Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Blogging...and movies

This week I finally got to watch Julie & Julia--the story of a frustrated writer turned government employee who finds her true self through cooking.  Hrmmm...not really the proper tag line for the movie, but there it is.

Of course, totally enjoyed the movie, but perhaps moreso because of the struggles that both Julie and Julia encountered in their path to "authorhood".  Publishers who don't think the book is quite right,  redo, rewite, recreate...and then the choice of finding employment that pays the bills while you chase your creative dreams through sheer determination.

I can relate to the latter quite well.  Blogging has brought me a certain amount of reward in my relatively short career as a writer.  It has brought me recognition in the NASCAR world...something I'm not really sure I appreciate on a daily basis.  Perhaps that's where the paycheck comes in...such greedy creatures, aren't we? 

Writing is still something I want to do and be, and yet haven't quite made the leap to full-time commitment.  My career of choice at the moment permits some latitude in pursuing authorship as something as a hobby, and yet that's not quite the reward I am seeking for my inner self.

As I age, and look around at artists' biographies in other places and times, it occurs to me that we all struggle to find that place where we are free to search for that true creative spirit that dwells within.

If only there was time, money and the daily inspiration...perhaps there is and I just haven't managed to put them all together, yet.  Eh...

Tonight, I'm gonna bake a pie.  What has this to do with anything?  Ah--it's the moment of decision where you will take the ingredients, time and effort to create something out of something else.  And Julie said...knowing that when you add apples, cinnamon, butter and bake it you get something yummy--that is reassuring.  And helps in this world of uncertainty with never enough time to finish all you want to do.

I think today would be a good day to walk around my house and take stock of my achievements:  The books in print, the award for my Wallflower victory, the blankets and tableclothes I crocheted, two happy cats, photos of places experienced and a loyal husband.

That's a whole lot of good.  And proof that we do accomplish something in our daily lives.  Sometimes it just takes forever to get there...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Some Images from Indy

Qualifying at Indy

Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 42 Target Toyota took the pole this morning. Really a beautiful facility. Enjoyed the vantage point from our seats for Sunday's Race.
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Trucks at ORP

Another track checked off the list...the truck race last night at O'Reilly Race Park was really good for a number of things. Ron Hornaday won, fending off an eager Kyle Busch and took Timothy Peters to school on "the slide job." Just plain great.

A bit about the facility:

They charge for parking--I don't really get this. They're obviously jacking the prices for the NASCAR week anyway...$47 for just the trucks and $52 for the Nationwide. This is for a spot on a backless bench, which is much too narrow to share with the rest of humanity. So the extra $10-$15 for a parking spot seems just gratuitous.

With all the extra income from Speedfest...I would ask ORP to fix their score board. They use "7" for the digit "1" and "9" for the digit "4"...which is all very confusing when you're checking what lap you're on. Things just don't seem to be counting up or down. I won't hold the four position board, that's what most regional tracks manage to maintain.

Restrooms...well maintained and plenty. Thank you!

No tunnel...but as I said before. As a local track, that's fine.

The dragstrip is a thing of beauty! Makes me wanna try out some NHRA action. You can see this is where ORP gets the $$$, as they've even got some suites for the strip.

Getting there from simple. Especially where we ignored the DOT signs and just followed Crawfordsville Road. Literally only 15 minutes. Leaving was just as sweet, once somebody wth more sense than us opened the gates for the strip, allowing us to leave the way we arrived. Otherwise it was everybody going nowhere as nobody knew which way to go--humans are creatures of habit. Don't give us a rat maze all of a sudden. We knew how this worked when the sun was up.

The racing: Awesome. Two real racing grooves with just enough room to squeeze a third when you had to. Tires gave up after 60 laps, putting a lot of wheel back in the driver's hands. And seats are down close to the action and can still see all the turns. That's the hallmarks of a great little facility.

And a note about the Trucks: Look, when the Top 10 trucks are running a totally separate race from the rest of the field, you don't really have parity. You have 26 trucks in the way of the frontrunners. NASCAR even lowered the threshold for minimum speed, the difference between first and last speed was so disparate. In this case, there is no possibility for the wanna-be's to win. All they can hope for is to stay out of the way of Hornaday & Busch's front bumper.

To me, this is a clear indication that the Truck Series is in far more trouble than the lack of sponsors tells us. Not this year...probably not next. But unless things turn around in the higher series, the Camping World Truck Series will not be long for this world.

Later! (More heat today...ughness)

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Morning Walking at Indy

With the forecast for 100+ again, we agreed to walk over to the track around 10am for a couple hours before the heat really took over. I'm glad was did--although, the walk to the track is possibly the shortest we've ever enjoyed. I'll give it about 1/3 of a mile from the camper.

Having never been to Indy, I was curious just where all the t-shirt haulers and such were located, since they aren't outside the gates and there's about 20 feet from the gate to the stairs to head up to your seats. There's a tunnel! For the pedestrians! That goes to the infield...and where there's all sorts of good things to do.

Oh, we walked up to Victory Lane for some pics, enjoyed the sight of some Camaro's taking some laps around the track, studied the stands and then walked down to the garages where there are areas provided for the fans to watch all the inspections and such--with no Cold Pass required. First time I've run into this at any track I've visited--even the local tracks.

And yes, lots and lots of shopping available. I now have the requisite AJ Allmendinger t-shirt I promised Dinger I would have for the next race I was at. Also, picked up a signed Brad Keselowski 1/24th No. 12--really had to debate 12 vs. 22. Especially after last week's drama. Richard said I could have the car as long as he could set up a scene with Edward's car wrecking him...I then had to point out he would have to buy the Edward's car...

Anyway, this is a beautiful facility that has really engineered its vast infield for the benefit of the fans. Since the streets outside the track could use some beautifying, I have to applaud the management for making an actually boring grandstand and track surface have something more to offer...

Oh! Listen to that! We're on the track. I'll probably cheat and watch from the comfort of the camper for practice...but I really love sitting outside and hearing that noise go by.

Til Later! When I have some updates from ORP! I love trucks...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Melting!

We made it! We're parked just outside the frontstretch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The famous pagoda is visible from our campsite. The top is illuminated with blue lights, and should somebody be running on the track, there is a massive leader board wrapping around the roof.

We are in a city. This is a unique experience for racing. At the corner of Turn One, there is a gas station, a liquor store and the kind of three-way intersection that makes most urban residents of our nation cringe. The campground is surrounded by pleasant one-level homes built in the 50's. Most of them have RV's renting space on the front lawn. The American Legion Speedway Post is within a stone's throw, and promises a $7 breakfast buffet on Sat. & Sun morning. Also, of note, they claim to have a biker club...only in America.

The weather....100 degree heat index with very high humidity. We shopped for food (A/C), went to the museum (A/C) and took a brief tour of the track (more A/C) then figured out how to fool the RV into allowing the Honda generator to run the A/C without blowing a circuit for a short time. They say more of the same to come for the will be a battle between watching racing maintaining our sanity.

What is unique about Indy vs. the other racing venues we've visited is the history. This is where automotive history has been made over and over. It's not all about NASCAR. In fact, their museum deigned to make enough room for two whole stock cars in the collection...that says something. We looked at Daemler carriages from the late 1800's--metal, wood, leather and all moving parts visible. Speedometers run off gears from the front wheel. Suspension parts made out of woven straps. Basic rudder systems for steering. Dashboards? What are those?

It's proof that we've been going as fast as possible since the beginning of time, and we've spent the last century figuring out how to do it with an engine and four wheels. Sometimes with understated elegance, and at other times stripped to the bare essentials. There was one car from the 20's that was pock-marked with an effort to strip weight off the behemoth to meet a race entry requirement--unsuccessfully.

Otherwise...the track is much the same as any other. Grandstands stand empty waiting for the pomp and ceremony of Sunday to arrive. That's when the magic happens.

Until then... :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Memories and Mayhem

The Midwest...or at least approaching it. According to the endless cornfields, I'm gonna call Indiana at least something akin to my early memories as a child in Nebraska. Although, there are changes...

Farms no longer sport a windmill next to the barn. The few that appear here and there are decrepit reminders of a time when electric pumps weren't the cheapest and most reliable form of obtaining water. Instead, cell towers dot the landscpapes. Clapboard farmhouse of indeterminate years, garage with a few random four-wheeled creatures in front of it, a larger shed for the big equipment and then either a billboard or a cell tower. The cows are the same. You don't see the corn cob hills that figured so large in my "Don't play on that" childhood or the few chickens scratching in the yard, either. Farming is bigger, and the fields less...cared for.
Other triggers that brought me back...the smell of a summer thunderstorm. We passed through one near the end of the trip today. It's...intense. Back in the East, we do talk about the smell of rain, but this is different. It hits you hard. Something significant just happened. And it makes you smile. The sound...of the grasshoppers. This is not such a pleasant memory, but's there. If you've never heard about the "year of the grasshoppers" story, I'll have to tell you sometime. Expect me to wiggle and frown. It was not nice. And finally, the lilt of the accent. I didn't find that until we checked in at the campground. Not so pronounced in the swing of the vowels as the south, but it's still much softer than the east with a healthy complement of r's in all the correct places :P Wonder what I sound like to them these days...
And finally, my two cents about the current NASCAR controversy:
Last Saturday, Carl Edwards spun Brad Keselowski in the final stretch of the Nationwide race. It resulted in a scary wreck you've probably seen twenty times on the news by now. Well, NASCAR decided enough was enough in the "have at it boys" world and docked Edward's No. 60 team 60 driver and owner's points, fined Counsin Carl $25,000 and placed him on probation until the end of the season.
I don't know if I like this. I NASCAR permitting the fans to dictate their actions? The world had Carl painted as an assassin after the race. He was racing hard. He spun Keselowski. We've seen these kind of finishes before...remember Earnhardt Sr. & T. Labonte back when? It was hard racing then...what's different now? The intent between competitors isn't any different. Is it us? hrmmm... You could tell me the sanctioning body has changed, that's truth. But not what makes this sport go round, so to speak.
If (yes, we're playing the "if" game) nobody else had hit Keselowski's No. 22 at Gateway, I am fairly certain that NASCAR would've looked the other way. It wouldn't have made international headlines. Fans would've still hated Edwards and still said Keselowski got what he had coming...but it changed when that No. 22 was nailed again and went spinning across the finish line. It blew the intention and the actions of the competitors out of perspective.
What do I hope for in the near future? Now I want to see another pair of competitors (let's say Harvick and Logano) go at it for the second time this season. I want to see the same actions by those specific competitors without the entire field piling into the wreck after and then I want to see what the NASCAR Gods decide to'll be a joke. Guaranteed. Because they just took the "have at it boys" logo off the big screen and now nobody knows what to do.
Catch ya'll later from outside the frontstretch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On the Road Again

Hi guys! Yes, we're on the way to Indianapolis Motor Speedway--the mecca of auto racing in America. I'm sort of bouncing from foot to foot even as I write this...Indy is one track I've always wanted to see since I sat in the living room as a kid and watched the little "pointy" cars attack it. But anyway, there will be a whole week to discuss the wonders of a track that made a town just for itself...

Rolling across America in an RV is a unique and fun way to travel. Instead of waiting in lines, taking off my shoes and undergoing creepy x-ray machines, my day has been spent watching the great forest of the Northeast roll past my window. There's the counting of the other RV's we see on the road (BING) and slight complaints about road construction, but it's really a less stressful manner of travel once you're accustomed to it.

Rookie RV'ers are fun to watch, and I say this with full knowledge that we once looked ragged and worn after having the trailer drive our truck down the highway without proper just about everything. But once you've passed the novice status, you stop worrying about the location of gas stations that provide diesel and revel in the funny looks you get when you pull your rig up next to a "real" truck at the service center. Somehow, my phone's camera managed to make our Silverado look pretty stout next to that Freightliner, but in reality the 2500/35ft RV combo looks a bit silly wallowing next to the grunts of the transporation world.

You can't help notice the big rigs as you head west over I84/I80--they nearly outnumber the cars. You do get to realize the vast number of trucking companies out there and what they haul.

Somewhere in Connecticut they're building a bridge...the I-beams kept appearing over the horizon at regular intervals. Prefabbed sheds were another favorite of the day. The BING meter went nuts as a trailer had six pop-ups piled on it. Fed-Ex, UPS, Conway, goes on for some time. Pre-fabbed pools, cranes, boats, tractors, etc. etc. We did notice a lack of livestock trailers--we can never forget our drive through Georgia years ago as we seemed to encounter the entire population of the Perdue plant in an endless parade of feathers trapped in trailers.

All this under alternating overcast and blue skies framed by the green climbing hills. We're settled in at the first campground--several other rigs have NASCAR stickers on them. We've got the A/C going, the bed is made with our own sheets, supper was an impromptu tuna salad sandwich deal and I'm rocking in my comfy chair. Outside the picture window, rabbits and robins are decorating the edge of the woods. This ain't bad...

I'll take the calm before the storm, for on Thursday we'll be planted in the vast maze of race fans at the track amidst the dull roar of all those generators...Ain't that cool?

Catch ya'll later !