Happy Birthday, Captain Janeway: A Fantabulous 50s Coda

Anne and Captain Janeway!

Anne wasn’t born in May, but she gets to be the lead photo because she’s cuter.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

…and then we returned home and all lived happily ever after. But the birthday celebration didn’t quite stop there as it should’ve. The following weekend, we took my mom down to southern Indiana to visit family, a semiannual jaunt for us because long drives are no longer her thing. Due to scheduling issues, Mom and I hadn’t made time to hang out for my birthday as we normally do. So we made that time — we did the visiting, we treated her to dinner, and we crossed a high-priority geek sightseeing item off our to-do list, which gave her a rare chance to tag along for one of these weird little jaunts she sees us posting about sometimes on Facebook.

First we had to get the responsible part out of the way: the visiting of the family. We drove out to the sticks beyond the sticks 120 miles from home so our elders could fraternize. After the first few hours, Anne and I always excuse ourselves for a nature walk to unwind, stretch our legs, and leave some space for those who love swapping updates about obscure dead relatives and/or The Good Old Days. It’s a beautiful place in the autumn; in summer it has its occasional charms, by which I mean benign forest critters. We’ve been blessed so far not to encounter the more malignant ones.

tiny froggie!

Tiny froggie on a gravel road.

eastern black swallowtail butterfly!

Alit on same, an eastern black swallowtail butterfly.

chipmunk feeding!

Chipmunk feeding on the porch.

chipmunk pondering!

Chipmunk gazing upon its dominion and perhaps grappling with a teleological quandary.

After visiting hours were up, we headed back north and stopped for dinner in Bloomington, home of Indiana University. Last time we dawdled around Bloomington, it was Anne’s choice of destination for her 2020 birthday outing — her own 50th, in fact. This evening I decided to return to the place where we’d had lunch last time, a youthfully modern restaurant called FARMbloomington, combining the trendy and the Midwest for a sublime college-town experience. Fortunately the school year had just ended, students had largely returned home, the town was surprisingly deserted on a Saturday night, and we had half the place to ourselves.

caramelized Brussels sprouts!

The appetizer: caramelized Brussels sprouts with Bleu cheese, toasted Spanish almonds and red pepper coulis.

Iberian roasted pork loin!

The main dish: Iberian roasted pork loinwith caramelized fennel, jasmine rice, cilantro, and a pork mojo sauce.

vegan chocolate pave!

The dessert: a vegan chocolate pavé in a pomegranate reduction. (The menu had also promised a coconut whipped cream, but it never showed up.)

Then came the mandatory walk around town, which included a return visit to Landlocked Music (where I was elated to find the new Bloc Party album, which is a keeper) and, of course, a few warm-up sights before we reached our feature presentation.

Bloomington marquee!

Another addition to my collection of marquee photos, this one clearly inspired by a Kurt Vonnegut fan.

dalmatian statue!

A dalmatian statue tucked into an alcove outside a radio station.

No More Presidents!

Did I mention it’s a college town?

To my mom’s relief, because she isn’t one for long hikes, within minutes we found what we were looking for: Captain Kathryn Janeway in stone.

Captain Janeway statue!

Hopefully Q didn’t take her back in time, turn her into a statue and leave her stranded here.

Our previous visit had been on October 17, 2020. Exactly seven days later, the new statue was unveiled along the very path we’d walked. Just as Star Trek lore has Captain Kirk hailing from Riverside, Iowa, which now has tourism highlights there in our reality (a backyard monument! a museum! an annual festival!), Captain Janeway, Our Hero from TV’s Star Trek: Voyager, hails from Bloomington. Thanks to fundraising efforts and perseverance from fans, now she has a statue there. It’s a start.

Federation symbol!

A Federation symbol engraved in the back of the pedestal.

Next to the statue is a large placard packed with details describing Voyager‘s premise and Janeway’s selfless quick thinking that led to a seven-season journey through the Delta Quadrant. It contextualizes her place in the 1990s TV landscape and her milestone achievement as the First Female Trek Captain to Command a Series. Other special features include a roster of the project’s biggest donors, a map of the Milky Way, and a short bio of writer/producer Jeri Taylor, the Bloomington native and IU grad who gave Janeway her Hoosier backstory. And Kate Mulgrew herself, who gave her breath and determination and fought for the dignity of her every stride across that ship’s bridge, was gracious enough to attend the 2020 ceremony via Zoom.

Vulcan salute handprint!

A Vulcan salute handprint in the back of the base.

Once again our travel timing made things wonky for us. Today was May 21st. Janeway will be born May 20, 2336. We’d arrived the day after her future birthday. A few more fans had taken it upon themselves to celebrate. Hence the birthday balloon tied to her pedestal, among other grace notes.

Janeway birthday card!

Someone left her a birthday card. I’m not sure who the intended reader was.

Having just met Mulgrew in person last April at Star Trek: Mission Chicago, obviously we had to see this statue and cap off our Bloomington experience, albeit 17 months late. Fortunately Mom didn’t mind and appreciated being included in one of our outings. Fun times.

Just as we were about to leave, we also spotted a birthday hat on the ground. We tried to fulfill the wish of its buyer for as long as the wind would allow it, which amounted to roughly six seconds. We tried to do our part.

Janeway birthday hat!

Much better.

…and then we finally headed home and stopped doing birthday things. For now.

The End. Thanks for reading! Lord willing, we’ll see you next birthday.

Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: The Merry Marvel Museum Menagerie
Part 2: Mighty Marvel Cinemania
Part 3: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
Part 4: COSI All Around
Part 5: Schiller Park Intermezzo
Part 6: Lichtenstein Pre-Pop
Part 7: All Around the CMA
Part 8: The Columbus Cuisine Collection
Part 9: Arts in Columbus
Part 10: Sir, This is a Wendy’s

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