The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 6: Flora and Media

My wife standing atop a pile of dirt in Bloomington's WonderGarden

Anne imagines herself queen of the hill in WonderGarden. Deep into autumn, we found at least two things wrong with that name.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…

…and then it was on to Bloomington — home of IU, filming location for the 1979 Best Picture nominee Breaking Away, and hometown of such luminaries as David Lee Roth, Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot, animation voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, wrestler Mick Foley, sex scientist Alfred Kinsey, Jerry from ER, and the guys who wrote and directed both Hoosiers and Rudy. We didn’t exactly follow their footsteps, but we enjoyed finding our own path and picking up souvenirs along the way, where permitted.

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The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 5: The Art of B-Town

Let Love Bloom tree!

“Let Love Bloom” was one of many messages adorning tree sweaters around downtown as part of a charity project called “Wrapped in Love”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…

…and then it was on to Bloomington, home of IU and other Hoosier-esque things. After lunch Anne and I walked around their downtown a bit in search of specific sites and along the way saw the sights we could see as we sauntered — art, architecture, and other random acts of Indiana.

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The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 4: Obligatory Food Photos

Greek Souvlaki burger!

A Greek Souvlaki burger (lamb and beef) topped with feta, tapenade, sundried tomatoes, garlic, herbs ‘n’ spices, arugula, tzatziki, and tomato. On the side are Asian Bonito fries with sesame oil, fish flakes, black pepper, scallions, and mushroom mayo. (*whew*)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…

…which we promptly vacated when the crowds began to triple in size, when we decided we’d gotten our money’s worth from the park admission fee, and as lunchtime drew near. As it happened, Anne’s short to-do list divided into two neat halves, each of which lay upon State Road 46 an hour south of Indianapolis. The loci were twenty minutes apart, so easily navigable that I could memorize the directions in advance even at my age, which works especially well now that state law as of July 2020 forbids me from using Google Maps on my phone while we’re in transit. Anne is all too happy to allow for anything that forces me to drive more safely. If it means other drivers likewise must keep their phones sheathed so they can concentrate on driving more quickly and without collisions, then for those two ideals I can support it.

Anyway: on to food. It was a birthday outing. Of course we ate.

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Are We Cured Yet? Are We Cured Yet? Are We Cured Yet? Are We Cured Yet?

COVID-19 Vaccine!

“…but we might have some toilet paper and Clorox wipes left, if you ask nicely.”

“COVID-19 VACCINE NOT YET AVAILABLE” read the dual MS Word signs that have been hanging on the doors of our local Walgreens for at least a week, possibly longer. I can only imagine the conversation that sparked them, probably held a thousand times daily:

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The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 3: Woodland Signposts

trail 5 pink hat!

“Hi, I’m Posty the Trall Post! It looks like you’re trying to take a walk! Can I help you choose a direction?”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…

…which was a pleasant place to hang out and get some exercise, but also oddly had far more signs than the average state park. Someone in charge thought, what better way to liven up nature than by footnoting it every few hundred feet?

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The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 2: Ambling in Autumn

Anne in autumn!

The birthday gal poses for senior pictures.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…

After our tour of the park’s Nature Center, we ventured out on yet another wooded trail to add to our 2020 collection. Once again we consulted the park map and made sure not to pick a rugged path that might murder one of us like that time at Shades. We chose one trail that appeared to have a few features marked on the map, sights that would break up the monotony of trees and leaves and trees and leaves and trees and leaves and trees and leaves. Those might be enough for most folks, but if we could find more, so much the better. Fortunately we picked a warm, beautiful day for it…until other visitors began to trickle in and threatened to become full-blown crowds.

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The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 1: Nature Under One Roof

vulture!

2020 is hereby declared the Year of the Vulture. Choose your own joke-reading into that.

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, at least we did before 2020.

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Halloween Stats 2020: How New Candy Protocol Saved the Night

Halloween decorations!

Longtime MCC readers have seen a few of these decorations before. All a part of the tradition.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, even when we’re expecting discouraging results.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #35: The Season Finale Outtakes

Anne in the trench!

DAY THREE: Anne finding her own path of glory in the simulated WWI trench behind the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we guided you through six non-consecutive days of travel from July 3rd through the 11th around various locales within our home state of Indiana, the best we could do with out-of-state travel forbidden to me for work-related reasons during the Age of Coronavirus. It all comes down to this, per our tradition for every MCC road trip story: one final collection of alternate scenes, extra details, and surplus attractions along the way that were squeezed out of the main narrative. Enjoy!

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2020 Road Trip Photos #34: Threnody in Plywood

Downtown Comics!

That time Downtown Comics replaced all their smashed windows with white boards and invited artists to come redecorate.

Every vacation ends with a homecoming. Inevitably we have to return to reality, relinquish the perks of living outside the box for a week, resume our routines, and readjust to our not-so-exotic environments. Sometimes when we’ve run ourselves ragged to the point of exhaustion, it can be almost comforting to slip back into familiar robes and roles and ruts.

At the end of our 2020 experience, “home sweet home” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. More of a Chopin dirge than a ring.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #33: The Market Underground

Please Watch Your Step!

Do you dare enter…the CATACOMBS OF CREEPINESS? (If you do, watch your head.)

Once again we flout MCC’s “road trip” branding on this miniseries, as the final tourist attraction of our 2020 vacation was a five-minute walk from my workplace. It’s been on our local to-do list for years, but was tough to schedule because it’s held rarely, sells out quickly, and goes forgotten for months at a time till one of us randomly remembers it. This year we had the foresight and a perfect slot in our schedule for all the wrong reasons.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #32: Farm Fresh Feast

Cheese Board!

A fancy cheese board straight from the cows’ udders. Plus or minus some intermediaries.

We’ve not far now until the end of the miniseries. One last mealtime wraps up the Hoosier culinary side of things.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #31: Farm Fresh Air

Eagle Creek bubbling!

A happy creek bubbling through a happy forest filled with happy trees. Happy!

Yes, this one’s about yet another walk through grass and trees and fields and then more grass. I wasn’t kidding about walks and exercise being a recurring motif. If we can find ways to prolong our existence on this mortal plane and keep having road trips and comic cons and other good times together, while also appearing slightly more photogenic in future results, then yes, long walks are in order. Preferably around pleasant scenery. Live animals are extra credit.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #30: Farm Fresh Fowl

henhouse wheels!

Quickly, robins — to the Henmobile!

As our miniseries approaches its final chapters, local followers may notice all the remaining locations aren’t that far from our house and barely qualify as “road trip” stops. I debated whether to call this miniseries “2020 Vacation Photos” or something similarly bland. Ultimately I sided with what passes for my “brand” and titled it consistently with previous miniseries rather than kowtowing to strict semantics. The indisputably road-tripping days of this week still outnumber the convenient central-Indiana explorations.

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First One to 50 Wins

Anne at 50!

Milady at her birthday dinner, with hints of the pandemic around the edges but in the moment not standing between our hearts.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, when ruminating on the origins of this very site:

This blog was set up three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process and this fallen world’s degrading standards on my impressions of, reactions against, and general experiences with various works of art, commerce, wonder, majesty, and shamelessness. It’s my way of keeping the writing part of my brain alive and active, rather than let it atrophy and die…

Now that 40 is thousands of miles behind me and 50 is ever-so-slowly approaching on my horizon in the not-too-distant future, I may need to update my mission statement to reflect whatever emotions begin to overtake me as that half-century mark draws nearer.

For my wife Anne, what little sense of foreboding may or may not have bugged her is past. She’s nineteen months older than me and just reached 50, right on time.

St. Elmo!

Our celebration venue of choice, a onetime special guest star on Parks and Recreation.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #29: The Week in Breakfast

Knead the Dough haul!

Can YOU name your favorite flavors seen here? Good, because I forgot to write them down.

Restaurant photos are naturally a frequent part of our travel experiences. However, one practical benefit of using your own home as your road-trip command base is you don’t have to eat out for every meal every day. A few times on this vacation, we settled for ordinary home-cooked breakfasts that let us unwind for a few extra minutes before takeoff to faraway towns. On three vacation mornings this year we incorporated early pit stops into our itinerary because sometimes we do need a change of pace from our groceries. This was especially true during the Age of Coronavirus, which may have been an ideal setting for the sedentary homebody in me but has been nonstop frustrating for the lover of new experiences.

Or at least relatively new. Donuts don’t exactly qualify as rare exotica. But this trilogy of breakfast mini-galleries isn’t all about donuts.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #28: Kokomo-a-Go-Go

Barack Obama alley art!

Flashback to calmer times. Alley art by Jules Muck, a.k.a. Muckrock.

I like art. I like very specific kinds of shopping. I like taking walks around non-bland areas. Downtown Kokomo held opportunities for all that and then some.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #27: Mega Mantis and the Magic Mart

KokoMantis Kokomo!

Eat fresh and RUN!

We may not have been allowed to leave the state in search of roadside attractions, but Indiana is no slouch in that department if you do the research and hunt them down like Mulder and Scully tracking aliens, except we do it to admire creativity and imagination rather than save the earth from world domination, even when the attraction’s origin is exactly the size you’d expect invaders from beyond to be.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #26: Little Park of Horrors

Anne vs. Willie the Whale!

“FEED ME, JONAH!”

If you enjoyed our previous chapters at Shades State Park, Spring Mill State Park, and George Rogers Clark National Historical Park…well, this one’s for all you fans of walks in parks.

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Let’s (Not ALL) Go to the Movies: A Handy 4-Step Safety Guide (Safety Not Guaranteed)

AMC at Night!

What’s missing from this picture? The answers may not surprise you!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: once upon a time I used to go to the movies a bit too often and write about my experiences. In 2020 I managed to catch Birds of Prey, The Invisible Man, and Onward on the big screen before the Age of Coronavirus slammed the doors shut on that hobby for the foreseeable future. On a related note, next January’s “Best and Worst Movies of the Year” entry should take me far less time to write than usual.

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