The Road to Dragon Con 2021, Part 6 of 8: A Taste of Tennessee

Goat burger!

A most righteous burger alongside a side dish that looks like a sandwich that got mugged and had its bread stolen. It tasted better than it looks.

Chapters 6 and 8 are short, easy ones to scroll through by design. This one’s meant to celebrate The Second-Best Meal We Had on This Trip. Longtime MCC readers who followed our last two Dragon Con trips — or, for that matter, anyone who’s been to D*C themselves — knows full well no one tops Aviva by Kameel. Anne suggests I should call this micro-mini-gallery The Best Meal We Had on This Trip at a Place We’d Never Been to Before, but that’s just too awkward, even by my standards.

My secondary objective was to highlight the nice place we found in Tennessee. Hence the title. However, I made the mistake of fact-checking a few minutes ago and discovered it’s part of a small chain, not the local independent stalwart we’d assumed it was. And the chain isn’t even based in Tennessee. Clearly this entry was never meant to be a winner, but I maintain it is meant at least to exist. On we go, then.

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The Road to Dragon Con 2021, Part 5 of 8: The Stones River Runs Through It

wounded soldier!

Thank you for your service, young Union soldier who brought a thick book to a gunfight.

Not every tourist attraction lends itself to images of natural grandeur or bizarre imagination. In some of our more recent road trips we’ve been adding American battlefields to our itineraries, a relatively new item of note for Anne the history aficionado. Longtime MCC readers may or may not recall our previous stops at the former war zones of Antietam, Gettysburg, Saratoga Springs, Chickamauga, and locally notable Tippecanoe. If we’re talking the Revolution in general (the Saratoga Springs context), I suppose we could count Boston — just Boston period, I mean — but that feels like cheating.

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 29: The Last Outpost

giant guitar!

You know you’re in road-tripping territory when you start seeing giant-sized objects straight out of 1950s Batman comics.

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.

After Kennesaw Mountain effectively rebuffed us, all that stood between us and home were eight hours, 500 miles, two more meals and whatever other biological imperatives got in our way. With no further sightseeing intended, we knew our Sunday drive would be long and mostly boring. Lunchtime proved to more of one than the other.

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 2: The Chickamauga Saga

35th Indiana!

Anne overjoyed to confirm regiments from our home state of Indiana marched as far south as the Tennessee/Georgia border to fight on behalf of the Union against slavery and secession.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, there was a prologue:

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.

Longtime MCC readers may recall Anne is the historian in our family. It’s largely what she did in college. Meanwhile, my high school curricula consistently ran out of time every school year and never taught me much past the late-19th-century carpetbaggers. Our travels have taken us to a number of significant old places across the country, from which we’ve learned quite a bit. The takeaways from these opportunities have allowed Anne has to deepen her expertise in specific personalities and events, and have dramatically improved my performance when playing along with Jeopardy! at home.

(That’s not even a joke. Anne will testify to this. It’s been surprising how many times I’ve Slumdog Millionaire‘d a few questions whose answers I never would’ve known if not for our vacations.)

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 1: Southern Accents

Bojangles chicken sandwich!

Bojangles tosses its hat into the great internet chicken sandwich war of 2019 with their new Cajun Filet Biscuit, a spicy patty topped with pimento cheese.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, there was a prologue:

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…

We’ve already shared the fun true story of our very first Dragon Con in twelve excessive parts, seven of which were devoted to Best Parade Ever. We have a few outtakes tucked away for later use, but for now we’re ready to move on, a week after everyone else already did.

Before we went to Dragon Con, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

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Slices of Life After the Tennessee Fireworks Fire

Titan missile!

Thankfully this wasn’t a real missile or the incident would’ve made even bigger headlines.

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.

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The Art of a Downtown Knoxville Walk

Kool-Aid Man!

Kool-Aid Man now comes in new Graffiti Punch flavor! OH, YEAH!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Earlier in October Anne and I drove down through Kentucky and down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to meet a few fabulous folks at Fanboy Expo’s Totally Awesome Weekend, a convention we’d never done before. After we’d had another round of geek fun, we capped off our weekend with quite a bit of sightseeing (including but not limited to a giant dragon)…

After the convention and an elevator ride into the Sunsphere, lunch was an immediate necessity. Other than a restaurant choice pegged through the magic of Google Maps, we didn’t have complicated plans for our downtown wandering — head from point A to B; eat food; marvel at incidental sights along the way. The area in general and one alley in particular caught our eyes and brightened our day.

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Journey to the Heart of the Sunsphere

Sunsphere!

That’s over 266 feet (approx. 81 meters) worth of architectural achievement up there. Of course we had to visit it.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: earlier in October Anne and I drove down through Kentucky and down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to meet a few fabulous folks at Fanboy Expo’s Totally Awesome Weekend, a convention we’d never done before. After we’d had another round of geek fun, we capped off our weekend with quite a bit of sightseeing (including but not limited to a giant dragon).

Knoxville’s most prominent landmark is the Sunsphere, one of two surviving major remnants from the 1982 World’s Fair, but this remnant enjoyed a spot of fame in an episode of The Simpsons. We showed you the iconic exterior from a distance, which for us raised an obvious question: what about the inside?

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Scales of Danger!

Big Green Dragon!

Is there such a thing as “jazz talons”? If so: nailed it.

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.

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Pedestrians Among the Not-So-Pedestrian

Sunsphere! Knoxville, Kentucky

It’s weird how residents of cities with colossal attractions develop an immunity to the awe-inspiring sights they walk past every day. I suppose it’s a necessary defense to function in their otherwise normal lives.

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