Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 32: Broad Stripes and Bright Stars III

Betsy Ross flag!

Historically accurate recreation of actual flag treatment In the 18th century before the invention of the United States Flag Code. For stricter modern audiences, you can just barely seen the extra cloth placed beneath the flag technically keeping it off the floor.

The American flag was a recurring motif on our 2017 road trip to Baltimore. We’d visited Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” in between cannon fusillades; and we’d visited the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where seamstress Mary Young Pickersgill sewed the very flag to which Mr. Key wrote his long-lasting ode.

Before Mrs. Pickersgill, and before Mr. Key, there was the trailblazer they followed, the grand dame of Old Glory herself — Betsy Ross.

Well…allegedly. Historians dispute the veracity of some or every aspect of the classic tale of Betsy Ross sewing our first flag at the behest of George Washington Himself. We weren’t at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia to examine the evidence and settle the debate once and for all, or to dispel our illusions and tremble at discovering Everything You Know Is Wrong. The truth is, the House just so happened to be along the path we’d chosen to walk down downtown Philly. It was a second-tier option on our to-do list, ranking mostly because we’d read that Betsy Ross’ own grave is on the premises. Ross wasn’t a solid fit into our “Presidential gravesite” theme, but for history’s sake Anne was mildly interested. And I was game.

In the spirit of the House’s presentation, I shall now refuse to type “allegedly” for the remainder of this chapter lest I bore myself out of writing it. Mentally insert if wherever you feel it should fit for your level of comfort and/or dedication to truthiness.

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2015 Road Trip Prologue: Our Accidentally Topical Vacation


Certain parties insisted beignets would be the most important important and life-changing aspect of our experience. Let’s just get these out of the way up front.

Each year my wife and I take a road trip to a different part of the United States and see what sorts of historical sites, natural splendors, bizarre man-made creations, culinary marvels, and valuable life lessons await us. We began the tradition in 1999 during our best-friend years as an excuse to attend geek conventions and fan gatherings outside Indianapolis. After four years of narrowly focused hijinks, the tradition evolved through our happily married years into an ongoing project to visit as many other states as possible, see what they have that we don’t, and filter the results through our peculiar sensibilities.

For some families, vacation means picking a campground, braving the wilderness, and hiking until everyone succumbs to bug bites. For some, vacation means a beach, too much alcohol, and sunburns severe enough to scald away the worst hangover. For me as a child, vacation was visiting elderly relatives and napping on their furniture until time to leave. For my wife as a child, vacationing was something other families did because they had spare money.

Today we keep our own agenda. Finding creative ways to spend quality time together. Searching for tourism options that wouldn’t occur to our peers. Scouring for surprises in unusual places. Sometimes investigating the popular destinations when their claims to fame intersect our fields of interest or just pique our curiosity.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Right this way for a brief overview of this year’s road trip!

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