Day Seven. Early morning. The Comfort Inn had already shut off our cable TV, in case we were entertaining any notions of dawdling. Morning news was far from our thoughts, with a noon flight ahead and without knowing whether or not LaGuardia was one of those airports where passengers should expect mile-long lines worse than what we’re used to comic conventions. Sightseeing was over; now was the time to escape from New York.
Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road 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, leaving us empty nesters to do our own thing the past two years.
After spending his last two summers alone at his college apartment, my son had been dropping hints that he really wanted to tag along with us this year for a change of scenery and diet, no matter where we went. With his senior year imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here.
In honor of his all-time favorite vacation to date, one that was definitely in my Top Five, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City. We guys had been dying for an encore, and while Anne has her own Top Five list in mind, she was game for whatever. Her gracious acquiescence was especially appreciated when I suggested a major modification.
In November 2015 we took a second trip to Colorado Springs and flew for our first time. Like, up in the sky inside actual airplanes, which neither of us had ever done before in our entire lives because neither of us grew up in families with that kind of budget. The temporary hearing damage wasn’t endearing to me, but we enjoyed so many aspects of our first flight that I thought my son could benefit from trying flying as well. It helps that today’s airfare frequently costs thousands less than I’d imagined. All told, round-trip tickets for the three of us wasn’t prohibitively more expensive than our usual mode of a week-long auto rental plus multiple gas fill-ups.
This decision meant no official, week-long road trip for us in 2016 (and, sadly, missing out on a lot of quirky roadside stops between here and there), but once you get past our use of a different traveler delivery system, our NYC 2016 tour looks and feels much like any of our other trips. Super-sized historic memorials. Famous burial sites. A couple of shows. Singers, dancers, and cosplayers. Art, pop, and geek culture. Museums, zoos, parks, and statues. Comics, animation, filmmaking, video games, and spaceships. And most importantly, restaurants that aren’t McDonald’s or Subway.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
At last our six-day excursion to Colorado was drawing to close, with one last chance to wander Denver International Airport before our flight home to Indianapolis around 6 p.m. MST. We tried to make the most of it.
Each year my wife and I take a road trip to a different part of the United States and see what sorts of historical landmarks, natural wonders, man-made oddities, unexplored restaurants, and cautionary tales 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.
From November 1-6, 2015, we racked up a number of personal firsts. My wife Anne was invited on her first business trip to Colorado Springs, all expenses paid from flight to food to lodging to rental car, to assist with cross-training at a distant affiliate. Her supervisor gave me permission to attend as her personal travel companion as long as I bought my own plane ticket and food. Neither of us had ever flown before, largely because we each grew up in families too poor for such extravagance. We’ve also never taken two week-long vacations in a single year. Thanks to our unforeseen circumstances, we were shocked to find such things no longer inconceivable.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, I posted one photo for each of the six days while we were on location. With this series, we delve into selections from the 500+ other photos we took along the way.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we took our first plane ride and arrived unharmed. While my wife spent the week working in Colorado, I spending the week as a bonus vacation in Colorado Springs, trying to find new things to do that we didn’t already do on our 2012 road trip. Short, on-location MCC entries have consequently been this week’s theme.
Tonight we flew home from Denver, and boy, are my everythings tired.
This was our view at 8 a.m. this morning from the windows of Indianapolis International Airport. See the colorful Southwest jet at the far end? My wife and I later boarded that one and flew for our very first time.
Spend five minutes peeking at Midlife Crisis Crossover and you’ll notice my wife and I do enjoy a bit of travel. We have our annual week-long road trips to other states and time zones, where we can discover new environments and attractions, such as the New Orleans establishment shown above. From time to time we head off to our sometimes annoying neighbor Illinois for geek conventions, and we’ve discussed expanding our scope in other directions. We like spending our respective birthdays visiting other parts of Indiana and seeing other Hoosiers like or unlike us. We may devote a lot of time to screens with entertainment on them, but we place a certain importance on getting out of the house and seeing the world beyond our front door.
However, our family, friends, and longtime MCC followers know our expeditions come with a limitation: we don’t fly. We’ve never bought a plane ticket, we’ve never soared in or above the clouds, we’ve never been across the oceans or even to California, even though we have friends living there we simply must meet before we all die of oldness. By our standards air travel is expensive; the boarding requirements are invasive; you miss all the interesting sights and stops between points A and B; and it doesn’t help that the news outlets love to tell us about all the crashes but they never celebrate the hundreds of successful non-crashing flights that I’m told are theoretically possible and maybe even real.
We’re well aware Superman loves to tell everyone who’ll listen that, statistically speaking, flying is the safest way to travel, but that’s easy to say when you’re so invulnerable that not even actual dying keeps you down for long. For all these reasons and more, we’ve never been in a position to give planes a chance.