Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life in the Fast Lane! A Visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway

Life in the Fast Lane!
A Visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway

Pleasant temperatures and overcast skies set the stage for the JOY Group's monthly excursion for September. We took a tour of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which I highly recommend. It is a bargain at only $5.00, with organizer and bus driver getting in free!
AMS Entrance
Our tour guide, David, gave us a very informative "behind the scenes" tour that included visits to Pit Row, the Finish Line, Victory Lane, the garages, and one of the deluxe suites that overlooks the finish line, and two (fast) laps around the track. Actually, we drove around more, because David let us take pictures several places. 

David, who also served as our driver, assured us that he never drives over 65 m.p.h. on the track, and we certainly don't want him to get into trouble for breaking any rules! I'm sure it was probably just the angle from which we passengers were viewing the gauge, but I thought I saw 85 on the speedometer, before I started watching the wall rushing toward me from the front passenger seat. Jim, First Baptist Peachtree City's Discipleship Pastor, thought he saw 95! 

Whatever the speed, it was plenty fast, and more than exciting enough for me! The banking feels pretty drastic when you're going slowly, but as you pick up speed, it's less obvious. Riding around the track was fun, and David kept us entertained! He told stories, and patiently answered all our questions.  

Going around the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway at almost a hundred miles per hour wasn't on my "Bucket List," but maybe it should have been! As we started picking up speed, my adrenaline kicked in, and the trip started to seem a little risky, even though I felt fairly safe. 
My finger was in the way as I turned around to take the photo. Note passengers leaning!
Picking up speed, and headed up the slope on the curve! 
I don't have any desire to take that same trip at speeds of well over 170 m.p.h., like the NASCAR drivers, which puts them around the track in less than a minute! If I ever change my mind, though, there are options to pay for the experience of taking a ride with a race car driver, or of taking driving lessons with the Richard Petty Driving Experience

We found out there is going to be a Christmas Light Display at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It is 1.7 miles of lights, and the charge is only $15.00 per vehicle. I think that's going to be our JOY outing for December! Stay tuned! 

Mural and Photo Display in Elevator Lobby.
There were clouds painted on the ceiling, and a #3 in the clouds....

Finish Line! 

Under the stands, which seat over 120,000!

View from Suites
Link to more Photos from the JOY Trip.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things—(and People)--We Overlook

Please consider voting for me to have my blog photo on a Times Square Billboard. Click on this link, then click on the "Share" or "Vote" button in the upper right of the page, then click on the "Vote" button. Thank you! 

Things—(and People)--We Overlook

(Warning: this blog entry starts out lightly but ends on a somber note.) 

I had an “aha moment” last week as I was leaving my hair appointment.
Approaching my car, I observed a lovely budding/flowering tree that was shading my parking space.  As I was unlocking my car door, I wondered what kind of tree it was. Suddenly, a gust of wind brought me face to face with a cluster of leaves/buds that were hiding a bug! I realized if I had not been forced to look closely at the leaves, as the branch hit me in the head, I would have missed the bug! I took pictures to keep as a reminder.
I think this is a stink bug. Am I right?
The cluster that "slapped me in the face!" See the bug?
Any idea what kind of tree this is? I've gotten conflicting opinions!
I was literally “smacked in the face” by the realization that there must be an amazing number of things I miss, simply because I don’t always pay attention to details. It’s certainly easy to miss little things if you’re distracted. My "bug moment" was a reminder to stay focused, stay observant, and stay “in the moment.” 

That lesson was brought home to me again as my friend, Sally Belveal, and I were in Rabun County, hoping Sally would be able to see some bears. We patiently sat by the windows. We even flipped the floodlights on several times, to see if we could catch a glimpse of any bears. No bears the first night. We did see a fox, prowling around a tree! It was the first time I’ve seen a fox in the mountains. If we had not been intentionally looking, by occasionally turning on the lights, we would never have known it was there.

See the fox standing up on the left side of the tree. 
We arose the next morning before 6 a.m. to continue our bear vigil. We kept watch continuously for several hours. No bears. We watched on and off during the day, knowing if we didn’t keep watch, we would miss them. I saw a mama deer with her spotted fawn, but no bruins.

At 5 p.m., we began another dedicated vigil, not moving from the windows for 2 hours. I finally got up and fixed eggplant Parmesan with eggplants from O’Sage, and tomatoes and peppers from our friend, Bobby Suggs, while Sally continued our vigil. We had just helped our plates, and seated ourselves back by the windows to eat, when I caught a glimpse of something in my peripheral vision moving almost behind me.

I turned, and loudly whispered to Sally, “BEAR!” It took her a moment to realize what I meant and look in the right direction. As we watched, a mama bear with two cubs proceeded to explore the area and forage for food. We were able to watch them for twenty minutes! Yet again, if I had not looked down from the second story window, during the twenty minutes the bears were there, we would have missed them!

The next morning, we did another early two hour vigil with no bear sightings.  Afterward, we proceeded to clean and pack up for our return home. Periodically, as we passed through the living area, Sally and I would glance hopefully out the windows. At about a quarter till 8 a.m., I looked out and saw the bears! We were able to observe them for two minutes, until a noise startled the babies and they quickly ran up two trees! As you can see below, they climbed really HIGH, in less than three seconds. When they came down, they quickly disappeared into the National Forest. What a blessing to observe God's creatures in the wild--and we could so easily have missed that two minute opportunity! 

To share a heavier twist on my musings about overlooking "things," I thought of the people whom I've also been guilty of overlooking (the homeless, the mentally ill, prostitutes, etc.) I remembered how stunned I was when I first realized that the prostitutes who were eating supper at my table were "normal girls"--just like my daughter and nieces! I realized with conviction that if my own circumstances had been different, I could easily have been in the same situations as the girls whom I have befriended through Wellspring Living. (It is a myth that most prostitutes "choose" to stay in that lifestyle!) 

Recently, after hearing the statistic that '100 young girls are sold for sex each night in Atlanta,' a friend emphatically told me that she doesn't want to know any more details about child sex-trafficking in Atlanta. She said if she knows about it, she'll have to do something about it. 

I responded, "That's the idea." But, I didn't push it. I understand that it IS easier to ignore the things that make us uncomfortable. Child sex trafficking is ugly. Abused children, adult prostitutes, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the poor, and others in need are waiting--helplessly and hopelessly--for us to stop overlooking them. We need to help them. It's What Jesus Would Do....

(Contact Wellspring Living, on whose board I serve, for more information on Child Sex Trafficking. Or contact me: Jamie Wyatt