Monday, May 4, 2009

Why We Drive... Or What You Miss at 35,000 Feet

We drive on nearly all of our family vacations/trips. Our kids, from birth, are used to long trips. My parents live about 1,000 miles from us, and we visit them once or twice a year. When we had just BigBro, we used to fly about half the time. But these days, between the costs of airfare for a family of 5, the hassle and indignities of airport security, and the stress of being on someone else's schedule... well, thank you very much, we'd just as soon drive.

This trip to Albuquerque was about 1,100 miles for us. We broke in into two days each way, and added some stops for fun. On the way there, we stopped in Oklahoma City to see the Bombing Memorial.

The next day, as we were driving through the panhandle of Texas, about 40 miles east of Amarillo, we saw signs for the "Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere." We had to stop. I was expecting some hokey, South-of-the-Border-(via I-95 in NC/SC)-style place, and I was not about to miss it. The hand-painted billboard promised "a spiritual experience you will never forget." Boy, were they right.

The cross was huge, and if that were it alone, the stop would not have been worth it.

When we tumbled out of the car, the kids ran over to the bronze sculpture of the Last Supper. They especially loved the details... Judas with his hand in a bowl of coins, the expressions on the disciples faces, the fact that it was life-sized and they could run up to touch/feel/experience it.

The Cross was surrounded in a circle by life-sized bronze sculptures depicting each of the 14 stations of the cross.

The 15th station had a marker and an arrow... and had us heading around the corner to a tomb with the stone rolled aside, an empty slab, and an angel praying.

Next to the tomb was a small building with a replica of the shroud of Turin.

In the main building, where there was a large gift shop and clean restrooms (a must for travelers!), resided a beautiful Divine Mercy Fountain.

On our way back to the parking lot, we passed sculptures of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and an emotional Jesus statue caressing a fetus. Princess was especially taken with this sculpture, but that is another post altogether.

We had arrived expecting kitch, and instead found prayer, reverence, and peace. We spent an hour there, and it became a touchstone for the kids on the way back home a week later.

If you'd like more information on this site, their website is here.

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