The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 2 of 8: Muscatatuck Everlasting

Muscatatuck selfie sign.

Some people naturally know where to stage their own selfies. Other people need encouraging suggestions.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

…beginning Friday the 14th, when we headed southeast of Indianapolis to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, the oldest of Indiana’s three federal wildlife refuges. The wildlife welcome wagon was small and sedate, but we also found serenity and light exercise in and near the pretty scenery, dense woods, springtime flora, distant singing birds, reflective bodies of water, and easy trails, one of which was an ADA-compliant loop called the Turkey Trail, laid down through the greenery around the visitor center. Gentle times far from big-city life.

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Our 2008 Road Trip, Part 4: An Appalachian Trail But for Non-Hikers

me at overlook!

Whenever a long drive through vast panoramas threaten to turn dull, break up the pretty monotony with a stop at a scenic overlook! Then quickly get back in the car and floor it.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions 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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

Our 2007 drive down to Orlando had one personal milestone for me: my first contact with the Atlantic Ocean. My moment lasted about ten minutes before thunderstorms chased us away from the coast. As Atlantic beach experiences go, Florida gave me a lousy first impression. For 2008 we decided a second try was in order. Rather than take back-to-back trips to the same state, we researched other east-coast beach options, judged them by their nearby attractions, adjusted for our modest budget that couldn’t possibly afford upper-class oceanfront accommodations, and settled on what we hoped would be a suitable sequel.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Virginia Beach!

The morning drive through the West Virginia mountains was beautiful, and not just because the traffic was light and I made great time. Their wilderness panoramas are many and vast and spacious and layered and wondrously three-dimensional.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 5: Miles of Maryland Mountains

Maryland Overlook!

The view of westernmost Maryland from an I-68 overlook.

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…

Much of the drive from Pennsylvania through West Virginia to western Maryland looked exactly as show above — interstates surrounded by deep sylvan panoramas. The first time we drove this way in 2003, my son was disappointed that the Appalachians lacked pointed, snow-topped peaks like in all the movies about the Rockies or the Himalayas. Mountains may be massive, but to some audiences they’re no less subject to stereotyping.

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Edginess at the Edge of the Woods

Turkey Run State Park!

Another year, another family reunion, another long walk through the lush, jagged wilderness. Edges above us, edges below us, depending on which trail you’re negotiating with their intermittent, frequently incorrect trail markers and/or with their handy brochure map if you didn’t forget it in the car.

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Our Annual Family Reunion Adventure

Turkey Run!

For fifty-seven years my wife’s family has held their annual reunions at Turkey Run State Park, a ninety-minute drive from our suburban HQ and well outside the range of my phone carrier’s disappointing 4G coverage. For the space of one Sunday afternoon it’s an opportunity to unplug from the internet and all its problems, experience fresh air, enjoy good weather live and in person (Lord willing), catch up with loved ones that we’ve been too preoccupied to visit, exchange pleasantries with distant relatives whose names we’ll never remember, test which family members will still commit to a long drive for any of these purposes, and remember how to mingle in large, awkward groups without access to Words with Friends as our consolation playmate.

Or, while everyone else is talking, you can escape the shindig for a while and go explore the best part of Turkey Run, the beautiful forests crisscrossed with several miles of nature-trail adventure.

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Southern Indiana, Autumn Wonderland

My wife and I spent last Saturday deep in the heart of southern Indiana, a land whose most outstanding feature is the autumnal color change that sweeps the forests and lures us city folk from our comfort zones for a spell. If you need a break from your internet addiction, it’s an eye-catching time for it, especially since that entire half of the state is largely off the grid and proud of it.

autumn creek, Birdseye, Indiana

Ooh, more pretty fall leaves!

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