Our 2022 Road Trip #22: Little State, Big State House

The Vermont State House on a gray day, gold-leaf dome shining and citizens hanging around.

The old leaf dome of the Vermont State House shines through a gray post-rainy late morning.

In our early traveling years we didn’t make a point of visiting every state capital or capitol building along our route because, well, we hadn’t really considered collecting them like trading stamps or Beanie Babies. In later years we’ve regretted bypassing a few that were within reach (e.g., Richmond, Frankfort, Jackson) and/or those capitals we did visit but skipped their capitols (Little Rock, Topeka). In more recent times we’ve upgraded their priority level and included them where so inclined and doable. Montpelier, VT, is America’s smallest state capital, but it was easy to reach from our planned path, and an engaging addition at that.

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 20: Under the Dome, Georgia Edition

GA State Capitol!

Not a very crowded area at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday.

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.

After my little shopping diversions we had time for one more attraction before all the major tourist-related businesses would close for the day. As it happened, Anne had exactly one stop left on her to-do list, the capper on her quest for local and national history from another state’s perspective. Thus the Georgia State Capitol became the latest addition to our collection of state capital domes.

This would be our eleventh dome, I think, counting DC. We’ve missed a few capitals because they’ve never been an absolute must in our priorities. We’ve definitely seen more Presidential burial sites than State Capitols. Which reminds me, one day we’ll have to return to Georgia one day to pay respects at Jimmy Carter’s final resting place, though at the rate he keeps persevering, he may outlive us both on sheer force of goodwill.

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Our 2008 Road Trip, Part 2: Doing the Charleston

Gold Capitol Dome!

I think I shot the West Virginia State Capitol at a weird Batman ’66 angle because I wanted to get as close to it as possible without cutting off the top or bottom. Turning it into a hypotenuse must have seemed logical at the time.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions 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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

Our 2007 drive down to Orlando had one personal milestone for me: my first contact with the Atlantic Ocean. My moment lasted about ten minutes before thunderstorms chased us away from the coast. As Atlantic beach experiences go, Florida gave me a lousy first impression. For 2008 we decided a second try was in order. Rather than take back-to-back trips to the same state, we researched other east-coast beach options, judged them by their nearby attractions, adjusted for our modest budget that couldn’t possibly afford upper-class oceanfront accommodations, and settled on what we hoped would be a suitable sequel.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Virginia Beach!

The first few hours of our drive to West Virginia took us through familiar parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, all of which sped past uneventfully. Parts of eastern Kentucky that were new to us looked the same as the rest, unless you count the water tower with signage welcoming us to “FLORENCE Y’ALL”, or the gas station in Lexington that sold more liquor than gas and was unequipped for pay-at-the-pump, or the dumb Beavis-‘n’-Butthead giggles to be had as we passed Big Bone Lick State Park. After so many hours in a car, some families get punchy and become too easily entertained.

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Happy Columbus Hour: Our CXC 2017 Intermission

McKinley statue II!

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States of America, born and raised in Ohio. It’s not the first McKinley monument we’ve seen this year.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last weekend my wife Anne and I attended the third annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, where I immersed myself in the wonderful world of comic book creators and the associated arts. In our typical entertainment “comic con” experiences we usually try to find a balance between the world of comics — totally my thing — and the experience of greeting actors from films and TV shows we’ve enjoyed, which has been her thing a bit longer than it’s been my thing, but now it’s our thing. Either of us gets self-conscious whenever a given event is lopsided more in favor of our interests than in the other’s. Given our eighteen-year road trip history together, comics and celebs aren’t our only interests when we’re away from home.

Partly as a cheerful concession to Anne, but mostly out of a shared mood to explore, after lunch we took a break from CXC and took a half-mile walk westward to see a bit more of that Ohio state capital.

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The Art of the Indiana State House

Indiana State House Dome!

The State House is shaped like a cross. The center is a rotunda with this magnificent glass ceiling four stories overhead.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

On October 15th, downtown Indianapolis hosted a very special convention of sorts. The “Hoosier Homecoming” was a celebration held at the Indiana State House in honor of Indiana’s 200th birthday, with a host of well-known local faces in attendance, an opportunity for self-guided tours of the State House, and the closing ceremonies to the Indiana Torch Relay, a 37-day event in which a specially lit torch — not unlike the Olympics’ own, but inspired by the torch on our state flag — traveled through all 92 Indiana counties by various transportation methods until its final stop in Marion County at the Homecoming.

We’ve seen the capitol domes of several states on the road trips we’ve taken throughout the years. Longtime MCC readers so far have seen examples we’ve shared from Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Someday we’ll get around to representing our capitol dome photo from West Virginia, as well as the capitol in Washington DC, to say nothing of capitol domes we might catch on future travels. Last weekend we added to the photo collection and got a closer look at Indiana’s own.

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Our 2011 Road Trip, Part 2: The Harrisburg Highlight

Pennsylvania State Capitol!

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

DAY TWO — Sunday, July 10, 2011.

After unremarkable free breakfast at unremarkable hotel, we took a jaunt down the road to Harrisburg, which we’d driven through in 2010 without stopping. We’d skipped it because our searches for “Harrisburg tourism” kept turning up the Pennsylvania State Capitol dome as its #1 attraction. The same thing happened to us in 2008 with Charleston, WV, where their gold-leaf Capitol dome was virtually the only notable feature in all the city and in all the Internet. You’d think any really exciting state capital should have its Capitol Dome ranked around #7 or #8 behind a glorious selection of roadside attractions or amusement parks. We knew Harrisburg would be larger and theoretically more interesting, but Capitol domes alone don’t much preoccupy us. 2010 wasn’t the first time we’d driven through a state capital without stopping for at least one sight. (Richmond, VA, we fail to salute you!)

This year, our New Cumberland hotel was right there in the thick of Harrisburg’s interstate construction. Anne was interested but would’ve been willing to bypass it a second time if it hadn’t been so darn convenient. We were right there. A few minutes wouldn’t hurt.

Right this way for more views of Pennsylvania greenery!

2015 Road Trip Photos #48: Noontime in Nashville

Nashville State Capitol!

Twelve American state capitals have State Capitols without domes. Tennessee’s 1859 version is one of them.

When last we left Nashville, we’d stopped there for lunch on the first day of our 2005 road trip to San Antonio. We ate at our first Jack in the Box nearly a decade before they finally came to Indianapolis; we saw their version of the Parthenon, a World’s Fair tribute to their old nickname “the Athens of the South”; and then we moved on. Ten years later, we returned once again for lunch and spent slightly longer there this time than last time.

One last state capital before returning home to our own. One last Presidential burial site. One last sign of Confederacy fandom. One last pretty garden. One last Andrew Jackson statue. One last official Southern meal. Our midday stroll around downtown Nashville was like a symbolic highlight reel of our entire road trip.

Right this way for the final city walkabout of the series!

2015 Road Trip Photos #42: Walking, Not Marching, to the Alabama State Capitol

Lister Hill!

Lister Hill was a WWI veteran and a 45-year Congressman whose works favored medical progress and expanding modern amenities into rural areas, but didn’t exactly have a favorable civil rights record.

Anne and I decided to structure the morning of Day Six pretty much the same as we had the morning of Day Two. Whereas the latter was spent walking around downtown Birmingham, this time we’d try doing the same with the state capital of Montgomery. One major Alabama city kind of looked like the other on our maps, so we expected a simple, breezy morning of walking from the hotel to the Alabama State Capitol.

We erred in failing to account for scale and structure. If only we’d known that Montgomery’s city blocks are five times as large as Birmingham’s, and if only we’d known Montgomery somehow abolished all forms of cool, relaxing shade from within city limits, we might’ve taken a different exploratory approach. Say, driving around the city instead of walking its miles and nearly killing ourselves. Advantage: Birmingham.

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2014 Road Trip Photos #15: Under the Dome

Minnesota Capitol Dome!

Day Four’s self-guided morning tour of the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol would continue inside. We’ve photographed domes in other capitals — Harrisburg, Charleston, Denver, Madison, Hartford (barely), our own in Indianapolis, et al. — but we usually admire them from a distance, on the assumption that the interiors might resemble ordinary cubicles or BMV offices. No one wants to risk seeing that and ruining the patriotic mystique.

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2014 Road Trip Photos #6: Shiny Happy Madison

Wisconsin State Capitol!

As you drive southwest on Washington Avenue, the Wisconsin State Capitol dome is kind of hard to miss.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

After dinner at Ella’s Deli, we headed straight to downtown Madison, and I do mean straight. Our hotel was on the northeast end of Washington Avenue; downtown is on its southwest end; and Ella’s Deli is likewise on Washington Avenue, somewhere near the middle. Navigating was a snap. Unfortunately, downtown parking on a Saturday night wasn’t. We just so happened to be in Madison the same weekend as an annual art festival held all around the city square. Though the festival itself was shut down for the evening, all the parallel-parking spaces were still taken. Since most non-food businesses were surely closed by now anyway, we retreated back to the hotel and planned a do-over on the morning of Day Two…

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