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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 13: Warrior in Progress

Crazy Horse!

Y’know what’s cooler than sharing a world-famous monument with three other guys? Having your own.

Some MCC readers may be following this miniseries and thinking, “When did you get to Mount Rushmore? Are you to Mount Rushmore yet? Where’s Mount Rushmore? How much longer to Mount Rushmore? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

First of all, knock it off. Second of all, as of this chapter we’re seventeen miles away. We had someone else to see first. He’s taller, he’s wider, and he’s been funded with exactly $0.00 of your tax dollars, making one of the most independent art projects in American history. Show some respect and some patience. We’ll get to the white guys soon enough.

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 2: One Great Big Magic Bean

The Bean!

A strange case of art holding a mirror up to society and proclaiming, “Everything is a fun house now! It’s WACKY!”

It’s odd how repeated exposure to some unusual sights can subtract from their specialness if you’re not careful. Anne and I have been back to Chicago so many times since 2009 that we hardly glance at “the Bean” anymore, let alone gaze into its distorted reality in search of wonder and/or explanation of how they made it. It’s fun looking back on our first encounter and reliving that singular moment when we stepped onto its platform with looks that said, “…what the heck?”

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 41: A Meeting on Mount Washington

Points of View!

Two men enter. Two men leave. It was more of a debate than a cage match.

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 SEVEN: Friday, July 14th.

When morning came, I didn’t want to leave the Omni William Penn, but we didn’t want to live there, either. It was time to go home. Before we left Pittsburgh we made one last stop — beyond downtown but with a fantastic view of it. We previously visited the elevated neighborhood of Mount Washington on our 2010 road trip, but somehow missed one of their storied attractions, a reminder of a pivotal time in pre-American history.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 20: Everything’s Visionary

Bra Ball!

Remember on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse when Pee-Wee kept a collection of either foil or rubber bands mashed together into a ball, depending on which season it was? This is Emily Duffy’s 1800-pound “Bra Ball“.

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…

Whenever someone asks us about our Baltimore vacation and lets us speak for more than fifteen seconds, if they’re patient we’ll tell them the part where we went beyond the Inner Harbor and spent two hours wandering the grounds of the American Visionary Art Museum. We’ll try to describe the captivating fun of roaming a trio of facilities dedicated to self-taught art, to imaginations and handicraft that eschew folks traditions or identifiable art movements, about the outlandish and the whimsy, about the inherent coolness of DIY ethos writ large and embraced to the fullest. Then their eyes will glaze over and they’ll change the subject because trying to describe unique art they’ve never seen is a bit like reviewing a Taylor Swift album for an audience that’s never owned a radio.

I guess you just had to be there. Or scroll through the photos from someone who has.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 18: Visionary on the Outside

Cosmic Galaxy Egg!

Two sculptures join forces: Andrew Logan’s “Cosmic Galaxy Egg” and David Hess’ “Bird’s Nest Balcony” welcome you to the birth of a new reality.

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 FOUR: Tuesday, July 11th.

We’d spent all of Monday waltzing around the Inner Harbor, diving into local U.S. history but without straying too far the waterside scenery. Tuesday was time to go a little deeper into the surrounding environs and see what else Baltimore had to offer. Our only water taxi ride of the day — after a long wait in the morning sun — carried us to the south end and in the direction of something completely different.

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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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