Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 2: One Great Big Magic Bean

The Bean!

A strange case of art holding a mirror up to society and proclaiming, “Everything is a fun house now! It’s WACKY!”

It’s odd how repeated exposure to some unusual sights can subtract from their specialness if you’re not careful. Anne and I have been back to Chicago so many times since 2009 that we hardly glance at “the Bean” anymore, let alone gaze into its distorted reality in search of wonder and/or explanation of how they made it. It’s fun looking back on our first encounter and reliving that singular moment when we stepped onto its platform with looks that said, “…what the heck?”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions 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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

2008 was by far our least favorite road trip to date, and still holds the ignominious title as of 2018. Our next vacation had to be better. Step one was plain enough: we looked at Anne’s brainstorming list of future road trips and chose the one that screamed “dream vacation”. That’s what led to our long, long drive out to the farthest reaches of South Dakota and beyond. At nine days it was the longest we’ve ever taken. The farthest point of 1,180 miles made it the longest drive of our lives. It would be the farthest west we’d ever been up to that time. It was also our first vacation using exclusively digital cameras to record the experience, leaving behind the 35mm film of our childhoods forever. They weren’t expensive cameras for their kind, certainly not the most advanced as of 2009, but we did what we could with the resources and the amateur skill sets available to us.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Bean crowd!

A better look at the tourists huddling under the bean and staring upward into their short, squat reflections.

Our walking tour of Chicago’s Loop and Millennium Park ground to a halt for quite a while so we could stare and stare and stare at “Cloud Gate”. This 2006 installation by British sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor is 33′ x 66′ x 42′, weighs 110 tons, and makes inventive use of its stainless-steel surface, which guarantees parts of Chicago pop up behind you in nearly every photo. Locals call it “the Bean” because it requires less explanation than “Cloud Gate”.

My son thought it was cool for about ten minutes before he was ready to move on. We adults took a little longer.

Bean underneath!

The underside resembles portals to other dimensions where everyone is smashed flat.

Bean quartet!

Naturally the Bean is perfect for taking imperfect selfies. Behold our family of three and our fabulous tour guide Mindy.

Bean exploding head!

Me conducting pre-production cinematography tests for a Scanners reboot.

Bean me!

Meanwhile, Anne finds herself transported to a world where anyone, at any time, might be attacked by a Star Trek lens flare.

Cloud Gate!

Side view of the Bean, in which it resembles…a different kind of bean. Lima rather than kidney.

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!]

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