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Our 2017 Road Trip #2: The Madonna of West Virginia

Madonna of the Trail Wheeling!

She can’t sing or dance or reinvent herself, but she’s gotten pretty far across the country.

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…

But a few states separate Indiana and Maryland. And what more comfortable way to kick off this year’s road trip than to take a short detour toward a historic face we’ve seen before.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #1: Avis Presents the 100-Mile False Start

Temp Gauge!

Pro driving tip: red lights on a dashboard are not good. They are not reminders that Christmas is coming.

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. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college, and again in 2016 when we returned to New York City by plane, a rare departure from our usual road trip format. This year Anne and I felt the road beckoning to the two of us once more and returned to our usual wingless, wheels-down approach to viewing the American countryside without skipping all the informative and/or imaginative stops between points A and B.

After months of deliberation, 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 residents of a sizable metropolis that sometimes appears on “10 Dangerous Cities” lists ourselves, we know what it’s like to dwell someplace that has plenty of worthwhile businesses and activities that are safe to check out as long as you know which ‘hoods aren’t the kindest to casual bystanders. We did our homework, vetted our possibilities, steeled our nerves, asked our friends to stop making those faces, and made it happen. Please be assured no chapters in this very special MCC series will contain our obituaries. We proved to ourselves that a Baltimore getaway is doable and has highlights to offer. As added incentive, we discovered a number of historical stopovers on the way there and back again to enliven our driving experience.

But first we had to escape Indiana. That should not have been a hard part in our journey.

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Indy Zoo Revue Finale: Habitats & Handicraft

Orangutanorama!

This one’s for the orangutans. Just the orangutans.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

We conclude these galleries with a look at the scenes behind the animals — the spacious, sometimes lavish enclosures provided for the various residents at our zoo. When I was a kid, the old zoo on the east side was all about stacks of metal cages, concrete floors, and tightly crowded wildlife as depressing sideshow. My family has seen a number of zoos around the country over the past dozen years and appreciate those that defy the obsolete paradigm. If they can tuck in a few works of art around the edges for value-added visual flair, so much the better.

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Not Put Asunder, 13 Years and Counting

Aquarium Us!

Ho ho ho, the flimsy Photoshop dolphins think it’s hilarious that we’re miming being trapped in a giant glass tank. THAT’S NOT MIME. WE ARE DROWNING. PLEASE SAVE US, YOU HEARTLESS FLOATING HOT DOGS WITH MUDFLAPS.

Above is a teaser image from our 2017 road trip, courtesy of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where my lovely wife Anne and I had the pleasure of spending a few days and not getting murdered despite what you hear on TV.

We’ve known each other for nearly thirty years next month. We’ve been married for thirteen years as of this very Monday. Vacation photos and jazz hands are just two of the many cornerstones of our relationship — not the most important ones, mind you, and certainly not the hardest ones to achieve. But when your never-ending process of maintaining and streamlining the critical factors is kept on track, it frees up your mental space to indulge in the happier shared whims. If the process yields fun tangible souvenirs like this one, so much the better and the merrier.

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Indy Zoo Revue #7: Last Call for Critters

Giraffe Head!

To their credit, giraffes sound absolutely nothing like David Schwimmer in person.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

In today’s chapter: one last miscellaneous mammalian menagerie — all the remaining animals that caught our eyes and got caught on camera just right.

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Indy Zoo Revue #6: A Cold-Blooded Cache

Turtle!

Turtle. Tortoise. Terrapin. Shell guy. Whatever.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

In today’s chapter: a smattering of reptiles from the Zoo’s climate-controlled Deserts enclosure. Plus one amphibian for, like, diversity or whatever.

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