>It’s hard to believe that on Monday the 11th, Richard and I will have been married for 24 years. Considering I was 50 this year, I’ve been married just about half my life. Wowsa. Kind of mind-boggling when you put it in terms like that.
Usually for our anniversary we take a trip to Highlands, NC and stay at the Skyline Lodge, mine gemstones, eat too much, and generally enjoy the cooler weather for a few days. Unfortunately, the trip to West Virginia was pretty hard on Oscar, so we’ve made the decision not to travel further than my mom’s house in Rome with His Royal Lowness anymore. We knew this day would come, and we’ve been pretty lucky with him in his 15 years. It’s time to let him have some peace and quiet in his old age. Now, we’re not ruling out the occasional shopping trip in his stroller (or Royal Carriage, as DF Jill says), but for the most part, he’ll be home at night sleeping in his own king-sized bed, letting us have a little room to sleep as he sees fit.
So since we weren’t going to Highlands, Richard made alternate plans for us on our Anniversary Weekend. Today we went to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a pilgrimage. This is the third track we’ve been to; the others are Bristol and Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. While some may think it’s boring to visit the tracks when races aren’t going on, we think it’s interesting, because you can go in and really see the speedway and go places you’d never get to go if there were a race going on .As you might expect, the speedway’s a big place. Atlanta’s one of the 1.5 mile tracks, but it’s not really a “cookie cutter” because it’s one of the older tracks on the circuit (dating from 1960) and it has significant banking in the corners, making for some fast racing. As an interesting bit of trivia, in November 1992 it was the site of both Richard Petty’s last race and Jeff Gordon’s first one in the season ender.This statue of Richard Petty signing an autograph for a child is right outside the ticket office of the speedway to commemorate the event.
We took a tour of the speedway; it wasn’t a busy day, so Richard and I were the only ones on it, and it consisted of getting in a van and driving around the inside of the speedway and the grounds, with the driver giving some history as we drove. A lot of it I already knew, but there were some interesting tidbits, like the fact that there are some condos around the track for sale, ranging in price from $300K to a cool million. No real estate crisis there.The condos overlook the track and are evidently quite posh. Unfortunately we don’t have a down payment right now.
The tour normally includes a ride in the van on the track, but we couldn’t do that since there was a driving school going on. But… it ended up working in our favor, because after the tour, we drove over to the infield tunnel……signed a release, and were able to drive the Hummer right into the infield of the track where the driving school was taking place — which was right on pit road and right next to the Cup garages and Victory Lane!Here I am inside the Cup garage!!! (In the back, you can see a restroom that no doubt many a driver has used over the years. I restrained myself from going into it. Really.) What always amazes me about the conditions around the race teams and the garage like this is how clean it is. No oil stains; no dirt; I’m not saying you want to eat off the floor, but it’s certainly not like other car shops I’ve seen.
We were down on pit road, right where the Cup cars would be pitting during the race. Here I am on the pit road wall:I found it amazing to see that there are power outlets and water spigots on the other side of the wall. I haven’t visited pit road at the other tracks to compare, so I don’t know if other tracks have similar accommodations for the teams.
Also on pit road were the cars for the driving school. They weren’t Cup cars; they were more like modified Nationwide series cars:We were able to get up close and get a good look at the inside of them as well:Maybe one day I’ll save up my pennies and at least go for a ride-along in one of these cars. Since I don’t know how to drive a stick, it would be kind of hard for me to actually drive one of them (even though that would be waaaaaay kewl). Maybe I’ll just get a firesuit and a helmet. 🙂
From there we drove around to see the Legends cars (which are smaller cars that kidlets drive to learn to race). The track hosts races for these cars every Thursday night:If you look carefully, there’s one for sale there in the back of the picture, so you can have your very own Legends car you can park outside your condo at the track if you’ve got the money…
After a stop at the gift shop (more Dale Jr. swag!), we headed north and shopped at Ikea for a bit. (Whoever said that “Ikea” translated to “Cheap Swedish Furniture” evidently never shopped there with me. Dang, I can drop some money at that place.)
So… that’s the beginning of our weekend. The rest will be pretty tame. Some errands and a run to Micro Center tomorrow (and maybe the Apple Store), dinner at The Melting Pot tomorrow night, and church on Sunday.
It’s been a very short and a very fantastic 24 years. I’m married to my best friend in the world, and I’m the most blessed person ever. I love my husband more now than I did the day I married him, and I realize how very special that is. If you haven’t found that yet, I pray that one day you will.