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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 23: Camden Yards on $0.00 a Day

Babe's Dream!

“Babe’s Dream” commemorates baseball legend Babe Ruth, who was born in Baltimore and who’s among the very, very few players I read about during my short-lived baseball phase back in third grade.

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…

Longtime MC readers know my wife and I aren’t sports fans. We’ll attend games, matches, or races if an employer holds an event at one of our local venues, such as that time we saw a Pacers game from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse cheap seats, or that time we took in a July 4th Indians game at Victory Field, or that time I spent an afternoon at Indy 500 practice. But when it comes to our independent leisure time or our vacations, sports arenas — even the famous ones — almost never factor into our planning. If they’re a convenient neighbor or backdrop to the attraction we actually came to visit, we’ll include them if they catch our eye.

Since 1992 Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been the home of the Baltimore Orioles. Their 2017 season recently ended in depressing fashion, but their stomping grounds seemed nice. The Orioles were out of town while we were in Baltimore, but Anne and I had two other reasons for dropping in. The park was next door to the next tourist attraction I wanted to see. More importantly, Anne’s sources told her there was a smashed-penny machine on the premises. Smashed pennies are kind of her thing.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 22: The Commuters Cometh

Taxi Flag!

Another water taxi, another U.S. flag waving in the Inner Harbor breeze.

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…

As a confident driver with above-average reflexes, limited patience for needless hesitation, navigational skills honed over a lifetime, and a car that responds well to my every need and impulse, I find it excruciatingly difficult to relinquish control of the steering wheel and let someone else drive. Blame it on my upbringing in a large city with a fierce loyalty to the automotive industry; slow, intermittent buses; costly taxis that aren’t a common enough sight to count on; and no commuter rails whatsoever. Indianapolis loves its cars, its car exhaust, and its gridlock. When officials brag about how we’ve expanded our 21st-century travel options, they’ll mention Uber, Lyft, and the BlueIndy electric cars you can rent for a few hours at a time. In other words, more cars. Way to save the world, Indy.

On our annual road trips, occasionally we’ll think to sample the mas transit where we’re hanging out. On our 2011 and 2016 road trips, I loved letting the ubiquitous MTA subways carry us all around Manhattan and Queens, but their bus line’s haphazard schedule and incomprehensible route signs drove me bananas. On our 2003 foray into Washington DC, the Metro came in handy for a city where we couldn’t afford many of the parking options at the time. I’ve had mixed reactions to my limited use of mass transit in Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia. Otherwise, in our travels it’s entirely up to me when and how we get where we want to go. We don’t have to wait for other drivers or share space with other passengers. I save us some time and tend to drive faster than any public transportation professionals except for NYC cabbies, whose tolerances for four-wheel zero-G are beyond my comfort threshold and most speed limit signs. Ultimately, if it takes us longer to arrive somewhere than we should, I’d rather blame myself than someone else.

With Baltimore we decided to give their local travel options a shot — partly to save us the hassle of their traffic, and partly to cut back on parking fees in addition to what we were already paying for the garage behind the hotel. If the results wowed us, maybe we could go back home to Indianapolis and tell them what a major city with real mass transit looks like.

We may have picked a bad week to try that.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 21: Visionary Mementos

Zoltar!

Hi, I’m Zoltar! You might remember me from such films as Big and…well, sadly, that’s it. A shame no studio would greenlight Big 2: The Embiggening starring Ted McGinley.

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…

Sure, the American Visionary Art Museum had art like we’d never seen before from a variety of self-taught, non-professional, iconoclastic, inimitable artists from all walks of life working in every conceivable medium plus a few no one thought to conceive till they came along. Sure, it was three buildings and a garden full of whimsy and wonder and imagination and intimidating bewilderment. Sure, one-third of it was free and the rest was worth the admission price.

But my absolute favorite part? The gift shop.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 20: Everything’s Visionary

Bra Ball!

Remember on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse when Pee-Wee kept a collection of either foil or rubber bands mashed together into a ball, depending on which season it was? This is Emily Duffy’s 1800-pound “Bra Ball“.

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…

Whenever someone asks us about our Baltimore vacation and lets us speak for more than fifteen seconds, if they’re patient we’ll tell them the part where we went beyond the Inner Harbor and spent two hours wandering the grounds of the American Visionary Art Museum. We’ll try to describe the captivating fun of roaming a trio of facilities dedicated to self-taught art, to imaginations and handicraft that eschew folks traditions or identifiable art movements, about the outlandish and the whimsy, about the inherent coolness of DIY ethos writ large and embraced to the fullest. Then their eyes will glaze over and they’ll change the subject because trying to describe unique art they’ve never seen is a bit like reviewing a Taylor Swift album for an audience that’s never owned a radio.

I guess you just had to be there. Or scroll through the photos from someone who has.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 19: Visionary Edibles

Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne!

“Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne” by Derek Lawson, Julianne and Matt Lutz, and Coyne himself, lead singer of the Flaming Lips and the only artist’s name I recognized in the entire AVAM complex.

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…

Our wonderstruck tour of the American Visionary Art Museum continued beyond the shiny free exterior and into the admission-paying part. The Museum welcomes numerous guest curators on a regular basis to assemble temporary exhibits on assorted themes — again, populated entirely by the works of amateurs, aspiring part-timers, and self-confessed non-artists who just need to see an idea in their head come to full visual fruition.

When we visited in July, the main exhibit was “YUMMM! The History, Fantasy and Future of Food”. Nearly three dozen food scientists, farmers, nutritionists, multimedia practitioners, and more contributed a variety of sculptures, paintings, collages, and other displays of educational and/or nostalgic value. Not everything from the following photo gallery was officially part of that exhibit, but food is a subject matter that’s bound to be on everyone’s minds sooner or later.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 18: Visionary on the Outside

Cosmic Galaxy Egg!

Two sculptures join forces: Andrew Logan’s “Cosmic Galaxy Egg” and David Hess’ “Bird’s Nest Balcony” welcome you to the birth of a new reality.

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…

DAY FOUR: Tuesday, July 11th.

We’d spent all of Monday waltzing around the Inner Harbor, diving into local U.S. history but without straying too far the waterside scenery. Tuesday was time to go a little deeper into the surrounding environs and see what else Baltimore had to offer. Our only water taxi ride of the day — after a long wait in the morning sun — carried us to the south end and in the direction of something completely different.

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