Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 3: Welcome to Atlanta

Olympic Torch Tower!

The 123-foot-tall Olympic Torch Tower, is one of several reminders of that time Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

Interstate traffic in the major cities we visit tends toward one of two prevalent modes: perpetual gridlock or expert death race. I prefer the latter, but I can deal with either. Atlanta on a late Sunday afternoon was the latter. The drive from Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park on I-24 East to I-75 South was swift and painless in a good way, measured by my criteria. Anne kept herself distracted from the derby around us by taking a few shots of downtown as we headed toward our hotel.

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48 Stories Over Indianapolis

Monument Circle!

Monument Circle, the center of Indianapolis. Don’t asl me why someone built a little house on one of those rooftops.

At 49 stories, Indianapolis’ Salesforce Tower is the tallest building in town. Once upon a time it was Chase Tower; the time before that, it was the Bank One Tower. I’m old enough to remember a time before it was added to our downtown skyline and made the formerly insultingly labeled “Naptown” feel all the smaller as we tried to catch up with fifteen or twenty other, larger cities nationwide. Measured by population we rank 16th; measured in skyscrapers, we earn a “Participant” ribbon. But we cherish our ribbon.

Longtime MCC readers may recall we’ve been in taller buildings — more famous ones such as One World Trade Center, Willis Tower, and 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which for some unsightly reason is now called the Comcast Building, which would be a terrible name for a sitcom. All of these pale before the magnificence of Pikes Peak, but that’s neither here nor there.

For Hoosiers, Salesforce Tower is as high as we can get without wings or catapults. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a work-related function on their 48th floor. Of course I took photos of my surroundings. Prominent features are labeled where visible and remembered.

Our skyline may not be an iconic fixture in pop culture, but to us it’s home.

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The Chicago 2018 Birthday Weekend, Part 2 of 4: Gray Friday, Windy City

Buckingham Fountain!

I’m told Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain is pretty when the waters are working and beautiful when lit up at night. We got neither.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: for Anne’s birthday celebration this year, we headed up to Chicago for yet another weekend — this time mostly to attend the inaugural Ace Comic Con Midwest at Navy Pier, and partly to see if downtown Chicago contained any sights we hadn’t already seen and/or shared. In past years we’ve shared pics of the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Magnificent Mile, and scenic Navy Pier, among other locales you can find with MCC’s “Chicago” tag alternating in between their frequent conventions.

Sooner or later we expect to run out of reasons to keep exploring the Mile and the Loop again and again, but we did what we could with the hours allotted and the ugly autumn weather against us. Temperatures were in the 40s all day Friday and light rain turned the early afternoon into a bit of a bummer. We walked around for a few miles anyway to spend time with each other and to kill time before the con began at 4 p.m.

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 3: The 99th Floor, Brought to You by Sears

Willis Tower view!

Chicago skyscrapers: they’re everywhere! Get used to them!

This isn’t the first time we’ve shared this particular photo set on MCC, but it’s been a few years since I reused them for a miniseries about our multiple Chicago experiences in general. Anyone who read that miniseries is probably dead or no longer reading blogs, so these pics should be new to you, at least. I promise at least 95% of the rest of Our 2009 Road Trip features Photos Never Before Seen on MCC. Honest!

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 1: The Chicago Prelude

Chicago Crown Fountain!

Welcome to Chicago. Big Sister is watching you.

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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

2008 was by far our least favorite road trip to date, and still holds the ignominious title as of 2018. Driving out to Virginia Beach to see the ocean seemed like a good idea at the time. We weren’t prepared for the medical issues that plagued me all week long. We were disappointed with the beachfront tourist-trap economy. Worst of all, we learned the hard way that we’re simply not beach people. Our next vacation had to be better. Step one was plain enough: we looked at Anne’s brainstorming list of future road trips and chose the one that screamed “dream vacation”.

That’s what led to our long, long drive out to the farthest reaches of South Dakota and beyond. If you know anything about American tourism, you know some of the most iconic landmarks and attractions located way out there. South Dakota would be our most ambitious trip yet. At nine days it was the longest we’ve ever taken. The farthest point of 1,180 miles made it the longest drive of our lives. It would be the farthest west we’d ever been up to that time. It was also our first vacation using exclusively digital cameras to record the experience, leaving behind the 35mm film of our childhoods forever. They weren’t expensive cameras for their kind, certainly not the most advanced as of 2009, but we did what we could with the resources and the amateur skill sets available to us.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 9: New York, Not Yet

Manhattan!

A lot of what’s visible here is Wall Street rather than all the most beloved Manhattan skyscrapers. In the wake of the 2008-2009 recession we nonetheless tried to draw inspiration from the view rather than glare at it in middle-class indignation.

When we decided to devote one day of our ostensible Philadelphia vacation to visiting the Statue of Liberty a reasonable distance away, we had no idea what to expect from the journey. We certainly didn’t envision it as a prequel to future vacations. And yet, there we were, and there it was.

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The Worlds Outside Our Hotel Windows

Chicago River!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: back in April my wife and I attended C2E2 in Chicago. Rather than stay in the adjacent hotels where all the drunken partying happens, which has nothing to with us, instead I found a nice deal through AAA to stay at the positively luxurious Swissotel Chicago, just north of Millennium Park. Our 26th-floor room had the largest windows we’ve ever seen in a hotel room from the inside. To the northeast of us, that’s the Chicago River down below. In the distance you’ll note the Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier out on on Lake Michigan. Grandiose stuff.

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2016 NYC Trip Photos #3: One World, Many Views

One World Observatory!

When we began brainstorming the to-do list for our encore visit to New York City, we wanted to see new places and object we missed the first time around. The list included a handful of places we’d seen before but wanted to revisit — either to relive the same impressions or to catch up with recent changes.

Five years ago, when last we visited the World Trade Center plaza, this skyscraper was an extra-large stump. Today it’s the all-new all-different One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Americans may know it better by its original nickname, the Freedom Tower. On the morning of Day Two, we called it our obvious first stop.

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Our 2011 Road Trip #19: The Long Road to the United Nations

Chrysler Building!

Hi, I’m the Chrysler Building! You might remember me from such films as Armageddon and Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla! I have a terrible agent.

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

On this trip we limited ourselves to two modes of transportation: walking and subway. Cabs and buses are popular options with some folks, but cabs are expensive and buses…frankly, I have no idea why we avoided buses. Soon we would learn that New York City’s subway system is extensive, but it doesn’t make every attraction an easy convenience, especially not in 90-degree temperatures.

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Our View for Six Nights in Hell’s Kitchen

Hell's Kitchen!

Please enjoy this evening view from our NYC hotel where we’re staying for this year’s family vacation, on a one-lane street a few blocks southwest of Times Square, a few blocks north of the Port Authority, and inside the boundaries of Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood famous for having a Gordon Ramsey show named after it and for going down the tubes every time Matt Murdock is too busy recuperating from fatal wounds or being Elektra’s lapdog to come save the day. A coworker back in Indiana who once worked on Broadway for years recommended this hotel, and when we get home I have questions for him.

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Our 2011 Road Trip #8: Shadows of the Empire

Anne + ESB!

Tourist Anne can tourist like no tourist ever touristed before. I love you, Tourist Anne!

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

“See the Empire State Building!” all the travel guides say. “Ride to the top of the Empire State Building!” they say. “The Empire State Building was in good movies! See NYC from the Empire State Building! Empty your wallet inside Empire State Building!” Getting a scenic view of Manhattan is a must, but the Empire State Building isn’t the only skyscraper in town. And what luck that we had one next door with public elevator access…for a price.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #49: The Week in Cityscapes

NOLA via WWII!

The New Orleans business district skyline as viewed from the fourth floor of the National WWII Museum’s Boeing Center. At left, one of the exhibit halls; at right, the theater where we watched Beyond All Boundaries.

Throughout our drive from Indianapolis to New Orleans and back again, my wife took pics of each major metropolis as we passed through them. During our walks and our detours we found a few other neat vantage points that let us gaze upon these cities and wonder if the life bustling along their streets is that much different from our own. In most cases probably, but it was fun to contemplate.

Right this way for a few shots on the road and the sight that greeted us at home!

Chicago Photo Tribute #12: Random Reasons to Visit

Chicago Loop!

The view from the Westin along the Chicago River, with a window-washer’s-eye view of the Loop.

Chicago beckons us once more. I’m up late tonight preparing for our geek-filled journey to the sixth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, or “C2E2” to those of us who have better things to do with our free time than indulge in extra syllables. I’m roughly 60% packed, have lots more printing to do, and torn as to whether or not to bother with back issues at all this year, and working under the assumption I won’t be able to sleep tonight even if I stop typing at the end of this sentence and go immediately to bed.

Hey, look at that. Still here.

Conventions are a great excuse for us to make the 3½-hour drive from Indianapolis to Chicago, but the Windy City offers a variety of reasons to drop in and hang out.

Right this way for more pics of Chicago whatevers!

Chicago Photo Tribute #1: Up and Up and Up

My wife and I find ourselves traveling to Chicago more and more each year as opportunities keep presenting themselves, and as we find fewer barriers and excuses to keep ourselves trapped at home. We’ve both lived in Indianapolis since birth and don’t anticipate dying anywhere else (Lord willing), but Chicago has numerous advantages over Indy. Entertainment conventions such as Wizard World Chicago and C2E2 have been our primary motivations, but those are just the first items on the brainstorming list.

Next weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2” thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.

I’ve had this miniseries in mind for a long time, but had trouble deciding where to begin. In an amazing bit of timing, the WordPress.com Daily Post finally sparked a moment of clarity for me on Friday with their latest Weekly Photo Challenge. Thus we start with the most blindingly obvious attribute you can’t possibly overlook when you arrive in downtown Chicago proper: everywhere you turn, it won’t stop reaching up to the heavens.

Exhibit A: the south end of the Magnificent Mile, their world-famous stretch of big-name upscale shops and shopping plazas, seen here from the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

Magnificent Mile

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