Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…
And in our last chapter:
On our 2011 vacation we saw maybe 5% of the total square footage of Central Park, if that. We saw a feature or two, but were so drained by the time we got there that the oppressive summer heat burned away the last of our energy reserves along with any drive for exploration. After we finished with St. Paul’s Chapel, we decided another, longer tour through Central Park was in order. All told, our Central Park walk took us from Grand Army Plaza at 59th and 5th to just behind the Met at 81st Street.
A few Central Park art fixtures were at the top of Anne’s must-see checklist. We encountered more than twice as many statues as we expected before we reached the two she was looking for at the end of our trail.
When you enter Central Park via the southeast corner at Grand Army Plaza, the most eye-catching fixture is Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ statue of famed Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. It was completed in 1903, twelve years after Sherman’s death, and had its gold-leaf exterior regilded from top to bottom in 2015.
Several blocks and calories later, we reached the first of Anne’s objectives: the Alice in Wonderland diorama, a 1959 gift to Central Park sculpted by José de Creeft and facilitated by philanthropist George Delacorte, best known as the founder of Dell Publishing, the company behind numerous puzzle magazines and millions of comic books sold from the ’40s to the ’60s. Lewis Carroll’s two-hit wonder was a treasure to his six kids, so a tribute for the kids of New York was an apropos salute.
Anne’s other objective was the great-great-great-granddaddy of stone monuments: Cleopatra’s Needle. This 69-foot obelisk dates back to 1450 B.C. Its strange, arguably extralegal journey took it from Heliopolis to Alexandria to NYC in 1881, with a 2013-2014 cleanup project performed to forestall erosion and extend its lifespan a tad more. It stands behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, though the path is a bit twisted and not so straightforward.
To be continued!
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[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]