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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The Last Menagerie: Our Knoxville/Kentucky Weekend Finale

album cover!

An unlikely trio poses for the cover of their big debut album.

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Our 2005 Road Trip, Part 7 of 10: Total Texas Taxidermy

Moose and Us!

The oddest thing about this moose photo op is that I have no memory of the shirt IM’ wearing in it. Once I started regaining lost weight in the years ahead, it was probably first into the Goodwill bag.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Welcome to the first installment of another special MCC miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our 2005 drive from Indianapolis to San Antonio, Texas, and back again in far too short a time…

As you get older it’s always interesting to look back through your old photos, recall past occasions spurred by visual stimuli from the photos you saved, and kick yourself for the pics you either lost over time or never took in the first place. Searching our personal archives in preparation for this remastered miniseries got a bit annoying when I realized we had five times as many dead-animal pics as we did live-animal pics. The disparity between this entry and our San Antonio Zoo visit was no intentional slight on our part against the Lone Star State or its perception of animals.

Or maybe at age 33 I just thought stuffed animals were more fascinating than live ones like what we have back home at the Indianapolis Zoo. Honestly, we’ve been to our own zoo so many times, we probably have enough shots to make our own flipbook of the animals aging in real time. But creatively posed ex-critters? That’s, like, different. I guess?

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Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 13: Like the Minnesota Zoo, But Stiffer

Rhinos!

Painted elephants in 2-D; rhinos in 3-D!

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

Day 4: Tuesday, July 25th (continued)

Before leaving Austin, I stopped at a gas station across the street, filled up on cheap gas, then sat for several minutes waiting for an old lady in her jalopy to sloooowly finish her business with the air pump so I could refill our leaky rear driver’s-side tire. After our interminable stakeout, we took care of the tire and retreated back in the direction of Minneapolis, stopping for supper on the way in the town of Owatonna at a chain joint called the Happy Chef. To be honest, I didn’t realize it was part of a chain until I saw others like it along the same stretch of freeway. With a name like “Happy Chef”, I’d hoped it was either a cornball buffet or an earnest Chinese restaurant. The reality was a standard diner, competent and low-priced but otherwise unremarkable.

While in town, on yet another recommendation from Roadside America (who likewise tipped us off to the Rock in the House and the Spam Museum), we stopped in Owatonna at a sporting goods store called Cabela’s. Like Happy Chef, it’s a chain we don’t have back in Indiana. Unlike Happy Chef, this franchise offers a special attraction: the largest collection of action-posed taxidermy you’re likely to see in a sporting goods store.

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