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?

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About LincolnHighwayGuide.com

LincolnHighwayGuide.com 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 DCist.com, the founding editor of The Huffington Post‘s HuffPostDC.com 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 Politicker.com. He’s a published contributor to “Writing Ann Arbor: A Literary Anthology” (University of Michigan Press, 2005).