Thursday, August 7, 2008

Traveling North

For the past week, we’ve been traveling in upstate New York and New Hampshire to visit family. We got home late last night after a 12 hour drive from NH. Here are 10 things I learned while on the road:

1. If you are driving to New York City or points north, the quickest way is via I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I know you hate I-95—who doesn’t? It’s long and boring and prone to traffic tie-ups. Suck it up, and resist the urge to take the western “scenic route” through Pennsylvania, which will be a lovely change of pace, but will take you two hours longer at least (see #2). Unless you have time to kill.

2. Every highway in PA is under construction at all times. It’s the law.

3. At no point should you exit a highway in New Jersey. If you can’t get what you need in the highway’s service areas, do without. Exit, and you risk being stuck for eternity in a vortex of jug-handle U-turns from which there is little reasonable expectation of escape.

4. New Jersey is one of only two states in the country without self-serve gas (Oregon is the other). The state banned self-serve gas back in 1949. No choice about it, and apparently, New Jerseyites are proud of this. It’s part of their “identity.” So if you need gas, try to get it in any other state, so you don’t have to pay extra for some guy to stick the nozzle in your gas tank for you. And don’t think you’re getting your windows washed for the extra’re not. New Jerseyites are lousy drivers, to boot. Just another part of their identity.

5. The DC area has the worst radio stations, particularly for a city of its size. By comparison, the NYC/Philly megatropolitan area, including much of NJ and eastern PA, has great stations—lots of high powered college radio with an eclectic mix of new music, instead of tired top 40 retreads. So bring along a stack of CDs to head north, but when you get anywhere close to NYC or Philly, check out the radio.

6. If you stop to take photos in every picturesque town or at every scenic panorama in Vermont, you’ll never get through the state. That’s why it costs so much to live there. Pretty isn’t cheap.

7. If you go north at least twice a year, get an EZ-Pass. If you don’t, you will wait at long lines at the tolls while those lucky EZ-Pass-holders sail right through, and you will be bitter, like me.

8. GPS is an incredible invention. I borrowed a GPS for part of the trip, and found it both useful and mesmerizing. If they could couple GPS with real-time traffic updates, it would be even better. In any case, I feel there’s a GPS in my future.

9. Don’t expect to get cell phone reception in the mountains. Can you hear me now? No.

10. Keeping track of all the different state license plates you encounter is surprisingly entertaining. We saw 40 states and 3 Canadian provinces.

No, I couldn't resist stopping in Vermont for just one scenic panorama of the Quechee Gorge.

More trip blogging to come!


kcw said...

They do couple Nav systems with real-time traffic, at least in metropolitan areas. It is a fee-for-service available on some units, getting updates usually via radio but sometimes via wifi. Nav systems are the way to go, never print out directions again.

Merry N said...

Technology is amazing. Of course, at the speed with which we acquire new technology, by the time we are actually ready to make the purchase, the nav system will probably drive the car and make my lunch, too, and will cost $1.99.