Since the LHA conference is all about the highway, how you choose to get there is an important part of the fun. I think everybody wants to drive, but as one woman from Utah told me at lunch in South Bend, “I wanted to drive but my kids wouldn’t let me. So I thought I’d take the train, then when I saw the difference between $1300 and $300 for the tickets, I decided to fly.”
I didn’t have so far to drive, so I set out on Tuesday morning June 16 about 10:30 AM. Of course I had intended to leave about 8:30 AM, but there were too many last-minute items to take care of. As I left my Regent Square neighborhood, I got coffee and a carrot-cake cupcake from Jackie at the Katerbean. She makes a mean cupcake.
I had mapquested the trip (forcing it to send me along the Lincoln Highway by telling it I wanted to stop in Van Wert, Ohio), and it told me the drive was 443.26 miles, and it could take 7 hours and 19 minutes. Ha!
I took the Parkway West out of Pittsburgh to Robinson where 22-30 turns west toward Weirton, and then I turned onto 30 (one old route of the Lincoln) toward Clinton PA.
A beautiful day. A fine two-lane highway! On that road to Chester, West Virginia, you inevitably end up behind a truck, but I was fine. Setting out on the Lincoln, knowing I’ll see some things I’ve never seen before, is pretty much heaven, and I can easily be patient behind an 18-wheeler till the road widens just before the Ohio River. Of course, I’m tempted there by the nearby Homer Laughlin outlet, and the Chester teapot, but I decide to get into Ohio a bit before I allow myself to stop.
Lisbon Ohio is always worth a visit. At the end of last summer, my crew and I had lunch at the diner there with the legendary “love-birds” of the Lincoln Highway, Esther and Bernie Queneau, when we were shooting them for A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY. This time I decided to try Colleen’s Place on the town square.
Bob Lubomski and I had lunch there on an earlier trip and found out they had stupendous pumpkin roll in the Fall. I wondered what I might get for lunch in June?
Today’s special was a sausage sandwich with fries, and I usually get the special. Great hand-cut fries.
The best part of lunch was probably dessert however: peanut butter pie. Beautifully presented on a plate with chocolate sauce and dollops of whipped cream. In a little lunch place in Lisbon, Ohio?! America is a wonderful country.
After lunch, I motored on through Minerva, glancing to my left when I got to the beautiful old brick stretch of the Lincoln Highway where we taped Esther and Bernie last year.
Eventually 30 becomes a four-lane divided highway after Canton, and I decided to take it for a while in order to make some time.
The Ohio signs that point you off to original alignments to the right and left are just too tempting. I’m off on back roads as often as I can.
When I stopped at a red light in one town, I snapped a picture of a still lively looking gas station that reminded me how homey gas stations once were.
And when I got to Hayesville, I had to pull over when I saw that there were still windows and doors for the Hayesville Opera House.
(Later in South Bend, when I mentioned Hayesville to Esther, she told me that there’s a lot of old stuff still in the opera house, including an antique set of backdrops. Small town treasures.)
I had Brian Butko’s new book, Lincoln Highway Companion, open on the seat next to me, and I was hoping that I’d have time to ride along the original Proclamation Route through Lima, Ohio, but after unscheduled stops in Ontario, Ohio, and a few other photo ops (including a fine example of a Lincoln Highway fire hydrant), I got back on 4-lane 30 because I wanted to get to South Bend before midnight.
There’s so much to see and snap pictures of all along the old routes, to say nothing of pausing to actually find out some history, that you could take months to cross the country, and the Lincoln Highway is just one of the old highways (although obviously in many ways the best.)
It starts to rain before I get to Van Wert, where I take the first exit into town, riding the old Lincoln Highway toward downtown, hoping that Balyeats will be open with neon sign ablaze.