair pink again before heading out). It’s  a shame because I like having  my hair down but it’s just too sticky, just like the rest of my whole body. Sweaty and sticky.

To make it worse, sitting in the RV with no aircon on (to preserve our fuel) is similar to sitting inside a large oven. I feel like a chubby little pig, roasting away with my fuzzy hair. To make it worse, my attractiveness doesn’t stop there for there is simply no point putting make up on. I discovered this after facing a mirror in the ladies restroom at a truck stop but not before having spoken with the cashier. At least then I understood her questionable gaze. It just slides down your face, resembling a Dali painting.
Rob is so much more sweaty than me though obviously. Every run, he returns, literally soaked. I first thought that he had perhaps jumped into a pool somewhere prior to meeting me but no, it was his own body, forcing sweat from every single pore in some vain attempt to cool his body down. His sweat glands must be shaking their heads at his brain. It both facinates me and grosses me out, with a little touch of concern. How does one sweat so much? Also, don’t you dare step into my clean RV like that.

It’s a routine that we have slowly had to develop. He returns from his run, dripping, so he removes everything (maintaining dignity) and just sits in an attempt to cool off. Meanwhile his top will be hung to dry, socks are disposed of into the stink bin along with his shorts and replaced with dry items. Sometimes, depending on the time of day and amount of time resting, he may change into completely new kit. This presents a problem when he changes kit maybe 3-4 times and we’re no where near a laundrette? The stink bin sits there being the unwelcome guest, literally festering and smelling like cat urine. The combination of Rob’s sweat and the heat and humidity in the RV makes not a good recipe indeed.

On greeting people, Rob has constantly had to excuse his appearance of beimg so sweaty, to which they nearly all reply “we’re all sweaty around here”. It’s  the perfect response.
I sit right now, typing this blog, waiting on our washing. I’m in a truck stop just off the off the highway whilst Rob has run ahead. The folks here have been so lovely and popped a tv on for me and allowed me to stay as long as I like, in the cool, cool air conditioned rest area. Maybe I can just tell Rob that the machine took hrs and just finish watching this movie before heading back out into that heat.

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It’s a love/hate relationship.

So, we have Jenny Jamboree the RV. The closing deal took us back to Houston. It took a long time but everyone at PPL motor homes were fantastic.We organised both the insurance and breakdown cover. I can’t even imagine what I’ll do if she breaks down when I’m alone (cry I guess). 

We had what’s called a ‘walk through’ with this guy called Gary where he shows you everything in the RV, thankfully. He was superb and didn’t seem to mind us asking him lots of questions. Then, he asked who was taking it for a test drive? Right at that moment, I fell into a vacuum,  where all I could hear was this voice repeatedly saying, oh my God! It was my voice. All eyes (actually just Rob and Gary’s) were on me. I so badly wanted to say no. I wanted to say so many things (like, I want my Mummy) other than “yeah, go ahead, I’ll do it”. That is, however, exactly what I said.
My best mate Alice (The Band) often tells me that I’m so brave. I am always willing to give things a go but I still get totally scared and doubt myself, I just know how to hide it and quietly cry inside my brain. I knew though, that if I didn’t do this? Rob wouldn’t be able to do the run. So, I did it. 

As I climbed up into the cockpit of the beast, Gary explained how I could adjust things. I moved my seat forward (by roughly 10 feet), adjusted my side mirrors and with a wave of anxiety causing me to have a hot flush on an already toasty day, I smiled and said, “let’s  go”. 

She moved off slowly and that was fine by me. Foot on accelerator, I gently teased her into some form of speed (A tortoise, fast asleep, would have been quicker) I could feel Gary’s slight concern. I attempted to join the other folk on the road. I believe that every car in America at this point, decided to drive down this road and I thought we were going to be sat there until Xmas, me sweating and crying, the other two dead from lack of food and water or boredom. All lanes finally clear, I gingerly sneaked out. Now, I’m not saying Jenny is fat but she certainly is big boned. I have about 6 inches either side of me to play with and the power stearing,  although only a nano second, has a slight delay. This leaves you kind of ‘rocking’ along the road. It sounds fun, no! I was constantly trying to remain within the lines, check the mirrors, check my speed, listen to instructions, avoid the little wasp cars and breath. Gary told me I was doing fine, little did he know. We made it back, with out me taking out fellow drivers and with me pretending I was happy.

By 4pm we were done. All the dots crossed and well, however that saying goes. We were done. Rob at this point, got a little (lot) on my nerves. He obviously  hadn’t been able to run the previous day and was keen to get back on the horse (not a real one silly), so he instructed that we should crack on an get back to where the run had left off, in Louisiana, about a 7hr drive. I adore Rob (obviously) but he has these little moments where I just Stare at him, wondering why his very intelligent brain doesn’t just think things through when involving others and not just himself. He looks back at me, thinking, why is she staring at me like that. Well, I promptly told him (don’t you worry) I was scared. I had asked him a few times if I could practice a little before starting, he told me the best way to learn is on the road. Of course it is? (he was right thoigh).To avoid further delay, aggro’ and tears, I just agreed. Telling him I’d be slow and we would likely be very late, with nothing  (food and bedding) in Jenny to use. He nodded.

We went on. I pulled myself back into the cockpit, re-adjusted my seat again, breathed in some deep lung filled breaths and then told Rob I couldn’t do it. I was so scared. I put her into drive and repeated to Rob that I couldn’t do it. Once on the road, needing to move her big arse over to the left lane, with busy traffic and very little distance, I was the most scared I’ve ever been. At that moment I would have taken waking up in a room, with that clown toy on his bike from the Saw movies. I would have rather got root canal without any local. I would have rather worked 100 years down a mine, 24/7, 365 days a year. But I did it. I guestimate I aged by about 10 years but I did it. I even reversed her arse into a parking space. I stopped for petrol, I over took, I did doughnuts in the local supermarket car park (ok, not the last one) We ended up stopping around half way at a motel so we could rest up and stock up (on lots of chocolate and cake) the following day. We spent a small fortune getting her kitted out but it made her feel more like our little house on wheels.

It’s  3 days into driving Jenny Jamboree and I can say I’m getting very used to her. It’s still touch and go at this stage though. On one trip to collect Rob from his last run, I headed into the outskirts of New Orleans. I found myself in some kind of road, spaghetti hell. My Sat Nav was clearly having a laugh with me and sending me down the wrong roads (definitely not my fault). I nearly cried, I was on my own, having to make tight turns, getting beeped at (don’t beep me I’m new) and getting ridiculously stressed out. I eventually made it out of the labyrinth and collected Rob, feeling pretty rubbish. Setting off to head back to the truck stop, I  (the Sat Nav) made another mistake. I pulled over and cried. I’d had enough and Rob tried desperately to comfort me but I was having none of it. I cried and informed him through tears that “this really isn’t that much fun”. After a few seconds, I had a word with myself and set off again. Making it back, perfectly fine.I Cooked dinner and sat in pure relief of it being over as my hand muscles twitched from having gripped the steering wheel so tightly. I ate some Reeses’s cups to celebrate ( I didn’t really need an excuse as I would have had them any way).

I love her though, when she’s still. When we can park up and I can sit on the sofa or cook us dinner. Right now, as I write this blog, I’m sitting  in her shade, in a truck stop gazing out across a cornfield with a distant, laden cloud, holding tight to a thunderstorm. Bliss.

It’s  still a love/hate relationship. I’m still always a little nervous whilst driving her and perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps concentrating so much and taking it nice and easy (my head song is Nice and sleazy by the Stranglers whilst driving her) I should, hopefully avoid any major catastrophes (touch wood).
Earlier, for a brief moment whilst listening to Eric Clapton, I found myself with my left arm resting on the door frame, happy and relaxed, in true trucker style.

There’s no M in what I can eat?

I’m a vegetarian. I have been now for about 3 years. I decided to be vegetarian as a result of watching some pretty ropey documentaries about mass farming. Now, I’m not about to start preaching, so don’t panic, but personally, mass farming is gross. It’s unethical and unsustainable and it kind of weirds me out that we take a large group of animals, fatten them up and then pack them off in a lorry to, well, you know where. So, I don’t eat meat. Now, I had been warned how difficult it is to be a vegetarian in America, that even salads arrive, with 1/2 pig, in the form of bacon, virtually glued to every leaf. It’s very true, they do.
What do you eat?! I hear you all gasping ( well, maybe just my mother) I do ok? Ish.

Thankfully, America does breakfast foods the best. Breakfast food is my favourite, along with fruit, veg’, cake, sweets, cake, tea, cake and some cake. Waking up in a motel, knowing we have our breakfast provided brings me utter joy and my face beams. I badger Rob about getting ready so that we can head down and revel in the delights of cereal, toast, waffles, yoghurt,  fruit, fruit juice, bagels, pancakes…..you get it right. So breakfast is done and done. Good.

Lunch on the road is tricky. It’s either been perfect or totally rubbish. We entered this one service station, that as a non meat eater I could either have sweets (not so bad) crisps, cakes (man I love tha’ cake) or fat drenched meat or meat with some added meat. So I had crisps and sweets. This, as a child, would have been my dream diet for the rest of my life. As semi reasonable adult, I actually really enjoy eating vegetables (don’t hate me). I often feel a bit sluggish if I’ve not had a nice salad or at least a sandwich busting full with greens and tomatoes and some avo’. It was therefore quite disappointing.
If we’ve ordered a big take away the previous night for dinner  (I’ll get to dinners soon) then, as we’re from the UK and haven’t broke from rationing food since WW2, we eat ‘normal’ sized proportions. This means we usually have a third to 1/2 a meal remaining, for which we save for lunch. Storing food in 40’c heat is shady but so far, neither of us has ended up with the two bob bits. Imagine it. Or don’t?!

Dinner. Well, dinner whilst doing the car and motel thing, has been quite tedious. Rob roughly finishes running at about 5/6pm, he stretches and desperately tries to stop sweating  (I still a gawp at him, in amazement at his……. mass production of sweat) but once he’s done, my brain smiles and relaxes, like a fool, because I think that’s me done too but unfortunately, unless we want to eat grass and ground in roadkill, we have to drive. Of Course there’s more driving! So, we dither and ask each other what they fancy to eat and the other says (THE most frustrating sentence known to all humans when deciding on what to eat) I don’t mind, what do you fancy to eat? Arghh!

If we find a nice restaurant, then we head in and I browse the menu. The menu of meat. My options in the South, are generally between Nachos and dip, fries or fried pickes. I’ve had them all, nearly twice. After filling my belly with salty cardboard triangles and downing diet coke (that gets refilled just as you feel some mighty accomplishment at finishing and not wasting the litre!) I’m done and happy to head home (motel not UK) Rob manages really well which is obviously good. He needs around 6000 calories a day, so the large meals, the drink refills and the not being vegetarian works very well for him indeed. I have no worries there. Apart from cheese. He can’t eat cheese. He basically ends up with raging colitis and turns his body inside out in the process if he does. He’s a handsome man but nobody wants to see that. A lot of places have Cheddar Gorge size proportions on them or they get a bit crafty and sneak a little bit in to surprise the unsuspecting victim and then all hell breaks ‘loose’ in gutsville.

Not being able to then sit off and have a few bevvies is starting to get a bit dull. I know Rob would and could but he’s very sensibly not having very much. I of course, being the driver (ho hum) can’t and it is a bit sad at this point (whaaa). It’s a potentially great way to meet other people and locals. All being well, now that we have Jenny Jamboree, the RV, we can get into a better routine, I will get my daily allowance of lettuce leaves. The evening drinks and socialising will follow and Rob can release his chat onto new people (like now please!)
But I can’t complain all the time (I try though) I have managed to have some lovely meals ( mushroom burger at Bubba Gump’s) and we’ve met some lovely waitress staff who have been through the story that is Run Robla Run and survived to tell tale, with a smile.

Finally, I can’t  leave without mentioning peanut butter. I vehemently believe in peanut butter and America just does peanut butter the best. To slightly quote the famous Bubba Gump, you can get peanut butter cookies, peanut butter chocolate, peanut butter icecream, peanut butter crackers, peanut butter cake, peanut butter fudge.. ….I love the stuff. Love it. So much so that I am rather likely to return home 5 stone heavier and looking like a peanut. That’s ok by me. And, drinks here have been an absolute saviour too. Rob did one of his runs in 42’c heat and I was really worried for him( well, pretended to be). On a mission to find some refreshing, cold drink (and shoes, in the mall), I stumbled across an icy drinks stall  and their “medium” drink size was roughly the same size as my head. I bought us one each, blue raspberry (since when are raspberries blue?) and strawberry. I let Rob choose because I’m that kind of girl. He was incredibly grateful, as was I, so thank you America for your ridiculously sized drinks and peanut butter.

I don’t have a job but I’m still working 

​I may no longer have a job but I’m pulling, on average, a 12hr shift.

Let me explain how our days are working out at the moment.

Wake-up (obviously and thankfully) usually around 7am. Stare at our phones for approximately 10 minutes until one of us instructs the other that it’s time for breakfast. As we are renting a car at the moment, breakfast is mostly provided by our accommodation and if not, it’s cereal bars and water. No tea!!! I love a cup of tea and my last cup was on the plane, drinking what was sold as tea but is secretly the waste water, recycled from the toilets. I have managed to survive though because there are waffles. Not only are there waffles but it’s a waffle machine and you make your own, which being British and having never indulged in such excitement, I believe the novelty shall never wear thin. Ever.

Once breakfast has been eaten we have this sudden dash to leave, like as if we have something really important to do? So the car gets packed, Rob gets packed and we jump excitedly (insert sarcasm) into the car and head to the exact spot that the previous day’s run finished. We work out roughly when the next meeting point will be, which is between 6-8 miles ahead and once I’m certain that I have the exact location pinpointed, just so that I don’t find myself an hour later, in the middle of whoop whoop (Aussie phrase) I allow him to proceed, in all his super attractive running attire. 

So, I set off, not too panicked by now as I have got a little more used to the driving. The only part that stresses me out is where to park up at the next marker. The roads vary hugely at this point. Some will have hard shoulders or that dirt patch that confused drivers have clearly stopped at many a times before you. However, some roads have nothing, so I end up doing a loop the loop trying to locate a good enough spot that hasn’t added another 10 miles onto Rob’s route. I am mostly working this shizzle out but it’s not exactly relaxing by the poolside fun. 
So this goes on for a few times, until we stop for lunch, which is either what we have already from the night before (nicely festering in the boot) or at a Waffle House or something  similar. All refreshed, we’re both all raring to go and do it all again. 

Some of the stops we make end up being just perfect. They’re either a petrol station/store with beautiful aircon (thank you inventor of cold air blowing machines) or they are a pretty little spot for which I can play at being a photographer. If not (mostly not) then I use the time wisely by scanning through Facebook or watching funny animal clips on YouTube. If I’m feeling super helpful I send emails, check and upload onto Rob’s Instagram and Facebook page or I film him running and talking  (those in the know, know he loves to talk).I keep his drinks and the car cool and generally just sit, staring into space, wondering why spiders need 8 legs.Why do they though?

Once the days runs are done and Rob has stopped sweating, like some crazy man that’s run in 42’c heat (who does that?), we head to the next motel for the night. We both dither about, highly unproductivly, trying to decide what to eat and then finally head to Domino’s or somewhere as equally healthy. Then we eat, chat, share our stories and plan the next day. We are usually done by around 8/9pm by which stage we get ready for bed but….we then spend a good hr or two checking and sending emails, blogging, posting pictures and music tracks onto social media (providing that the Internet isn’t being really slowly generated by some overweight hamster on a wheel) So bed time, is usually around 11pm.
So, it’s a long day. You’ll have to forgive us if we don’t reply to any of your messages or comments straight away because, for some reason, some crazy Scouser is rather busy running most of the day.

I may sound all very unhappy about this and I am (jokes). I’m not, for all the stress and occasional bits of boredom it’s brilliant. Beyond brilliant. I catch myself, driving down highway 90 on my own, listening to 80’s tracks (I heart the 80’s) in the gleaming sunshine with skies brilliantly blue, with the roads clear and I say to myself, you’re actually doing this Nads. You’re road tripping across America.

Blogging eh?

So, here goes. I guess this is me blogging, forgive me if I stumble a little. I hope to allow you a little insight into my version of Rob’s run across America. If you haven’t already, then PLEASE check out the website goingthedistancerun.com

I am currently sat outside a motel room waiting for our clothes to be laundered. A fairly typical road trip scene, with hot air, the odd stetson and soft southern twangs surrounding me.

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We’ve done well so far. From Mobile, Alabama to Gautier (not John Paul,  that I childishly giggled to myself about) Mississippi. It’s hot and sticky but with aircon and the first days of adventure naivety, we’re doing real good.

I was always very anxious about the driving. I asked so many of my friends about it and of course was told multiple times how easy it is but I couldn’t shake the anxiety. That moment you set foot in a rental car as big as the average UK living room, you sweat, a lot. Then you get onto the road, kissing the right hand kerb with the gleaming alloys, whilst Rob nervously mentions that “you’re a little close this side Nads”. The fun doesn’t end there because then you need to turn at a junction  and your brain screams at you to cross before turning right and once you figure it out, you constantly wait for the ploughing  of another ve-hicle  into the left of you, although it would be coming from the right, right?

Any way, I am not faring to badly at this stage, although the blood pressure certainly raises in areas with lots of lines and flashing lights. I only hope that my blogs continue to contain good and not bad driving experiences. Oh man! I have to do all that in a 30ft RV…