14. Week One

Monday, September 23.


Waiting for zero hour – the 10am departure.   Hoping my cancer and vision loss are still under control, I’m holding a “Bon Voyage” card from fellow volunteers at Old Sturbridge Village and the New England Air Museum.


Why is this man smiling?  It’s noon and I’ve made it to Newburgh NY on the way to Allentown PA.    My ol’ Mercedes running smoothly – brakes, engine, transmission, electrical – all without a hiccup.  Getting 22mpg driving the highways at 60mph.

Car could sure use some work on the exterior.  So could the driver.

Welcome to Pennsylvania:


First overnight:  long-time friend Doris in Macungie PA.  Among other things, she sure makes great chili and cornbread!


Tuesday, 9/24.  Leaving Allentown area and heading into the Allegheny mountains.


Entering Kittatinny Mountain tunnel.


Wednesday, September 25.  Heading toward Ohio, I decided to follow the route of the old National Road (Cumberland Road).  This was the first “federal” highway toward the Western Lands, begun in 1811.  When improved in the 1830s, it was the first all-macadam surface highway.


Here’s an original Mile Marker, showing distance from this point back to Cumberland Maryland, plus the next town East, and the next town West.  The route of the National Road is now several state and U.S. highways.


Some of the original route is still not paved:


Southeastern Ohio.   I met Rick and his wife Brooke during our faculty days at Lamar University in Beaumont Texas back in the 1980s.   All three of us continue to find purpose and fulfillment despite life’s meshugas; we’re still able to “choose the mule”.  Rick and Brooke now have a small farm near Athens OH.


Rick has a “car hobby”.  Among others, he’s got several TR3s, several Morris Minis, a Bugeye, and a fantastic Volvo P1600.  Needless to say, his workshop is an LBC nut’s paradise of extra heads, blocks, gearboxes, rear ends, etc.  We drove into Athens in one of his collection – a car many BCF members will recognize in half  a split second:


You’ve got to admire a guy who can do his own welding,  rebuild his own engines, paint the body – and make his own carpeting and upholstery from scratch.  Even uses the same heat barrier material as I do.   Next stop – northern Illinois.

Saturday, September 28.   On the highway across Illinois, I passed an old salt deposit, the “Vermilion Salines”.  Native Americans had been mining the salt for thousands for years.  When settlers from the United States arrived in this area in the early 1800s, they began boiling the salty waters of the ponds in great iron kettles.   At the time, salt was necessary for food preservation.  Here’s one of the ponds:


And an original iron boiling kettle:


What a change from the Appalachian mountain landscape of southern Ohio.  Here in central Illinois you see maize corn fields and soybean fields from road to horizon.  As Red Skelton used to say “Out here we have miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.”

This is the great American heartland.  And after meeting people out here, I consider it a great American *heart* land.  Honest, hard working, caring people who stop on the street and chat.  And they trade tips on successful gardening.


I’ve been visiting long-time friend and colleague Wally and his wife Renee, in Metamora IL.  He’s head of the instrumental music program at Metamora Township High School, and has developed a top-notch wind ensemble, percussion ensemble,  concert, symphonic, and marching bands, and various small ensembles.   As luck would have it, I arrived just in time for Metamora HS Homecoming.  The entire town shuts down for Homecoming!  Here’s the band warming up just before the game Friday night.  And yes, the Metamora Redbirds bested Dunlap, 33 to 20.


Wally and Renee recently opened a coffee shop they’ve named “Historic Grounds”.  Clever name for a coffee shop in a historic building, eh?  Here we are on the front steps:


Many excellent coffees and coffee drinks, with dozens of home-made cakes and pastries.  Check it out next time you’re in the area – just down the street from the pre-Civil War Metamora Court House, where a young man named Lincoln frequently practiced law.  You saw the courthouse in the recent film “Lincoln”.

Here’s one for “el tocayo” and my fellow volunteers at the New England Air Museum.  You never know what you’ll find next to a field of Illinois corn:

IMG_0188Next updates will be on a new page, “Week 2”.  On Wisconsin!


14 Responses to 14. Week One

  1. linda ferguson says:

    Lieber Tom,
    Bon voyage und alles Gute! So weit, so gut.

  2. Charles Adamson says:

    Your car and pictures look fine. I have driven my 1961 190Db since 1977 in many States and countries but should have taken more pictures.

  3. paul bogush says:

    I was going to push you to make a blog for the adventure! So glad you did. Looking forward to following your trip.

  4. Len Sokoloff says:

    Good luck Tom. Belle Vernon is within ten miles of where I grew up. If you are heading west on I-70, you will soon come to Bentleyville, PA. I think there is a historical marker by my boyhood home. 🙂
    Should your trip home take you anywhere near Myrtle Beach, SC or Wilmington, NC, I’ve got a space reserved for you.

  5. Kevin Kuhn says:

    Best of luck Tom. Len’s correct about the historical marker, unfortunately he’s probably forgotten where he lived . . . On your return trip if you’re near Valley Forge, PA you’re 10 minutes from the 2009 & 2011 East Coast Ponton Congress and there’s plenty of room at the inn and a lift and tools in the barn.

  6. kmott says:

    Great to see that you’re underway. Keep the pictures and storyline coming.

  7. reesed says:

    Peg had held off on making the bread pudding until your return trip. We have a spare room too if needed. I look forward to touring America On Wheels with you.

  8. Irene says:

    I look forward to following your trip.
    Many Happy Miles to you,

  9. Pingback: Coast to coast in a 1960 190b - PeachParts Mercedes ShopForum

  10. linda ferguson says:

    Über jedes Bild und jede Legende freue ich mich – und warte ungeduldig auf jegliche Fortsetzung. Schön, dass Du ein so genauer Beobachter und Erzähler bist. Wunderherrlich!

  11. Rick Etchells says:

    Very nice blog. Will you be driving on some of the famous highways like Route 66, the Yellowstone Trail or the Lincoln Highwayon your trip?

  12. sebastian says:

    California or bust!!! See you soon.

  13. Lou K says:

    Hi Tom, Glad you are off on the journey that you had planned a few years ago. Last time we spoke, you were getting your blue 220 S ready for this trip . Then a few obstacles blocked your path and you were selling it. That’s where we left off. So glad you managed to maneuver yourself back on this planned course but in a different car. I’m enjoying the blog…..Regards, Lou

  14. I’m enjoying following your trip. I have a 1972 W108 280SE 4.5. My brother and I drove from L.A to Miami in November 2011…… oh not in the 280…..sadly.

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