1. Pitstop

    Preview of August 13 through August 30

    You might think that this trip has been a little...pessimistic?...so far. But hang tight because what happens next is going to change our trajectory entirely!

  2. The Phonebooth

    August 12

    One of the last phone booths in Iowa sits just off Route 30. Maybe one of the last phone booths anywhere.

  3. #ReedNilandCorner

    August 11

    At the end of our visit to the Colo Motel, after finally getting what we had been looking for the entire time, we weren’t sure what to do with it. Like, hey, great, there’s this cool, old, Instagram worthy place. But what now? See more of Route 30 in 1960 here.

    Archival footage from Iowa DOT via Creative Commons

  4. Get your kicks

    August 9

    Over and over, people we met thought we were taking Route 66 to California, because Americans think that Route 66 is the only old highway in America.

    Route 66 Questions

    There’s a reason for that – the Route 66 preservation folks have their act together. Google returned over 24 million results for the search term "Route 66," Amazon has 5,542 books on Route 66, and Wikipedia told me there are 10 Route 66 museums. Outside Joliet, Illinois, Route 66, Route 30, and Lincoln Highway meet each other and, right on the corner, there is one such museum to commemorate the whole shebang. We stopped in to get an education on the classic road trip.

    And we learned a lot! The curator, Heather, asked me not to film her, but gave me tons of information about Route 66 and the classic roadtrip. She said she didn't know as much about Route 30, but directed me to some incredible old images of the route.

    I asked Heather why, in her opinion, old highways were so fascinating to people of all age groups. Her response, "Nostalgia." Of course. I asked her to expound and she told me that in highway travel's peak, things were a little slower and friendlier. "It's how it used to be," she said. "It's not the hurry and bustle to get on [the Interstate] that it is now."

    I paraphrased Ronald Primeau, English professor at Central Michigan University and author of "Romance of the Road," who said, "On the road we mourn the losses of the old stretches of highway. Road narratives invite us to celebrate heros, places, and values that were never there. The small town has never been idyllic, no individual has ever fully discovered self, and the national identity is hard to find because it is constructed rather than found."

    She thought for a second and then responded, "Well, I suppose everything is different than what we remember. But we like to have that small-town feeling. It's like comfort food. Later, you won't remember how the macaroni and cheese made you bloat up and feel terrible, but you'll remember sitting in that little diner with the locals and the nice waitress. These small towns are comfort towns. People create their own memories and what's so wrong with that? So what?"

    So what indeed.

  5. The Steinbeck Moment

    August 8

    When Steinbeck was traveling the US and writing “Travels with Charley,” he bogged down in Chicago and thought he couldn’t go on. I had many moments like this – where I wondered what the hell I was doing and why it even mattered. Like when we got to Indiana. Read more from Rebecca and Tim at their website.

  6. With a name like...

    August 7

    Route 30 passes Orrville, Ohio and the original founding site for Smuckers – as in:

    Video via Music Beast on YouTube

    Now, if you’re picturing a historic old barn in Orrville, where Grandpa Smuckers had taken his first batch of strawberries and concocted the sugary goodness that we still spread on our toast today, you’re wrong.

    Smuckers Entry

    Turns out, the Smuckers store isn’t even located where the company was originally founded – and it was like walking into Safeway. The whole place had an antiseptic, pre-packaged quality. The workers were just...workers doing a job and they didn’t want to talk to me.

    Smuckers Eagle Brand Smuckers Jif Smuckers Preserves

    We bought some preserves and covered our disappointment with high fructose corn syrup. I was frustrated that I hadn’t talked to anyone that day and the Smuckers folks had left me feeling...sad. So, I dug out the map, and pestered Adam into turning the car toward downtown Wooster, just a few miles from the epically nostalgic Orrville – that’s sarcasm in case you missed it.

    Smuckers Entry

    I’m giving Lady Fate all the credit for leading us to the Wooster Historical Society, where we found Mary. Mary was an older, standoffish Midwesterner who wasn’t very interested in telling some East-Coaster about the town she’d been born and raised in.

    About 15 minutes into my conversation with her, Mary suddenly said that if I was driving Route 30, there was a piece that was no longer used, and if I’d like to see it, she’d tell me where it was...but oh wait, there’s no way I’d ever be able to find it, so I’d have to ride with her and she’d take me there. I’ve seen my share of horror movies, and I knew that this could have easily been the start of one. But I also knew that I was about twice Mary’s size and I’d been working out, so I could probably take her if things got dicey. Five minutes later, there I was riding shotgun to Mary while Adam followed behind us in the Prius.

    Smuckers Entry

    Looking at that old brick road, coming out of the trees, and covered in weeds, I had my Ohio lesson in nostalgia. You can put up a nice store, use gingham print fabric, stick some labels on a jam jar, and manicure the lawns to attract people from the road, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t make something nostalgic. Without authenticity, you have nothing. Meanwhile, this old brick road was all but forgotten, remembered by people like Mary who had slowed down long enough to take notice.

    Wooster Route 30

    How ironic that the Smuckers store is a spot on the map with people filing in and out all day. In fact, I have a friend who just took a detour on her last trip to make a special stop there. But this old brick road? Its only visitors that day were us and some guy in the trailer park next door who stood beside me, starring at the crumbled road, and told me about leaving his wife.

    Wooster Route 30 with Emily

    Artificial nostalgia isn’t any more real than spreading colored corn syrup on pre-sliced bread. And small town charm? It's alive and well in Wooster, Ohio.

  7. I can't be your neighbor. I'm moving.

    August 5

    Maybe it was the time spent reliving childhood – or maybe it was the rain that came on kinda suddenly - but as we left Mister Rogers and came into Pittsburgh, in really thick traffic, the emotion of leaving our East Coast home crashed down hard.

  8. The Bates Motel

    August 3

    Route 30 taught me that Adam is a melodramatic diva. What could possibly make a well-educated, former lawyer become a three-year-old? According to him, it was “staying at the Bates Motel.”

  9. Start Here

    August 1

    Sweat. That’s all I can think about when I remember August 1st, the day my husband Adam and I left Maryland and headed for Atlantic City.