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2014 Road Trip Photos #33: Season Finale, Last Call for Outtakes

Bi-Centennial Money Car!

One of the many vehicles that missed the cut for Part 29 was the Bi-Centennial Money Car, a ’76 Cadillac covered in pennies. Some things you’re really curious about, and then some things you realize you’d rather not ask.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we guided you through our annual road trip in thirty-two episodes, from Indianapolis to Minnesota/St. Paul to Fargo to home again. In our grand finale: one last round of outtakes from everywhere and everything else we saw besides Minnesota, all kinds of little bonus moments in between the shots in the previous chapters. Sure, I could’ve simply done a more thorough job of vetting photos the first time around and made the previous entries twice as long, but then what would I do for outtakes?

Right this way for the end of all 2014 things!

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2014 Road Trip Photos #8: Our Favorite NWSF Animals

Camel in 3-D!

EXTREME CAMEL FACE IN 3-D!

(No, that’s not a typo in the title.)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

Our Day Two visit to the Northern Wisconsin State Fair exposed us to familiar festivities, flavorful food, and one pro-Wisconsin propaganda poster. Also, there were, of course, animals. It was a State Fair. It’s what they do.

Right this way for a walk with the animals!

2014 Road Trip Photos #7: Another State, Another State Fair

Fried Cookie Dough!

Your ideal Wisconsin post-lunch dessert: fried cookie dough! Each ball of batter-fried gooeyness contains a different flavor of cookie dough: sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, and white chocolate macadamia.

Longtime MCC readers know my wife and I are loyal fans of the Indiana State Fair. Despite all the road trips we’ve done over the past fifteen years, we’ve never tried anyone else’s state fair. The idea has occurred to us more than once, but most state fairs are held later in the year than our vacation week. It’s not our fault that everyone else’s timing is wrong.

This year we were shocked to discover a state fair held in July and in one of the states we were already planning to visit: the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, held each year in Chippewa Falls for the benefit of upstate residents who can’t work out travel arrangements to the adjectiveless Wisconsin State Fair outside Milwaukee, down in the southeast corner of the state. Once we confirmed it would exist during the right time frame and not far off our route, we had to squeeze it into our Day Two schedule.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

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2014 Road Trip Photos #6: Shiny Happy Madison

Wisconsin State Capitol!

As you drive southwest on Washington Avenue, the Wisconsin State Capitol dome is kind of hard to miss.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

After dinner at Ella’s Deli, we headed straight to downtown Madison, and I do mean straight. Our hotel was on the northeast end of Washington Avenue; downtown is on its southwest end; and Ella’s Deli is likewise on Washington Avenue, somewhere near the middle. Navigating was a snap. Unfortunately, downtown parking on a Saturday night wasn’t. We just so happened to be in Madison the same weekend as an annual art festival held all around the city square. Though the festival itself was shut down for the evening, all the parallel-parking spaces were still taken. Since most non-food businesses were surely closed by now anyway, we retreated back to the hotel and planned a do-over on the morning of Day Two…

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2014 Road Trip Photos #1: Welcome to the Kingdom of Cheese

Welcome to Wisconsin!

Once we were beyond the Indiana border and free from Chicago gridlock, then we knew our next road trip had begun.

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. My wife and I like to seek out new lifeforms and civilizations, and then we photograph them into submission. I create a travelogue partly for fun, partly for writing exercise, and partly for personal future reference in those hopefully distant years when my aging brain begins deleting memory files without warning. My wife keeps meticulous scrapbooks in her own fashion, but retaining my own impressions is kind of important to me, too. Someday I’ll look back on this and think, “Ah, yes, I remember when I used to be able to type, before arthritis turned my hands into insensate stumps.”

Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. He’s now an official adult and a sophomore in college who’s developed his own ideas about how he prefers to spend his downtime between semesters, and he’s by no means under direct orders to attend our outings. By the end of one particularly serious discussion over dinner in Jamestown, NY, we all knew and agreed our 2013 road trip would be his farewell tour with us. We were cool with that, if a bit emotional in our respective ways.

I’m finding it tough to follow that delicately phrased paragraph with a declaration of “2014 EMPTY-NESTER PARTY! WOOOOOOO!” But. Well. There it is and there we were. When the summer of 2014 arrived we were fully prepared to shift gears from “family vacation” to “romantic getaway”. Without gloating too loudly, of course, and in our own jointly unique fashion.

At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. Something about the atmosphere, creativity, and Midwest nuances spoke to me in ways that are hard to articulate. I don’t want to say “like Indiana, but smarter” or “like Illinois, but kinder”. There’s some proper analogy a few millimeters beyond my grasp. All I knew for sure was, I wanted a do-over.

To shake things up a bit, because every sequel has to be different and bigger in some way, we added an overnight detour into one state we’d never visited before. In yet another milestone for the occasion, this was also our first vacation in I-don’t-know-how-long that included zero stops at McDonald’s.

Sure, many couples with this sort of freedom would make a beeline for 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.

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Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 8: the Rock in the House

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 3: Monday, July 24th (continued)

Eventually, after the dashboard downshifted from Red Alert, and after one missed turnoff along the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River, we skipped back into Wisconsin and reached Highway 35, a.k.a. the Great River Byway, a stretch of road that follows along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi through several small towns all the way to Minnesota. We were unaware until we reached it that the byway was an attraction unto itself, but it was a beautiful surprise. The river on your left is gorgeous, but the ridges and rock formations on your right are intimidating yet impressive.

Wisconsin scenery!

Yes, this photo again. But hours away from the Dells, we eventually remembered that we like nature.

Our first intentional stop on the Byway was in Fountain City, home of a roadside attraction called the Rock in the House. From the front, it’s just another home near a cliffside. As you approach from the modest parking area, it appears ordinary, even quaint.

Just a house.

Just a house….or IS IT?

From the rear, it looks like this:

The Rock in the House

You’re not helping, boy.

Right this way for exactly what it looks like!

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