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. 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. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
Longtime MCC readers will recall last year’s road trip focused on Presidential burial sites. Thus far into our travels we’ve seen the final resting places of 22 men who served 23 Presidencies (blame Chester Arthur for making the count so weird). This year we found an opportunity to visit a set of grounds honoring another President at Atlanta’s own Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.
Mind you, Carter isn’t dead yet. At age 95 he and his wife Rosalynn, age 92, the two of them now married 73 years and counting, are very much alive and staying far more active than many of us internet dwellers. Sooner or later the Lord will call him home, but for now we haven’t checked him off our list. It’s worth noting this wasn’t our first time visiting the museum of a still-living President. We had a similar experience with Gerald Ford, who didn’t pass away until four years after our 2002 drive to his museum in Grand Rapids. That means Ford hasn’t been checked off yet, either. One day, Grand Rapids, we shall have to meet again.
Anyway: Jimmy Carter. Folks used to snicker about his upbringing on his dad’s peanut farm, which he took over for a time after a stint in the Navy. “HAW HAW, PRESIDENT PEANUT!” they laughed, years before someone would invent “LOL” and make such sentiments sound even dumber. Snobbish disdain for an American President from underfunded upbringing didn’t keep Lincoln out of office, among others of various social standings. Would his detractors really have preferred that every elected “leader of the free world” be a selfish multimillionaire fatcat?
In hindsight his overall performance during his single term — which he won by running against the guy who pardoned Richard Nixon — may have fallen far short of Best Presidency Ever by a noticeable margin. If you do the reading, though, Carter’s accomplishments over the past 48 years after exiting office have proven there’s far, far more to life than accumulating wealth or political power. Between his longtime affiliation with the Habitat for Humanity charity, his frequent work in international diplomacy, his staunch support for civil rights, the thirty books he’s written, and the humanitarian causes that have received his contributions and support…his Presidency was just one meager, early chapter in a long and fruitful life of service and love. For him, the best was yet to come.
Rush hour was thankfully over by the time we drove from the Center for Puppetry Arts down to Carter’s place. Opened in 1986, the Center tells much of Carter’s life story, places it in historical context, and features that unexpected, awesome exhibit we previously shared about Hollywood film productions in Georgia. We had much to see and learn.
To be continued!
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