Welcome to the Hotel Impostor Syndrome


Such a lovely place. Was all this a mistake?

I’m typing at you live from downtown Albany, New York, one of the stopovers on our 2018 road trip, where our hoteliers have gone overboard in assigning accommodations that appear far beyond our means, either because it’s an extremely slow night for them, or because either Anne or I resemble one of their local politicians. Probably Anne.

Pictured above is half our room. Well, almost half.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 9: New York, Not Yet


A lot of what’s visible here is Wall Street rather than all the most beloved Manhattan skyscrapers. In the wake of the 2008-2009 recession we nonetheless tried to draw inspiration from the view rather than glare at it in middle-class indignation.

When we decided to devote one day of our ostensible Philadelphia vacation to visiting the Statue of Liberty a reasonable distance away, we had no idea what to expect from the journey. We certainly didn’t envision it as a prequel to future vacations. And yet, there we were, and there it was.

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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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2016 NYC Trip Photos #30: Leaving New York (reprise)

Delta terminal!

Day Seven. Early morning. The Comfort Inn had already shut off our cable TV, in case we were entertaining any notions of dawdling. Morning news was far from our thoughts, with a noon flight ahead and without knowing whether or not LaGuardia was one of those airports where passengers should expect mile-long lines worse than what we’re used to comic conventions. Sightseeing was over; now was the time to escape from New York.

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2016 NYC Trip Photos #29: NYC Outtakes II

Chess & Checkers House!

Day Two: our endurance walk through Central Park included a rest stop at the Chess & Checkers House, moments before the clouds began sprinkling.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we guided you through the first six days of our second trip to New York City in twenty-eight episodes —- Sunday through Thursday, July 9-14,2016, our second time flying anywhere and my son’s first. Between the flights there and back again, we saw lots more New York we hadn’t seen our first time around when we drove out there from Indianapolis in 2011.

Here, in our penultimate chapter: a selection of outtakes from previous scenes — a couple skipped by dumb oversight; a few that captured isolated moments disconnected from the rest of the narrative; one or two alternate shots of cool objects and places; and a few left behind due to inadequate wow factor. We may be aging amateurs who don’t have thousands of unconditional superfans, but we do have light standards.

Right this way for more art, architecture, animals, and aircraft!

2016 NYC Trip Photos #28: The Last Manhattan Mealtimes

Junior's pastry!

Mini-pastry appetizer at Junior’s, one of the better experiences from the second half of our week.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…

On our vacations the meals trend in the same direction throughout our week: at first tentative while we’re exploring new territory. After a day or two we’re emboldened enough to experiment with places more imaginative or just more expensive. After peaking midweek with the greatest meals of the year, our dinners then begin to descend in either quality or excitement level as we reach the far end of our budget and tap into our last reserves of energy just to finish out the trip. We try to keep finding gems among the dross, whether the results impress our friends back home or not.

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