Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God, Guns, And Formula 1

Track Signs
Formula 1 track under construction

I'm still rather giddy with the prospect of Formula 1 returning to America, much less here in my own backyard. A tentative date has been set of June 17, 2012 for the inaugural race at the Circuit Of Americas just east of Austin. But if there's one fatal flaw almost all new tracks have it's traffic flow. Or rather, the lack of it.

At the inaugural race last week for NASCAR at the Kentucky track, horror stories were told of some stuck 8 hours in a traffic jam and completely missing the race. Takes a lot infrastructure to handle 120,000 people - and that's the exact same number expected for the United States Grand Prix. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

It's at least a three hour drive to Austin so by the time I'd usually get there the heat would be so oppressive I'd be roasted alive. But last weekend I couldn't sleep, woke up around 4 AM and figured out I could get down to Austin around 8-9 before the heat got to be too scorching. But I also wanted to find a back way in so I could avoid all the masses in my cheap sunglasses.

I took the interstate about 2/3rds of the way down but then I veered off into rural Texas - always an adventure! But if you're expecting some sort of stereotype of god, guns and flags, you'd be right on the money! Driving off the interstate is like going over the rainbow into another land, another mindset where fantasy and reality mix into one. However, I don't consider that to be all bad.

St John front
St. John Lutheran Church

This magnificent structure surrounded by swaying fields and gentle breezes is an absolute temple of nature. Put aside your feelings about religion one way or the other and just enjoy the peace and harmony. This was one of the first places saw on my backway down. I could have stayed there all day. Built in the early 30's it stands testament to beauty for beauty's sake.

St John tower
Just because there's no God in religion
doesn't mean there's no God

St John windows2
Stained glass reflections

St John playground
Playground on the edge of infinity's dream

What a fine start that was! I was feeling like Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Turn it up!" Rural folk like to kick up their heels just like anyone else and there was more than one bar I passed along the way, places that make you wonder what sort of stories could be told of alcohol and bullets. "Give me three steps, mister!" indeed. Wonder how they'd react to my BeeGees CD?

jerrys chain road
Can't tell from here but they had a flag stuffed in one window

jerrys chain dish
High tech hicks! Gotta get that NASCAR feed in there!

I passed through quite a few dying small towns stuck in a pre-WWII time warp of architecture and brick roads. Had I more time I could have made a study of all the historical buildings in all their glorious states of both use and decay. To me, with their attention to detail, built with a flair you never see now, they speak of high hopes and a grand optimism for the future. But like a high school hero, they peaked in their youth and we're all left wondering what could have been.

Granger Bank
I immediately thought of Bonnie and Clyde here

Granger City Hall Full2
City Hall/steak house. Gotta love it!

Granger Retail4
Still in use! Sort of

Empty Building
Who would build anything so regal nowadays?

In between the towns was field after field, mostly of dead looking golden stalks of which I could not discern. I did find a couple of fields where the plants had been rolled up and baled but I never came across anyone to identify them. But anytime I see a planted field I just want to go running through it touching each leaf, there's something timeless about it.

Field after field of this all the way down

Farm Drought
Welcome to the Texas drought

Bale Close
What poor animal will be fed this?

Of course, we loves us some guns here in Tejas. And though I can't say the days of a gun strapped to your leg won't return here we do allow concealed weapons as a compromise. One has to be certified first, of course. I doubt an IQ test is involved. Luckily, you won't have to drive to the big city to get your license, we got ya covered no matter where you go in Texas. As you'll see capitalism is alive and well!

No one was amused when I asked if I could get my water gun certified

Ferrari Crop
Getting ahead of the curve for the Formula 1 track!

jerrys sign
What? Another Jerry's bar? The guy's got a chain going!

Finally I made it down to the track. As I feared, it was difficult to get any good vantage points. Also, the area immediately around the track is very rustic - in a Deliverance sort of way. I'm not out there two minutes before some hick steps out on his porch giving me the evil eye. I dunno, maybe he's never seen a camera before. Maybe he thought I was a revenuer come to take his truck! All I knew was I wanted out of there.

Track 1
Not much you can really see yet.

Hick house
I snuck back to take a picture of his castle
and thus steal his toothless soul

Headed back on the interstate I breathed a sigh of relief to be back among the living. I reflected on the wild and wooly wonderland through which I had just passed. Part of me wanted to explore it further, to peer in every crack and crevice. Part of me thanked God Almighty my car did not break down. But what it really was was a pleasant reminder that even in what seems to be vast swaths of emptiness, there are stories hidden away, speaking of lives that make up part of the global song we all sing.

But of course, even on the interstate one is not too far from our rural roots:

obama close
A few miles south of Waco on I-35


My video came out pretty crappy so here's a time lapse video from the Circuit Of Americas website.

Click here to see all the pictures

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