Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 28: At the Mountains of Fitness

Kennesaw Mountain!

155 years ago, over four thousand casualties were incurred here. Today, the things lost most here are calories.

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.

Before we left Georgia, Anne wanted to see one more mountain. We’d already seen a mountain, but it wasn’t enough. It had a historical significance, a Visitors Center, and a road leading relatively close to the top, presumably for a scenic vantage point and for some value-added historical markers or whatever. Best of all, unlike that other mountain, access appeared to be free. We figured why not. We wouldn’t have time to explore the entire park or the surrounding tie-ins, but a drive to the mountain and possibly a jaunt up its access road seemed doable. How hard can it be to go up a mountain these days?

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 17: The Stone-Faced Sentinels of Slavery and Secession

Stone Mountain Patio...

Wondering if all around Georgia, kids wake up their parents chanting to them, “Will you take us to Mount Slavemore? Will you take us to Mount Slavemore? Will you take us to Mount Slavemore?”

Extremely high vantage points are usually among the coolest tourist attractions. There can be a powerful thrill in visiting faraway cities and lands, riding stories into the air above them, and getting a bird’s-eye view. Usually we’re talking skyscrapers such as 30 Rockefeller Plaza or One World Trade Center in NYC, Chicago’s Willis Tower, or Baltimore’s World Trade Center. Sometimes they’re natural protrusions such as magnificent Pike’s Peak or Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington. At such places it can feel positively empowering to look down upon all those new surroundings. It’s not quite so endearing to ride up the side of a monolith that looks down upon an entire race and the armies that fought for their freedom.

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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.)

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 46: The Season Finale – Last Call for Outtakes

GO THE EXTRA MILE!

Parking lot decor found on the walk from the Inner Harbor to the American Visionary Art Museum.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we guided you through our seven-day trip to Baltimore, Maryland, in forty-four episodes —- July 8-14, 2017, with stops along the way at two Civil War battlefields and a series of smaller but no less intriguing sights by the roadside.

It all comes down to this: one final collection of alternate scenes and quick blips in between the larger sights. Baltimore may have set a new homicide record year in 2017, to say nothing of headline-making protests, but our trip there and back again belied all that. Any large city has its issues and its areas you’re not supposed to visit — some worse than others — but they also have their bright sides and their reasons, great and small, why the locals stick around and don’t just all flee to Canada.

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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.

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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.

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