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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 8: Coming Up on Crab Country

Crab Cake Sandwich!

It’s not a proper road trip without an impromptu stop at an authentic small-town diner that refuses to serve small portions.

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 spending a few hours driving and walking around the grounds of Antietam, we were overdue for lunch. First we turned to Google Maps for nearby recommendations, which led to a merry chase up and down the nearby town of Sharpsburg for a barbecue joint that apparently didn’t exist, or perhaps was in someone’s basement, or possibly was floating in the clouds above us. I can’t say I was shocked, as Google Maps has let us down before — multiple times on our 2015 trip to New Orleans, in fact. Eventually we gave up and headed northeast toward Baltimore, hopefully to or near one of its higher-rated suggestions in the next town of Keedysville.

This time the restaurant existed, but showed up several blocks earlier than my phone told us to expect. Thus fate brought us to Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd, exactly the kind of diner you want to find when you’re starving and you’re dozens of miles away from the nearest corporate franchise.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 7: The War on Antietam

Colonel Christ.

We missed a Civil War monument in our previous chapter: Col. Benjamin C. Christ, 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.

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…

Also previously: Sunday morning we toured the grounds of Antietam National Battlefield, infamous site where September 17, 1862, marked the highest single-day body count in the history of U.S. soil. Today the grounds hold far more than monuments, though travelers would do well to arm themselves with context by stopping at the Visitors Center first.

Funny thing about that: coming from the north as we were, the Visitors Center would’ve required a 290-degree left turn if we’d seen it, but we didn’t. For the first leg of our tour, we did the best we could without it.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 6: Civil War Monuments, All the Rage

Bloody Lane.

Bloody Lane, a former dirt road for local farmers, where 5500 men died in 3½ hours of combat. At left, a Pennsylvania Infantry monument.

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…

September 17, 1862: fourteen months before President Abraham Lincoln would deliver the momentous Gettysburg Address, a one-day clash between Union and Confederate troops near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, would end with nearly 23,000 dead, wounded, or missing. The Battle of Antietam went down as the most horrendous battle of our Civil War, the deadliest single day on American soil in all of history.

155 years later, Antietam National Battlefield is now owned, operated, placed in context, and fully annotated by our National Parks Service. Shortly after we entered Maryland from the west, Anne and I showed up in our comfy rental car in search of local tourism, historical backdrops, and names and sights she recognized from her knowledge of the subject. Along the paths were a series of markers commemorating where various regiments and battalions made their stands and paid their prices for their beliefs. We had no idea that a month later, Civil War monuments would become a trending topic on social media. In that spirit, here some are.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 5: Miles of Maryland Mountains

Maryland Overlook!

The view of westernmost Maryland from an I-68 overlook.

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…

Much of the drive from Pennsylvania through West Virginia to western Maryland looked exactly as show above — interstates surrounded by deep sylvan panoramas. The first time we drove this way in 2003, my son was disappointed that the Appalachians lacked pointed, snow-topped peaks like in all the movies about the Rockies or the Himalayas. Mountains may be massive, but to some audiences they’re no less subject to stereotyping.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #4: Morgantown RFD

Don Knotts statue!

One man. One career. Five Emmys. One hometown. One bullet.

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…

Full disclosure: we knew we couldn’t reach Baltimore from Indianapolis in a single day by our own driving rules. A stopover would be needed along the way. We’d never heard of Morgantown before our research turned it up, but we’re grateful we found a nice place to hang out for a night and a morning before we moved on…entirely thanks to this man.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #3: Mountain State Mealtime

Gouda Riddance!

Behold a burrito called Gouda Riddance — turkey, Gouda cheese, basil pesto, lettuce, and roma tomatoes. Not exactly Mexican fare…

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…

One fun part of traveling with my wife is hunting for local restaurants that aren’t nationwide chains. We’re not five-star gourmands by any means, but if we step foot inside a Subway, I reserve the right to terminate the vacation and drive us directly home that instant. To their credit, West Virginia in general and Morgantown in particular offered a pair of smaller companies with few locations and big ideas on better, affordable cuisine.

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