With each year’s travelogue we like to conclude with a second-chance review through the hundreds of photos we took to see which photos were unfairly cut from the final roster, which ones didn’t fit into the narrative but possess their own merit, and/or which ones slipped through the cracks for no valid reason. The eight pics in this first set of outtakes share a common bond: all were taken on the way there and back again while our vehicle was in motion. No brakes, no setup, just snapping as quickly as we could. It’s all a part of the MCC No Attraction Left Behind initiative.
(As always, photos are clickable for enlargement and resolution and such.)
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
Sometimes a creative sight will surprise us from nowhere and nearly escape us, like that unexpected buffalo in the first photo. If you’re on a idyllic small-town street, maybe it’s no big deal and you pull over to the curb for a minute. If we’re in a hurry, which isn’t uncommon, we’ll do the best we can and decide later whether we get to rejoice or regret the results.
If you’re on an interstate with no exit in sight, pulling over isn’t as simple or tempting. I’ve eaten more than a few cans of Hormel chili in my time (preferably with a slew of mix-ins for flavor), but we hadn’t planned on a stopover in Beloit, WI. I’m sure they conduct a lovely meat-grinding tour, but it’ll have to wait for another time.
My wife is more than happy to take charge of en-route photography so I can concentrate on safe, legally defensible driving instead. Regardless, I keep my camera at my side in case I see something that strikes my fancy for dumb reasons and don’t feel like explaining myself. Either way she’ll raise an eyebrow, so such whims tend to be lose/lose for me.
(Heh. “Lamers”. Hee-hee!)
I maintain that 5 MPH doesn’t really count as “driving”, as I could probably push a shopping cart that fast if given a long enough grocery aisle. Regardless, when the road in question is Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway, even when thunderstorms and road construction have double-teamed us into a state of dreamlike inching, photos like this are a major no-no for me. Don’t photograph and drive, kids.
I promise I know my limits, and that those limits will worsen with age. When a memorable stretch of road yearns to be remembered, I’m getting better about shouting orders at her, drowning out whatever’s playing on local radio, and insisting she catch whatever’s in front of us NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. Several seconds of I-90 West under Minneapolis went like that. Hopefully I was only interrupting a commercial for a used-car lot.
My wife has her own preferences. She likes collecting each welcome sign as we cross state borders. Sometimes she nails them. Sometimes she misses because of dense traffic or obstacles, or because I don’t slow down in time, or because we’re driving through a state that apparently thinks visitors don’t deserve a welcome. (We’re looking in YOUR general direction, Oklahoma 2005.) I already shared the “Welcome to North Dakota” sign at the end of Part 20, but here’s the sign that welcomed us back to Minnesota on Day 2. Notice their creative avoidance of the standard-issue rectangle shape. Minnesota’s cool like that.
Day 7 ended our road trip with one last 500-mile leg from Eau Claire, WI, to home in Indianapolis, IN. Most of that was spent burning through Illinois, one of forty-nine states that lay claim to some aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s biography. He was born in Kentucky, but his family moved a lot and unwittingly created a separate Abraham Lincoln nationwide tourism industry unto itself.
We always breathe a sigh of relief whenever we see an Indiana welcome sign. It means home is not far now, and we’re mere eye-blinks away from a tearful reunion with our favorite furniture and dog. And yes, Indiana is all me-too about those precious Lincoln bucks, but we had him for a while before Illinois did. If anyone but Kentucky asks, they’re stealing our bit.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]