Our 2022 Road Trip #28: Utica’s Golden

A shiny gold dome amid several tall buildings on a cloudless day.

New York has a cool gold dome like numerous other states, but it’s neither in their capital nor on their capitol.

Fun trivia: billboards have been banned in Vermont since 1968 — one of four states to do so, along with Maine, Alaska and Hawaii. Among other benefits, their lawmakers’ efforts definitely helped improve all those Green Mountains pics we’ve posted throughout this series. Alas, not long after we crossed the border back into the east end of New York State, we found ourselves in the middle of another batch of mountains covered in lush forests from peak to base, but with one (1) great big Denny’s ad in the middle, jutting out like a zit newly erupting on a teenage forehead an hour before prom night.

Moving past that, upstate New York had more sights we actually wanted to see, including a return engagement with a city that got short shrift on one of our previous road trips.

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Captain Janeway’s Homecoming: Star Trek Fans Welcome Kate Mulgrew to Bloomington

Mulgrew and Janeway statue!

Live from Indiana, it’s TV’s Kate Mulgrew!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last May my wife Anne and I stopped in Bloomington, home of Indiana University, to check out the bronze statue of STEM icon Captain Kathryn Janeway that was unveiled in October 2020 as a tribute to Kate Mulgrew, the celebrated star of Star Trek: Voyager. As it happens, Voyager writer/producer Jeri Taylor, a Bloomington native herself, inserted her hometown into Janeway’s canonical backstory. The city’s fans took that nod to heart and commissioned the artistic tribute accordingly in her future birthplace. It was a kick for us to admire the results in person.

As if that weren’t enough Mulgrew awesomeness for us this year, we also met her in person at Star Trek: Mission Chicago back in April, attended her rather lively Q&A at same, and read her two candid, riveting memoirs. I could go on with links to our other Trek-related experiences of late, but suffice it to say we can’t seem to stop tripping over Trek lately.

But wait! There’s more!

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Our 2022 Road Trip #7: Harriet Tubman vs. the Empire

Harriet Tubman statue!

Harriet Tubman. The lady. The leader. The legend.

After the National Women’s Rights Park we had another set of stops to make at the next town over that would likewise have fit in well with our 2018 visits to the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester and her grave (as well as Frederick Douglass’), if we’d had time to stop at every single upstate New York city on that trip. This year we made up for quite a few omissions that year.

But first, we had to brake for some unexpected cameos that had far less to do with rights, except perhaps in other galaxies.

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Our 2022 Road Trip #6: Women’s Rights the Day After Dobbs

Womens Rights National Park Visitor Center statues!

How many suffragette statues can you name?

Of all the weekends on all the calendars that we could’ve picked to visit a tribute to women…

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Our 2022 Road Trip #2: A Night Off for Steel City Sports

Willie Stargell statue!

Ladies and gentlemen, Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Willie Stargell!

Longtime MCC readers are well aware we’re not into sports. We don’t actively hate them, but they’re not among our hobbies and we only attend games if we’re handed free tickets. Sports-related tourism pops up on rare occasions in our trips — like that time we loitered around Camden Yards back in 2017 — but we don’t go out of our way for it. When it’s directly in our path and we have the free time…eh, why not take a gander.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 5: Schiller Park Intermezzo

Kedziora Suspension!

One of five statues (out of an original total of 23) from Jerzy Jotka Kedziora’s series “Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature and Culture”.

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 short-term 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.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

From the Center of Science and Industry we took a short hop south to German Village, a historic neighborhood with quite a few small businesses clustered within. We did some shopping (more about that in a later entry) and some eating (ditto, but different later entry), but in between stops we decided to exercise our middle-aged-couple privilege to call time-out on all the jaunting and go enjoy some peace and quiet at the nearest park. Its grounds had a few modestly nifty sights to catch, so it wasn’t just us starting at grass and trying to remember the Good Old Days.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #43: Black Hawk Up

Black Hawk more zoom!

There he stood up, across, along, on, by, at, above and beyond the river. Not pictured: the river.

One last state. One last stop. One last attraction. One last park. One last forest. One last cliff. One last statue. All the plurals throughout this series come down to these.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #37: The Oversize Otter and His Feathered Friends

Otto the Big Otter!

In the proud tradition of other famous otters like Emmet Otter, one-half of Daxter, and Mrs. Otterton from Zootopia, we give you…Otto!

North Dakota may have entertained us with their trifecta of World’s Largest animals, but they’re hardly the only state with titanic bragging rights. The fun with flesh-‘n’-blood wildlife didn’t end when we left Yellowstone, either.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #36: Kaiju Americana Trilogy

Jamestown giant buffalo!

If all real buffaloes had been this size, the history of the American frontier would’ve gone very differently.

One of the all-time greatest songs about road trips is an album track by “Weird Al” Yankovic called “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota“. It wasn’t one of his classic pop-single parodies, just a wacky 7-minute riff on ’70s lite-country crooners that aptly captured the essence of roadside attractions in all their abnormal Americana glory. Over the past twenty years we’ve seen our share of eccentricity and ingenuity on the run, but in one respect we’ve found the reality comes up a bit short: there are not garish, campy, world-record-setting colossi standing in all fifty states. We’ve seen a lot of “big”, but not much “biggest”.

Clearly we should’ve driven more deeply into North Dakota sooner. A 131-mile stretch of I-94 through the heart of their unassuming state skirts past no less than three such mega-animals in three different towns. Sure, their national park was pretty and a few statues of historical figures were fine, but they shriveled in comparison to the frivolous joy of this towering trio, none of whom have ever been invited to star in their own Syfy Original Film.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #35: North Dakota Statue Stopover Trilogy

Young Theodore Roosevelt statue, Dickinson, North Dakota.

Taken together with other Presidential statues in this series, we see the Young Teddy/Old Teddy gap is nowhere near as wide as the one between Young and Old Elvis.

Tired of endlessly pretty panoramas from the Western U.S.? You say we should get back to some roadside art? Have we got some chapters for you!

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