Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lincoln Highway 100th Anniversary Tour

The Trip Home

The trip home was pleasant, but somewhat anti-climactic. We spent three days taking a roundabout route from Kearney, Nebraska to Olathe, Kansas where we spent the first night. From Olathe we followed the Jefferson Highway south where we intersected Route 66 near Riverton, Kansas. We then headed northeast, following Route 66 to Lebanon, Missouri where we spent the second night. The next day we finished our Route 66 - Missouri trip with a "frozen concrete" at Ted Drewe's like we always do.

At this point we weren't sure where we were going, we just knew that we have to be back in Brevard by the end of the following day. Sharon plugged our current location and destination into the GPS and instructed it to find us a way home without taking any Interstate highways. The route led us through some very scenic towns in Illinois and Kentucky. By the time we reached Tennessee it was getting late so we spent the night in the second Lebanon in two nights. In the meantime we had made a decision to have lunch with Sharon's daughter Olivia in Chattanooga, Tennessee, so that was the direction we headed in the morning. We had a very nice lunch with Olivia, then followed US-64 back home. It rained almost non-stop throughout the day, so we were glad to finally reach Brevard.

Here are a few pictures of the final three days of travel.

The drive through Nebraska involved many miles of cornfields and very straight roads, but it was pleasant and relaxing nonetheless. We even had the scenery broken up by an occasional strange looking house. OK, this is actually the only strange looking house we saw, but we would have enjoyed seeing more...

By the time we got close to Kansas, the roads became a bit more interesting with some hills and curves. Kansas was a very enjoyable ride as we followed the Jefferson Highway south. The Jefferson celebrates it's centennial in three years, so maybe a trip from Winnipeg to New Orleans will be in the works before too long. The bridge below is a triple span Marsh arch bridge. There were several built in Kansas and elsewhere, but far fewer remain today.

After connecting with Route 66 we stopped for lunch in Galena, Kansas. We then stopped a place that used to be called "Four Women on the Route" but has recently changed its name. I had to stop and get a picture of the new, freshly painted name and chat with Melba, "the mouth of the south".

Our next stop in Carthage, Missouri involved a new sign and name change as well. One of my favorite motels on Route 66 is the Boots Motel...was the Boots Motel. They just finished restoring the neon sign out in front and restored the name back to its original Boots Court moniker. The sign looks great in the daylight and I only wish we could have stuck around to see it illuminated at night. We could only stay a few minutes but it was nice saying hello to our friend Ron Hart.

Our next stop was on a quiet bridge near the town of Spencer. 

We spent the night at the famous Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri. When it got dark they lit their massive sign and Sharon and I spent 20 minutes taking pictures. This sign was one of the main reasons I purchased a digital SLR camera because the point-and-shoots do a lousy job with neon. So I was excited and happy to get back here to take a bunch of pictures.

Our last stop before Ted Drewe's was another one of my favorites; John's Modern Cabins. I shoot bunches of pictures here every time I come, and each time I see the buildings in worse shape. This time I wandered around through the grass, watching carefully for snakes. I apparently didn't do such a good job watching for ticks though, because that night we found one embedded in my belly. Sharon covered the tick with an oil concoction she carries, the intent of which is to smother the tick and get it to extract itself. The Center for Disease Control says this doesn't work, but Sharon said it would. We watched in amazement as the tick backed completely out of my skin and she snatched it away with tweezers. I think my future shots at John's Modern Cabins are going to have to be from the road.

So in summary, we had a great time. Our final tally was 3,887 miles, which is actually the shortest of the major trips we have taken in the last three years. The Monte Carlo was virtually flawless. I changed the spark plugs in a hotel parking lot on our trip home; something I intended to do but ran out of time before we left. The car had started to run rough but after the new plugs were installed it ran better than ever.

In the beginning we weren't sure about traveling with a tour group, but in the end we were very pleased with how everything turned out. I would like to travel the other half of the Lincoln Highway at some point; I think Sharon wants to as well, but not before a trip to the beach and Las Vegas. We'll see what happens. There are lots of other road trips on the horizon as well, but for now I think that we will stick to some shorter ones.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Tour Day 9 -The Parade Into Kearney

Tour Day 9 -The Parade Into Kearney

The final day of our tour was the "victory lap" into Kearney, Nebraska, the midpoint of the Lincoln Highway. Here we would meet our counterparts from the western tour who had started out in San Francisco. We were to drive in a caravan to the local community college, then get positioned in chronological order from oldest to newest vehicle. We received a police escort from there to Highway 30 which would take us to Kearney.

Just outside of Kearney we stopped to  prepare for the final parade into town. The purpose of this stop was to get back into sequence if problems arose, and to coordinate timing with the other group so we could arrive simultaneously.

This 1913 Stevens Duryea drove 1,200 miles from Mansfield, Ohio to lead our tour group into town.

A police and motorcycle escort led us into town where we passed the western group traveling in the opposite direction. There were thousands of people watching us parade past each other. Then we were directed down the main parade route where each of us was introduced, one vehicle at a time.They told the viewers our names and where we were from, then told them about our car. They did that for each of us as we slowly passed through with everyone cheering and waving. it was actually quite moving and I wish I was able to take pictures of that part of the parade, but I was driving of course so I couldn't.

Another group that joined us in Kearney was the Tin Can Tourists, a club organized in 1919. They were incredibly cool.

Miss Nebraska was there to greet us as well.

After the parade they parked us temporarily, then moved us back into the parade route for a huge car show.

It turned out to be an incredible day, and a definite highlight of the trip. Today Sharon and I will start for the general direction of home. We plan to take the back roads through Nebraska and iowa, and will spend the night somewhere around St. Joseph, Missouri.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tour Day 8 - Grand island, Nebraska

Day 8 saw us cover a lot of ground to get into position for our final "parade lap" into Kearney, Nebraska on the following day. The trip was uneventful and we saw some interesting things. One of my favorites was an old abandoned bridge that was part of the original routing of the Lincoln Highway heading west into Woodbine, Iowa. The concrete bridge remains but the rest of the roadway is long gone.

There was an interesting gas station in Woodbine but I particularly liked the old sign.

Out in the middle of nowhere is a pair of Lincoln monuments erected by J.E. Moss. A bit further is Gregory Corner.

Another one of my favorite spots on this day was a short section of hard-packed dirt road.

We had dinner at the Shady Bend restaurant in Grand Island. This used to be the main building for a motor court dating back to the late 1920s. The same family has owned it since the beginning, now on their third and fourth generations.

Another great spot in Grand Island is this LH seedling mile. The LH Association created several of these "ideal miles" to show communities how to build durable, safe roads. Whether accurate or not, the local historical society claims that this brief stretch is the last original paved section of the Lincoln Highway in existence and is on the National Historical Register.

Another well known landmark on the Lincoln Highway is the Kensinger Service & Supply station.

After dinner Sharon and I wandered downtown to get pictures of a spectacular theater marquee. As we were photographing the sign a man came outside and told us the story of the theater. It had almost closed down several years ago but the owners offered to give it to a non-profit who would be willing to take it over and refurbish it. Several downtown business owners and many other volunteers came forward and wound up with a multi-million dollar renovation. He invited us inside to see the building, and I have to say that this is one of the most spectacular theaters I have ever seen. Movie tickets are $3.50 and popcorn and drinks are $1/$2/$3. The theater had 276 patrons watching Ironman 3 that night, and we were told that was typical of the kind of community support they have been getting. The theater is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Today is the grand finale of the Lincoln Highway segment of our trip. We are going to line up all of the tour cars chronologically and travel west to Kearney, Nebraska. Simultaneously, another group coming from San Francisco will be travelling east. We are going to arrive at the same time and parade through town together. I'll let you know how it turns out. 

Until then,


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tour Day 7 - Rochelle, IL to Ames, IA

We had a long day traveling from Rochelle to Ames, mostly because there was so much to see. It started in the morning with this great Cadillac sitting in front of a corn field and a classic barn.

We had breakfast at another great cafe, this one in Franklin Grove, Illinois across the street from the Lincoln Highway Association headquarters.

I love old drive-ins and this one is a beauty.

Our morning stop was at this great windmill sitting on the Mississippi River in Fulton, Illinois.

The view from the back of the windmill looking across the Mississippi River toward Clinton, Iowa...

Our lunch stop was in the very cool and historic city of Mt. Vernon.

This 1916 Buick was displayed in downtown Mt. Vernon when we arrived. It has been in the same family for all of its 97 years! Back in the teens and early 1920s it made several trips to California along the Lincoln Highway, to the summit of Pikes Peak, and so on. The trips are all documented with pictures of the car and family. The current owner is the second owner of the car. He has owned it since 1962 and is the grandson of the original owner.

Here's another brick segment of the LH with a closed off bridge in the background.

The Youngville Cafe is a restored cafe that is manned by volunteers a few days a week. It was jammed when we arrived, but we still had pie. 

One of the icons of the Lincoln Highway is the late George Preston's service station, built in 1923. The family still owns the property and they love having visitors. 

This bridge in Tama, iowa was constructed in 1915 and was an early advertisement for the Lincoln Highway.

Our evening stop was the famous Reed-Niland corner. The Lincoln Highway and Jefferson Highway intersect here and share the road to Ames before the Jefferson splits off again. The Jefferson Highway ran from Winnipeg, Manitoba to New Orleans and may have been the first international highway in the U.S.

I was in the right place at the right time and got to ride in this beautiful 1948 Tucker, one of only 51 made I was told. I was also told that this particular car has a value of $2.45 million.