Our 2003 Road Trip, Part 4 of 7: Mandatory Amusement Park

swings!

Yup, that’s me, back in the days when a guy could wear a backwards cap in public without onlookers casting aspersions on his character or anti-fashion sense.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our fifth annual road trip became our first family road trip as we jettisoned our convention plans and took my son to scenic Washington DC to learn history and significance and architecture and so forth. We took a handful of photos using ye olde 35mm film when we weren’t busy corralling and entertaining the boy.

Day Four: Wednesday, July 9, 2003. Tuesday and Thursday were set aside for our official Washington DC tourism. We knew my son would need a break from history and learning to do something more overtly kid-like, more indulgent, and arguably more thrilling. The solution was a one-day intermission at Six Flags America, 20 miles east of town and not too far from Baltimore, home of Homicide and The Wire. It wasn’t the best amusement park ever. The security check-in at their front gate was sterner and more invasive than what we’d encountered at the Washington Monument or any other institution post-9/11. More rides were out-of-order than we would’ve preferred. And then there was the anxious moment when one guy got kicked off a ride and expressed his displeasure by tossing a basketball over a crowd’s heads and getting extremely lucky that it didn’t hit any of us.

But hey! Thrill rides on a sunny day!

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Our 2003 Road Trip, Part 3 of 7: Flying with Dinosaurs

Kitty Hawk!

The original Wright Brothers flyer dangles overhead with Wright brother simulacrum feigning giddiness.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our fifth annual road trip became our first family road trip as we jettisoned our convention plans and took my son to scenic Washington DC to learn history and significance and architecture and so forth. We took a handful of photos using ye olde 35mm film when we weren’t busy corralling and entertaining the boy.

After quote-unquote “lunch” on Day Three we headed a few blocks east to visit our first Smithsonian museum. Handy trivia: any show or movie that tells you an artifact or MacGuffin is “in the Smithsonian” is fudging their verisimilitude. The Smithsonian Institute comprises nineteen museums, many but not all of which are in DC. If someone tries faking their Smithsonian familiarity like that, ask them “WHICH ONE?” and tap your foot impatiently till they either answer with credibility or embarrass themselves by answering, “Uhhhhh, the really big one.”

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Our 2003 Road Trip, Part 2 of 7: Bullseye Goes to the Washington Monument

Washington Monument!

The first of several photo ops with our very special guest star. And the boy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our fifth annual road trip became our first family road trip as we jettisoned our convention plans and took my son to scenic Washington DC to learn history and significance and architecture and so forth.

Day Three: Tuesday, July 8, 2003. Our first full day in the nation’s capital began with our first ride on a DC subway down to the Smithsonian station to start hitting the major attractions around the National Mall, the densest, most appealing area for tourist attractions and vintage buildings. Many of them were free. Not all of them were open. Several, including the National Archives and Ford’s Theater, were undergoing renovations or simply taking time off during the summer. Two years after 9/11, White House tours were out of the question unless you belonged to a scout troop or other organization of verifiable import. But we tried to make the most of those fabled institutions that rose to the top of our to-do list by dint of not being closed.

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Our 2002 Road Trip, Part 5 of 5: The Day the Vice Presidents Took Over

Man in Space!

Anne hanging out with Jud Nelson’s “Man in Space”, our greeter at the Ford Museum. Per aspera ad astra, and all that.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our fourth annual road trip, a meetup in Grand Rapids with fellow Star Wars fans for opening day of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. Before and after the movie, we spent our first time in Michigan hitting a few key tourist attractions in the vicinity.

Our miniseries finale begets a confluence of regrets, as eventually came the time to take our leave of our gracious hosts and hit the road home. We had three more stops planned along the way. Two of them worked out. I’d love to share a thousand solid words and a couple dozen photos from what we did that Friday. Yep. Sure would be cool. I’ll get to what we do have in just a moment.

Caution: travelogue finale contains some meta elements of writing about writing…

Our 2002 Road Trip, Part 4 of 5: The Meijer Art Department

American Horse!

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless it threatens your life perforce…

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our fourth annual road trip, a meetup in Grand Rapids with fellow Star Wars fans for opening day of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. Before and after the movie, we spent our first time in Michigan hitting a few key tourist attractions in the vicinity.

In Part 3 we walked you through the scenic greenery at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, years before a series of subsequent expansions turned it into one of Grand Rapids’ largest attractions. But as the name implies, we saw more than just gardens. Assorted sculptures are on display for the art lovers curious to see human creations in the natural mix. The largest piece by far is Nina Akamu’s 1999 The American Horse, which would be quite the destroyer if magic ever brought it to life.

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Our 2002 Road Trip, Part 3 of 5: The Meijer Garden Department

Meijer Gardens Cacti!

We’ve posted several photo galleries over the years starring just flowers and plants, but none looked as cool or as lethal as these echinocactus barrels.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our fourth annual road trip, a meetup in Grand Rapids with fellow Star Wars fans for opening day of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. Before and after the movie, we spent our first time in Michigan hitting a few key tourist attractions in the vicinity.

In between movie showings, our friends Katrina and Shannon had us detour for one of the largest attractions in Grand Rapids, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Opened in 1995 courtesy of the folks at Meijer — one of our larger big-box grocery/department store chains here in the Midwest — its 28 acres were donated to the city for use as a grand celebration of cultivated art and greenery. According to Wikipedia, Meijer Gardens has more than quadrupled in size since our 2002 visit. Our once in-depth examination is now an obsolete scratch across the surface of the flora and fancies that are surely like a standing army today. I suppose that’s what we get for arriving unfashionably early.

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