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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A fast Tuesday: Eastern PA and NJ

August 25th, 2008 ·

Who am I trying to fool? After we leave the Lincoln Motor Court, we stop for a sandwich at the Jean Bonnet Tavern just a mile or two east of the cottages. Bob and Glenn both get the crabcake sandwich (recommended by Carissa) and I get soup and fried oysters. When we walk back to the car, suddenly it’s dark, and we are tired, so we find rooms in Bedford. dsc00003lancroad.jpgWe are barely a hundred miles from home.

Tuesday morning we are up early and back on the Lincoln Highway. We scoff at the PA Turnpike at Breezewood and continue eastbound on 30. It’s a beautiful day, so Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Abbotstown and York all look good. At York we somehow end up on the 30 bypass around town and we cross the Susquehanna on the newer highway bridge.

I crank up my iPhone, check some items on the internet, and find out that we’re lucky. Tuesday is a market day in Lancaster, and I suggest we stop there for lunch. Bob and I learned to love the Lancaster Central Market two years ago when we were shooting our program called To Market To Market To Buy a Fat Pig. The Lancaster Central Market has a really good claim on being the oldest continually operating market in America, dsc00021lunch.jpgand its 19th century building is a beauty. We both know several stands we would gladly re-visit, and I think about freshly ground horseradish because we have Bob’s wife’s cooler in the car, and I could keep it cool for the next several days.

It’s a grab bag lunch, but it’s delicious and unexpected. The best kind of goofy mix of Indian samosas, hummus, oatmeal cookies and roast beef sandwiches. Glenn goes for drinks and returns with excellent mint iced tea. dsc00019tea.jpgWe sit at a small table in front of the market and a beautiful young woman plays a violin for us all during our meal. Lunch is fast and tasty and relaxing, and we’re only a half block from King Street, the path of the old Lincoln Highway. If we hadn’t just done a story about this market, we could easily include it as a highlight of the cross-country journey. You just have to pass through Lancaster on a Tuesday, a Friday or a Saturday.

With some cookies and other goodies for road consumption, we pull out of Lancaster, amazed at the proliferation of so-called “outlet malls” on the east side of town along the Lincoln Highway.

We don’t flee too fast because we know we want to get a shot or two of the Dutch Haven windmill, an Amish Country landmark dsc00039dhaven.jpgwhere you can get souvenirs of Pennsylvania towns with provocative names and free samples of shoo-fly pie, one of our state’s grandest contributions to world cuisine. When I was in high school, I first learned about shoo-fly pie from a girl from New Holland, PA, and she told me it was essential to serve it topped with mounds of homemade whipped cream.

The Dutch Haven used to be a restaurant, specializing in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking for tourists, but it’s just a shadow of that now. The pie sample is tasty, but I’m not┬átempted to mail one home. Better to try and bake one. I think its sticky molasses-y goodness makes it a bit like pecan pie with no nuts. dsc00054dhaven.jpgBob and Glen shoot the windmill from both sides of the street, and they grab a few shots inside too, never missing a chance at a bite of free pie.

We want to keep moving. Philadelphia’s suburbs start blending one into the other. We stay on Route 30, but when we get to the intersection with US 1, dsc00056inter.jpgwe pull into the parking lot of the Overbrook Presbyterian Church and get out the camera to shoot some video of this pivotal point where the Lincoln Highway (in one of its many guises) makes the turn west toward San Francisco, or north toward Times Square, depending on which way you’re traveling. It’s the spot where the Township of Lower Merion (settled 1682) meets Overbrook Farms (established 1892) in a tony part of Philly. I’m not sure how we’ll use this in the program, but we’re here, so we get some shots.

Glenn is driving as we head for New Jersey, and he spots the Lincoln Garage on the right as we zip by. dsc00090lgar.jpgWe stop and turn around. We don’t cuss, we just shoot the place with hi-def video and all our digital still cameras. It’s closed for the day, but it’s a handsome old building with a profile of the president, a saucy slogan (“Don’t Cuss, Call Us!”), and it’s always good to get a Lincoln-named business. This old garage in Fairless Hills, PA, is mentioned in many of the books, including Butko’s and the one called Lincoln Highway by Michael Wallis and Michael Williamson.

We cross the Delaware on the old Calhoun Bridge, get confused in Trenton, sail through Princeton, and arbitrarily decide to stop at a Jersey diner for dinner. img_0292tap.jpgWe start looking. We end up at the Plaza Diner in Edison, NJ, and it’s big and shiny, with a huge menu and honest-but-tired waitresses. The food is good. We all get the free dessert: tapioca pudding with whipped cream on top.

We have reservations in Harrison, so we’re headed there, but Highway 27 (the old Lincoln Highway) is not so clearly marked as we’d hoped and we get totally lost and befuddled around Elizabeth. We stop for directions in a gas station. I think we get lost again, then Glenn works some magic with the Google maps function on his iPhone, and we find our motel-hotel for the night. It’s 11:00 PM by the time we get to our rooms. And we’re up and outta here early tomorrow!

Tags: Road Diary

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