Our 2021 Road Trip: Six Teaser Images on the Go

President Obama statue!

Barack Obama and daughter Sasha say hi! He’s one of 43 different statues of past American Presidents (along with at least two bonus non-President statues) standing on downtown street corners in Rapid City, South Dakota. [UPDATED 7/5/2021 per comments and online verification.]

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen 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…

…and so on. Thus begin variations on the same intro I’ve been using for over eight years and rewritten countless times. I’ll be tweaking it again for this year’s road trip series when it starts, but first:

  • I have a backlog of other entries in mind that ought to be done before I return to that annual tradition.
  • After 2600 miles on the road and seven full days away from real keyboards, I’ll need to remember how to type with these Ben Grimm fingers of mine.
  • Speaking of which, we should actually finish the vacation itself.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 8 of 8: Mondo Muncie Miscellany

peach crisp, Neely House.

A shared dessert of peach crisp at the Neely House in Muncie. Mmmm, sugar.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

…with which we were nearly done and largely satisfied by the time we left the grounds of Minnetrista. Before we left town, we needed food and more art. Muncie offers a cornucopia of both.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 7 of 8: Nature and Other Valuables

Indiana purple flower.

Longtime MCC readers may recall I’m not great at identifying pretty flowers. This might be a thistle? the ones in Skyrim are flatter.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

Lest I fixate too much on the Bob Ross Experience, Minnetrista has more to offer the Muncie community and guests like us. Their welcome center has rotated exhibits since our last visit in 2014, but their springtime outdoor decor game remains competitive.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 6 of 8: Tangents from the Joy of Painting

blue butterfly art.

I gaze upon this large backyard butterfly and I smile as I’m reminded of Skyrim.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

The tour of the original house where PBS legend Bob Ross filmed his cult-classic instructional/mediational series The Joy of Painting up in Muncie was the centerpiece of my birthday weekend, but creativity continued to surround us as we left the Lucius L Ball Home and explored more of the Minnetrista grounds. We didn’t have to walk any farther than the Ball House’s backyard to find inspiration and tranquility, much of it geared toward kids who might prefer an augmented outdoor setting to indoor history.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 5 of 8: Maximum Bob Ross

Bob Ross landscape.

If 2021 is the year we’re all looking for palliatives for our 2020 mental health issues, might I suggest a few contemplative minutes with some happy little trees?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

For my birthday weekend seven years ago we drove up to the city of Muncie, mostly known to folks outside Indiana as the favorite vacation destination of the Gergich family from TV’s Parks and Rec. Among our other May 2014 highlights we visited Minnetrista, Muncie’s leading cultural center, art venue, community gathering space, and gracious host for a Saturday morning farmers’ market during the nicer seasons. In 2020 they added a new exhibit to honor a man whose celebrated works of simple aestheticism and encouraging entertainment were painted and recorded in a building on their very campus when I was a kid.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 4 of 8: Donut Turn Your Back on Family

sausage egg and cheese on donuts

The Good Morning Burger of a new generation: a breakfast sandwich of sausage, egg and cheese on two fresh vanilla cake donuts, topped with real bacon and a maple glaze.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

Whereas Friday the 14th took us south of Indy, our feature destination on Saturday the 15th was north of town. On the way up, we detoured for a morning sugar boost at a new shop in Fishers called Ohana Donuts and Ice Cream, a name that should ring a bell for fans of Disney’s Lilo and Stitch. (LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The establishment in question features no explicit Disney imagery, homages, or other litigious temptations to any Disney attorneys living or undead.)

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 3 of 8: Had Myself a Ball in a Small Town

John Mellencamp mural, Seymour, Indiana.

A very special 2019 creation on the side of a guitar shop by muralist Pamela Bliss, whose work also adorns several buildings in downtown Indianapolis.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

After our lively nature walk we headed west down the highway to the city of Seymour. Hoosiers know it best as the hometown of rock star John Mellencamp, who entered the Top-40 music world under the flashier stage name Johnny Cougar, then spent years working his way back to his own while bucking dictates from record-company execs every step of the way. When I was a kid, he was one of my favorite Indiana success stories.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 2 of 8: Muscatatuck Everlasting

Muscatatuck selfie sign.

Some people naturally know where to stage their own selfies. Other people need encouraging suggestions.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

…beginning Friday the 14th, when we headed southeast of Indianapolis to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, the oldest of Indiana’s three federal wildlife refuges. The wildlife welcome wagon was small and sedate, but we also found serenity and light exercise in and near the pretty scenery, dense woods, springtime flora, distant singing birds, reflective bodies of water, and easy trails, one of which was an ADA-compliant loop called the Turkey Trail, laid down through the greenery around the visitor center. Gentle times far from big-city life.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 1 of 8: The Animal Refugees

Turtle in a pond.

It’s TGIF every day when you’re a turtle.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

…beginning Friday the 14th, when we headed southeast of Indianapolis for some sun, nature, fresh air, nature, and walking space. Over the past year all our favorite physical activities were shut down one by one, from the miles-long marches through and around convention centers to my brisk lunchtime strolls around our once-bustling, once-safe downtown. We have out-of-state vacation plans coming up soon and we really need the walking practice. We figured, why not do it somewhere pretty.

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Our 2003 Road Trip: The Lost Photos

Yosemite Sam statue at Six Flags America.

Hanging out at Six Flags America with Yosemite Sam and avoiding the fashion police in my backwards cap, fanny pack, and souvenir T-shirt from our 2000 road trip to a sci-fi convention in St. Louis.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen 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.

Sure, a lot of couples prefer to spend their downtime at the nearest beach, book passage on a cruise, or max out their credit cards on a Paris dream trip. We have our own agenda. Finding creative ways to spend quality time together. Searching for tourism options that wouldn’t occur to our peers. Digging for gems in unusual places — sometimes geek-related, sometimes peculiar, sometimes normal yet above average. We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

We’ve shared stories and photos from all our annual excursions here on MCC. The experiences that predated this site were recaptured in hindsight from the photos, memories, and previous online write-ups at our disposal. In a few cases our archival searches were disappointing, as we could’ve sworn we took more photos than what we found. Once I’d finished reposting every single vacation, I assumed that was that and moved on. Then a few months ago, Anne happened to be combing our library for something and stumbled across a pair of forgotten, small, old-fashioned photo albums that had been buried behind or beneath other albums and scrapbooks in some overshadowed nook. Within those mini-albums we rediscovered a secret stash of unused pics from our 2003 road trip to Washington, DC. Suddenly my completed online project had a gaping hole in it.

Mind you, they’re not the best photos ever. They were taken by amateurs on cheap cameras using 35mm film before we switched exclusively to digital photos in 2009. No one was filling our inboxes with requests to revisit our road trips. But in my mind, now that I can see these did exist after all, the omission of these unintentional outtakes leaves the original MCC miniseries incomplete. And the older we get, the more excited we get at the thought of restoring missing memories, grit and blurs and all.

Presented here, then, are bonus images from that time my best friend and I drove my son out to DC, learned a bit of American history, found a lot of places shut down for post-9/11 renovations, walked too many miles, and came to hate Subway sandwiches because it was the only cheap restaurant we could find near our hotel.

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