Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we guided you through six non-consecutive days of travel from July 3rd through the 11th around various locales within our home state of Indiana, the best we could do with out-of-state travel forbidden to me for work-related reasons during the Age of Coronavirus. It all comes down to this, per our tradition for every MCC road trip story: one final collection of alternate scenes, extra details, and surplus attractions along the way that were squeezed out of the main narrative. Enjoy!
Every vacation ends with a homecoming. Inevitably we have to return to reality, relinquish the perks of living outside the box for a week, resume our routines, and readjust to our not-so-exotic environments. Sometimes when we’ve run ourselves ragged to the point of exhaustion, it can be almost comforting to slip back into familiar robes and roles and ruts.
At the end of our 2020 experience, “home sweet home” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. More of a Chopin dirge than a ring.
Once again we flout MCC’s “road trip” branding on this miniseries, as the final tourist attraction of our 2020 vacation was a five-minute walk from my workplace. It’s been on our local to-do list for years, but was tough to schedule because it’s held rarely, sells out quickly, and goes forgotten for months at a time till one of us randomly remembers it. This year we had the foresight and a perfect slot in our schedule for all the wrong reasons.
We’ve not far now until the end of the miniseries. One last mealtime wraps up the Hoosier culinary side of things.
Yes, this one’s about yet another walk through grass and trees and fields and then more grass. I wasn’t kidding about walks and exercise being a recurring motif. If we can find ways to prolong our existence on this mortal plane and keep having road trips and comic cons and other good times together, while also appearing slightly more photogenic in future results, then yes, long walks are in order. Preferably around pleasant scenery. Live animals are extra credit.
As our miniseries approaches its final chapters, local followers may notice all the remaining locations aren’t that far from our house and barely qualify as “road trip” stops. I debated whether to call this miniseries “2020 Vacation Photos” or something similarly bland. Ultimately I sided with what passes for my “brand” and titled it consistently with previous miniseries rather than kowtowing to strict semantics. The indisputably road-tripping days of this week still outnumber the convenient central-Indiana explorations.
Restaurant photos are naturally a frequent part of our travel experiences. However, one practical benefit of using your own home as your road-trip command base is you don’t have to eat out for every meal every day. A few times on this vacation, we settled for ordinary home-cooked breakfasts that let us unwind for a few extra minutes before takeoff to faraway towns. On three vacation mornings this year we incorporated early pit stops into our itinerary because sometimes we do need a change of pace from our groceries. This was especially true during the Age of Coronavirus, which may have been an ideal setting for the sedentary homebody in me but has been nonstop frustrating for the lover of new experiences.
Or at least relatively new. Donuts don’t exactly qualify as rare exotica. But this trilogy of breakfast mini-galleries isn’t all about donuts.
I like art. I like very specific kinds of shopping. I like taking walks around non-bland areas. Downtown Kokomo held opportunities for all that and then some.
We may not have been allowed to leave the state in search of roadside attractions, but Indiana is no slouch in that department if you do the research and hunt them down like Mulder and Scully tracking aliens, except we do it to admire creativity and imagination rather than save the earth from world domination, even when the attraction’s origin is exactly the size you’d expect invaders from beyond to be.
Up near the town of Peru, Indiana, Grissom Air Museum on the grounds of Grissom Air Reserve Base had an impressive collection of airplanes representing numerous eras in American aviation. Other artifacts and scenes around the grounds provided an in-depth look into our nation’s history, as well as telling glimpses of our present that will one day tell a story of their own.
At the end of a long day of road tripping, after hours of walking and perusing and appreciating and photographing and learning and gawping and filling your head with new mental notes about memories-to-be and storytelling to come, sometimes all you want to do is return to the car and head straight home without stopping, not even for bathrooms or snacks.
Then you pass one last roadside attraction that catches your eye and won’t let go. It lassos your brain, sweet-talks your sense of exploration, and hollers like a rowdy bartender, “I reckon y’all could spare us just a few minutes ‘fore ya head for the hills, can’t ya?” Next thing you know you’re piling outta the car and takin’ a look-see at what they wanna show ya, if’n you ain’t yella-bellied and if you don’t get up too much gumption to ask why the voice’s southern accent is more cornpone than Rogue’s dialogue in old issues of Uncanny X-Men.
One of my favorite stops on our 2020 vacation was the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy in his hometown of Vincennes. The exhibits cover his seventy years in the entertainment business from early theater to post-retirement art, provide context for visitors with little to no knowledge of The Way Things Used to Be in Hollywood mass media, and, if you string enough leftover photos in just the right sequence, build your own template to a successful comedy career. All you need is patience, talent, and/or an idol to copycat. That’s not how Skelton did it, but he isn’t around to stop you, now is he?
Throughout our years of travel we’ve visited a variety of specialized museums off the beaten paths, institutions of all sizes that focused intensely on subjects we know a little about, subjects firmly within our respective wheelhouses, and subjects about which we know next to nothing. We’ve enjoyed quite a few opportunities for education, for eye-opening, and for amusement. Despite our ever-advancing ages we still have a lot to learn about any number of subjects and personalities whose heydays were well before our time. If they should happen to provide broader context in some of the past movies, books, and TV shows we’ve consumed over the years, so much the better.
As a consequence of my unusual workplace situation, I’m basically not allowed to leave the state of Indiana until and unless killer nanobots hunt The Virus to extinction or my employers exile me to work-from-home, which would pose problems to multiple parties. 2020 is the first year we haven’t crossed the state line since at least 1998. It may have been longer, but we’ve been to Kings Island in Ohio so many times that I’ve lost track of which years were which.
The closest we’ve come to exiting Indiana since New Year’s was the city of Vincennes. Standing between us and Illinois was the Wabash River, known locally as the star of our state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away”. You’d think our state song would be “Back Home Again in Indiana”, which Jim Nabors used to sing before the start of every Indy 500, and which they actually taught us to sing in grade school. “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” was a big hit on the pop charts in 1897, long before there was pop, charts, hits, or catchy electric guitar hooks, and is sung today in the occasional State Fair hootenanny and nowhere else. I just now listened to it for what I’m reasonably sure was the first time in my entire 48 years, and I suspect I’ll forget it by morning. Not on purpose, mind you. But I know how my brain works.
Our view of the Wabash itself, by contrast, should prove eminently more memorable. Vincennes likewise had its share of nifty imagery about town, from fixtures to food.
War. What is it good for?
For inspiring movies, TV shows, novels, video games, a few board games, protest songs, and museums about war.
Your move, Edwin Starr.
Anyone who really knows Anne is well aware of her long-standing interests in American history in general and World War II in particular, with an intense specialization in the European theater. When opportunities arise to learn more about it and to view its remnants in person, those tend to rise near the top of our travel to-do lists. And so it went in Vincennes.
I consider myself generally antiwar, but when faced with collections of giant machines larger than cars, some part of my brain interprets them not as armed conflict tools or purveyors of bloody destruction, but as really cool, super-sized toys. Maybe it’s some primeval boyhood attachment to the Matchbox and Hot Wheels collections I gave away in junior high. Maybe I subconsciously perceive sleek steel mechanisms as an extension of 1980s macho action flicks. Maybe the part of me that loves fast driving yearns for some opportunity to sit behind the controls of any fantastical vehicle that can exceed 100 mph without legal retribution or instant crashing. All I know is it’s fun to look at planes up close.
Longtime MCC readers have seen airplane galleries from past vacation stops such as the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, the National WWII Aviation Museum in Colorado Springs, and the USS Intrepid Museum in Manhattan. But we didn’t have to leave our home state to see more examples of vehicles our nation’s massive defense budget purchased throughout the last century.
One of our biggest regrets about our annual road trips is we always fail to make time for church services on Sunday. Occasionally we’ll happen near a church that’s built up enough exterior decor that it counts as a tourist attraction, but we’re never in a position to attend services. We’ve visited such houses of worships in New Orleans, Colorado Springs, and New York City, among others.
So it went in Vincennes as our walk took us slightly adjacent to George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, where we found holy grounds whose history predates Clark’s arrival in the area, not to mention the American Revolution itself. It was a Tuesday and we aren’t Catholic, but we appreciated a chance to spend a few minutes with our minds pointed more toward God.