Fun fact we learned in 2010: Pennsylvania is really, really, really long. Not as long as South Dakota had been in 2009, but long enough to instill déjà vu. We approached from the west; our target Philadelphia was on its east end. The Pennsylvania Turnpike helps the trip go by faster like magic…but magic comes with a price. Fortunately we saved a little money with every digression that lured us away from the Turnpike.
Roadside attractions are naturally part of our road-tripping experience. We won’t necessarily drive fifteen miles out of our way to see a Paul Bunyan statue in an area that has absolutely nothing else of interest, but if one just so happens to be standing across the street from a Presidential burial site, we might make time for a cheesy cameo along the way.
We’re more susceptible to oddball sights when we’re on our way home, have hours to kill, and need our monotony broken up. In the case of our westward trek across Virginia, monotony wouldn’t be a problem for long.
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…
We left the Gettysburg Battlefield area after a late lunch and were heading northwest when, barely a mile down the road, we pulled over for our next diversion. In a complete change of pace from solemn reminders of our bloodied American history, we perused a unique little establishment, a seller of myriad sugary snacks that boasts an assortment of over twelve thousand elephants. Because they can.
We’ve seen missiles sitting next to interstate exits before, but we’re not yet jaded enough to pass them by without wondering what their story is.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last weekend my wife Anne and I drove down to Knoxville, TN, for an entertainment convention, but made a few stops on our way back for ordinary sightseeing. I nearly described it as “conventional” for the sake of wordplay, but we saw nothing conventional about this giant scaly monster looming over the interstate.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions 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 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.
Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!
When most people think “road trip” in the fanciful sense, they imagine a long drive through a scrolling sideshow of creative oddities, specialized museums and giant-sized objects and whatnot. Some American interstate landscapes are boring and not worth treasuring — the grassy plains, the heavily commercialized thoroughfares, the forests that look exactly like ours back home, those scenery-censoring noise-canceling barriers that have become the norm in cities whose residents have grown sick of hearing or looking at cars. In some unfortunate areas you can drive hundreds of miles between points of interest while your camera lies undisturbed and nestled in your pocket lint.
We still need to devote a vacation to Georgia itself someday rather than just passing through like we did in 2007. But even in passing, the way south didn’t lack for eye-catching displays.