March 9, 2013 – Lubbock, Texas to Groom, Texas
I finally left at Love’s Travel Stops for the Tiny Church still in Lubbock around at 1:00 am after uploading pictures into my portable hard drive in my car. All it took me 15 minutes to find the church. It was on my bucket list that I was able to check it off. It was located on the parking lot that you wouldn’t miss it, next to the rather large church. A diminutive chapel sits in the parking lot of the Highland Baptist Church but it might be a blessed storage shed. I researched its history about the church. I didn’t find much information about it. I am guesstimating it’s about 10 ft. wide by 12 ft. deep.
Highland Baptist Church, 4316 34th Street, Lubbock, Texas
While I was busy photographing the Tiny Church, the police siren lights flashed. I was startled. I was just being caught in the middle of the night at the empty parking area. I knew it was strange seeing someone alone doing something at this hour and I couldn’t blame the cop who decided to come and inspect me. I didn’t check his name tag but he was friendly enough to make sure things were all right. He already noticed the camera I was carrying with. He scribbled on a memo pad asking me if I was a photographer or just coming by and take a picture of the church. I replied yeah but I was from Austin. His face became a sad face. He then wrote down that he looked around to find a good photographer for him and his pregnant wife having a baby within a few months. Ah, that was sweet. We chatted a little bit. I told him I was going to leave. The cop said he would stay until I departed to make sure I was safe and sound.
The seat belt was stuck outside on the bottom side when I closed the door. I re-opened it, pulled the seat belt above my head, slammed the door. I screamed in pain. My fingers were still up on the top edge of the car. I opened the door immediately and got out. I was like the monkey couldn’t dance on the empty parking area! The cop jumped out of his car, trying to see how my hand was. I clutched my hand, my face churning in pain. The cop, I could see his trying not to stifle his laughter, tried to calm me down. He encouraged me to close my fist to see if there were cracks to be felt. Nothing. Good news. It was throbbing so bad, a little scratch between my third and the fourth finger, bleeding a little bit. I smiled, still in pain. My right hand waved at him, gesturing “telling him I’m going to be all right.” The cop watched patiently, asking me repeatedly if I was okay. I nodded a few times. I hopped back in my car, fully aware where my seat belt was, my eyes swelling up a little bit, but still smiled. Damn blonde moment. I drove slowly, out of the parking area, my left hand still throbbing. Back on the street into the interstate. The cop followed me from behind until he turned left, leaving me until he was out of my sight.
It took me awhile to get back on the interstate 27 onto Amarillo. Lubbock was rather big than I first thought. I went through two different interstates 62 then 82 before finally onto I-27. It was about 1:30 am. It was quiet, still raining all through to Groom that was my destination to take a few pictures of the Cross and the Leaning Tower. I saw a lot of lightning on the right side where I drove on I-27 then onto E I-40. It took me 2 1/2 hours to arrive to my destination. God my thumb was throbbing in pain. I hardly could move my third and fourth finger. It was already bruised and swollen. I could see the angry red spot starting on the bottom of my thumb nail.
On way on the northbound I-27 all night long, the large cross was at the sight near Nazareth on the right side. The lights were on, targeting the cross. I stopped, but it was still raining. I tried my best to take a picture or two then continued my drive. The pictures did not turn out good anyway. I googled it up and there was none. That might be not significant. I don’t know.
I arrived in Amarillo, turning right on E. I-40 to Groom. It took 30 to 40 minutes to get there. I stopped when I saw the Groom Cross. It was still raining. I didn’t get out to take a good look that close. I managed to stay in the car and took a few shots. Next time I come back, I hope the weather cooperates, I would take a walk to take a few cool pictures of the cross and the life sized statues around it. Sorry it was in the dark. I parked on the shoulder on I-40 around at 3:45 am. There is a 19-story cross located next to Interstate 40. This 190-foot tall free-standing cross can be seen from twenty miles away. Surrounding the base of the cross are life-sized statues of the Stations of the Cross. That I was fully unaware of the statues. I was disappointed when I learned later about it.
The story of the Groom Cross: It was built by Steve Thomas of Pampa, Texas in 1995. Mr. Thomas, disgusted with the huge billboards advertising XXX pornography locations along I-40 wanted to make a public profession of faith along the Interstate. Originally he wanted to put up his own billboard with Bible verses but could never find the appropriate verse. Instead, inspired by a cross built by a rancher in Ballinger, Texas, Mr. Thomas knew that he would build a cross. Built on private property donated by Chris Britten to avoid legal issues with the ACLU at a height of 190 feet, the Groom Cross is reported as being the biggest cross in the northern hemisphere. (from wikipedia.com)
I left Groom Cross. I arrived where the Leaning Tower was at. I parked at 4:30 am behind the locked gate, facing the leaning tower that I initially thought it was. I was falling asleep until 6:00 am. It was still dripping wet, no longer raining like dogs and cats. I snapped a few pictures of the leaning tower and left.
It’s a missed opportunity, again. The original tower was standing behind me and I didn’t look around in the back. Shoot! The weather was very windy and freezing with 36 degrees.
Check the link and you will understand why: www.stracy.org/xcountry/Pict1572.jpg Notice the leaning tower I took, the original tower was behind where I stood at.
The Britten family is a huge ranching and farming family in the area. There once was a truck stop and restaurant which is now gone, but they have recently opened up the auto and truck service station which stands just west of the leaning water tower. The tower was never a working tower at that location.
The Tower Lounge and Restaurant is now a memory of Route 66. It burned a few years back. Today all that is left to remind one of this Route 66 attraction is the unique Tower Restaurant sign. Today the town boasts of the famous and neck-turning “Leaning Tower of Texas. This is a water tank that leans precariously to one side. One leg of the Britten USA water reservoir is actually shorter than the others. ( (from wikipedia.com)
This location is at I-40 exit 114. North side of the freeway. There is a place to pull in and turn around off of the access road, but the gate is locked.
Sighing heavily, it will always be next time….
I continued my drive towards to the VW Slug Bug Ranch in Conway, Texas on the same interstate.