When I first suggested driving to New Orleans for this year’s road trip, my wife was hesitant because most online tourism resources summed up the general ambiance as HERE THERE BE MANIACS. No matter where you stay, how brightly the sun shines, how large your group is, or how tall and muscular you are, message boards and review sites and travel books and Fodor’s agree sooner or later a tag team of America’s Most Wanted will come gunning for you.
Then we found out New Orleans is the home of the National WWII Museum. Not a WWII museum — the National WWII Museum, as duly designated by Congress in 2003. Anne knows stuff about WWII. Longtime MCC readers might recall the story of how we first met:
[Anne had] been a WWII buff for years, and read extensively about Germany in general and Hitler in particular. I still remember the time when the teacher (one Frau Schmitz by name) basically turned the class over to Anne and let her give us a speech about Hitler. Anne proceeded to do so…with no notes, and no real preparation beforehand. As I recall, her extemporaneous speech filled two solid class periods over two days — roughly 100 minutes total — with what she knew about Hitler before Frau Schmitz finally stepped in and resumed teaching.
She’s always up for learning more about WWII, above and beyond what she’s already accumulated over the course of decades. When she learned the National WWII Museum was in New Orleans…well. Murderers, schmurderers.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
This year’s trip began as a simple idea: visit ostensibly scenic New Orleans. Indianapolis to New Orleans is a fourteen-hour drive. Between our workplace demands and other assorted personal needs, we negotiated a narrow seven-day time frame to travel there and back again. We researched numerous possible routes, cities, and towns to visit along the way in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. We came up with a long, deep list of potential stops, but tried to leave room for improvisation…
The Museum opened in 2000 as a more narrowly focused D-Day Museum, founded by local professor, historian, and author Stephen Ambrose (Band of Brothers). It later rebranded to encompass a wider narrative of America’s involvement in World War II. As of today the museum comprises five separate buildings of varying shapes, sizes, and uses. The complex was so large that the admission center wasn’t visible from Magazine Street unless you looked down Andrew Higgins Street and noticed visitors streaming back and forth between the buildings. We didn’t and had completed a half-lap before we realized our error and turned around. The exercise was useful to us; the rising temperatures and cloudless sky, not so much.
Once we found the front door and paid our monies, we were off and running. If Anne had gotten her way, we would’ve spent the entire week living at the Museum, scrutinizing every exhibit in depth, reading all the books in the gift shops, sleeping in assorted bivouacs and military vehicles, and questioning all the docents and volunteers until she’d assimilated every last shred of WWII trivia they had. For the sake of our marriage and in fairness to other tourist attractions, we spent merely several hours’ worth of Day 3 there. The next few entries will feature selections from our collective photos of the occasion.
Part One, then: random WWII artifacts, memorabilia, papers, and other non-lethal objects from the era.
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!]