Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Up and Down the East Coast

Driving around holiday time is always interesting. Sometimes there is so much traffic that the drive to my parents' house takes 16 hours, other times there isn't much traffic and it's only the usual 11. Luckily I break it up so that the first day is driving to New Jersey to see my boyfriend's family, and the second day is the drive down to Virginia.

Last Friday was the New Jersey trip. Amazingly, we hit little traffic in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or even New York! Well, when driving on the roads we were supposed to be driving on we hit little traffic. When we were at the end of the Palisades Parkway in NY, we accidentally exited onto I-95 North instead of I-95 South! Yes, that means we crossed the George Washington (GW) bridge! Oh, the shame and horror! To my defense (as I was the driver) they didn't tell you which lane split to which direction until you were at the split and the signs had so much information on them I couldn't find an I-95 South or NJ Turnpike symbol in time to make a decision! And Tim wasn't really paying attention either.

For those of you who also live in horror of the chance event of having to drive near NYC, you understand what's coming next. Except that you don't yet know that we also managed to make this mistake around the beginning of rush hour traffic. For those of you who have not had the experience: it's as horrible as I'm sure you imagine.

Not only did we NOT know how to get back on I-95 going South, but once we found the right road (I-87) to get us there, we were in bumper to bumper traffic. I blame the majority of this problem on the inability of NYC drivers to actually drive with ANY sense at all. For instance, in the two lanes that lead us onto the bridge, a car was parked in one of them. This is not a street, but an ON RAMP that has a shoulder on the right and not the left (the car was on the left). So all cars in our lane had to merge into the other one to get around it. There was also a tractor trailer stuck behind the car and just idling. I'm not sure if he needed to also get over and pass it since he had no turn signal blinking.

It also didn't help traffic that instead of merging, cars were passing on the shoulder of the first stage of the ramp and causing a traffic jam at the end of that stage when they tried to get back in. Is everyone in NYC just narcissistic?

Once we finally ended our multi-hour detour, we ran into yet another traffic jam at the beginning of the turnpike. Apparently 3 lanes were being merged into 1 EZPass if you got in a left lane to have the quick toll payment, you made a grave mistake. Which is of course what I did.

However, getting past the first few exits of the turnpike gave us open road, and the rest of the drive was relatively smooth, especially for NJ! We only arrived about 3 hours later than expected...

The next day was surprisingly easy. The toll plaza at the end of the turnpike had a ton of traffic, but the quick drive through EZPass lanes were relatively clear! I probably saved 30+ minutes just from having an EZPass. It was one of the happiest moments I had for days!

The beltway around DC was stress free compared to how it normally is (think: incredibly annoying), and despite the fact that my exit wasn't labeled well AT ALL I still managed to take it. The rest of the drive was fabulous except that my iPod battery died and I was stuck in silence for awhile. No, my radio does not currently work in my car, thank you.

I'll take that second day of driving for any trip, and I hope that's the type of drive I have for the drive back right before New Years!

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