It’s that time again! It’s Valentine’s Day and the internet reactions are more divided than ever. One camp hates the occasion consistently annually and never wants to hear about it again, which is fair. Another camp is bitter because current events and has exercised their freedom of choice to be captivated only by endless sources of bitterness. Meanwhile, Anne and I escaped the house for a short while to enjoy each other’s company before the rest of the world emerges to glut up all the establishments.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last fall we shared our tips for supporting local restaurants in person during the never-ending pandemic without a churlish kill-or-be-killed approach. We still don’t dine out too often because COVID-19, but when we do, that listicle’s ten bullet points remain firmly at the forefront of my planning anxieties.
That entry was written during another Devour Indy occasion, a twice-yearly citywide event here in Indianapolis when local restaurateurs — nationwide chains need not apply — offer specially priced prix fixe menus to entice new customers to come sample a few of their wares. My wife Anne and I are fans of the event, but we usually skip the sale items and check out what’s on the main menu. It lets us try places we’ve never been, and it helps them recoup the considerable costs of participation. A few weeks ago, it was that time again.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Thanksgiving weekend Anne and I made a short Small Business Saturday jaunt to a number of Indianapolis establishments that we figured could use some love and income in this unending pandemic year. In that same spirit, this past Sunday morning we once again donned our Christmas masks and headed north for a return engagement with a lovely littler establishment we last visited in June 2019, verified per Google Maps in their usual, helpfully creepy fashion.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…
…which we promptly vacated when the crowds began to triple in size, when we decided we’d gotten our money’s worth from the park admission fee, and as lunchtime drew near. As it happened, Anne’s short to-do list divided into two neat halves, each of which lay upon State Road 46 an hour south of Indianapolis. The loci were twenty minutes apart, so easily navigable that I could memorize the directions in advance even at my age, which works especially well now that state law as of July 2020 forbids me from using Google Maps on my phone while we’re in transit. Anne is all too happy to allow for anything that forces me to drive more safely. If it means other drivers likewise must keep their phones sheathed so they can concentrate on driving more quickly and without collisions, then for those two ideals I can support it.
Anyway: on to food. It was a birthday outing. Of course we ate.
We’ve not far now until the end of the miniseries. One last mealtime wraps up the Hoosier culinary side of things.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, when ruminating on the origins of this very site:
This blog was set up three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process and this fallen world’s degrading standards on my impressions of, reactions against, and general experiences with various works of art, commerce, wonder, majesty, and shamelessness. It’s my way of keeping the writing part of my brain alive and active, rather than let it atrophy and die…
Now that 40 is thousands of miles behind me and 50 is ever-so-slowly approaching on my horizon in the not-too-distant future, I may need to update my mission statement to reflect whatever emotions begin to overtake me as that half-century mark draws nearer.
For my wife Anne, what little sense of foreboding may or may not have bugged her is past. She’s nineteen months older than me and just reached 50, right on time.
Restaurant photos are naturally a frequent part of our travel experiences. However, one practical benefit of using your own home as your road-trip command base is you don’t have to eat out for every meal every day. A few times on this vacation, we settled for ordinary home-cooked breakfasts that let us unwind for a few extra minutes before takeoff to faraway towns. On three vacation mornings this year we incorporated early pit stops into our itinerary because sometimes we do need a change of pace from our groceries. This was especially true during the Age of Coronavirus, which may have been an ideal setting for the sedentary homebody in me but has been nonstop frustrating for the lover of new experiences.
Or at least relatively new. Donuts don’t exactly qualify as rare exotica. But this trilogy of breakfast mini-galleries isn’t all about donuts.
As a consequence of my unusual workplace situation, I’m basically not allowed to leave the state of Indiana until and unless killer nanobots hunt The Virus to extinction or my employers exile me to work-from-home, which would pose problems to multiple parties. 2020 is the first year we haven’t crossed the state line since at least 1998. It may have been longer, but we’ve been to Kings Island in Ohio so many times that I’ve lost track of which years were which.
The closest we’ve come to exiting Indiana since New Year’s was the city of Vincennes. Standing between us and Illinois was the Wabash River, known locally as the star of our state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away”. You’d think our state song would be “Back Home Again in Indiana”, which Jim Nabors used to sing before the start of every Indy 500, and which they actually taught us to sing in grade school. “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” was a big hit on the pop charts in 1897, long before there was pop, charts, hits, or catchy electric guitar hooks, and is sung today in the occasional State Fair hootenanny and nowhere else. I just now listened to it for what I’m reasonably sure was the first time in my entire 48 years, and I suspect I’ll forget it by morning. Not on purpose, mind you. But I know how my brain works.
Our view of the Wabash itself, by contrast, should prove eminently more memorable. Vincennes likewise had its share of nifty imagery about town, from fixtures to food.
Has pandemic fatigue got you down? Are you sick of subsisting on the two-year bulk-food supply you overstocked in your basement back in March? Could you use an hour-long break from staring at the same walls seven days a week? Have you become so annoyingly restless and loud that your family wishes you’d stop putting the “rant” in “quarantine”? Are you worried your favorite restaurant may collapse and die like Uncle Ben while you stand there like Peter Parker doing nothing about it? More importantly, can you afford to eat out right now? Most importantly, are you safe for other humans to be around?
Remember the good ol’ days when the most lethal forces you had to worry about at any given family restaurant were calories, fat, carbs, grease, and sugar? And not uncontrolled international pandemics whose rampaging microbes could destroy your organs from within like an exotic assassin’s poison made from extinct jungle predators? One nifty little cafe in the town of Mitchell sure does.