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Trip Report The Lincoln Highway, abridged: Nikki's road trip

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A few years ago my husband Alan and I drove to Pittsburgh for an event. We gathered advice from everybody we knew who was familiar with Pennsylvania, and we did everything they told us to do on the way to Pittsburgh and back. We went to the Little League World Series; we visited Fallingwater; we ate at the big Mennonite buffet near the childhood home of the viola player in my chamber group and at the crab restaurant near the cellist’s farm, a roadside eatery surrounded by corn fields where they bring hammers with your crabs and you pound them open on the paper table coverings. We toured Gettysburg with an enthusiastic guide who drove us around the battlefields in our car and pointed out the strategic high ground and the witness trees.

And we stopped for lunch at a diner where I had a memorable reuben sandwich and where I should have splurged and ordered pie for dessert, but Alan wouldn’t split it with me and I passed and have regretted it ever since. Outside the diner there was a vintage gas pump painted with a portrait of baseball player Nellie Fox, and a plaque describing this as an art project of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.

Intrigued, I researched the Lincoln Highway when we returned home to Massachusetts. The first automobile route traversing the United States from New York to San Francisco, it was dedicated in 1913. It has now been superseded and bypassed by the interstate highway system, but one can follow the whole route and go through the towns that this road connected, with an intriguing glimpse of rural and urban life and idiosyncratic roadside attractions. Alan expressed a desire to drive the whole route. I bought guidebooks and started planning. We hoped to take this drive in May, 2014. We would rent a car, take a couple of weeks to drive across the country, visit our new grandson in California, and fly back.

Instead, in May, 2014 I began chemotherapy.

Fast forward to August, 2017. We were invited to a wedding in Columbus, Ohio. This presented a new opportunity to take a part of the drive we had been planning three years ago. We decided to combine the wedding with a visit to Alan’s childhood friend in Bloomington, Indiana. We would drive along the Lincoln Highway, which more or less follows US 30, as far as Indiana, and then go to Bloomington and Columbus and drive back.

We allotted ten days to the trip and decided to make our first stop at a place whose photo had popped out at me from a guidebook: The Red Caboose Motel, a motel in Pennsylvania Dutch country constructed of actual cabooses, each one of which is a room.

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