Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Thanksgiving weekend Anne and I made a short Small Business Saturday jaunt to a number of Indianapolis establishments that we figured could use some love and income in this unending pandemic year. In that same spirit, this past Sunday morning we once again donned our Christmas masks and headed north for a return engagement with a lovely littler establishment we last visited in June 2019, verified per Google Maps in their usual, helpfully creepy fashion.
Restaurant photos are naturally a frequent part of our travel experiences. However, one practical benefit of using your own home as your road-trip command base is you don’t have to eat out for every meal every day. A few times on this vacation, we settled for ordinary home-cooked breakfasts that let us unwind for a few extra minutes before takeoff to faraway towns. On three vacation mornings this year we incorporated early pit stops into our itinerary because sometimes we do need a change of pace from our groceries. This was especially true during the Age of Coronavirus, which may have been an ideal setting for the sedentary homebody in me but has been nonstop frustrating for the lover of new experiences.
Or at least relatively new. Donuts don’t exactly qualify as rare exotica. But this trilogy of breakfast mini-galleries isn’t all about donuts.
This year our Valentine’s Day was a wash. Anne and I both had to work, which was time well spent in the sense that more work means less debt. The evening was equally unromantic. While I tended to a recurring family responsibility, Anne spent those same hours errand-running. Sacrificing that time frame meant far fewer interruptions in the rest of our weekend.
United at last at the end of the day, we exchanged gifts and red-tinged, heart-covered cards with jokes on them. Then we hurried up and fell asleep because we’re older now and we had a date to look forward to in the morning.
As some families celebrate Christmas not on the day of, so went Cupid’s cutesy custom for us.
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.
The funniest thing about traveling to other lands is the little differences. They have some of the same stuff we have here in Indy, but it’s just a little different. In Europe the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese is called a “Royale with Cheese”. In New York City, ketchup on a hot dog is called an “atrocity”. Large-scale ground wars have been fought over whether soft drinks should be called “soda”, “pop”, or “Coke”.
We were glad to confirm Atlanta has its share of donut shops, though we were disappointed none of them were next door to our hotel. But instead of the quick, efficient “donuts”, they use the archaic, longform, time-wasting “doughnuts”. IT’s my understanding the British prefer “doughnuts” whenever they’re out of crumpets, so perhaps Atlanta is still trying to impress our erstwhile imperial overlords by taking their side. Regardless, we were happy to visit two skillful donut purveyors in town before we had to head home.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
For years my wife’s family has held their annual reunions at Turkey Run State Park, a ninety-minute drive from our suburban HQ and well outside the range of my phone carrier’s coverage. For the space of one Sunday afternoon it’s an opportunity to unplug from the internet and all its problems, experience fresh air, enjoy good weather live and in person (Lord willing), catch up with loved ones that we’ve been too preoccupied to visit, exchange pleasantries with distant relatives whose names we’ll never remember, test which family members will still commit to a long drive for any of these purposes, and remember how to mingle in large, awkward groups without access to Words with Friends as our consolation playmate.
This year’s shindig went far better than last year’s, which was canceled altogether due to dangerous storms. After we said our farewells to the family, Anne and I decided to make a quick stop on the way home even though we were still stuffed from the reunion pitch-in. Such is our dedication to finding new pastry purveyors whenever we’re out of town and remember to check around.
Every so often when we’re not overindulging in weekend events or buried in adult chores, my wife Anne and I like to spend a Saturday morning driving to some other part of Indianapolis or central Indiana and finding breakfast at someplace that serves dishes more varied than scrambled eggs or McMuffins. We do this often enough that I could mine them for smaller MCC entries, but the thought never occurs to me. That changes right now, at least for tonight.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I attended our second Chicago entertainment convention of 2019, a scant three weeks after the last one. Before and after each day’s festivities we found a few opportunities to see more of the Windy City that we hadn’t checked out on our last several trips. One restaurant in particular proved exactly the breakfast wonderland we needed.
Eagle-eyed viewers used to our vacation storytelling pattern may or may not have noticed that we’ve been skipping breakfast mentions for most of this series. That ends now as we step back and cover the donut shops that brightened our mornings in three cities, plus a bonus sports donut along the way.
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…
In our early road-tripping years, we couldn’t afford food-based tourism. We ate whatever we could find within range of the sights or near the hotel, whatever wouldn’t destroy our budget. I used to plan our hotel reservations around which chains offered free breakfast. It didn’t take long to get tired of weeks-old, shrink-wrapped, itty-bitty pastries. We’re used to having at least one McDonald’s stop per year — usually as our last meal before we arrive back home — but can’t handle seven straight days of it. Longtime MCC readers may recall we ate Subway so many times that I eventually declared it my mortal enemy.
Now that we’re older and in a somewhat stabler position, occasionally we can stretch our legs and try places we don’t have in Indiana, and dabble in pricing above fast-food levels. On the morning of Day 3 we decided to take a deep dive into Google Maps and see what breakfast we could find in the immediate Baltimore area besides the Hyatt buffet. That trail led us a few blocks northeast to the comfort of Miss Shirley’s Cafe.
This week my wife and I have been taking advantage of our hotel’s complimentary breakfasts to save as much money as possible (their modest, cook-to-order omelet bar is a nice touch), but sometimes a guy needs a change of pace. For lunch today I drove an hour north to check out the Denver Biscuit Company, part of a restaurant triumvirate that was featured in a 2013 episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. That’s not a show we usually consult for travel reference (thanks to a 2012 disappointment in Topeka), but this particular joint had other incentives to lure me away from Colorado Springs.
Pictured above is the Dahlia — sausage, egg over-easy, apple butter, and maple syrup on “biscuit French toast”. It’s one of several creative biscuit sandwiches they serve for breakfast and lunch. For that “Triple-D” episode the esteemed Mr. Fieri sampled their “Elmer”, topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, coleslaw, onions, and homemade pickles. For him I imagine it was the only logical option. But I’m a big fan of imaginative breakfasts and knew I had to try it once I confirmed it was real.
The other incentive for my mini-road trip was an invitation from an old friend.