The Chicago 2018 Birthday Weekend, Part 3 of 4: Navy Pier Amid the Drear

Navy Pier night!

Our parting view on Friday night.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For Anne’s birthday celebration this year, we headed up to Chicago for yet another weekend — this time mostly to attend the inaugural Ace Comic Con Midwest at Navy Pier, and partly to see if downtown Chicago contained any sights we hadn’t already seen and/or shared. In past years we’ve shared pics of the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Magnificent Mile, and scenic Navy Pier, among other locales you can find with MCC’s “Chicago” tag alternating in between their frequent conventions…

…though only one of those entries covers our sole previous visit to the Pier. First time around, we walked up and down some of it, bought snacks, photographed art, and took our leave. This time our presence was goal-oriented, the weather was unsightly, and the temptations to stop and linger were few, especially after all those miles we’d just covered on aging feet. I mean, it was a fun weekend anyway, but among the least comfortable we’ve had all year.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 4: Return to Presque Isle

seagull walks!

A lonely seagull watches the sunset, ponders the meaning of its existence, and/or stays on the lookout for fish to murder.

We often look back at our old photos and wish we could return to many of the places we visited on our earlier road trips for further adventures or at least better photos. Our travelogues are frequently imperfect and in need of reshoots because of our own inexperience. our limited resources, or uncontrollable circumstances at the time. We do what we can with the tools and skill sets available. Our innumerable rough edges are among the many reasons MCC will never be a commercial success or The Greatest Blog of All Times.

Most years, we’d rather keep pressing forward to new places we haven’t seen, but every so often an opportunity for a do-over shows up on or near a path we’ve charted. This year’s trip happened to offer quite a few second chances. Our next stop was one of them.

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Our 2004 Road Trip, Part 3 of 10: Another Great Lake, Another Gray Sky

Bullseye Returns!

Hi, kids! I’m Bullseye the Target Dog! You might remember me from our 2003 road trip! I’m back and I bring you the gift of bright colors!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once upon a time in 2004, Anne and I got married and had a honeymoon! A week later, we (and my son) embarked on our fifth annual road trip: a drive northeast from Indianapolis up to see the watery wonders of Niagara Falls and its adjacent tourist traps.

I’m not sure how it works in normal families. If unpleasant weather threatens to shroud their vacation scenery in visual mediocrity, maybe they call the whole thing off, take advantage of their unreasonably flexible lifestyles, and reschedule everything for a different week in hopes that the sun will return and bask their photos in a luxurious, magazine-quality aura. We wouldn’t know.

But this was the week we reserved for vacation, and these were the results Mother Nature gave us. Sometimes God’s Creation has to have unpretty off days so we can appreciate the beautiful ones all the more. And sometimes you have to dig through the superficial layers and make the moment special yourself even if the sun has flunked its dress rehearsal.

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Our 2004 Road Trip, Part 1 of 10: Erie and Grey

Danger No Swimming!

Scenes like this are why no one lets us design travel brochures.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: once upon a time in 2004, Anne and I got married and had a honeymoon! A week later, we (and my son) embarked on our fifth annual road trip.

Welcome to the first installment of another special MCC miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our first vacation as a capital-F Family: a drive northeast from Indianapolis up to see the watery wonders of Niagara Falls and its adjacent tourist traps. Some hindsight editing will be included along the way as part of the “special edition” processing.

Prior to 2006 all our amateur photography depended on 35m cameras, back in the day when finished film rolls had to be dropped off for developing and whose pics then had to be scanned using the terrible tech available on our low budget at the time, then uploaded via miserable AOL 56K modem. For years I hated hated HATED scanning under those conditions, which means our oldest internet friends who already read what Anne and I wrote have never seen any of the photos that’ll be newly shared throughout these ten chapters. Very little about these entries will approach 1080p quality. Back in our day, this is what history looked like. When these were first posted, they were as much about the writing as they were about the pics. That’s why two of the ten chapters will contain more words than pictures, if you need such an advance warning. They’re our stories to tell nonetheless, captured in our memories if not by our shutter clicks.


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Sand Getting Everywhere: Our 2004 Road Trip Honeymoon Prelude

Anne in Sand!

At last, no more squabbling relatives, no more ritual expectations, no more formal wear, and best of all, no more wedding planning ever again. NEVER EVER EVER.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: twelve years ago, before we went on vacation, Anne and I got married!

The guests had left earlier than expected and effectively canceled the scene where we were supposed to walk to my car through a hail of blown bubbles. After cleanup the bride and groom made a hasty retreat, dropped off all the gifts at home, then sped north to our honeymoon destination that was absolutely not an exotic tropical island resort, though portions of it bore faint resemblance to one in our humble eyes.

Ours was a most economical wedding experience partly by circumstance but mostly by preference. Neither of us comes from families in a position to drop several thousand bucks in one place on any object or experience ever. Anne’s dress, which I adored to pieces, was a great find at JCPenney. My attire was cobbled together piecemeal at Value City, as I’ve never owned a full, matching suit in my life, not even now in 2017. Our wedding rings were a Black Friday purchase I’d scored a month before I proposed. Everything from church to flowers to wedding planner to all the other mandatory expenses –- which I can’t remember because I was the groom –- added up to a few hundred at most. Anne and I already each had a failed marriage on our respective rap sheets and were absolutely in agreement and okay with taking the lo-fi route all the way. I promise you it can be done, kids.

Our big honeymoon plan was to revisit our old friend Lake Michigan, last seen on our 2002 road trip to Grand Rapids. And we knew at least one place on the Indiana side with a beach and a view.

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Our 2002 Road Trip, Part 2 of 5: Our First Great Lake

Red Lighthouse!

Behold the fun of unretouched 35mm film: that scratch, groove, or hair at right was not errant detritus on the scanner bed, but is somehow part of the original photo and won’t come off.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our fourth annual road trip, a meetup in Grand Rapids with fellow Star Wars fans for opening day of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. Before and after the movie, we spent our first time in Michigan hitting a few key tourist attractions in the vicinity.

Katrina acted as our trusty tour guide and started us with the basics: scenic Lake Michigan. Much like the Wolverine State surrounding us, we’d also never seen a Great Lake before.

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Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 15: Superior!

Lake Superior!

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 5: Wednesday, July 26th (continued)

After the aquarium and our glimpses of the Aerial Lift Bridge, we walked a few blocks along the bay to the quaint mom-‘n’-pop business section of Duluth, on the isthmus between Superior Bay and Lake Superior.

Right this way for scenes from a Great Lake!

Chicago Photo Tribute #10: Brief Lake Michigan Walkabout

It’s that time of year again! A time for travel, a time for getting out of the house and out of town, a time for remembering what sunlight feels like, and a time for forgetting all about that nasty winter that we’ll all agree never to speak of again.

In two weeks my wife and I are heading once again up to Chicago to attend C2E2, that annual Midwest gala of a comic book convention that’s as close as we may ever come to San Diego. We’re also planning another walk around downtown Chicago, but haven’t decided on an itinerary. If you know of fantastic places or things around the Loop or the Magnificent Mile that weren’t covered in previous entries (see links below), we’re absolutely all ears.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we shared photos from our visits over the years. With Chicago on our minds once more, it’s time to delve into the ol’ photo bag once more. Our last Chicago romp was last September, which was briefly covered here in an entry about the Gene Siskel Film Center, which for me was the highlight of the day.

Earlier in the day, we skirted once more along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan, Chicago, Navy Pier

This way for more. And we saw a doggie!

Chicago Photo Tribute #7: Art of the Navy Pier

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

[This coming] weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2″ thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.

Next on deck: our stroll through Chicago’s Navy Pier. What sounds like an off-limits military installation is in reality a stretch of public entertainment options that extends into Lake Michigan. Docked beside it are a handful of select cruise ships that offer sightseeing or party services for the right price. Budget-minded tourists like us are free to take photos and imagine the fun.

yachts, Navy Pier, Chicago

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