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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 12: Burros Barge in Where the Buffalo Roam

burro!

That time we came under scrutiny from the South Dakota Burro of Investigation.

In the early years when my son tagged along on our travels, we made a point of including at least one amusement park or zoo on every road trip. That requirement faded as we got older, but we were happy to make time for animals if we found any interesting habitats along our paths.

In one South Dakota state park, it was the animals’ turn to come up and stare at us.

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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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Cumberland Falls in the Fall

Anne + Falls!

Our lovely spokesmodel Anne welcomes you to “the Niagara of the South” according to the locals!

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Our 2004 Road Trip, Part 1 of 10: Erie and Grey

Danger No Swimming!

Scenes like this are why no one lets us design travel brochures.

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.

Welcome to the first installment of another special MCC miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our first vacation as a capital-F Family: a drive northeast from Indianapolis up to see the watery wonders of Niagara Falls and its adjacent tourist traps. Some hindsight editing will be included along the way as part of the “special edition” processing.

Prior to 2006 all our amateur photography depended on 35m cameras, back in the day when finished film rolls had to be dropped off for developing and whose pics then had to be scanned using the terrible tech available on our low budget at the time, then uploaded via miserable AOL 56K modem. For years I hated hated HATED scanning under those conditions, which means our oldest internet friends who already read what Anne and I wrote have never seen any of the photos that’ll be newly shared throughout these ten chapters. Very little about these entries will approach 1080p quality. Back in our day, this is what history looked like. When these were first posted, they were as much about the writing as they were about the pics. That’s why two of the ten chapters will contain more words than pictures, if you need such an advance warning. They’re our stories to tell nonetheless, captured in our memories if not by our shutter clicks.

Enjoy!

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Sand Getting Everywhere: Our 2004 Road Trip Honeymoon Prelude

Anne in Sand!

At last, no more squabbling relatives, no more ritual expectations, no more formal wear, and best of all, no more wedding planning ever again. NEVER EVER EVER.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: twelve years ago, before we went on vacation, Anne and I got married!

The guests had left earlier than expected and effectively canceled the scene where we were supposed to walk to my car through a hail of blown bubbles. After cleanup the bride and groom made a hasty retreat, dropped off all the gifts at home, then sped north to our honeymoon destination that was absolutely not an exotic tropical island resort, though portions of it bore faint resemblance to one in our humble eyes.

Ours was a most economical wedding experience partly by circumstance but mostly by preference. Neither of us comes from families in a position to drop several thousand bucks in one place on any object or experience ever. Anne’s dress, which I adored to pieces, was a great find at JCPenney. My attire was cobbled together piecemeal at Value City, as I’ve never owned a full, matching suit in my life, not even now in 2017. Our wedding rings were a Black Friday purchase I’d scored a month before I proposed. Everything from church to flowers to wedding planner to all the other mandatory expenses –- which I can’t remember because I was the groom –- added up to a few hundred at most. Anne and I already each had a failed marriage on our respective rap sheets and were absolutely in agreement and okay with taking the lo-fi route all the way. I promise you it can be done, kids.

Our big honeymoon plan was to revisit our old friend Lake Michigan, last seen on our 2002 road trip to Grand Rapids. And we knew at least one place on the Indiana side with a beach and a view.

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2016 NYC Trip Photos #6: Central Park Statue Stalking

Sherman Statue!

General Sherman prepares to depart Manhattan and rampage all over those Confederate flag sites we saw on our 2015 road trip to the South.

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…

And in our last chapter:

On our 2011 vacation we saw maybe 5% of the total square footage of Central Park, if that. We saw a feature or two, but were so drained by the time we got there that the oppressive summer heat burned away the last of our energy reserves along with any drive for exploration. After we finished with St. Paul’s Chapel, we decided another, longer tour through Central Park was in order. All told, our Central Park walk took us from Grand Army Plaza at 59th and 5th to just behind the Met at 81st Street.

A few Central Park art fixtures were at the top of Anne’s must-see checklist. We encountered more than twice as many statues as we expected before we reached the two she was looking for at the end of our trail.

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