I’m never really alone

Sat in the RV, watching the busy world zip by, wondering: “Where are they going? Why so busy?” I sit here with the sound of the clock, second, turning after second, waiting, to head out there into that mad rush to be somewhere else. The next meeting point, roughly around 6 miles along, is waiting for me to sit off, alone again…
I’m pretty introverted. When you first meet me you may think I don’t like you (my best mate thought I didn’t like her and that I was a bitch). As I have gotten older I try harder and hope that most people don’t feel that way. I either click with someone straight away or it’s a real slow burner. I promise that I don’t mean it. I think this is why Rob and I manage our relationship; he being massively extrovert and me happily hiding in the shadows but still being able to meet people and make lovely new friends through him. I’m not a dreamer or an achiever; I’m not in the slightest bit competitive so although I’m making myself sound rather dull (wow, I really am aren’t I?) I am mostly very happy. I have reasonably low expectations and I have no real set plans ahead. I’m just completely happy, bumbling along. Future planning sometimes terrifies me, I like deciding at the time what I want to do and how long for. I believe this to also play a part in why Rob and I get along so well. He is hugely competitive and loves nothing more than to make achievements and set goals (hence this run). I admire him for it but I don’t envy it. He has mentioned that should we ever have children (can you imagine) that he hopes they would have his drive and competitiveness (hah!). I’m not so sure but I get what he’s saying. My returning comment was I hope that they would have my good looks and humour 😉 but I would actually love them to be very much like Rob (could you imagine ).

So far, a lot of people have asked me if I get bored and I do but not often. Being introverted means I actually revel in those opportunities where I don’t have to mingle with the general public. I can write, read, clean, cook, shop (for food and not shoes or dresses unfortunately) take photos, watch wildlife and listen to my music. I have perhaps just enough of that time until Rob arrives or has arranged for us to meet up with some fellow runners for me to be ok with it. So at this stage it’s working out fine. However, I really am looking forward to a 2 week visit from our mate Beer (his surname, honestly). We have a fairly long stretch now from Austin to El Paso (approximately three weeks) and that shall really test my boredom levels. Having an end point with something to look forward to, like a friend joining us, has really changed the dynamics. Rob’s old school friend joined us for 2 days recently and it’s perfect respite. It’s  a difficult thing to ask of people; to take time off work and spend their holiday in an RV with us two. Most of Rob’s friends won’t know me and visa versa, so naturally it may not appeal but it’s one of the things that would always be appreciated.

Failing the ability to do that though hasn’t stopped many of our friends and a few strangers from getting in touch both publicly and privately, giving us fantastic support. I have had personal messages from Rob’s friends asking how I am and offering help should I need it. A lot of our mutual friends have been messaging, sharing our posts, tweeting and re-tweeting (The Tweetles as Rob calls them), calling UK based media on our behalf and spreading the word onto their friends about the website and Facebook page. My dad (best human being ever) pretty much messages me every single day to encourage both of us (thanks Dad. Lub you, YNWA.) We get phone calls from our good mate Geoff (from Melbourne) and from Colin (Rob’s step dad, YNWA either) with words of encouragement and just some very much needed silliness to bring us back down or up, to normal.

I was once a hater for social media and partly still hate some aspects of it. I came to love Facebook though when I moved to Australia because it gave me very close and constant access to those that I love and missed terribly back home. It allowed me to see how everyone was doing and If you can ignore the ‘fakeness’ of it and try to avoid getting  dragged into debates (!) I think it’s a great platform to keep in touch. It’s been an excellent way to spread the word for the run. I started Rob’s Instagram page last year and joined Twitter myself; which takes me back to the good old days of 30 letters a txt. I also tried Snapchat (I promptly left because I don’t understand it and some young lads were trying to contact me and I got scared)! I have embraced social media and I actually don’t mind it, in order to get as much coverage as we can because what Rob is attempting deserves that. Just as any body who voices constructive opinions, tries to make positive changes or attempts their own challenges to make something better does. So good on ya Facebook and the likes. We can just ignore the rubbish that goes along with it. It also helps keep me from getting bored, spying on you all (in a good way of course) and chatting to old friends and new ones, so thank you…. 

Where would we be without you all. Well, let’s be honest, I’d probably still be sat here, watching the cars full of busy people, rush by, whilst Rob runs up another hill, sweating, avoiding roadkill and angry road users, but it would be a very different journey, a much more difficult one. What better way to feel ok about crying over your smashed phone screen (that was me) or your creaky tendon (that was Rob, obviously) than the encouragement of strangers and comforting words of friends. You can not beat it and you will never realise how powerful it was when you did it, so thanks to you for your support, every single one of you. We owe you a drink when we next see you xxx

The good, the bad and the stinky.

It’s been 3 weeks since we got Jenny Jamboree.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned my fear of driving a 30ft long RV on the opposite side of the road that I’m used to before (maybe once or twice). I’m used to her now though; I will reverse and hop over into different lanes and will not throw a wobbly (well, not a big one) when Rob wants me to head into the busier, smaller city roads and carparks. Jenny is the same length as two cars, so I have to check in advance where I shall next meet Rob, so as I can actually park her big butt. This also causes a little panic attack when I need to be in the farthest right lane within about 50 yards and try to judge how close the car traveling up to her right is. The locals are not all the friendly drivers as the signs make them out to be when you’re trying to move over. I often have to carry on and try to loop back on myself, all without Sat Nav’s help because she’s clearly on her tea break at that exact point.

I haven’t listened to much music whilst driving along the highway, mainly because I’m listening to her ladyship: Sat Nav and because my journey is usually no longer than 10 minutes. If I do, there is quite often some religious stuff. Don’t hate on me but I’m an atheist so it all means nothing to me but it’s a big deal to a lot of people. It has most certainly been very interesting listening to a good ‘ol tune with the lyrics about Jesus and God. One could argue that it’s better than some other (no names mentioned) song writers.I do have a Roy Orbison CD (courtesy of the previous owners) which is fine by me and a scratched up 90’s mix CD. Needless to say, I have a long way to go surviving on those little treasures, so I shall be investing in some way of delivering my own, selected tunes. No Tay Tay!

We’re slowly getting used to the RV lifestyle. Having had Shirley (A 1983 Toyota Hiace Campervan) and having Ash (The very cheeky 1977, bay VW Campervan) we are fairly used to living outdoors in some form of comfort and style. Jenny, is a fish from a totally different kettle though. Let me let you in on some RV speak: The black water tank is where your ones and twos go. The grey water tank is old dishwater or shower water and the white water tank is your fresh water. There’s a set of golden rules to follow when emptying these tanks (which Rob wouldn’t know because he hasn’t done it yet. Still!) Firstly, you must open your black water tank valve to allow the weeks build up of your stinkies to leave, forever (bye stinkies) via the pipe you attach to a sewer. Then you close that valve and open the grey water tank valve and use the slightly less stinky water to’flush’ the pipe. It doesn’t sound particularly clean but it seems to work. You also need to ‘prep’ the black tank with some sort of odour eating liquid by pouring it down the toilet once the tank is empty.With the generator, you must remember to turn off the air conditioning, prior to turning off the generator, to avoid damaging the thermostat and you must turn the air conditioning off if you want to use the microwave, as to not overwork the generator and activate its power breaker (leading you to believing it’s broken, when it’s not). You also need to turn on the water pump if you want to flush the toilet and have running taps but you mustn’t leave it on for too long when not in use. Then there’s the fridge freezer that runs off the auxiliary battery but if that’s running low,it can automatically switch to using the LPG but you must keep an eye on a ‘check’ light that can come on if there’s a problem. Then, with the LPG, you must have plenty of ventilation when using it or it will set off the gas warning alarm (my Dad could use one of them). Phew! That’s a lot to take in and remember and that’s not all of it. We’re picking it up reasonably quickly and getting used to the RV lifestyle. Thanks to RV Geek on the Youtube. I could certainly see myself bombing around Europe in a good few years time.

She’s a fairly greedy old girl and refuelling her is quite different to filling up the little Polo and Peugeot back home. 40 gallons later and I wished I’d had a book with me! I think she has a problem as she guzzles it down and gets through it pretty quickly (she needs to attend a petroholics anonymous group or something).
We’ve become very savvy with our water use too which has been interesting, given Rob’s level of sweating and our desire to have regular showers. The average shower will use about 17 gallons, If you times that by 2 then that’s pretty much half the tank gone in one day.So, it’s very quick shower (important bits only) or use the showers at the truck stops and campsites. We have several water containers that we fill each time for drinking water (someone seems to be drinking a lot of it!) and I buy a bag of ice now and again and keep it stored in a cool box, to help with those refreshing drinks on all these hot and sticky days.

She tries to have a laugh with us too. Turning up to a campsite in the dark is never the best idea. Add to that, the fact you need to fill your fresh water tank by torch light under mozzie attack before settling for the evening .We were bumbling around attaching the fresh water hose to the tap and trying to locate the fresh water tank connection.  We discovered it was perfectly located underneath the awning mechanism. Oh Brilliant! We got showed once how to unravel the very technical awning and unfortunately, a little frog jumping out held far too much of our attention than what Gary was explaining to us, so we had pretty much forgotten how. We were stood, scratching our heads and gnat bites, getting very frustrated at how on earth someone thought it a good idea to put the water supply port behind a metal pole. There was so much profanity and tutting, and I’m sure I heard some from Jenny. Eventually we managed it and filled up but then we had to put the awning back…you have a brief moment where you’re deciding if you actually need the awning and could you just rip it off?

She also farts (all women fart boys, it’s perfectly natural) and produces some interesting noises at times. Her flatulence though, is rather more an error on our part I believe and means we need to get her tanks flushed and cleaned sooner rather than later (bring on the bleach).

I’m at the stage where she’s my little home now and it bugs me when things aren’t where they should be (ROB!) or if she’s starting to get a little dirty (ROB) or if Rob’s there (introverted moments only). I have a little dustpan and brush; I have a little blanket for the sofa, to protect it from sweat; I have boxes and places for things to be and go. I have to be on top of the washing and as soon as I pass a ‘Washateria’ I get it on and done (people still use the dryers in 32’c!) I have formed my little OCD habits which means I’m feeling settled. She’s our protection from the sun; provider of cold drinks; comfort for our weary legs and she’s cute as a button. I feel responsible for her and I know now that I’ll miss her if and when we hand her over to someone new (maybe we just keep her?)

It’s a strange existence, espescially how we are doing it and I do find myself, alone and gazing upon rubbish and rusted metal strewn across some wasteland, wondering, what the hell am I doing? What on earth are we actually doing? We just run and drive along a road from 7am to 7pm, not knowing what we will see. Maybe just more road, maybe some interesting folk, maybe a grand lake or some breath taking scenery or maybe a discarded vibrator (thankfully, Rob left well alone…or so he says)? We stop for the night, at an RV park or a Truck stop, hoping either isn’t too close to the train line. I’ll whack the Microwave on (not before turning off the air con though) and pop a 3 minute culinary delight inside whilst rustling up some kind of salad. Or if I’m feeling adventurous, I may turn the stove on and play around with making a spaghetti bolognaise. After which I’ll get the washing up done (with minimal water use of course). Then we sit at the dining table and eat our dinner with a beer and chat or watch a bit of telly. We both end up very tired by 10 and ready to head for bed in our tiny bedroom (with en-suite if you open the toilet door out). We set the alarm for 6:30 am for the following morning,  to do it all again.
It is a very strange but curiously wonderful thing we’re doing and if you can, you should come and join us for a bit of it. Don’t mind Jenny’s flatulence and just don’t be too messy 😉

I knew you were trouble when you walked in.

Yes yes yes, I know these are the lyrics from the one, Taylor Swift and no (for those of you who don’t know of my bitter dislike) I am not a fan. Let’s not get started on why (I only have so many hours left in this day). This song  was on the radio and this line got me thinking; It fits pretty well with how I feel about Rob (go you Tay Tay, we’ve connected). Let me explain.

I met Rob many years ago whilst he was doing his PhD and he was working at the practice I worked at. We got on pretty well due to Rob’s ability to be totally engaging and talk to anybody about anything (I often like to watch the changes in people’s expressions when he first chats to them). This led to us discussing music, football, festivals, films and we obviously shared a curiosity about them animals (or’tha’naahtthties’ as we now greet every animal we ever see) our humour is of a very similar nature too (although I’m far funnier, of course).

We gradually became good mates. We went to tons of gigs, some music festivals, watched plenty of Liverpool games (thanks to my eldest brother’s obsession with LFC I grew to love the game) and of course, we worked together. 

I soon realised this Scouser was definitely a scally. A very cheeky chap indeed but it was impossible to not enjoy being around him. I made many a beautiful friend as a result of knowing him and met the best dog in the world. She once left a little present for me in the form of a very dry and small poo.

About 6 years ago (in the most unromantic way possible) we started  seeing each other. The transition from friends to partners was tricky but we got there.

A year later, Rob had an opportunity to move and work in Australia, I then also got offered a job and we naturally went with it. It was mind blowing. I fell in love with Melbourne and its beautiful, multicultural and relaxed feel. Not to mention the abundance of variety in food, bars, beers… It reminded me of the UK in lots of ways and helped me to feel less homesick. Sadly, it was time to head back home but of course, not before making some of the best friends we’ll ever have, knowing that if we shall return, they’ll be there, waiting for us at the airport (trying to send us back).
Rob was desperate to do this run and we were clearly at a stage where we could pull it off. We could get home, get our heads down into some work and see how we felt about not being in Melbourne (where I most definitely left a little piece of my heart, most likely with a little koala on the GOR). See how we felt about being home and what we needed to do about this Forrest Gump run thing, etc etc.

We moved into Rob’s house in Liverpool. I love Liverpool. If you’ve never been you really should go visit (maybe come visit us when we’re back). It’s always difficult to describe places, with giving enough credit. There are obviously bad and good no matter where you go. I truly believe, from the amount of places I have lived now, that it’s more about who you have around you. It’s horses for courses sure but without my family, best friends and good people, I don’t care too much for the sights and scenes or the weather. Just as well because Liverpool is a very windy and rainy place. Not daily and I got myself a good tan by sitting in the garden with the chickens but it’s not the greatest. That isn’t exclusive to Liverpool of course but what is exclusive to Liverpool is chatter. Chatter and laughter. Scousers are know for being super chatty, gregarious, passionate and friendly. It’s very true. If you have a GSOH you’ll do well there. I love the place and all the people that I met in those brief months are now my friends. We had good jobs and managed to knuckle down with organising the run.

Fast forward to September and I find myself emptying MY hand luggage and cramming MY stuff into my already large check-in bag so that Lord Pope, could use it for his stuff (and, breathe). This is a common occurrence and I really should just bring two (maybe 3) of everything I ever have, to account for “Rob Tax” (We had a blazing row once over a phone charger, I kid you not). We bicker, daily, and usually about my expectations being too high (like, wanting the cupboard doors closed, instead of left open or him putting my charger back when he’ borrowed it…) but it’s what we do and it’s mostly forgotten after 5 mins. So, where was I? Oh yes, the airport. I was at Heathrow airport, checking in our bags and the running buggy, with my favourite person, The Robla; heading to Mobile, AL about to embark on his ultimate dream, running Forrest Gump’s exact (as close as you unofficially can) route. I find myself driving a 30 ft RV in pitch black for 6hrs after having only test driven it a few hrs before;I find myself, on my knees, attaching a pipe to the ‘black’ tank (the secret code for the poo and pee tank in an RV) and emptying our, well, our stinks down into a sewer (Rob hasn’t felt obliged in this task yet!); I find myself with his feet in my face, with him instructing me that I have to check his feet daily (erm? I don’t remember that being part of the deal?) *heaves into hand*.

So, you see, I knew he was trouble when he walked in. He’s moved me to Australia, Liverpool (I’ve virtually handled his faeces) and now we’re doing this crazy stint across America, but what most excellent trouble to get into eh? I don’t think he’ll ever believe that he has made me a better person in many ways and given me some truly magnificent opportunities and for that kind of trouble, I’m immensely grateful.

It can all just get a bit too much sometimes.

Travelling, no, trundling down a gravel road, through the Atchafalaya national wildlife refuge;The sun still high and bright; The leaves of the trees shivering in a gentle breeze and the air conditioning rattling its cool air onto our pink, clammy faces.

At the end of this gravelled road is an open space, protected by its surrounding cohabitees in the form of trees and wildlife. There’s a wide stream that runs down to the left with, just can’t catch sight of them in time, jumping fish, catching their dinner for the evening; The trees, draping their branches into the still water. We park up and really relax. The day’s run has purposefully been pushed in order for us to enjoy the stay here. Washing done, water tank full, showers had and dinner started, all to the sounds of a cricket’s choir. 

Then….the generator packs in. The microwave only runs on the generator as does the air conditioning and electrical appliances requiring more than 12v. That’s our dinner for the evening out of the window, along with my enthusiasm for the rest of the trip (I know,very dramatic)

It really saddened me. It was an evening unplanned but completely needed after the truck stops and stinky motel rooms. We could still function but now with the burden of having to fix it the following day. Can we get it fixed and will it be a fast fix? Where on earth could we go to get it fixed and would I be stranded whilst it’s getting done. It just goes to show, that we’ll always be on our toes (so to speak) when it comes to this trip. 

Sometimes Rob wakes in a bad mood because he’s not managed to sleep well and of course worries about his ability to master the day’s challenge. Or he meets me in an anxious mood because he’s just too hot, thirsty or tired. Recently he has had to battle on with giant, ruptured blisters. I can’t walk in my fancy Irregular choice shoes for more than 5 minutes, let alone the 40 miles he’s pushing through! 

Sometimes I wake in a bad mood and just want a day off from getting up early, every day and driving or the Sat Nav sends me on some extra little jolly down some narrow dirt road surrounded by trailers, with curtains twitching along with my nerves. Sometimes (really not often) we’re greeted by not very happy or helpful people,feeling a little let down and frustrated.

When it’s not running smoothly it just isn’t a game I’m keen on playing. Then you realise that amongst all those occasions, you have the wins too. It’s so early into the trip and yet we’ve done exceptionally well. 

I’ve overcome my fear of driving Jenny on the “right” side of the road. I’ve driven from Texas to Louisiana and heading back West again.I’ve already met some lovely, helpful people. 

Rob’s ‘run’ from Mobile, Alabama to Stark, a little town just shy of the Texas border and still mostly maintains his very usual self both in demeanour and fitness. He’s run on non existant hard shoulders facing on coming traffic; In crippling heat and sometimes, in pitch black.  He’s engaged with people and helped me meet all these lovely, helpful people.

Nearly everyone we meet and talk to about the run are always amazed and offer great support. I often have to pull up on the side of the road and a few occasions, this has led to the local Sheriff’s checking on us (why do we get nervous when we’ve done nothing wrong?). They have all been overwhelmingly approachable and seem impressed by what Rob is planning, if not a little baffled (maybe it’s the accent)

Sometimes it all does get just a bit too much but to shamelessly use one of my favourite quotes, ‘what a wonderful thought it is, that some of the best days of our lives, haven’t happened yet’. Life in itself keeps us on our toes but equally can treat us to some magnificent moments; Once that generator went off, I could hear nature’s nightlife, with its darkness, song and romancing. 

P.s, Making a phone call the following morning resulted in an easy fix, with the help from an RV tech’ at Coach-net. What a wonderfully good decision to get their roadside cover. We also found Raccoon footprints on our doorstep; Really cute and funny to think they were checking us out whilst we slept.

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.

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.