A Blog Along The Lincoln Highway

All of this is about a public TV project about one of America’s great roads, and we’re hoping you might enjoy reading about some of our behind-the-scenes work. I’m Rick Sebak, and I write most of the tales. Bob Lubomski is our cameraman. And Glenn Syska has been traveling with us recently. He made the video blog entries in 2008. Back in 2007, Jarrett Buba did all that. A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY first aired on PBS on October 29, 2008 at 8 PM. Check with your local PBS station to find out about repeat broadcasts. Or go for the DVD at www.shopwqed.org.

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Day 3 Following the signs

August 23rd, 2007 ·

OK. We’re tempted to stop at many places — that restaurant, that old service station, that barbershop — but we also want to keep moving, so sometimes we just have to keep driving. Folks in Illinois have done a great job of marking the original route of the Lincoln Highway, and sometimes (as in Aurora which we just passed through) the original path takes you down residential streets and through the middle of downtown. The signage is remarkably good and easy to follow. We stopped for lunch in Aurora at a Mexican restaurant called Cazadores. It was a good place, with good chiles rellenos and a friendly waitress who knew the path of the Lincoln Highway. She told us we hadn’t missed a turn, and we should continue on into North Aurora after lunch.

It’s been a beautiful sunny day so far but Bob says he can smell the rain ahead. Things look threatening along the horizon. (I’m typing this out on my iPhone in the back seat of the van.)

Storm Brewing There was a huge thunder and lightning storm last night. It started as soon as we got back to our rooms after dinner. We stayed in a Comfort Inn near the intersection of Route 30 with Interstate 55 in Joliet, Illinois. We tend to keep driving till it gets dark, then sometimes rooms are hard to find. And we eat late.

Hey! Suddenly the rain has arrived here on the Lincoln Highway. Not in buckets, but in huge supertankers full of water. The whole sky is falling fast and the wind is blowing fierce and monumental. It’s scary. Bob keeps shooting. It’s a show all right. We talk of the possibility of a tornado. Huh? it was so gorgeous just a half hour ago. The weather is bombing us now. It’s overwhelming. The rain is so thick and powerful and intense that Jarrett can’t see the road three feet in front of us. This is big rain. A colossal storm.

Storm WhiteoutIt gets too dangerous, so Jarrett stops and puts the blinkers on. Even Jarrett the daredevil driver can’t drive through this wall of water. The car behind us stops and turns on its blinkers too.

We’re not on Route 30 or any major artery. We’re on a stretch of the original Lincoln Highway called Kesslinger Road between Aurora and Dekalb. Not all of it is hardtop road. Long stretches are just gravel. It’s a genuine throwback to the earliest days of the transcontinental auto travel.

Gradually the rain lets up. We’re able to see again, the corn in the fields beside us stops swaying, and we start to notice the drainage gullies beside the roadway. They are all full. People’s yards are flooded. The road is swamped at many points. The sky is still dark and threatening, but the terrible punch of the storm seems to have passed. Call it the Great Kesslinger Road Downpour of August 2007. It seems monumental. We’re glad to be alive.

We just have to find the Lincoln Highway again. We drive by mistake straight into one farm’s driveway. Parts of the driveway are underwater too. Turn around, head north toward Route 38 which is the hardtop Lincoln Highway. When we finally get there, there’s a marker right in front of us, pointing left. The rain has stopped so we get out the camera and the tripod and take some high-def video and I snap some stills.

Whew. That was an adventure. I don’t know if I’ve ever lived through such violent rain and storming before. We’re all amazed. Glad it’s over.

Tags: Road Diary