Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, there was a prologue:
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. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…
We’ve already shared the fun true story of our very first Dragon Con in twelve excessive parts, seven of which were devoted to Best Parade Ever. We have a few outtakes tucked away for later use, but for now we’re ready to move on, a week after everyone else already did.
Before we went to Dragon Con, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
DAY ONE: Sunday, August 25th.
The basic directions from Indianapolis to Atlanta are easy: I-65 South to I-24 East to I-75 South. The tricky part is the length. It’s an 8½-hour experience from Indiana to Kentucky to Tennessee to Georgia, even longer whenever fate conspires against us. Thankfully our drive was mostly painless in that regard this time, save a twenty-minute delay at a “rolling roadblock” for construction in central Kentucky. We left home early Sunday morning in a rental car, a Chevy Malibu that kept us comfy and gave us no trouble. We appreciate whenever a rental car doesn’t become the antagonist of its own chapter, as one malfunctioning SUV did two years ago.
Kentucky was mostly harmless. We made one pit stop south of Louisville at a McDonald’s with a TV in the lobby playing Fox News.
Tennessee was four hours into our trip, but in Central Daylight Time, where it was still in breakfast mode. We stopped for gas in the town of Smyrna and searched online for nearby restaurants willing to serve an early, cheap lunch. We knew pricey meals lay in our future in Atlanta. We didn’t want to blow our vacation meal budget too quickly. Self-control was a struggle at times when we found ourselves surrounded by Atlanta’s many temptations. We ultimately kept ourselves in check, balancing average-looking fare with tantalizing, higher-end delights.
In the meantime, the Sunday brunch-time winner was Bojangles, a southern fast-food chain specializing in spicy chicken and biscuits. The breakfast sandwich in our lead photo was mine. I’d be happy to go for more if we had one within 100 miles of home. Anne tried a basic two-piece fried chicken meal, which appeared ordinary in the signboard photo but had a “bit of a kick” by her standards.
Meanwhile, all along those lengthy and later mountainous Tennessee roads…
Other billboards along the way not captured in visual form:
- A brilliant Indiana merchant offering “GOAT MILK STUFF”
- Ray Stevens’ CabaRay, a Nashville showroom for fans of “The Streak” and other novelty hits our parents probably loved
- The Nashville Zoo, winner of Best Pun of the Day with their billboard boasting a picture of a cat and a promise of “MUSIC KITTY USA!”
In time, commerce gave way to nature and mountainside roads.
Our first tourist attraction of the week was in Tennessee. But first we had to drive to Georgia. Then back to Tennessee. I-24 through the mountains winds back and forth through each state until it finally makes up its mind and lays entirely in Georgia. That was a bit distracting, and annoying for Anne as every single “Welcome to Georgia” sign evaded her lens. All things considered, Tennessee’s welcome was better.
To be continued!
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[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 sign-up 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!]