Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 2: One Great Big Magic Bean

The Bean!

A strange case of art holding a mirror up to society and proclaiming, “Everything is a fun house now! It’s WACKY!”

It’s odd how repeated exposure to some unusual sights can subtract from their specialness if you’re not careful. Anne and I have been back to Chicago so many times since 2009 that we hardly glance at “the Bean” anymore, let alone gaze into its distorted reality in search of wonder and/or explanation of how they made it. It’s fun looking back on our first encounter and reliving that singular moment when we stepped onto its platform with looks that said, “…what the heck?”

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 1: The Chicago Prelude

Chicago Crown Fountain!

Welcome to Chicago. Big Sister is watching you.

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.

2008 was by far our least favorite road trip to date, and still holds the ignominious title as of 2018. Driving out to Virginia Beach to see the ocean seemed like a good idea at the time. We weren’t prepared for the medical issues that plagued me all week long. We were disappointed with the beachfront tourist-trap economy. Worst of all, we learned the hard way that we’re simply not beach people. Our next vacation had to be better. Step one was plain enough: we looked at Anne’s brainstorming list of future road trips and chose the one that screamed “dream vacation”.

That’s what led to our long, long drive out to the farthest reaches of South Dakota and beyond. If you know anything about American tourism, you know some of the most iconic landmarks and attractions located way out there. South Dakota would be our most ambitious trip yet. At nine days it was the longest we’ve ever taken. The farthest point of 1,180 miles made it the longest drive of our lives. It would be the farthest west we’d ever been up to that time. It was also our first vacation using exclusively digital cameras to record the experience, leaving behind the 35mm film of our childhoods forever. They weren’t expensive cameras for their kind, certainly not the most advanced as of 2009, but we did what we could with the resources and the amateur skill sets available to us.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

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Chicago Photo Tribute #9: Architecture Potpourri

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.

That was written last April. To date we’ve visited Chicago for three C2E2s, five Wizard World Chicagos, one stopover on a previous family road trip, and one group outing with my employers. We’ve shared photos here from each of those trips in intermittent installments, either when they became relevant or when they popped into my head as a fun thing to revisit for an evening.

In this instance, my wife and I have another one-day Chicago trip planned for this weekend, so it’s at the forefront of my thoughts just now. Today’s presentation, then: parts of Chicago (and one related suburb) that were held back from previous installments for whatever reasons. The “architecture” category in the title covers the gamut well enough, including the realm of landscape architecture. Exhibit A: the flowers of Millennium Park. Look beyond them and you can see into the heart of the Loop, the Magnificent Mile’s significantly less glossy sibling.

Millennium Park flowers, Chicago

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Reflections in a Giant Magic Bean

This week’s edition of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is my second foray into the field. It’s not a fierce competition with a major award at stake, just a fun excuse for participants to compare experiences and imaginations. I’m strictly an amateur pic-snapper, but it’s fun throwing my hat in the ring anyway.

My entrants were drawn from two separate visits to Chicago’s Millennium Park, home to a sculpture called the Cloud Gate, nicknamed “The Bean” by the locals because of obvious reasons. If a giant uprooted an entire hall-of-mirrors fun house, wadded it up in his massive mitts, left a dent in the middle by smashing it against his forehead, and then tossed it a giant rock polisher, it might look like this.

“Cloud Gate” by Anish Kapoor. Just imagine the beanstalk.

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