Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 24: Outtakes Off I-90 West

Day 6 Devils Tower!

Welcome to Devil’s Tower. I’m your host, TV’s Wilford Brimley.

It’s a time-honored MCC tradition: every road trip concludes with bonus photos I skipped while compiling all the preceding chapters. However, this finale is a little more special than average.

Effective with this very entry, every single one of our annual road trips is now officially available for perusal and literary analysis on MCC from 1999 to 2017. All the major vacations from MCC’s 2012 inception to the present have been housed here exclusively from the get-go. As of today, all our prior travelogues from 1999 to 2011 have now been reposted and reformatted here for our own personal library to be shared with one and all — our lifelong, immutable road trip canon. Some write-ups were reprinted word-for-word, but in several cases extensive rewrites felt necessary and/or fun.

This curatorial project has been years in the making, and has now reached its final major milestone. It’s kind of a nice feeling.

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…

It all comes down to this: one final collection of alternate scenes and intriguing rejects in between the more grandiose, awe-striking wonders that surrounded us throughout South Dakota, along with a few moments in the states before and after. The South Dakota drive remains one of our most ambitious experiences to date, one of our all-time favorites, and among the very, very few where we looked upon our to-do list and were basically satisfied with how much we accomplished and how very few places we skipped on our way from Riverside, Illinois, to the farthest reaches of South Dakota to Riverside, Iowa.

I’ll shut up and roll the clips now. Enjoy!

The Bean Chicago!

Day One: Closer shot of “The Bean” in Chicago, with larger crowds but the ends cut off.

Sue the T-Rex!

Day Two: our first glimpse of Sue the T-Rex at Chicago’s Field Museum, blocking other cool art objects behind her.


A perfectly competent Field Museum stegosaurus skeleton. We’ve seen so many dinosaur bones in so many American museums that we’ve become distressingly disaffected by them.

Giant Upskirt!

Day Three: the Jolly Green Giant‘s upskirt photo used to be one of the most popular in my old Photobucket albums, thanks to the ongoing decay of Western civilization.

Corn Palace!

Day Four: a taller but narrower shot of Mitchell’s Corn Palace.

Black Hills!

Day Five, among other days: we couldn’t stop turning our cameras toward those endless Black Hills.


One of those pesky burros at Custer State Park, intrusively begging for snacks.

Crazy Horse!

A wider shot of the Crazy Horse Memorial, showcasing the deep forests that separate it from the visitors center and kept people from climbing all over it.

prairie dogs!

More paranoid prairie dogs at Reptile Gardens, waiting for us benign humans to make a wrong move.

tortoise feeding!

A perturbed tortoise that cares to be hand-fed about as much as some human babies do.

Devil's Tower!

Day Six: one last angle on Devils Tower, this one showing off the sporadic trees growing along the lower cliffside.

…and then we came home on Day Nine.

The following Sunday morning, my breakfast was the other two-thirds of Anne’s 36-hour-old chicken-fried steak with leftover congealed gravy. Bacteria, shmacteria. I’d just survived Chicago traffic, the Badlands, Wall Drug cuisine, endless casino minefields, slippery wet mountain roads, lurking biker gangs, college baseball fans, and our newest arch-nemesis, the state of Iowa.

9 days. 8 states. 5 hotels. 3 time zones. 2 meet-ups with 3 Internet friends. 1 family wedding. Riverside to Rushmore to Riverside.

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

The End. Thanks for reading! Coming soon: our 2018 road trip to upstate New York…

* * * * *

[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. Cheers!]

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