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Our 2017 Road Trip #2: The Madonna of West Virginia

Madonna of the Trail Wheeling!

She can’t sing or dance or reinvent herself, but she’s gotten pretty far across the country.

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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

But a few states separate Indiana and Maryland. And what more comfortable way to kick off this year’s road trip than to take a short detour toward a historic face we’ve seen before.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #1: Avis Presents the 100-Mile False Start

Temp Gauge!

Pro driving tip: red lights on a dashboard are not good. They are not reminders that Christmas is coming.

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, and again in 2016 when we returned to New York City by plane, a rare departure from our usual road trip format. This year Anne and I felt the road beckoning to the two of us once more and returned to our usual wingless, wheels-down approach to viewing the American countryside without skipping all the informative and/or imaginative stops between points A and B.

After months of deliberation, for 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus.

As residents of a sizable metropolis that sometimes appears on “10 Dangerous Cities” lists ourselves, we know what it’s like to dwell someplace that has plenty of worthwhile businesses and activities that are safe to check out as long as you know which ‘hoods aren’t the kindest to casual bystanders. We did our homework, vetted our possibilities, steeled our nerves, asked our friends to stop making those faces, and made it happen. Please be assured no chapters in this very special MCC series will contain our obituaries. We proved to ourselves that a Baltimore getaway is doable and has highlights to offer. As added incentive, we discovered a number of historical stopovers on the way there and back again to enliven our driving experience.

But first we had to escape Indiana. That should not have been a hard part in our journey.

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A Bridge Across the Monongahela

Monongahela River!

Once again my wife and I are on the road, now in the middle of our nineteenth annual road trip to another land not exactly our own. Above is a sneak-preview snapshot from where we spent our Sunday morning in the middle of the American heartland. It’s one among many images we’ve been taking and curating for our eventual 2017 Road Trip miniseries. But first we have to finish experiencing it.

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Our 2007 Road Trip, Part 12 of 12: Outtakes for the Ride Home

Space Shuttle!

Once more, just the noses: the Space Shuttle Explorer and a shuttle booster in the Kennedy Space Center‘s Rocket Garden.

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, 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. For 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!

…and then we came home. The End.

Wait, no, I did that wrong. Last call for Florida photos!

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Our 2007 Road Trip, Part 11 of 12: Chattanooga Rock City

Lookout Mountain!

Hiking the Appalachian Trail for hundreds of miles is one way to see the mountains. Or you can settle for these spiffy decks up Lookout Mountain.

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, 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. For 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!

Driving through the Appalachian Mountains and/or its various spinoffs on our way to Florida had been one part traffic ordeal, three parts staring at sightly scenery. For the return trip we knew we had to view some of that ruggedness up close. Lookout Mountain, right around the Chattanooga area and nearly reaching 2400 feet in elevation, was the perfect opportunity for one last round of exploring the sort of stupendous terrain we don’t have back home in Indiana. Granted, we have caves not unlike Ruby Falls (and we have better photos of one of them). But mountains in general are nearly as foreign to us flatland Hoosiers as Martians.

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Our 2007 Road Trip, Part 10 of 12: Murky Mountain Hop

Twilight Zone!

You are entering a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. Actually, this one will be mostly mind. This chapter may require more from your imagination than usual.

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, 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. For 2007 we changed up our strategy a bit and designed an itinerary for what would prove our most kid-friendly outing ever. Granted, my son was now twelve years old and less kid-like than he used to be, but the idea was sound in principle.

Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Florida!

The end is nigh! We’re two states from home and planned nothing to do inside Kentucky. Lucky for us Tennessee has plenty of features and attractions speckling all its mountains in every direction, some of which we have yet to visit. Some future road trips may see us hit the Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis, Knoxville, or Dollywood.

As for 2007, we ended the trip at a single mountain with two missions, one above and one below.

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