Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 7: The War on Antietam

Colonel Christ.

We missed a Civil War monument in our previous chapter: Col. Benjamin C. Christ, 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.

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…

Also previously: Sunday morning we toured the grounds of Antietam National Battlefield, infamous site where September 17, 1862, marked the highest single-day body count in the history of U.S. soil. Today the grounds hold far more than monuments, though travelers would do well to arm themselves with context by stopping at the Visitors Center first.

Funny thing about that: coming from the north as we were, the Visitors Center would’ve required a 290-degree left turn if we’d seen it, but we didn’t. For the first leg of our tour, we did the best we could without it.

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Our 2005 Road Trip, Part 5 of 10: Remembering the Alamo

Alamo Morning Anne!

Before you ask, no, they wouldn’t show us the basement, just gave us some poppycock about having no such thing. It’s probably for VIPs only.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Welcome to the first installment of another special MCC miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our 2005 drive from Indianapolis to San Antonio, Texas, and back again in far too short a time…

Before making any plans for 2005 we’d asked my son if there was any particular place he’d like to visit within a reasonable driving distance. His first qualifying suggestion off the top of his head was The Alamo. That fleeting thought became the centerpiece of our 2005 vacation planning. To this day he doesn’t remember the suggestion, why he would’ve chosen it, or most of this week in his life in general. But his wish was granted, even if “wish” was too strong a word.

One odd find: as I was digging through boxes to compile our 2003 vacation keepsakes a couple months ago, I came across an ad on the back of our souvenir Smithsonian Museum program that, in the grand scheme, could be interpreted as foreshadowing of this trip. Who knew.

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Our 2004 Road Trip, Part 4 of 10: The Cannons of Niagara

Fort Niagara!

Because someone has to keep the peace on Lake Ontario.

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.

Of the four Great Lakes we’ve visited, Lake Ontario was the only one considered a strategic location worthy of a military outpost by both the French and the British back in the eighteenth century. For fans of natural attractions and American history — you can bet my wife qualifies — Fort Niagara State Park is a logical addition to your upstate New York vacation itinerary.

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Our 2003 Road Trip, Part 3 of 7: Flying with Dinosaurs

Kitty Hawk!

The original Wright Brothers flyer dangles overhead with Wright brother simulacrum feigning giddiness.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our fifth annual road trip became our first family road trip as we jettisoned our convention plans and took my son to scenic Washington DC to learn history and significance and architecture and so forth. We took a handful of photos using ye olde 35mm film when we weren’t busy corralling and entertaining the boy.

After quote-unquote “lunch” on Day Three we headed a few blocks east to visit our first Smithsonian museum. Handy trivia: any show or movie that tells you an artifact or MacGuffin is “in the Smithsonian” is fudging their verisimilitude. The Smithsonian Institute comprises nineteen museums, many but not all of which are in DC. If someone tries faking their Smithsonian familiarity like that, ask them “WHICH ONE?” and tap your foot impatiently till they either answer with credibility or embarrass themselves by answering, “Uhhhhh, the really big one.”

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Last Call for Indiana Bicentennial Mementos

Indiana Obelisk!

The centerpiece of the Indiana State Museum lobby is the “Indiana Obelisk” –at just under fifty feet. the tallest sculpture to date by artist Robert Indiana.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: throughout 2016 my wife and I spotted and compiled a number of sights related to the 200th anniversary of our own Indiana earning statehood, nineteenth in a series of fifty, after Louisiana but before Mississippi, Illinois, and Alabama. Between this year’s State Fair and the one-time Hoosier Homecoming, we had ample opportunities to learn more about our heritage, celebrate the achievers who paved paths for generations ahead, reassert reasons for hometown pride, and transcend that one time Indiana Beach amusement park actually had as its official ad slogan, “There’s More Than Corn in Indiana!” Because once upon a time, that was a thing we had to insist.

Earlier in December we attended one last commemorative event: a temporary exhibit at the Indiana State Museum called “Indiana in 200 Objects” assembling artifacts and souvenirs from Hoosier celebrities, businesses, industries, and moments both famous and infamous. Presented here is just over one-tenth of the available displays — a selection of those that caught our eye, spoke to us on some level, and posed properly for our amateur cameras. Not every sight was a wellspring of unlimited positivity (one could argue for trigger warnings on two of these images for more sensitive souls), but even the darkest relics can illustrate how far we’ve come and help us gauge how much farther we have to go.

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“Sully”: Meddling in the Miracle on the Hudson


“Look, I’ve tried to cooperate patiently with this inquiry, but for the last time, I don’t know anything about this ‘David Pumpkins’ fella.”

Director Clint Eastwood’s new drama Sully takes us back to a time when every so often the national media had reasons to write headlines about good things that happened, even if meanwhile behind the scenes everything later fell apart, but the follow-up headlines were such dull sequels to the original inspiring pieces that they were relegated to the back section of the newspaper after the obituaries and sharing a page with The Family Circus, which no one reads and so everyone would assume that was that And They All Lived Happily Ever After. It’s also one of those early-bird Oscar hopefuls that the major studios release in autumn so they can be rushed to convenient home video in time for AMPAS voters to catch them at their leisure at home, rather than being expected or remotely willing to visit their local theater twenty or thirty times over the course of the voting season so they can get honestly informed about their choices. Then again, should Oscar voters be any more informed than those of us who vote in every political election? Are we hypocrites for wishing Hollywood always aimed for high standards of integrity than we do when it comes to naming the winners in their own history books? I like to think if Sully himself were an actor, he’d be disgusted about the whole process and deliver a great speech to shame them all into being more scrupulous film fans, and then maybe go on to run for President, because you know he’d do it sincerely and not as a promotional precursor to his forthcoming “SullyTV” project. Sully’s noble like that, but good luck getting him to admit it.

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