Lincoln Highway Association Centennial Caravan Trip Home

The Route

The Ride

The Riders

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Lincoln Highway Centennial Caravan 
 
 

 

Day 1
A Beautiful Start

Day 2
Moving On East

Day 3
Ready To Begin

Day 4
And Away We Go

Day 5
A Cityless Day

Day 6
A Very Full Day

Day 7
Back to Ohio

Day 8
Into Indiana

Day 9
Museums and Friends

Day 10
A Beautiful Day in Iowa

Day 11
Last Full Day of the Tour

Day 12
Anniversary Eve Parade

Day 13
Happy Birthday LHA

Day 14
Enjoyable Repeats and a Great Museum

Day 15
Presentation Day

Day 16
Happy Independence Day

Day 17
Moving on West

Day 18
Trains, Plains, & Painting the Town

Day 19
Small Towns & Monuments

Day 20
More Picturesque Wyoming

Day 21
A Pass to the Salt

Day 22
A Mix of Old & New

Day 23
Through Donner Pass

Day 24
It's Terminus for Us

Day 25
Tioga Pass Road

Day 26
Manzanar

Day 27
Clean Clothes and So Much More

Day 28
Re-repaired and Rainy

Day 29
Repeats

Day 30
Return to Tinkertown

Day 31
Into Oklahoma

Day 32
Ladies of Oklahoma

Day 33
Back to Bluegrass

Day 34
Return to Apple Valley Toyland

Day 35
Home, Home in the Rain

Postlude - July 24, 2013
I made it and the Valiant made it. As originally stated, the goal was to drive the Lincoln Highway end-to-end in its centennial year in a car exactly half its age. That goal was always there but along the way I told myself and others that I would be happy with less. As I left Ohio for the first time in the car I hoped to make New York. Once there, I proclaimed that I would be happy if the car completed the official part of the centennial tour by making it to Kearney, Nebraska. With that accomplished, I dared to again talk about the coast-to-coast hope without preceding whatever I said with a bunch of 'ifs'. I know I said that anything beyond Kearney was frosting but it wasn't until I left San Francisco that the frosting actually started to accumulate. I would indeed have been happy with anything beyond Kearney but I would have also been disappointed with anything less than San Francisco.

The Valiant did that and got me home, too. Over 35 days, it covered more than 7300 miles. It wasn't entirely problem free but, considering its age and all of the things that could have gone wrong, it was close. There were temperamental brake lights from New York to Indiana. There was the fuel pump failure and a related leak in Nebraska and Arizona, respectively. There were two close calls of a worse sort. In Indiana, I nodded off and veered off the pavement. The only "damage" was the detaching of the right side wheel covers which had been doing that on their own now and then and which we recovered, but it was scary. Scary enough that (I believe) neither John nor I spoke about how similar it was to my driving the Corvette into that Arizona canyon back in 1999. In San Francisco, I nearly plowed into the driver's door of a car attempting an illegal left turn in front of me. The old drum brakes, with the application of sufficient panic driven force, did their job. In the end, the only physical damage that occurred was back in Cincinnati when the windshield was chipped by something thrown by another vehicle.

Existing leaks didn't heal themselves and may have gotten a bit worse. I replenished coolant and transmission fluid once each and engine oil often. Spot checks of gas consumption indicate that it varied between 16 and 22 MPG. A gas saving trick I discovered was using a non-leaking fuel pump. Overheating could have been an issue but was avoided with some attention and pampering. There were no flat tires, no brake failures, and never a dead battery. Good job old girl. Mission accomplished.

July 23, 2013 (day 35)
All but the last twenty miles of the final day of the trip were a mundane and uneventful. Then I got my windshield chipped and hit some heavy rain. Welcome home.

July 22, 2013 (day 34)
I technically could have made it home today but starting too late, driving too slow, and just maybe enjoying things too much made me stop for one more night. The 2+ hours spent at Apple Valley Toyland might have also figured in there, too.

July 21, 2013 (day 33)
It was mostly divided four-lane with little stopping on what turned out to be a slightly rain shortened day. But I'm just one state from home.

July 20, 2013 (day 32)
I stopped at a couple of Oklahoma roadside attractions operated by women. One of the owners I've known for quite awhile but the other I met for the first time.

July 19, 2013 (day 31)
A little more Route 66 cherry picking in Oklahoma including my first visit to an eighty-seven year old hamburger joint.

July 18, 2013 (day 30)
Nothing new today. I spent some very enjoyable time at a museum I'd visited once before then made brief stops at some more familiar places.

July 17, 2013 (day 29)
This was a day of quick stops at a few familiar places.

July 16, 2013 (day 28)
I spent the day in Seligman walking in the sun, walking in the rain, sitting in air conditioning, and fixing the car.

July 15, 2013 (day 27)
Doing laundry in Barstow isn't as boring as it is in some places and unpleasant news can come with an oil change in Kingman but in Seligman everything is just as it should be.

July 14, 2013 (day 26)
A day of California scenery and temperatures with a visit to a World War II Japanese internment camp in the middle.

July 13, 2013 (day 25)
I drove east on Tioga Pass Road in my first ever visit to Yosemite National Park. Wow!

July 12, 2013 (day 24)
This afternoon, some folks who know, from recent experience, just how wide and wonderful this country is, stood at a concrete post in San Francisco. We did it -- the Valiant, too -- and we were happy.

July 11, 2013 (day 23)
We saw some cars in Reno before meeting Tucker the trucker. I added another favorite to my list on my second visit to Donner Pass.

July 10, 2013 (day 22)
I drove NV-722 for the first time today and it instantly became one of my favorites. We also visited some familiar places on US-50.

July 9, 2013 (day 21)
Today I made my own pancakes before we headed to Fisher Pass, Orr's Ranch, and the Salt Flats.

July 8, 2013 (day 20)
We started with an iconic scene and ended with a ride on a turntable. The bits in between included a fairly major breakdown of one of the cars.

July 7, 2013 (day 19)
We visited a couple of small (and possible former) Wyoming towns, checked out some monuments, and connected with the Family Truckster.

July 6, 2013 (day 18)
We took a look at a huge locomotive then I chatted with a fellow helping spruce up Cheyenne and ate dinner in a 1911 hotel.

July 5, 2013 (day 17)
After five days in Kearney, I'm moving on with a small caravan. We stopped in a town with Ohio connections and got to see a lot of trains.

July 4, 2013 (day 16)
A lazy stay at "home" day for me.

July 3, 2013 (day 15)
Informative presentations all day and a very nice awards banquet in the evening.

July 2, 2013 (day 14)
Three of the four stops on today's bus tour were repeats for me but that fourth one was a beauty.

July 1, 2013 (day 13)
I got the fuel pump replaced and made it to the Arch under my own power. Even my computer was running again by the end of the day.

June 30, 2013 (day 12)
My fuel pump started leaking, a wheel cover ran away just before the parade started, and my computer wouldn't boot up when I got to the hotel. I had a magnificent time.

June 29, 2013 (day 11)
We had an almost Maid-Rite then finished off Iowa after seeing a marker that my previous visit was a few months too early for. In Nebraska, I gassed up at an LH icon.

June 28, 2013 (day 10)
Today I was inside three buildings that I've visited previously when they were closed.

June 27, 2013 (day 9)
There were museums both old and new and old friends in DeKalb, Illinois.

June 26, 2013 (day 8)
We met friends and family in Van Wert, Ohio, then crossed a lot of Indiana before having dinner at the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

June 25, 2013 (day 7)
We got back to Ohio and drove some brick highway and ate some ice cream.

June 24, 2013 (day 6)
Three museums, one memorial, and other stuff, too.

June 23, 2013 (day 5)
We did go through places like Lancaster and Gettysburg but nothing like yesterday's New York City and Philadelphia. Instead we saw scenic Amish country, a big shoe, and lots of elephants.

June 22, 2013 (day 4)
The day started with a drive through Times Square then stopped at a museum and had lunch in a park.

June 21, 2013 (day 3)
Made it to the motel. Picked up John at the airport. We be ready.

June 20, 2013 (day 2)
It was another gorgeous day on the William Penn Highway. I didn't stop much but just kept moving east at a comfortable 50-55 MPH.

June 19, 2013 (day 1)
It was an absolutely gorgeous day to start a road trip and it was made even better by finding an old friend reopened.

Prelude 3 - June 16, 2013
The 901 days mentioned in Prelude 2 are almost gone. Those were the days between posting the Prelude and the planned departure from Times Square and only five of them remain. The Times Square drive-by (we're not getting any kind of a stoppage for staging) is to occur at 7:00 Saturday morning. I'm leaving home on Wednesday to allow plenty of time to reach Secaucus, New Jersey, for Friday night's kick-off dinner.

An awful lot happened in those 896 days. The route was refined and stops firmly scheduled. Hotels were reserved. 270 people with 140 vehicles registered to participate in the tours. Detailed driving instructions were written for getting to and from Kearney from both coasts. Many people worked really hard to make all of that come together. I wasn't one of them so, although I filled out registration forms and paid fees, none of the advancing tour plans triggered an update here. I added an update to the Riders page when John Nawrocki committed to co-piloting, I did a few updates to the Ride page as work on the Valiant progressed, and I did an update to the Route page a couple of weeks ago to acknowledge the finalization of things there. But nothing prompted another prelude until I realized that the time for preludes was nearly passed. Three more sleeps and I'm gone.

Prelude 2 - January 3, 2011
Even though going on this trip has been firm in my mind for quite some time, I only recently created a "Fixed Leads" section for it. A big reason is that only recently have I been able to actually fix the lead. The location and dates of the 2013 LHA Conference have long been established and it has long been known that two caravans would converge at that conference. In November, a preliminary caravan schedule, with the dates mentioned in Prelude 1, became available. Real dates, even tentative ones, made the trip seem a bit more real and my search for a vehicle seemed to get a little more serious. I looked at a couple of cars friends had found and I submitted questions on a couple of eBay listings. Then I made offers on a couple. Then I bought a car.

It's a 1963 Valiant convertible in desperate need of a top. It looks great (with the top down) and runs well though not well enough to make me want to start across the country tomorrow. It's a Slant Six Torqueflite; a power train often associated with words like "venerable" and "bulletproof". It's probably as reliable an engine and transmission combination as I could hope for. It's not perfect and I didn't pay a perfect car price for it. Even though I couldn't nail down exactly what I was looking for, I believe this is almost precisely it. I now have, if those preliminary dates hold, 901 days to get it ready to be driven from Times Square.

Prelude 1 - December 16, 2010
I'm not entirely sure when I started thinking about this trip. It's been awhile. I may have begun thinking about driving all of the Lincoln Highway as early as 2000. In 2003, I was aware of the 90th anniversary caravan though I wasn't in a position to participate. But that's almost certainly the thing that got me thinking about the Highway's 2013 centennial. I figured to be retired by then and hopefully able to take part in the cross country caravan I assumed would be formed. The retirement has occurred, the caravan is being planned, and chances of my participation are looking good.

There will actually be two caravans in 2013. Starting at opposite ends of the Highway, the caravans will meet in Kearney, Nebraska, for the 2013 Lincoln Highway Association National Conference. I plan to be part of the caravan that will set off from Times Square on June 22. The western caravan will leave San Francisco the following day. Both caravans are to arrive in Kearney on June 30 for the conference and Centennial Celebration. Current Association plans call for the caravans to finish full cross-country drives only "if there is significant interest". I suspect there will be but I intend to continue on to the western terminus with or without an official caravan.

Naturally, participation by vintage vehicles is encouraged. In fact, a "tourist camp" at the Celebration will be limited to pre-1932 model cars. Driving the Lincoln in a vehicle from the road's hey day would certainly be fun but cars that old are probably beyond both my budget and my ability to maintain. At some point, the idea of participating in the centennial in a car half the highway's age begin to form and it quickly became a fairly firm plan. Obtaining and operating a 1963 model auto certainly seems more realistic than doing the same thing with a car fifty years older and the year has other attractions, too. It was the year I bought my first car and turned sixteen and got my driver's license; in that order. So, rather than shopping for a 1913 Packard or Stutz, I decided to be on the lookout for an attractive deal on a '63 Corvair or Falcon or something similar.

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