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…
We saw our first battleship on our 2008 road trip to Virginia Beach, which included a side stop in Norfolk to tour the USS Wisconsin. That story hasn’t yet been represented here on Midlife Crisis Crossover, but the short version is that it was huge, our veteran tour guide was a nice gentleman, the day was sweltering, and we hardly got to see inside. Our 2015 road trip through Alabama to New Orleans allowed for a digression in Mobile, home of the USS Alabama, which allowed us access to more areas of the ship while offering zero protection from the South’s summer heat. Frankly I have no idea how our soldiers can stand to serve on these things without roasting to medium well within minutes, but God bless ’em all for being better, sturdier people than me.
When most folks think of New York City, “battleship” isn’t usually among the first 500 words that come to mind. For us that changed when we learned the eastern shore of the Hudson River is the home of the USS Intrepid, docked on the western border of Hell’s Kitchen, several blocks from our hotel. It was convenient, it was showy, and it had a few special exhibits that dovetailed with our geek interests. So that’s why it was our first attraction on the morning of Day Four, and why this entry was nearly titled “Battleship III”.
But first, breakfast for my son. Anne and I had already eaten, but my son had slept in as usual and rejected our choices. The quest was frustrating at first — the fried-food court that saved us the other day was in the opposite direction from the Hudson, and we found nary an establishment open for breakfast along our westward walk. Thankfully we found a lone hot dog vendor open for business hours before lunchtime, cart stocked with Nathan’s a-plenty. The morning was saved thanks to a noble, entrepreneurial immigrant with no use for America’s stifling breakfast customs.
Some light data: this aircraft carrier’s wartime service extends from the 1943 Pacific theater till it was decommissioned in 1974 after its Vietnam tour of duty, with stops along the years to retrieve manned capsules from two different U.S. space missions. 872 feet long; weighing over 27,000 tons not counting contents; needed 2,600 sailors to staff it; four-inch-thick bulkheads, three decks, eight boilers, and sixty-two guns of varying calibers. Since 1982 it’s lived a second career as the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
About that banner on the front: the Starfleet Academy Experience was a new premium interactive simulation exhibit that had just opened the day before we arrived in Manhattan. We skipped that because we presumed the line would be long, we weren’t interested in the premium upcharge, and we guessed that it was meant more for younger visitors. We may have been wrong, but mostly it was the money reason. We needed the funds for a different sort of extravagance planned for the end of our day.
The Intrepid‘s upper deck could hold upwards of 90-100 aircraft while in service. The museum’s constructs and exhibits now take up quite a bit of that square footage, but a few design features remain in place.
Inside the hangar deck are your typical museum displays — artifacts, placards, history lessons, and so on. Aircraft stand both there and on the upper deck, along with a host of other relevant items.
The greatest exhibit in the hangar deck by our unanimous vote wasn’t a historical relic, a vintage aircraft, a lit-up display, or a weapon.
Behold the majesty of the Lego Intrepid.
Some light data: 22 feet long; 250,000 pieces; 550 pounds; better than any of the mismatched cars, dilapidated houses, and poorly conceived spacecraft we built from Lego when we were kids.
Lego Intrepid wasn’t our only reason for coming. We didn’t even know it was there. If you’re in the area sometime and planning a visit, it’s a great selling point for your small children and other Lego fans.
(Master planner Ed Diment has a vast Flickr account with more creations like this on display for us all to envy.)
To be continued!
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