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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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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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 #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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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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2020 Road Trip Photos #25: Fight and Flight Responses

BA53 thermonuclear bomb.

Someone set us up the BA53 thermonuclear bomb. Presumably all the fissile materials were removed after these were retired in the 1990s.

Up near the town of Peru, Indiana, Grissom Air Museum on the grounds of Grissom Air Reserve Base had an impressive collection of airplanes representing numerous eras in American aviation. Other artifacts and scenes around the grounds provided an in-depth look into our nation’s history, as well as telling glimpses of our present that will one day tell a story of their own.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #24: Plentiful Planes Parked in Peru

Passionette Paulette!

Hollywood prop alert: Passionate Paulette here is a B-25J, one of eighteen used in the filming of Mike Nichols’ 1970 adaptation of Catch-22. B-25s have also appeared in Pearl Harbor, Sucker Punch, and other, better films.

Yes, yes, I know we were just showing you an airplane collection earlier, but these are totally different planes at a completely different museum on the opposite end of the state. Well, not the far end, but comparatively opposite.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #23: Boot City Outskirts

cattle and cowboy!

Cut ’em out! Ride ’em in! RAWHIDE!

At the end of a long day of road tripping, after hours of walking and perusing and appreciating and photographing and learning and gawping and filling your head with new mental notes about memories-to-be and storytelling to come, sometimes all you want to do is return to the car and head straight home without stopping, not even for bathrooms or snacks.

Then you pass one last roadside attraction that catches your eye and won’t let go. It lassos your brain, sweet-talks your sense of exploration, and hollers like a rowdy bartender, “I reckon y’all could spare us just a few minutes ‘fore ya head for the hills, can’t ya?” Next thing you know you’re piling outta the car and takin’ a look-see at what they wanna show ya, if’n you ain’t yella-bellied and if you don’t get up too much gumption to ask why the voice’s southern accent is more cornpone than Rogue’s dialogue in old issues of Uncanny X-Men.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #22: The Skelton Keys to Comedy

pratfall stage!

Hey, slapstick fans! Learn how to pratfall in three easy steps! Practice several times on this very stage until you can do it without breaking any bones, just like a professional Hollywood stuntman or classic entertainer!

One of my favorite stops on our 2020 vacation was the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy in his hometown of Vincennes. The exhibits cover his seventy years in the entertainment business from early theater to post-retirement art, provide context for visitors with little to no knowledge of The Way Things Used to Be in Hollywood mass media, and, if you string enough leftover photos in just the right sequence, build your own template to a successful comedy career. All you need is patience, talent, and/or an idol to copycat. That’s not how Skelton did it, but he isn’t around to stop you, now is he?

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2020 Road Trip Photos #21: Legends of the “I Dood It” Guy

TV Weekly cover!

The many faces of Red Skelton covered an October 1967 edition of the LA Herald-Examiner‘s TV section. Art by Bob Bentovoja.

Throughout our years of travel we’ve visited a variety of specialized museums off the beaten paths, institutions of all sizes that focused intensely on subjects we know a little about, subjects firmly within our respective wheelhouses, and subjects about which we know next to nothing. We’ve enjoyed quite a few opportunities for education, for eye-opening, and for amusement. Despite our ever-advancing ages we still have a lot to learn about any number of subjects and personalities whose heydays were well before our time. If they should happen to provide broader context in some of the past movies, books, and TV shows we’ve consumed over the years, so much the better.

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