Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 50: The Last Roads Home

country fried steak!

We know it’s time to go home when we start craving good ol’ home cookin’ or corporate simulations of it,

The last day. The final hours. The way home.

Pittsburgh to Indianapolis is a six-hour drive. Two detours for Presidential burial sites in Ohio made six feel like twenty.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 49: The Last Dead President

Warren and Florence Harding!

President #29: Warren G. Harding, d. 8/2/1923, age 57.

Our Presidential body count so far on this vacation:

  1. Rutherford B. Hayes, in the verdant park behind his lavish museum in Fremont, OH
  2. Millard Fillmore, in the same well-kept Buffalo cemetery as several Famous Names in Black History
  3. Chester Arthur, in a dusty corner plot in Albany
  4. Martin Van Buren, in an ancient burial ground a mile from his Dutch home church in Kinderhook, NY
  5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on the grounds of Hyde Park
  6. Grover Cleveland, alongside his fellow presidents of Princeton University
  7. James Buchanan, alone on a hill in Lancaster, PA
  8. William McKinley, under a seven-story dome in Canton, OH

…and now, two hours from the William McKinley Memorial and 3½ hours from home, we wended our way through a maze of lazy country highways and one construction detour to reach the final American President on our week-long tour. We had not saved the best for last.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 48: One Last Museum Before Home

animatronic mckinleys!

No, animatronic William and Ida McKinley think YOU’RE the creepy one.

Seven days, nine museums. I’ve been counting Presidential burial sites from the beginning, but I hadn’t done the math on how many museums or museum-esque structures we visited on this trip till just now. In all that’s counting:

…and the subject of our next chapter. It wasn’t a primary objective, but it was next door to one, and we had a little money left in the budget for their ticket prices. We figured why not add one more to the roster.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 47: The Climb to McKinley

McKinleys with wreaths!

You can tell our next President has a bigger fan base than some of the others in this series — far more wreaths, and his final resting place is indoors.

I realize these chapters have been rather spaced apart and there’ve been so many of them, but we’re technically in the home stretch now. After a quick lunch stop in West Virginia, only one state stood between us and home. We’d already paid respects to one American President from Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes, back on Day One. Two more Presidential gravesites lay ahead on the trail before we would cross the final state border.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 3: Mealtimes with Sara and Chud

ceiling neon!

Romantic dinner by candlelight? That is so 19th-century.

When it comes to our vacation planning, sometimes we’ll pinpoint potentially interesting restaurants in advance. Sometimes we’ll tire of micro-analyzing every town and play Google Maps roulette on the fly. We’ve enjoyed the comfort of mom-‘n’-pop diners. We’ve let kitschy holes-in-the-wall bemuse us. On select occasions we’ve overspent on places that were well above our pay grade but were right-place-right-time. The important thing is that if we ever have to set foot in my old nemesis Subway again, we will have failed miserably and should be grounded from traveling.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 2: Searching Through Hayes Stacks

Hayes bust!

Attorney. Courtroom defender for runaway slaves. Union Army veteran. Congressman. Social reformer. And, when time permitted, American President.

Not every U.S. President left an institution behind upon their passing. Some have multiple cities named after them. Many have a museum that tells their life story and/or celebrates their contributions to their homelands. Some states are prouder of their famous citizens than others.

A number of our former leaders have eponymous presidential libraries, though most were established in or after the 20th century, well after they and their immediate family died. You’d think the very first fully dedicated Presidential Library would have been in honor of one of the really cool Presidents — the ones who get movies made of their lives, who get to be played by upright actors like Sam Waterston or David Morse.

Nope. This guy’s was first.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 1: Hayes’ Shade of Summer

Webb Hayes + flags!

Patriotic grave sites: as American as apple pie, but a lot more solemn.

It’s that time again! Another year, another driving marathon, another chance to see sights we don’t have back home, and another MCC travelogue series to record the experiences before I forget them all and Anne gets tired of retelling them to me.

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Our First Jolly Jaunt Through Jungle Jim’s

cereal mascots!

The Trix Rabbit, Lucky the Leprechaun, and Buzz the Honey Nut Cheerios bee welcome you to Jungle Jim’s!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last weekend my wife Anne and I drove a quick two hours from Indianapolis to attend our first HorrorHound Cincinnati convention. For us that wasn’t an all-day event, which left us time to wander a bit of Cincinnati. In addition to multiple Kings Island trips over the decades, we’d previously seen parts of the city on our past two trips to Cincinnati Comic Expo, which culminated in a six-part MCC miniseries that included some local attractions. HHC was in a different part of town and inspired us to see what else they’ve put on their map.

Recommendations from friends led us to one of the best groceries every. Jungle Jim’s International Market has been a fixture in the area since the 1970s — 200,000 square feet of foods, drinks, and stuffs from other nations across six continents. For all we know maybe Antarctica is also covered and we simply didn’t look hard enough. In addition to carrying hundreds of thousands of products, the store features a parade of wacky statues, cartoon characters, tongue-in-cheek signage, and odd specializations you’ll be hard pressed to find in your own neighborhood. Its wares are so renowned that folks like us drive from all over the Midwest to check them out and stock up on rare supplies, dabble in culinary experiments, or just let the surroundings overwhelm them altogether.

The following photo gallery represents a portion of what we encountered our first trip, which almost certainly won’t be our last. Enjoy the swell, sweeping, swirling tour!

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 44: Food, Folks and Flood

cod nuggets!

Cod nuggets straight ouf of Ohio. Not until Day Seven would Anne order her final seafood platter on our trip to and from Baltimore.

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…

Every road trip has a last leg, a last meal, and a last chance for things to go wrong. As long as it’s not the meal that’s gone wrong on us, we can persevere through whatever’s thrown at us. Nine times out of ten, it’s the weather coming after us, my old foe. I couldn’t tell you the number of times we’ve arrived home from a vacation several hours later than hoped because of thunderstorms or related calamities. It’s almost never dawdling at awesome roadside surprises that puts us behind in the final hours. Man, I wish.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 43: No, Welcome to OUR World of Toys

Lego Santa Yoda!

Merry Christmas, Lego Santa Yoda wishes you.

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 drive home through the Midwest on Day Seven took us a few miles off the interstate for a while as we sought out a creative repository of childhood imagination. An architecturally impressive school building that opened around the turn of the 20th century educated thousands of students for nearly ninety years until the march of progress closed its doors. After laying fallow for years, a core group of dedicated fans had a vision to bring new life into the former schoolhouse, acquiring the property and turning it into a museum filled with toys, animals, Lego, and other childhood memorabilia, nostalgic set pieces from multiple generations covering the gamut of pop culture staples from Star Wars to Thomas the Tank Engine and beyond.

Sound familiar? It should if you read our previous chapter.

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