Our 2018 road trip is behind us at last. After seven days and 2,056 miles together on the open road, Anne and I arrived safe at home Friday night, several hours later than expected and ready to retreat into overnight catatonia. Five out of six previous evenings ended much the same way — with a number of new achievements to our credit, new memories to add to our mental slideshows, new regrets to tally up, new aches and pains to nurse, and new letdowns from the unchecked items on our lengthy to-do list. In some ways that’s a typical vacation for the two of us, but what stings most are a few omissions that weren’t our fault.
Never thought I’d see the day when our dog Lucky would find himself dressed like a Sno-Cone, but here we are.
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…
It’s my understanding that normal travelers like to get away from it all because they need rest and/or relaxation. Anne and I tend to maintain a brisk pace on our vacations because we fear that every new location we encounter may be our one and only chance to see it. Every half-hour or hour spent recharging potentially means crossing another sight off the to-do list forever. We realize we’ll never see everything, and we’ve been known to revisit select locales, but there’s a sense of accomplishment in at least trying to maximize our experience as if it’s our last hurrah.
As we’ve gotten older, we’ve found diminishing returns in treating a road trip like a marathon with prizes at the finish line for whoever spots the most things. I now begrudgingly admit that every long haul needs its quiet moments. Sometimes we get to choose when and where. Sometimes time-outs are foisted upon us, a killjoy for our exploratory impulses but a respite that our stupid aging bodies secretly welcome.
I took a four-day staycation the week before Thanksgiving, but any therapeutic benefits were nullified days ago by the nonstop holiday weekend, the long work week that followed, and the little family dramas encroaching on various fronts. I’m under orders from my wife to get some rest this weekend after three straight nights of failing at proper sleep. Our dog Lucky, the master of power naps in our household, makes relaxation look sooooo simple.
Whenever we drive home to Indianapolis on Saturday night after C2E2 or Wizard World Chicago, our last stop before returning to Indiana is nearly always for late supper at this tiny, grungy McDonald’s in the middle of the Chicago Skyway. The drive-thru serves the westbound lanes, while a handful of parking spaces are available on the eastbound side. Pedestrians have to mind the mild danger of trying to enter or exit their cars while other drivers pull in and hopefully slow down from 80 to 5 so they can pick up one of those famous Extra Values Meals that’ll provide them just enough pep to reach their hometown awake and alive.
At first we used to stop there each time because it’s the most convenient pit stop on I-90 — you literally just veer left and there it is, no languorous entrance/exit ramps to add minutes to your long night’s driving — but in recent years it’s earned the cachet of tradition. The above photo was taken from its parking lot after Wizard World Chicago 2013, one of those rare times we stayed too late for the Costume Contest and found ourselves ravenous by the time we got to “our” supper dive.
On a related note, we are now officially home from C2E2 in the middle of the night and ready to collapse. Stories to share, photos to post, exhaustion to overcome, memories to treasure, achievements to celebrate, and discussions to be had about procedural changes for future convention experiences.
Later for all that. Photo parades begin tomorrow. Bedtime now.
The day after we finished up with Indiana Comic Con 2015, I could already feel “con crud” creeping into my system. I’m no stranger to the notorious cold/flu that strikes at convention attendees after they’ve hung around a few thousand fans too many, but I’d hoped to dodge a bullet this time. Between the cool temps and Friday’s nonstop rains, my good health wasn’t meant to last.
I held out for as long as I could. I lasted three business days before I surrendered and took a sick day so I retreat into defensive hibernation. After last night proved disastrously unhelpful, today I slept till noon, took more countermeasures, and tried to keep distracted with news and hobbies and such.