Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 1: The Big Bad Burger

Thurman Burger!

What better way to kick off a vacation than with a meal that’ll keep you overstuffed for days?

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.

After the record-breaking nine-day epic that was our 2009 trek to the farthest reaches of South Dakota, we decided to scale back in 2010 with a shorter drive in a different direction. We previously drove through the corners of Pennsylvania in 2003 and 2004 — through Washington in the southwest corner on our way to Washington, DC; and through Erie in the northwest corner on our way to Niagara Falls. This year, that extra-large wooded state would be the center of our attention.

As one of America’s original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania contains multitudes of U.S. history and authentic places and things from centuries past. For the three of us, we figured it would do well. Anne is a big history buff. I’m willing to drive just about anywhere within reason. My son would be dragged along for whatever ride until such time as he developed a separate life and identity.

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

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Road Trip Clip Show: a Salute to Vacation Days, Part 1 of 2

Once all the necessary errands are run and all defensive countermeasures are in place, we’ll be taking off this weekend for our annual road trip. Each year we drive hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to other states to view their museums, witness amazing works of God and man, check out roadside attractions of varying degrees of imagination and quality, and generally see firsthand what lies beyond Indiana.

Our 2012 road trip will take us through Kansas to Colorado, including a circuitous route through Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. With the Waldo Canyon fire now 70% contained as of today and the other extant fires being beyond the scope of our plans, we’re feeling less intrepid and more emboldened to sally forth toward the Rockies and whatever they might surround. We’re challenging ourselves to find good points about Kansas as well.

In honor of Independence Day, one of America’s busiest traveling holidays of the year, and in honor of the fact that I have less free time this week because of vacation preparations and mandatory family-holiday quality time, I present a cursory look back at our road trips from previous years, select snippets of a few of my favorite faraway things.

2011: Manhattan

Our first time in New York City became my favorite vacation to date. The sights, the sounds, the subways, the cleanliness, the overwhelming density of activity options — it was like three vacations packed into one and then marinated in adrenalin.

Naturally we photographed Times Square too many times. We attended The Lion King, found ourselves blown away and wishing the other shows had been inexpensive enough to attend four or five more.

Times Square ad frenzy

Most people view the city from atop the Empire State Building. For a few dollars less, and with no haranguing from enthusiastic street guides, you can ride to the upper floors of 30 Rockefeller Center and see most of the same rooftops. At that height, the view plus or minus a few stories isn’t appreciably different, unless we missed something really cool on 30 Rock’s roof.

the view from 30 Rock

A couple of New Yorkers we know thought it odd that we included Grant’s Tomb on our itinerary. My wife the history buff insisted after reading his autobiography. This seemed like an awful lot of building just to provide a tomb for two, but I was happy to oblige.

Grant's Tomb: Conveniently on the Way to Harlem

2010: Pennsylvania via Ohio

Our primary destination was Philadelphia — again, because of history — but our attention wandered to numerous other sights along the way.

My personal favorite: Eastern State Penitentiary, a former famous prison that’s now a “stabilized ruin” you can visit and view from within. Most notable features include a cell once occupied by Al Capone and a self-guided audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi.

Eastern State Penitentiary, second floor

Diverging from the Pennsylvania Turnpike for several miles allowed us opportunities for small-town roadside wonders such as this giant quarter in Everett, created as part of a local contest.

Everett's giant quarter

On the way to Pennsylvania, we stopped for lunch at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, a certified As Seen on Man v. Food pit stop. Below is the Thurman Burger, which is larger than some house pets. Not even in my overeating college days could I leave a clean plate after this meal.

Thurman Burger, Thurman Cafe

More to come tomorrow!

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