While I was going to the College in Charleston, South Carolina I would drive back west in the summers to work in Colorado and / or visit my parents in Arizona. Now for most people it is one heck of a drive, but I like driving. So each summer I would take a different route out west so I could see new things and experience more of what America is all about. I use to do this trip in my old 1967 VW split window microbus. It was a labor of love, but a great way to travel. And if you haven’t guessed it by now, I was a ‘bit” of a hippy back then. Went were the wind blew me and just took life one day at a time. Ah, the good ole days…
My point here is that one summer I was driving back west and I decided to take the I-10 all the way across to Arizona and then go up to Colorado. Along the way somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Texas, and there is A LOT of nowhere in Texas mind you, I came across something very strange.
No imagine driving for over 20 hours and you are not quite sure if it is the same day or whether the nighttime was a dream of some kind. Also put yourself in an old, loud, no power anything kind of vehicle that only barely does the speed limit on the highway and you are almost with me. So there you are in the strange reality in this strange vehicle in this strange barren land and then all of a sudden you see this HUGE “cross” and what looks like people frozen on the side of the highway in some field. That is a serious run on sentence, but go with me here!
I kind of looked forward and thought a second to myself, “did you just see that?” Then I turned to my left to check it out again. And there it was! A 4 story cross in the middle of a field with life size statues all over the place. Seriously! All this in an empty field. Not a house or barn or anything as far as I could see. And you can see a long way in Texas, as there is not much there except flat land with some grass now and then. Now for those of you who don’t know about “The South” it is called the Bible Belt. But I had NEVER seen anything quite like this in all my travels across America! Just in the middle of nowhere were all these religious artifacts… “Trippy”, would have been a very appropriate word to use at the time!”
Now I was on the wrong side of the road when I saw this and there was no way to cross over to the other side, so I just slowed down and stared at this strange site for quite awhile as it grew smaller in the multitude of windows in the my bus.
I still had about 10 hours or so to go to get to Arizona, so I had some time to think about this very peculiar monument. And I told myself then and there I would one day stop on the way back east and check this thing out in person.
This first sighting must have happened in 1992 or 1993. In 1994 I graduated College and moved to LA to begin what I hoped would be a great time in my life. And it turned out to be amazing. Along the way I worked my way into the movie industry, Events and the stills photography industry as well.
Then I got the opportunity to do something for myself. To produce and direct my own TV show. In May 2001 I sold everything I had and was on my way to Cape Town, South Africa to begin production on my show. I was going to visit my parents on the way and then visit my other family on the east coast before I left, so I decided to drive my truck back and leave it with my dad back east. Now on the way I realized while driving thru Texas that I had the chance to keep an eye out for that “strange thing” off the highway i saw so many years ago. I didn’t know if it would still be there as this was like 8 years later, but I knew if it were there I would not miss it.
After driving for like 15 hours or so, I was listening to music and I must have been like 2 in the morning or something when I saw this massive cross lit up in the sky! I instantly got an adrenaline rush and was wide-awake again. I slowed down, as I was not sure if there was a pull off to get to the area or what to do. As I slowly drove by it, I could see there was an access road that ran paralell to the highway and that was my ticket in. I drove about another mile or two and took the next exit ramp and went to the right and took the first road I saw. I drove quite a ways, but you could see the cross off in the distance so I know I was on the right track.
I slowed down and slowly pulled into a dirt parking lot of some kind. I couldn’t see much as it was pitch black, so I decided to wait till sunrise and then I would get out and check it all out. I set my alarm and laid the seat back and took a bit of a nap. Next thing you know, my alarm was going off and I was digging for my camera.
I am going to digress for a second… Right before I left LA, I want to buy myself a camera. A little 35 mm something, so I could record moments just like this. So I went out and got myself a Leica Summarit minilux 35mm. The sweetest little thing I have ever bought myself up to that point in my life… Beside my first Mac book, of course!
So I get out some of that old free film I always had on standby and I hop out and go for a walk. Now I haven’t been able to see anything up to this point because there were no lights around the area. So to my surprise when I woke up there were life size statues of people all around me. Freaked me out a little to be honest… Anyway, got out and walked around.
Everything is life size, if not a bit bigger. The cross that was lit at night is like 4 stories tall! I mean HUGE! There turns out to be a little hut that had a plaque with the story of what all this was about. Turns out there is a regions group call the 14 stations of Christ and this is their tribute to Christ. So as you walk around you see each “station” of Christ thru his persecution and death. What an amazing thing to experience at a 5 am sunrise in a field all by yourself!
So, I shot all kind of angles and moments while I was there. I spent like 2 hours roaming around the place trying to capture it all and the feelings it left me with. This was the first time I every stopped and just shoot something. It turned out amazing and I still enjoy looking at the images today.
The image at the top is one of my favorites…
Thanks for your time and all the best,