Thursday, 28 June 2007

"From sea to shining sea..." 159 miles

Atlantic City to New York is only a short hop compared to my previous jaunts, and it would be my last day's driving. The car has behaved wonderfully and in a later blog I will give the stats as to the full distance and the fuel usedzzzzzz.!!

Took the Garden State Parkway foolishly thinking that a city the size of New York would have a sign to it. Either I am losing my sight or I didn't actually see a single one on the entire journey! I wonder if the other places are jealous, or ashamed of it, and trying to keep it a secret.

I wanted to get to Kennedy Airport to return the car, then hop a cab to my hotel as car parking can be up to $60 a day and frankly I didn't fancy trying to find my hotel in midtown Manhattan with no navigator and a creaky sat nav that was unable to get me out of San Francisco. It has been useful in the wide open spaces when I have found myself 1000 miles from nowhere and the road I was on didn't appear on my map.

The Toll roads were coming thick and fast by this time and maybe it was my imagination but the traffic was speeding up as well as thickening.

On this trip, as a cautious driver and in no particular hurry, I have usually stayed in the right hand lane except when I needed to overtake an extremely slow moving Lincoln Town Car with an elderly couple inside, or a huge full loaded Mack truck which was climbing a steep gradient. The flaw in this plan is that if you are in the right hand lane, very often that means you have to turn right, so on at least one occasion I ended up leaving the toll road then having to get back on again which cost me another 25c.

I headed in the general direction of New York and asked one toll booth operator "New York this way?"....he just nodded.

A heavily industrialised landscape appeared through the haze on the horizon complete with some skyscrapers. This had to be it! Suddenly I was on the New Jersey Turnpike which is like being in a log flume, or going down one of those waterchutes at a theme park. Everyone is going hell for leather and don't get in my way buster!!!

In all my previous travelling here I have not witnessed, nor been on the receiving end, of any road rage.

I think the Americans store it up and then let it out here.

Everyone seemed to be blowing their horns at everyone else, and I suspect at me too for not going fast enough, even though I was at the limit. A car tailgated me and the driver had the hand hard down on the horn. As they swept past the driver, a little old lady, gave me the finger. In the passenger seat oblivious to all this an even older woman, I presume her mother.

It was obvious I was lost. At the next toll booth I encountered I asked the guy "which way to Kennedy airport?".
"Watcha doin here, this is Newark?" he then gave me some terrific and simple directions.
"See you in an hour, probably" I said.
"I'll be here," he replied.

Needed to get onto the "Beltway" so had to go back south on the turnpike and over a couple of bridges. The second of which the Verrazano you will have seen a hundred times before on the tv and in film. It is a huge suspension bridge with two decks. I ended up going over the river on the upper deck, although its not very scenic as you are still in this motorized, yelling and horn-honking bedlam.

Suddenly I was on the Beltway and actually saw a sign for the airport 15 miles ahead. I could relax slightly so began to get into the spirit of it by blowing my horn and flipping off anyone who got in my way.

However just ahead someone had fingered when they should have horned or maybe the other way round and there had been an accident. That meant I sat in the humidity and 90 degree heat for half an hour as they separated the fighting drivers and parked the wreckage of the vehicles by the side of the road.

The airport came into view and the sign "Rental Returns". Drove in parked. Decanted my stuff into a cab. Took one last picture and headed for the City, leaving behind a grimy, fly spotted, dead bird encrusted all-American muscle car.
I will miss you, my Ford Mustang I called Betty....


Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

"New York this way?"? I like that!

The old lady in the car has reminded me of another line from that movie....

"I was robbed by a sweet old lady in a motorised cart" .... no more clues .....

Back on Shank's pony now huh... that'll slow you down.... :)Watch out for those cab-drivers ... bet you can't get a word in...

Keep smilin'



Julie said...

Hi Alex,

I've been with you all the way and I can't believe it's nearly over - I don't suppose you can either.

Thanks for the blogs, they have been really interesting, I'll miss not having them to read each day.

Have a good trip home.


Anonymous said...

Enjoy New York Alex and have a good flight home!!! You will have to be getting up early again next week!


Janet Cairns

Anonymous said...

Nice tootsies!

Anonymous said...

Ooooooooooo, look at YOU Twinkle Toes!

Heh Heh Heh

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pam Cartwright said...

Hey I see you weren't "countin the Cars" on the New Jersey Turnpike then! Its funny how crazy and bad tempered NY drivers are when you think that there are twice as many cars in L A but they are more laid back drivers for sure!
Watch out for the Half naked cowgirl in Times Square!!!

Ordinary Man said...


I must admit (slightly ashamed) that I have never listened to your show ( normally tucked up in bed ) but one day heard you on R2 in the afternoon talking about your trip. Wow ! I was hooked straight away. The reason being, its my 40th next year and having just got divorced wonered what I was going to do and decided I was going to fly to New York, rent a soft top and drive to San Francisco and see the real America. Mate, never met you, probably never will , but you have no idea just how much I am now looking forwards to August 2008 !

I may even set my alarm for the early hours one night and listen in.

Cheers fella

Anonymous said...

I have loved the journey you have taken us on.
I so want to drive over the Verrazano Narrows bridge.
Cant wait til you get back and fill us in on all the bits you left out


nerds united said...

"Still you can't expect to be bright and bon vivant so far away from home...." - Gretchen covered this one too, seeing as you are quoting "Souvenirs" in your title!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex
So you made it to the BIG APPLE! Well done.
Had fun I hope.
It´s raining in England you will be glad to know!
By the way I´m in southern Spain and the temperature is 34 grados.
Just been whale watching. Look forward to having you back in the mornings when I get home week Monday.