"If everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane." ~ Author Unknown
I've been to New York City a couple of times before; always flying and relying on a cab to get me to Brooklyn or Times Square from the airport. Get off the plane, get the bags, stand in the line for the cab and then close your eyes.... and you arrive at your destination. This time I drove.
I've been on that road before, Route 13 up the Delmarva; but not headed for New York City. Essentially, the entire trip is a toll road. Twelve dollars to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and tunnels, two bucks for a bypass around Dover, Delaware, eight dollars and change for the New Jersey Turnpike and another eight dollars to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. The Lincoln Tunnel is interesting! There is a toll to go under the Hudson River INTO Manhattan, but no toll to leave. Are they trying to tell us something? "Well, OK....you can come in, but you have to pay, so perhaps you'd like to go elsewhere?"....(on the way in) "Nice of you to visit. Time to go. Hurry up. Don't let the door hit your behind on the way out." .... (on the way out)
The GPS in Mom and Dad's Honda van worked flawlessly... except for that toll bypass of Dover. I guess she was trying to save us a couple of bucks. I do have a suggestion for Maryland, Delaware and the Eastern Shore though.... interstate or limited access roads... what a concept! Route 13 goes straight up to Jersey and it is a divided four lane; but just when you are getting up to speed (55 mph) you hit another little town with stoplights, 35-40 mph speed limits and pokey local traffic. This annoyed me beyond belief. It is the prime reason why my trip to Mississippi (906 miles) took only twice as long as the trip to New York (347 miles). That section between the Bay Bridge and Dover was "The Nightmare On Stop And Go Street".
I'd never been on the New Jersey Turnpike before and it went quite smoothly for us... except they won't let you pump your own gas at the service areas. Probably a union thing. This was as easy or easier than I64 or I264 here in Hampton Roads... the turnpike driving. Then came the Lincoln Tunnel... not too bad, we didn't hit any tie ups but... on one side you are driving suburban interstate and on the other end you are SUDDENLY.....downtown New York City! There was no warning, no gradual transition, just a massive dumping of cars and believe it or not... semi-trucks into a maelstrom of honking cabs, double parked delivery trucks and busses and thousands of pedestrians with dogs. Four actual lanes of one way traffic with three cabs and two cars abreast in them... two cabs are stopped side by side in the right lane discharging passengers. A surgically augmented lady of unknown age (it is really hard to tell ages in NYC) holding a trembling Chihuahua in one hand is standing in front of the cabs trying to hail one of them. You can't drive in the right hand lane, even if that is the lane you have to turn right from in three blocks, for there are parked cabs, cars, trucks, and busses in that lane... going nowhere for an indeterminate amount of time.
I always considered the cabs to be the worst offenders in this city, but I was wrong. Hands down it is the busses. Bus drivers must get their training either from NASCAR or the Demolition Derby. Cab drivers are impatient with each other and anyone who dares drive a car in Manhattan; they honk and honk and totally ignore the "NO HONKING - $350 FINE" signs on each corner. But, they still seem to be able to maneuver without bringing others to a complete stop and three cabs can still manage to squeeze into two lanes without touching. Busses, however, are demonic menaces. They don't signal or if they do it means nothing. I had a bus in the lane to the right of me that signaled left, pulled out in front of me (I stopped dead still so as not to be hit by the busses' rear end) and across into the lane to my left, almost hitting a cab. And then, without signaling at all, the bus made a right angle, right turn back in front of me to a side street. Unbelievable!
Anyway, as shocked as it is to go from suburban freeway driving to crazy downtown Manhattan streets within thirty seconds, I had the presence of mind to tell Mom and Dad to close their eyes, put their hands over their ears and not say anything until I reached the hotel. It would be easier for them that way. After managing to get there in one piece.... I took the van to a parking garage around the corner and there it stayed...until we left for home. As much as I love to visit NYC and ride the subways and shop at the neighborhood grocery.. I still wouldn't want to live there... and own a car.
I am happy to report that we all survived the trip (people and van) without a mishap.. even though I had a disagreement with the GPS on how to get us OUT of Manhattan. The GPS lady won, as it should be. In the space of one week I drove 1812 miles to and from Mississippi and then 694 miles to and from Manhattan.... I will now stay put for a time... a very long time. But... did I tell you why we went to New York? No? That will have to wait until next time.
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