Our 2021 Road Trip #46: The Final Five Photos

Bug-killer car!

A parting shot of the Nissan Altima, our replacement rental lent to us in Cedar Rapids, and its new coat of 3000 miles worth of bugs.

…or, How We Spent Our Independence Day 2022.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #45: Overdue Outtakes

Roaring Mountain!

DAY FIVE: Jazz hands in front of Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone National Park.

No, I didn’t forget or give up on this series, even if site traffic already did months ago. We were so close to the very end when Oscars season, two conventions, year-in-review entries, and mood swings got in the way. The cool part is, much like Watchmen, Kevin Smith’s Daredevil run, or the Dangerous Visions trilogy, future generations who read the full work in one sitting will have no idea there was a long, sad gap between installments. Sincere apologies, future internet users, or denizens of whatever replaced the internet, for this intro that may seem superfluous in hindsight!

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Our 2021 Road Trip #44: Restaurants Rundown Redux

huckleberry walnut salad!

Nobody makes huckleberry walnut salads back home in Indiana. Adventures got only marginally fancier from here.

Longtime MCC readers may recall our best annual travelogues usually include photos from the restaurants we’ve visited in other states and the foodstuffs we’ve found that we don’t necessarily have back home in Indianapolis. We do enjoy sharing those moments, but you may have noticed their conspicuous absence from this series except in Part 30, when we covered our culinary results from Days One through Five, the first half of our vacation. We had looked forward to leaving home and hopefully leaving the year’s troubles behind for just ten days. The more we drove, the more we had to face reality: it was the same kind of 2021 everywhere in America.

Days Six through Ten had their moments. In this context “moment” isn’t always a compliment.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #43: Black Hawk Up

Black Hawk more zoom!

There he stood up, across, along, on, by, at, above and beyond the river. Not pictured: the river.

One last state. One last stop. One last attraction. One last park. One last forest. One last cliff. One last statue. All the plurals throughout this series come down to these.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #42: Ten Days, Nine Hotel Windows

Gardiner motel view!

Best window view of the trip was in a motel across the way from Yellowstone, which proved impossible to top.

It’s fun turning our vacations into extended travelogs threaded with a sometimes weird, often self-deprecating personal narrative that ensures I’ll never be invited to write for a travel magazine. This year I thought I’d also toss in our answers to a question no one asked: “How did the world look from the vantage point of our middle-class accommodations?”

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Our 2021 Road Trip #41: Sock Monkeyshines

no evil sock monkeys!

Sock monkeys performing the classic “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” sketch like all your favorite politicians.

Show of hands, who’d be excited to visit a sock museum? Complete lack of hands, right? But what if the socks were turned into sock monkeys?

Some things are all about presentation.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #40: It’s Not You, Wisconsin, It’s Us

Wisconsin Welcomes You!

Hey, I remember this state! It’s the one shaped like the Hamburger Helper oven mitt!

Humans aren’t built for infinite velocity or nonstop acceleration. Life was not meant to be lived like a marathon without a finish line. We need our days off from work, our pauses between musical measures, our moments of calm between stretches of pain, our interludes between content-packed chapters, our tactile diversions from doomscrolling, our little isolation-booth time-outs from social media, and our interstate rest stops on long, long, long drives. Sometimes we need breaks from sustained input, from our cravings for visual or intellectual stimulation. Sometimes during those little recesses, the world can’t help sneaking a few minute interruptions through the cracks.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #39: Chasing Royalty Across State Lines

Super Mario wall Fargo!

Who among us has not known the stress of a Goomba nipping at their heels?

Day Eight began and ended in very different places, yet not so different as we compared notes between a pair of murals that have nothing to do with each other unless you dig too deeply beneath the surface.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #38: The Viking Diaries

Runestone!

Authentic ancient letter or a Flintstone tablet bearing the headline “Bat Boy Spotted Lighting Leif Erikson’s Funeral Pyre”?

Minnesota and Vikings are a peanut-butter-and-jelly sort of classic duo that we’ve seen paired before, like that time in 2014 when we visited a museum in Moorhead that told the story of one man’s dream of building an impressively detailed, fully funcitoning replica Viking ship. We appreciated the man’s courtesy in taking ownership of his results and refusing to pretend it was a real Viking ship he found buried in his backyard. Every small-scale museum has a story to tell, each according to its own beliefs and stubbornness.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #37: The Oversize Otter and His Feathered Friends

Otto the Big Otter!

In the proud tradition of other famous otters like Emmet Otter, one-half of Daxter, and Mrs. Otterton from Zootopia, we give you…Otto!

North Dakota may have entertained us with their trifecta of World’s Largest animals, but they’re hardly the only state with titanic bragging rights. The fun with flesh-‘n’-blood wildlife didn’t end when we left Yellowstone, either.

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