Lafayette Vignettes, Part 4: The Legacy of Tippecanoe

battle simulator!

How we used to make lit-up battle simulators in the days before computers.

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 one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking…

On some of our past road trips we’ve visited battlefields at Antietam, Gettysburg, Saratoga Springs, and Chattanooga. The farther east we drive, the more battlefields become a tourist attraction, tragic parts of our nation’s history commemorated either with small markers or with full-fledged parks, depending on the enthusiasm of their local historical societies and the performance of their fundraisers.

Indiana doesn’t have quite the same wartime history as, say, Virginia or New York or Pennsylvania. Back in the early days when we still had land wars on American soil (or future American soil, as it were), not many armies wanted to march or drive out this far just to pick fights with large gatherings of opponents en masse. This was centuries before our vast highway system was invented to enable racist posses, drive-by shootings, interstate serial killers, and the occasional militia.

Indiana has one (1) Civil War battlefield down near Kentucky. We also have a handful of markers noting minor battlefields here and there, many of which involved assorted tribes who were there first, and a disproportionate number of which also involved William Henry Harrison. One of them has a museum.

Continue reading

Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 2: The Chickamauga Saga

35th Indiana!

Anne overjoyed to confirm regiments from our home state of Indiana marched as far south as the Tennessee/Georgia border to fight on behalf of the Union against slavery and secession.

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. 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 may recall Anne is the historian in our family. It’s largely what she did in college. Meanwhile, my high school curricula consistently ran out of time every school year and never taught me much past the late-19th-century carpetbaggers. Our travels have taken us to a number of significant old places across the country, from which we’ve learned quite a bit. The takeaways from these opportunities have allowed Anne has to deepen her expertise in specific personalities and events, and have dramatically improved my performance when playing along with Jeopardy! at home.

(That’s not even a joke. Anne will testify to this. It’s been surprising how many times I’ve Slumdog Millionaire‘d a few questions whose answers I never would’ve known if not for our vacations.)

Continue reading

Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 13: The Terrific Traitor at the Saratoga Party

Saratoga Monument!

The Saratoga Monument marks not just a milestone in American history, but also the northeast corner of our trip route.

The average American battlefield tour is 70% grassy fields and 30% statues and sculptures everywhere. At least, that was my assessment on last year’s drive to Baltimore, which featured stops at two Civil War battlefields in Antietam and Gettysburg. Anne, American history aficionado that she is, was delighted to discover key sites along or near our path honoring the original American Revolution itself.

Continue reading

Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 37: The Rest of Gettysburg

Lincoln!

Abe, Anne. Anne, Abe.

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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Also previously: Thursday morning we toured the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park, infamous site where July 1-3, 1863, marked the highest three-day body count in the history of U.S. soil. Today the grounds hold far more than monuments, though travelers would do well to arm themselves with context by stopping at the Visitors Center first.

Unlike our turnabout Antietam experience, this time we found the Gettysburg visitors’ center before we got too far into stone markers and endless fields. A little foreknowledge and a big foldout map can make all the difference when you’re trying to follow in history’s footsteps. Also, their visitors’ center has far better snacks than Antietam’s, including but not limited to a coffee bar and Moon Pies.

Continue reading

Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 36: Winners at Gettysburg

44th NY Infantry!

Special thanks to the fellow tourist who generously offered to take our photo in front of the Civil War monument to the 44th New York Volunteer Infantry, who called themselves “Ellsworth’s Avengers”.

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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Also previously on MCC: back on Day Two, Anne and I stopped for a while at Antietam National Park, site of the bloodiest one-day battlefield of the entire American Civil War. We saw a handful of their extensive collection of monuments and markers, as well as their Visitors Center, exhibits, viewing tower, and pastoral area around Burnside Bridge.

Even more previously, prior to MCC’s inception we had made Pennsylvania the focus of our 2010 road trip, whose travelogue will eventually be remastered and archived here with the rest. That vacation was so regrettably fast-paced that a lot of their tourism options had to be crossed off our list and saved for another time. This year, I plotted a course out of Baltimore that would take us northwest through the Keystone State and toward a few of those missed opportunities. One of the biggest was, like Antietam, another Civil War battlefield, because bookending just made good narrative sense.

Continue reading

Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 7: The War on Antietam

Colonel Christ.

We missed a Civil War monument in our previous chapter: Col. Benjamin C. Christ, 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.

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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Also previously: Sunday morning we toured the grounds of Antietam National Battlefield, infamous site where September 17, 1862, marked the highest single-day body count in the history of U.S. soil. Today the grounds hold far more than monuments, though travelers would do well to arm themselves with context by stopping at the Visitors Center first.

Funny thing about that: coming from the north as we were, the Visitors Center would’ve required a 290-degree left turn if we’d seen it, but we didn’t. For the first leg of our tour, we did the best we could without it.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: