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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 15: I Saw Three (More) Ships

Chesapeake steering wheel!

Of all the steering wheels we saw that day, the Lightship Chesapeake‘s was the grandest.

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…

The Historic Ships in Baltimore number four in all, and four is the number of preserved watercraft lining the north piers of the Inner Harbor for your perusal. After our casual walk through the 120-year-old USS Constellation, we tried to pick up the pace as we wound our ways through the other three. After a while some parts began to look alike, but each had its own unique features, especially the submarine.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 14: See the Constellation

Constellation!

You may have noticed parts of this ship in previous chapters. We’ll also come back to one of these buildings later in the series.

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…

After lunch we took a water taxi back to the Inner Harbor’s Pier 1 and dedicated the rest of our Monday to touring their most visible collection of attractions, the Historic Ships of Baltimore. Docked along separate piers are four different American ships of military significance that you can tour for one combined package price. Their purposes and legacies date back decades, and each has its own exhibits, artifacts, and varying degrees of air conditioning. We started with the ship that was oldest and parked farthest west, the USS Constellation.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 13: Standing by the Sea

Olde Tyme Boat!

This wasn’t our ride, but I would’ve paid a few bucks extra if they’d offered to let us board.

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…

It’s my understanding that normal travelers like to get away from it all because they need rest and/or relaxation. Anne and I tend to maintain a brisk pace on our vacations because we fear that every new location we encounter may be our one and only chance to see it. Every half-hour or hour spent recharging potentially means crossing another sight off the to-do list forever. We realize we’ll never see everything, and we’ve been known to revisit select locales, but there’s a sense of accomplishment in at least trying to maximize our experience as if it’s our last hurrah.

As we’ve gotten older, we’ve found diminishing returns in treating a road trip like a marathon with prizes at the finish line for whoever spots the most things. I now begrudgingly admit that every long haul needs its quiet moments. Sometimes we get to choose when and where. Sometimes time-outs are foisted upon us, a killjoy for our exploratory impulses but a respite that our stupid aging bodies secretly welcome.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 12: Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

Cannons!

An unlucky Redcoat’s view of the ramparts o’er which we watched the perilous fight.

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…

When we plan our road trips, great moments in American history are a high priority on Anne’s brainstorming lists. As one of the thirteen original colonies, Maryland in general has its noteworthy historical moments to share, one of which takes up a large plot of Baltimore real estate — Fort McHenry, one of our many strongholds built after the American Revolution. During the War of 1812 it was the site of the Battle of Baltimore and, more importantly, the place where Francis Scott Key wrote our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Fort McHenry was the most obvious place to kick off our Baltimore sightseeing for that significance alone, particularly for Anne, one of the five known Americans who’s ever memorized all four stanzas. Yes, four.

Also, it’s one of the few Baltimore attractions open on Mondays. We were surprised how many local businesses assume tourists hate Mondays. Not this couple when we’re not at work.

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Our HorrorHound Indy 2017 Photo Parade

Sean Astin!

After the destruction of the One Ring, Samwise Gamgee enjoyed an extravagant victory tour and vaudeville revue.

Saturday marked our fourth trip to HorrorHound Indy, an annual Indianapolis convention in honor of the scary, bloody, icky, haunting, stabbing, disturbing, black-garbed aspects of pop culture. The folks at HorrorHound Magazine orchestrate the festivities so loyal fans of the murderous and the macabre can enjoy a themed geek space of their own apart from Star Wars and Star Trek and whatnot. (Well, mostly.) As we’ve gotten older and more puritanical, our touchpoints with horror, terror, and gross-outs have dwindled in number compared to the average attendee, but the intersections between their guest list and our favorite worlds continue to delight and surprise and draw us back into their waiting wings.

Exhibit A: this year’s reunion of three cast members from The Goonies, which they’ve ruled is sufficiently spooky and/or contains enough human skeletons to be on-topic. You might remember Mikey, the asthmatic yet fearless leader who guided our heroes through convoluted clues, deadly booby traps, and the clutches of the wicked Fratelli family to find hidden pirate treasure and give someone in Hollywood the idea to go make National Treasure someday. I saw The Goonies in theaters when I was 13, a year younger than Mikey. Little did I know he would grow up to be Sean Astin — underdog football winner, savior of Middle-Earth, and sidekick to Encino Man. Bonus points to the esteemed Mr. Astin for very nearly guessing my age, and not just because I look it more than ever.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 11: Inner Harbor, Spoiler-Free

Inner Harbor lead!

Several of these buildings are teaser images for future entries. The white-peaked Pier Six Pavilion at right, on the other hand, has to settle for this cameo.

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…

DAY THREE: Monday, July 10th.

Every piece of Baltimore tourism literature — the brochures, the books, the websites, any TV shows set in the city — strongly recommends any and all tourists spend their time in and around the Inner Harbor. Museums, shopping, pricey hotels, shiny architecture and restaurants of varying price points are clustered at the northwest end of the Patapsco River, making most of their major attractions eminently walkable from one to the other. We found reasons to venture a bit beyond in the days ahead, but it was a scenic place to start. And walking isn’t the only way to travel.

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