Much has been said of Chris Kyle and his beliefs. My only wish would be for him to be able to speak from beyond the grave and tell us what his beliefs are now. Oftentimes, what binds us together in this world separates us in the next. Time to move on.
Finding purpose in a monetized world is a horrific journey and in frustration we make horrific choices. But God gives no quarter in this regard and harbors no prayer. You pay for your choices 100 cents on the dollar. Sometimes you lose a limb, sometimes you lose your most prized friend, sometimes you lose a life. There's no getting them back - ever. Whatever the pain is, you have to live with it - even if you can't live with it.
Like every county seat in Texas there is an old-fashioned court house (as seen in the back).
Routh's trial is in new building in the foreground.
Can we really shoot our way to a better world? Is the actual reality that we see the enemy within in the sniper's cross-hairs? Just who is it we can trust without question? What happens when we find instead of burning down the home of our enemy we burned down our own - with no place to where we can return? That's the danger in choosing the path of violence. I'm not smart enough to know who to kill (and not dumb enough to believe anyone who says they are).
None of these questions will be asked at the trial of Chris Kyle's killer. The court is only concerned with whether shooter Routh knew right from wrong at the time he pulled the trigger. No one will ask him if he knew right from wrong when joining the Marines, or when agreeing to fight in a war against a nation that had not attacked us. No one will ask if our leaders at that time knew right from wrong when making false statements that led us to war. The trial will be held in a vacuum to spare the rest of the guilty parties.
Stephenville is like many Texas towns in that it has kept its character from over the years. I grew up in a town about the same size of 18,000 but Stephenville is way off the beaten path. The streets are cordoned off during the trial and as I wandered too close near the back an officer shooed me away even though the trial was in recess for the weekend. I thought they were handling the situation well considering they had never expected a show trial of this sort ever to take place.
About 20 minutes south of there is Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, the literal scene of the crime.
No matter what your individual style, Rough Creek Lodge and Resort is a “have-it-all” place for our “want-it-all” guests. Rough Creek Lodge, Resort and Dallas Conference Center is nestled on 11,000 acres in the foothills of the picturesque Texas Hill Country. Located 90 minutes southwest of Dallas Fort Worth, Texas, our exquisite grounds boast 51 stylish guest rooms and suites, 4 exclusive cabins, and 4 luxurious guest houses. Our Dallas lodging is finely decorated with sophisticated fabric, furniture and artwork to create a feel of rustic elegance for our guests.
The drive out there was soothing if not spectacular. The open vistas were pleasant and made a little more sense to me on why you would take a PTSD sufferer to a violent gun range. It certainly seems idyllic when you spot the lodge in the distance as it's the place to be for well-heeled rednecks. This I found out when I stopped to take pictures only to be barraged with the sound of gunfire. You can hear it in the video below.
The shooting range where Kyle was killed is in a remote place from the lodge. Kyle himself help design this particular range. Rough Creek was his home base of sorts, a place where he felt comfortable. No doubt he expected that to rub off on Routh but it had the opposite effect, making him feel like a trespasser. "I heard Mr. Routh say, 'I shot them because they wouldn't talk to me,'" former Erath County sheriff’s deputy Gene Cole testified. In the end, the killing had come full circle for Chris Kyle. To borrow a line from Eastwood: "...and he never questioned any of it."
As I turned off the highway to the road leading to the lodge, knowing I was seeing what Kyle had seen on the last ride of his life, it did feel a bit eerie. The feeling continued with me when I left as I knew I was retracing the killer's steps as he fled in Kyle's truck. I imagined his poisoned and tormented mind traveling down the road in a world of its own. Routh continued on highway 67 to his sister's house in Midlothian. Then, after making a creepy confession of taking two souls, went to the Taco Bell in nearby Red Oak. One works up an appetite after a double homicide.
How surreal of a moment, ordering fast food while your sister calls 911 in a panic. Routh's pained brain and throbbing pulse holding on to the last vestiges of sanity having committed himself to the road to ruin. Regardless of the court findings, I doubt he'll be a free man ever again. One thing I know for sure, had we not allowed ourselves to be lied into a false war, two men would still be alive and a third not driven to murderous insanity. Give war a chance, huh?
Click here to see the entire photo set
"There's a killer on the road"