Our 2017 Road Trip #1: Avis Presents the 100-Mile False Start

Temp Gauge!

Pro driving tip: red lights on a dashboard are not good. They are not reminders that Christmas is coming.

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, and again in 2016 when we returned to New York City by plane, a rare departure from our usual road trip format. This year Anne and I felt the road beckoning to the two of us once more and returned to our usual wingless, wheels-down approach to viewing the American countryside without skipping all the informative and/or imaginative stops between points A and B.

After months of deliberation, 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.

As residents of a sizable metropolis that sometimes appears on “10 Dangerous Cities” lists ourselves, we know what it’s like to dwell someplace that has plenty of worthwhile businesses and activities that are safe to check out as long as you know which ‘hoods aren’t the kindest to casual bystanders. We did our homework, vetted our possibilities, steeled our nerves, asked our friends to stop making those faces, and made it happen. Please be assured no chapters in this very special MCC series will contain our obituaries. We proved to ourselves that a Baltimore getaway is doable and has highlights to offer. As added incentive, we discovered a number of historical stopovers on the way there and back again to enliven our driving experience.

But first we had to escape Indiana. That should not have been a hard part in our journey.

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Our 2011 Road Trip, Part 1: The Road to New York


Witness our first photos of Manhattan taken during — and stitched together after — our 2010 road trip, from the ferry on our way from the New Jersey shore to Liberty Island. A separate road-trip series for another time.

[Welcome to the first installment of a very special miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our family’s 2011 vacation to fabulous New York City, by which we largely mean Manhattan because we ended up skipping our to-do lists for all the other boroughs. Additional stops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania may not be proper consolation for anyone who was hoping to hear our thoughts on Coney Island or the Bronx Zoo. We’re revisiting this now because we’re planning on revisiting NYC in July 2016, hopefully with a better eye toward the areas beyond the rivers.

Some hindsight editing and modern-day commentary will be included along the way as value-added bonus features for readers old and new alike. All photos were taken either with my first Canon PowerShot or with my ancient Kodak EasyShare that became my wife Anne’s hand-me-down device for the next few years. Very little about these entries will approach 1080p quality, but we’ll do what we can with the materials at hand. Despite the Great Hard Drive Crash of July 2015, my wife saved backups of all of our digital vacation photos to Shutterfly, and you have no idea how excited I am to report that, on this very night, I’ve figured out how to download decently sized file copies for free instead of resorting to frustratingly inadequate screen shots. Science marches on.


Right this way for Chapter One in a very special MCC series! (CAUTION: It’s just a prologue.)

Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 1: Our Milkman’s Chariot Awaits

[Welcome to the first installment of a very special miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our family’s 2006 vacation to scenic Wisconsin and Minnesota, home of much forestry, many lakes, and very odd things. Some hindsight editing and modern-day commentary will be included along the way as value-added bonus features for readers old and new alike.

All photos were taken with one of two cameras: one Kodak EasyShare that was obsolete when we bought it, and one 35mm camera whose film had to be dropped off for developing and whose pics were scanned using an equally obsolete, poor-res scanner. Very little about these entries will approach 1080p quality. Back in our day, this is what history looked like. When these travelogues were written, they were as much about the writing as they were about the pics. Consequently, some entries will have one photo, while others will have several.

I’m adding some present-day commentary in spots as value-added epilogues. I’ll also be inserting several photos that we’ve never shared publicly before. Even our internet friends who read the original entries will be seeing previously unreleased material for the first time.


2006 Jeep Commander. UGH/

Day 0: Friday, July 21st

As with last year’s vacation, rather than submit either of our own cars to hundreds of miles of wear and tear, we rented an SUV for the extra space, comfort, and intimidation factor — what better way to announce to the townsfolk of other locales, “Back off, man! We’re TOURISTS!” Granted, we had to prepare ourselves to spend extra money on gas, but that falls in line with my own little personal plan to help save America: the way I figure it, if every one of us works together to use up all the gas in the world as quickly as possible, down to the very last drop, then we’ll be forced to make the transition to alternative fuel sources that much sooner.

Right this way for a complete lack of sales pitch…

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