Seeing no-one, is the best view

​I felt oddly sad leaving Texas. It took us just over 4 weeks to cross it and I remember at the time of crossing the state line from Louisiana that I would think back on this very day and wonder where it all went, or at least I hoped I would and that I certainly wouldn’t be back home in the UK having given up. It’s like anything you ever look back on, you remember bits of it but you forget most until someone else mentions it. I started off uneasy about Texas, I won’t lie. I’m not what you would call a natural to the way of life here but I found people to be lovely and kind and the things I worried about didn’t affect me as much.  I had grown in confidence with my driving and greedily enjoyed the changing landscape along with he volume of peanut butter flavoured things. One of our last stops led us to a cafe in the middle of pretty much nowhere. The owner claimed to have something crazy like 120 acres of land and she liked it that way, as she told us ‘you can choose your neighbours’. I liked the idea of that, lots of land and away from people unless you chose otherwise.  It had a very homely feel along with lots of trinkets and shiny things that caught my eye.I didn’t buy anything this time though, having little space and genuinely little need for most items that were being sold there. It was just a shame that the exquisite pair of red cowboy boots were too small (dang) but we had our lunch for free and I took a piece of peanut butter cake that was that big, it had Jenny leaning to one side when I placed it in our fridge. With much gratitude from my mouth and belly, we said our goodbyes to those lovely folk. Texas is a big state but I didn’t grow tired of it like we’d be warned we would. So yeah, I feel sad about saying goodbye but thankfully, we stepped (wheeled) straight into New Mexico.

I didn’t know what to expect, except perhaps, just very similar to what we had left, having entered this new state almost halfway across it already. The volume of running that Rob’s been managing each day, we learned that we would likely cross New Mexico within four days to be In Arizona. Not having any expectations and with how my mood had taken me the last few days, it has been the most pleasant and rewarding surprise. After much deliberation over which route to take, we decided on Highway 9, which runs very close to the Mexican border. Therefore, Border patrol are in very heavy presence here and just as you do, whenever the police are around, you feel unnecessarily guilty. The road though, was amazingly quiet and open; it made my travel along it very enjoyable and relaxed, having no-one behind me, hovering like an angry wasp, desperate to pass.  Our final stop on the first night had us sat on a  raised tarmac area facing Mexico, with huge mountains all around us. Rob had spoken with one of the Border Patrol guys about us just parking up overnight; both of us a little worried about the suspicious look of an RV so close to the border. He was more than happy for us to and even insisted that we get hold of any of them should we have any concerns. A good few more patrols took those guys way beyond where we parked, to keep a closer eye on the border all night. I know this beacause once we had settled in our spot for the night, a brilliant thunderstorm started and to my delight, after dinner, Rob suggested we turn off the lights to watch it in complete darkness. I didn’t need asking twice and I had many failed attempts  at trying to catch a lightening strike on my phone camera. I also watched Border patrol cars doing their job along the border, multiple times.  We seemed to have entered a period of strong winds and thunderstorms as we entered New Mexico and I actually really like it. The temperature’s  dropped a little and I mostly wear my jogging bottoms and hoodie in the mornings which is a nice break from the constant heat, it’s still not cold but enough for me to feel all snuggled inside, with my cup of tea, staring out across the flat plains edged by the moutains; looking like a thick pile rug that’s bunched up at the edges. The wind, rushing busily across the landscape with that sound of a bleak winter and emptiness. I know that may sound perhaps a bit miserable but it’s beautiful. You suddenly have a moment where you realise just how wonderful this world is and how peaceful being alone can be. The scenery is a little like what you would find in Scotland and with the weather, it perhaps has made me feel like I’m home. Whatever it is, I don’t care but it has certainly made me contented. Just this morning I sat with my tea, gazing over a field backed by a mountain.
As I previously mentioned, my mood has totally suited my environment. I have been, I guess a little melancholic, not in a really sad way but in a way that my introverted self goes into. I’m very aware and fine with it. Melancholy is a normal and quite powerful emotion that we’re susceptible of and should embrace it, after all, there are no rainbows without the sun and rain. If possible, whenever I feel this way, I try to hide away from people; everyone if I can, by either walking some remote part of he country or being alone in a quiet place where I will listen to certain genres of music and maybe write some poetry, not for anyone to read but as a form of sharing my feelings. I strangely enjoy it but mostly because I don’t feel that way for long or very often and so I guess it’s just another way of being a bit self centred and nurturing yourself. It’s the mood I have mostly been in through New Mexico and it couldn’t be more perfect. For this perfect set up, I have chosen a guy called Ludovico Einaudi, a composer I discovered whilst watching the “This is England” series to listen to. His music is stunning and very provocative to emotions. I particularly like Waterways and Experience; give it a listen, you may like it and if not, there’s never any harm in checking it out; just be somewhere peaceful if you do though.
I have now had a decent chance to feel how life on the road feels, how we all dream it should be, with that perfect scenery of openess and emptiness of humans. It’s been hugely therapeutic and I feel it may be my go-to option in future, when I feel the need to escape for a little while. Get Ash (the VW Campervan) revved up and head off to some nearby Welsh or Yorkshire mountains, drink tea and reflect on life a little. Breath in the peace and beauty of Mother nature to refuel, yes, I would strongly recommend this to anyone, It’s soul food.

Slowly heading to the state border line that will take us into Arizona, eases me out of my self reflective mood into looking forward to our visitor for two weeks, joining us on our odd version of a road trip, Richard Beer. A long time friend of Rob’s and one I have stolen since our many visits to Glastonbury music festival. We have both been as excited as children on school holidays at the prospect of Beer joining us. It gives another angle to the trip; gives Rob someone else to (constantly) talk to and run with and I can enjoy the breaks in between his running with conversation about what you would do in a zombie apocalypse or discuss what time we should  attempt ‘Baggy Mondays’ at Glastonbury next year. It’s just great having friends around and the offer is there for the taking should you fancy it? 

So a very pleasant move through New Mexico with a mixture of my emotions making it so. I recommend it here and I think I’d like to visit here again for sure but with the knowledge of a move onto different scenery. It’s the changes in surroundings and company that have kept this interesting. One day I’ll be dreamily looking out at mountains and another will find me feeling tiny, walking through stacks of american lorries, lined up at a truck stop or I’ll  be sat in a bar in a cowboy town drinking a Golden Ale with friends. I have always found myself wanting to come back to visit a place again and I think, that is always the best way to leave.

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Drive.Cook.Sleep.Repeat.

So, if you’ve  been following my blogs, then you’ll be only too aware that this is generally how my day plays out, with the odd bit of photography, reading, writing and intelligent conversation with Bubba added in there.

It’s not all work, work, work though. I am, at this very moment, sitting on the steps of a sports shop, waiting on the returning members of a running club that Rob has joined, for their evening run, before we head for dinner and a few bevvies at a local bar. I’m looking at the stunning mountains that El Paso runs through, with the sun slowly setting and giving me an oil painting view, of the orange and pink clouds, looking as though they’re about to lay over the mountains like a fluffy duvet. So beautiful. So peaceful. Moments like these I love but I am not a complete hermit (just in case I’m making it look that way?) Having decided it was best if we stayed at a hotel for a couple of nights as a break and to have time to check out El Paso, we headed into town last night, to hunt down some ghoulish action -what with it being Halloween – craft beer and dinner. We stumbled across a bar known for its fine selection of craft beer and having vegetarian options (winner) and so we ended up being sat there all night; chatting to an American guy about all sorts of stuff, slowly getting a little tipsy. I do also love those moments; finding a good pub/ bar to sit in, with good beer and interesting conversation. I am missing social interactions with my friends very much and it’s so nice for us both to let our hair down (or at least wash it, then let it down) and meet people. Of course, we don’t really ever have a day off from running (= me driving) Rob doesn’t want to have any days off whilst we are doing this. I think he’ll feel like he’s not really doing it properly so, there is no break from buckling-up and hunting out parking spots. I have though, at least, had a break from cooking.

Cooking is not my thing, unless we’re talking baking cakes or biscuits then I’m not interested. I hate cooking; I hate having to work all day, to then get home and firstly decide what to eat, then stand cooking it, bored, only to scoff it down in 5 minutes and be left with the washing up. A recent trip to Ikea and spotting a dishwasher, led Rob to marvel on how we haven’t seemed to need one since we moved to Liverpool. I politely pointed out, that that is probably because I’m mostly doing it *raised eyebrow stare*. So, cooking ain’t my thing but sadly, I have to do it, with as much fake enthusiasm as I can muster but I ain’t fooling no-one. So far, Rob owes me a lot of dinners and being the main driver for a while, when we get back home. I have also stated that we need an actual holiday, where I dont drive or cook, or do anything other than the daily, required bodily functions and maybe shower, maybe…. Until then, I shall glady (not gladly) continue to cook. Our meals can be quite interesting but would most definitely add a few more lines on Gordon Ramsey forehead. I try to cook in a way to conserve our fuel, both petrol (for the generator, obviously) and propane, using frozen and tinned options. Add in, that I’m a vegetarian and Rob’s intolerance to cheese and we certainly make my job harder. A day’s routine goes a little like this-  After Rob’s morning run, I’ll make him some porridge and will add honey and slice a banana through it, nothing too tricky there (skills eh). Lunch time is always two ham sandwiches (just the one cheese for me) but I’ll use avocado as a butter replacement (that’s how the Aussies do it Gordon) and I will make sure there is plenty of green leaves and tomato to keep it healthy. To try and keep his salt levels up, I try to force him to eat a packet of crisps (whilst I get my daily fix of Cheetos) and he usually has a fizzy, sugary drink. Dinner time is usually around 6:30, once Rob’s intestines have gotten used to staying still and realise they may actually want some food. I have thankfully found a section in most supermarkets that offer good meat alternatives, like spare ribs, sausages, meatballs and chicken pieces to name a few. Rob is a total legend (yeah yeah, we know right?), the day I decided to give up meat again ( having been a veggie in my youth) I told Rob I would also avoid the big fast food chains as much as possible. He responded with great enthusiasm and although I never expect anybody to become vegetarian (although I would secretly love it) Rob told me that he would quite happily eat vegetarian every time that a good option was available to him and he has stuck with it. This in turn, has proven so, with most of the meals I cook. I have bought real meat ( shudder) as I know he both needs and wants that little extra nutrition (around an extra 3000 calories) We have both enjoyed soya mince spaghetti bolognaise, meatballs and spaghetti, burritos with salad or vegetables, sausages and fried potatoes, bacon (just Rob) with beans and mash, tofu chicken curry, fake chorizo (which claimed you wouldn’t tell the difference yet you actually really could) and Spanish rice with vegetables. Now and then,  I get a little inspired and attempt to make some thing a little more challenging  (not beef wellington though Gordon, I don’t get that inspired ). On our approach to El Paso, our supplies were starting to run a little thin so I made Rob ( I opened the tin and put it in the microwave ) some chicken noodle soup and I suggested that maybe we could add some ham to it to beef (pork) it up; Rob had the excellent idea of adding the previous evening’s leftovers, of mashed potato and beans to this concoction with the addition of some chunky bread pieces. I stared at him and his meal, wondering what a sport’s nutritionist would make of our attempts ( oh, and Gordon) but it was actually quite rewarding, getting through our supplies. He seems pretty happy with what I dish up and I’m managing to avoid anything that takes too long and therefore avoid my lack of concentration, which in turn, prevents me likely starting a fire and then bye bye Jenny.
I like it once the last meal is cooked for the day. It means the driving is done and the constant feeling of waiting has finished. I particularly like it when we have pulled in to a side road and we’re on our own. I feel relaxed and we enjoy a beer whilst watching yet another beautiful sunset; the sun dropping into bed as if to say, all done for today now. having no TV or Internet sometimes means we actually rest and talk or do some writing and reading.  I have started to look forward to bed, at the now insane time of 9pm; having the constant 6/6:30 am starts and the very dark surroundings, settles you into a comfortable tired zone by 10 pm, so I’ll make myself a cuppa and wind down.  I am normally such a night owl and often, under normal conditions, I will go to bed around midnight. My optimal time to get up in the morning would normally be around 8. However, the need to earn money for things like, food and shelter often requires me to have a job where I have to get up earlier but I’m really not a fan. I really need to work for myself, writing novels or making cute shoes, between the hours of 9-4, would be perfect. 

It’s completely strange for both of us to have this sleep pattern that we’ve developed. We go to bed and wake up together; not because we’re being cute but because it’s necessary. You have zero chance of sleeping if anyone else is up and about, you’re in such close proximity, you can hear the other thinking. If either of us gets up to pee in the night, you wake to find yourself rocking from side to side, listening to the passing of urine and then the subtle  sounds of the water pump and toilet flush,  just as if it was next to your head because it practically is. We’re long past the shyness of the toilet issue but having it in surround sound with additional motion sense is a little more than I would like. Thankfully, the bed is comfy and pretty big as Rob invariably likes to invade my side of the bed along with my pillows and blankets. We’ve decided to have our own blankets so as one of us can’t blame the other for stealing the majority of it (Rob is actually terrible for this but he’d never admit it). We have good pillow and blanket ratio and sleep mostly very well until Rob’s alarm clock goes off. A little part of me has an inner battle between screaming and crying. I know it’s dramatic but it’s only brief and then I’m all smiles and encouragement about how the day is going to be. Most likely, very similar to the previous one but maybe I’ll do something a bit different for dinner tonight?