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Our 2008 Road Trip, Part 2: Doing the Charleston

Gold Capitol Dome!

I think I shot the West Virginia State Capitol at a weird Batman ’66 angle because I wanted to get as close to it as possible without cutting off the top or bottom. Turning it into a hypotenuse must have seemed logical at the time.

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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

Our 2007 drive down to Orlando had one personal milestone for me: my first contact with the Atlantic Ocean. My moment lasted about ten minutes before thunderstorms chased us away from the coast. As Atlantic beach experiences go, Florida gave me a lousy first impression. For 2008 we decided a second try was in order. Rather than take back-to-back trips to the same state, we researched other east-coast beach options, judged them by their nearby attractions, adjusted for our modest budget that couldn’t possibly afford upper-class oceanfront accommodations, and settled on what we hoped would be a suitable sequel.

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

The first few hours of our drive to West Virginia took us through familiar parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, all of which sped past uneventfully. Parts of eastern Kentucky that were new to us looked the same as the rest, unless you count the water tower with signage welcoming us to “FLORENCE Y’ALL”, or the gas station in Lexington that sold more liquor than gas and was unequipped for pay-at-the-pump, or the dumb Beavis-‘n’-Butthead giggles to be had as we passed Big Bone Lick State Park. After so many hours in a car, some families get punchy and become too easily entertained.

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Our 2008 Road Trip, Part 1: Hanging with the Hillbillies

Hillbilly sign!

Welcome to the mountains of West Virginia! And one of the better meals on this trip.

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. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.

Our 2007 drive down to Orlando had been a fun mix of famous theme park and American spaceflight, with one personal milestone for me: my first contact with the Atlantic Ocean. My moment lasted about ten minutes before thunderstorms chased us away from the coast. As Atlantic beach experiences go, Florida gave me a lousy first impression.

For 2008 we decided a second try was in order. Rather than take back-to-back trips to the same state, we researched other east-coast beach options, judged them by their nearby attractions, adjusted for our modest budget that couldn’t possibly afford upper-class oceanfront accommodations, and settled on what we hoped would be a suitable sequel.

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

Little did we know it would be our least favorite road trip to date. 9½ years later, it still holds the title of The Worst.

Today we kick off another special MCC miniseries representing the original travelogue from our 2008 drive from Indianapolis to southeast Virginia. Some hindsight editing will be included along the way as part of the “special edition” processing. Special thanks as always to my wife Anne, who — for reasons that will become more apparent in the narrative — co-wrote far more of this travelogue than any other we’ve done.

Despite our pain and disappointment: enjoy!

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 42: Welcome to Our World of Toys

Percy No. 6!

Thomas the Tank Engine’s pushover pal Percy enjoys some alone time on the tracks between grueling cross-country hauls.

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…

Our drive home through the Midwest on Day Seven took us a few miles off the interstate for a while as we sought out a creative repository of childhood imagination. An architecturally impressive school building that opened around the turn of the 20th century educated thousands of students for nearly ninety years until the march of progress closed its doors. After laying fallow for years, a core group of dedicated fans had a vision to bring new life into the former schoolhouse, acquiring the property and turning it into a museum filled with toys, animals, Lego, and other childhood memorabilia, nostalgic set pieces from multiple generations covering the gamut of pop culture staples from Star Wars to Thomas the Tank Engine and beyond.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #4: Morgantown RFD

Don Knotts statue!

One man. One career. Five Emmys. One hometown. One bullet.

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…

Full disclosure: we knew we couldn’t reach Baltimore from Indianapolis in a single day by our own driving rules. A stopover would be needed along the way. We’d never heard of Morgantown before our research turned it up, but we’re grateful we found a nice place to hang out for a night and a morning before we moved on…entirely thanks to this man.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #3: Mountain State Mealtime

Gouda Riddance!

Behold a burrito called Gouda Riddance — turkey, Gouda cheese, basil pesto, lettuce, and roma tomatoes. Not exactly Mexican fare…

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…

One fun part of traveling with my wife is hunting for local restaurants that aren’t nationwide chains. We’re not five-star gourmands by any means, but if we step foot inside a Subway, I reserve the right to terminate the vacation and drive us directly home that instant. To their credit, West Virginia in general and Morgantown in particular offered a pair of smaller companies with few locations and big ideas on better, affordable cuisine.

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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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