Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…
Also previously: Thursday morning we toured the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park, infamous site where July 1-3, 1863, marked the highest three-day body count in the history of U.S. soil. Today the grounds hold far more than monuments, though travelers would do well to arm themselves with context by stopping at the Visitors Center first.
Unlike our turnabout Antietam experience, this time we found the Gettysburg visitors’ center before we got too far into stone markers and endless fields. A little foreknowledge and a big foldout map can make all the difference when you’re trying to follow in history’s footsteps. Also, their visitors’ center has far better snacks than Antietam’s, including but not limited to a coffee bar and Moon Pies.
Before you hit the road and track down all those famous locations, naturally there are display cases with artifacts and captions. I think they also had a film presentation and probably some tour guides available, but we’re stubborn about going the self-guided route where possible.
One of the sites Anne wanted to see most was the area now known as Little Round Top. The modest hill hosted one of the climactic battles in Day Three when the Union stood their ground against the Confederate army in a downhill charge reminiscent of Gandalf’s big moment near the end of The Two Towers. Union monuments including those for the 91st Pennsylvania and the 44th New York top the hill today, which also allows for one of the best panoramic views we saw throughout our Gettysburg drive.
One tourist broke off from her group for a smoke break and chatted with us briefly, though when she veered sharply into political rhetoric we began searching for the exits. Fortunately when you’re outdoors, everywhere’s an exit.
Our last chapter showcased several salutes to the North — its soldiers, states, and accomplishments commemorated on site. As you’d expect, the South also sees a share of coverage here and there.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other 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!]