The memory of being on the road is so fresh. The wonderful uncertainty of not knowing where you’ll be tonight. The joy of being somewhere you’ve never been before. The possibility of a delicious surprise for lunch or dinner. The rush of meeting new people and hearing some of their stories. All these things can be so exhilarating, and once you’re back in the routine of everyday life, you miss these highs of travelling. You miss the road. I miss the road.
And if you encounter some old friends who are still in the middle of a road journey, you can be envious. I envy Bob and Buddy.
Bob Chase and Buddy Rosenbaum, the two guys we met in Wyoming, are still working their way across America on the Lincoln Highway, and they arrive in Pittsburgh today. I talked to Buddy last night when he and Bob were in East Liverpool, Ohio, not far away at all. I thought they’d be here Wednesday and Thursday, and I had a crew reserved for Thursday, but we have to shift things. I call to see if my trusty cameraman Bob Lubomski (a tale of two Bobs can get confusing) is available to work with me today. Glenn is off working on another project already.
Bob and I pack up my Honda Element (with its “moonroof” removed so we can shoot out the top of the vehicle) and head for the Heinz History Center. Buddy calls while we’re en route. “Wait there. We’ll be there in 5 minutes,” I say.
It’s good to see the guys and their motor trikes, Sofia and Marcello. I’ve been reading their blog, and they’ve set a good pace, leaving time for chance encounters as well as promotional stops at Piaggio dealers. They don’t look exhausted or road-weary. Their bikes attract attention immediately. Everybody passing by (including all the security guys at the History Center) wants to see and hear about the vehicles.
We’re meeting here at the Heinz History Center so they can meet Brian Butko (who’s featured them lately on his Lincoln Highway News site,) and so we can all go to lunch in the Strip District, Pittsburgh’s fabled neighborhood that once was an important center of produce and other food distribution. It’s still a bit of that, but it’s also Pittsburgh’s best collection of interesting food shops with all sorts of specialties that you can’t find anywhere else around here. And the History Center is there too.
Brian comes down from his office, we have a get acquainted session there by the bikes, then we head off for lunch. We decide to try for Enrico’s Biscotti where Larry Lagatutta has a very European little eatery in the alley beside and behind his bakery. It is a good choice. Sandwiches and salads for most of us, Italian greens and beans for Buddy. Larry is interested in the Piaggio bikes (although he really wants a vintage Vespa I think) and he treats us well. It’s a relaxing and delicious lunch. Bob and Buddy seem ready to sit back and enjoy a little breather.
I drive Brian back to the History Center. It’s a really hot day. And getting hotter.
When we all get up from our liesurely lunch, I get in the Honda with Bob standing up through the moonroof in the back, shooting Buddy and Bob as they drive down Liberty Avenue into the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. Liberty Avenue was once a route of the Lincoln Highway. In town, we get out, set up the tripod, and make Bob and Buddy drive around the block several times. They are sweltering in the sun with their helmets and jackets on. They quickly shed layers any time we stop.
After several downtown shots (to contrast with the wide open road we shot them on back in Wyoming), we head for Route 30 east of town. We stop on Ardmore Boulevard and get Buddy and Bob zipping by the 1928 concrete Lincoln Highway marker that’s almost invisible beside the parking lot of a strip shopping center.
Then we head into Turtle Creek to shoot them going over an old bridge that Brian had recommended. Apparently the bridge, a funky old metal through-truss bridge, may be replaced next year, but it used to be on the official Lincoln Highway before the nearby, beautiful, concrete arch Westinghouse Bridge was built around 1930.
It’s hot. Bob the cameraman is hot. Bob and Buddy on their bikes are sweating buckets, but they are such good sports. May I please be so cooperative and spry when I’m 71 or 72.
We do two quick interviews, asking each guy questions and forbidding the other one to listen. They’re both champion talkers and philosophers about their trip and the road and the impending end in Times Square. They’re more relaxed now on-camera than they were back in Medicine Bow.
After the interviews I offer to buy beers for everybody, and they insist that THEY buy the beers. We end up at D’s in Regent Square for good cold drafts in a really pleasant neighborhood beer emporium. I help find them rooms for the night. They have to be at KDKA TV back downtown in the morning. We’ve really enjoyed talking advantage of them. It’s been a good day.
And I’m still envious of their ongoing journey.