Pressing Fast Forward for Just a Moment

Racing toward dusk through northern Nevada on Amtrak's California Zephyr (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

Racing toward dusk through northern Nevada on Amtrak’s California Zephyr (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

Newell, W.Va. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

Newell, W.Va. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

WASHINGTON — When I set out on my Lincoln Highway adventure in early June, my goal was to write a travelogue in real time or as close to real time as possible. Well, for those who have been following my dispatches on this blog or via social media, you know that my good intentions to do that ran into the realities of having to drive long distances, exhaustion, limited Internet access at times and other factors that slowed me down. Then a backlog of posts started to build. Then the reality of normal life back in D.C. came into play. You get the idea …

Although I’ve been slowly digging out of the backlog and I have now posted a dispatch featuring the last leg of my westward trip on the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco, I’m not done with the Lincoln Highway Guide just yet. There’s still more writing from my adventures I’m sorting through. I have plenty of notes to make sense of.

Since leaving San Francisco on June 24, I’ve actually continued traveling along portions of the highway and I expect that I will continue to, albeit gradually, write about the various places along the way, though it probably won’t be in sequential order.

So here’s a preview of where I’ve been and what I’ve done since finishing the main part of my Lincoln Highway adventures:

  • I took Amtrak’s California Zephyr from Emeryville, Calif., to Denver, and later from Denver to Chicago. Its route follows, in part, the route of the first transcontinental railroad, a rail link championed by Lincoln while in office and completed four years after his assassination.
  • Augustus Saint-Gaudens' statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago's Lincoln Park (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

    Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago’s Lincoln Park (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

  • In Chicago, which sits on an auxiliary route of the Lincoln Highway, I visited various Frank Lloyd Wright sites, including the playroom where the inventor of Lincoln Logs spent much of his childhood. I also visited Lincoln Park and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ statue of Abraham Lincoln.
  • In Washington, D.C., I’ve revisited some Lincoln-related sites, including the Lincoln Gallery in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where Lincoln’s second Inaugural Ball was held on March 6, 1865.
  • I’ve driven the bulk of the Lincoln Highway in western Pennsylvania two more times (including a lazy afternoon at historic Ligonier Beach) and the majority of the highway in Ohio a second time, including a stop at the Hungarian pastry shop in Wooster (which may be my new favorite place for food in the Buckeye State).
  • I’ve driven the majority of the Lincoln Highway in New Jersey, including stops in Princeton and Newark for Portuguese food.
  • I’ve visited a few sites related to Horace Greeley in New York City. The sites aren’t directly tied to the Lincoln Highway, but to understand the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, you must understand the life and times of Horace Greeley.

So, please check back for more updates of my adventures.

Why Am I Driving the Lincoln Highway? An Intro to My Cross-Country Trip

A mural of Abraham Lincoln near 8th and Ranstead streets in Philadelphia.

A mural of Abraham Lincoln looming over a parking lot near 8th and Ranstead streets in Philadelphia. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

WASHINGTON — When you reach the age of 33, your brain apparently stops being creative … or at least stops being creative in the ways it once was. Your intellectual curiosity with the world begins to get stale. You don’t seek out things like new music. You begin to get set in your ways. It’s the brain’s gateway to middle-age malaise, supposedly.

I don’t exactly remember where I heard this but I think it was on National Public Radio, although I could likely be very wrong in the details of my recollection. But when I heard this around age 30, I remember shrugging my shoulders and exhaling in a gruff, defeated way. Age 33 was looming around the corner.

Like many Americans, I’ve been worn down by the stresses of the modern workplace, ground down even more by the grueling 24/7 world of the media and journalism marketplace that’s been going through severe industry convulsions, cutbacks, and consolidation the past decade.

So here I am, nearly 34, past the threshold when my brain is supposed to begin its trip into perpetual boredom. When I turned 33, I needed something to rejuvenate my creative and intellectual vitality and escape the daily routine of moving 1s and 0s across the digital ethos, something that I’ve been doing for more than a decade. Like many Americans, I hadn’t had a real vacation in years and years. I decided to go traveling.

Thus far, 2013 has brought me to Barbados, Hawaii, Thailand, Malaysia, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Portland, Maine. My adventures have been fantastic and they aren’t over yet.

This week, I’m setting out to drive the Lincoln Highway all the way to San Francisco, a city I’ve visited just once. The coast-to-coast highway that honors the 16th president’s name, which is celebrating its centennial in 2013, predates the national memorial in the nation’s capital by nine years. The Lincoln Highway has a fascinating history and came about just as Americans a century ago became obsessed with the automobile and motoring culture.

So why am driving this road that most people have never heard of?

Continue reading

About is a blog that is documenting the Lincoln Highway, the United States’ first national memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The roadway, which turns 100 years old in 2013, runs coast to coast from New York City’s Times Square to Lincoln Park in San Francisco and was the first true transcontinental roadway in the United States.

This site is edited and managed by Michael E. Grass, a journalist, blogger and Web developer based in Washington, D.C.

Grass is the founding co-editor of, the founding editor of The Huffington Post‘s and has worked in a variety of editing and newsroom management jobs at Washington City Paper, Roll Call newspaper on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post‘s Express newspaper and The New York Observer‘s He’s a published contributor to “Writing Ann Arbor: A Literary Anthology” (University of Michigan Press, 2005).