“Away we go,” Ron said at 10:22 a.m. when we began the drive to Long Island.
Saying goodbye to Cape May wasn’t difficult for me. Ron would definitely come back; I’m not sure I would. More because of the travel involved than anything to do with the place. For us, traveling to CM isn’t difficult. But why take the ferry when I can hang out at the beach in Delaware with friends? We don’t know anyone in CM, so no one to visit here. You know me, I like visiting people:-).
We stopped at the Rest Plaza at exit 77, Berkeley, on the Garden State Parkway. Two bowls were needed to mix up tuna for sandwiches. Ron doesn’t like how I make it; I don’t like how he does. By 12:01, we were back on the road.
On north 95, before the Palisades Parkway exit, we had a little confusion. Reading road signs, Ron said, “I don’t know what upper level/lower level means.” Neither did I. Meanwhile, the Australian female voice on our GPS is saying, “Take lower lever.” Ron begins to maneuver over to the lower level, which has another sign hanging over it, “No Propane. No Trucks.” Ron reads the “No Trucks” part; I read the “No propane” part, which causes an immediate course change onto the upper level. Anxiety in the car was high on both sides, but being together somehow makes everything ok.
We still don’t understand “Upper Level,” “Lower Level.”
George Washington Bridge was magnificent. All of a sudden large gray steel appears, rising high into the sky. The massiveness of the structure is overwhelming. Now I understand why Godzilla is always knocking the bridge down. The roads are incredibly bumpy; I mounted the camera to my laptop in a haphazard way for safety’s sake. Seeing signs for Harlem was surreal.
The Port Authority, with Ammann as its new chief engineer, began construction in October of 1927. Ammann’s design, bold and foresighted, was an engineering tour de force, with an extraordinary 3,500-foot center span suspended between two 570-foot steel towers, and the strength to carry two levels of roadway or rail.https://www.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/en/george-washington-bridge/history.html
Not knowing what to do, God sent an angel. A man in a white AAA truck pulled up beside us, beeping. When Ron rolled down his window, he yelled:
“You gotta get off. You’re too tall. It will take your roof off.”
Ron asks him, “What should I do?”
AAA guy yells, “Get off. Take the Long Island Expressway. The, I.E., right beside here.” After thinking about “I.E,” I realized it’s local slang for “Island Expressway.”
Ron says, “Ok. Thanks,” and rolls up his window.
Our angel gives us a nod and speeds off. Before we could get off the exit, God sent reinforcements. A young guy in a small black pickup truck beeped, another conversation ensued while driving on the CIP. He was a little more tentative. He yelled, “I think you’re too tall. You need to get off.” Ron said, “This exit.” The guy said, “Yeah.”
How bizarre driving down the interstate, having a conversation with a stranger. Watching from the passenger seat, I kept thinking, “Do these guys know they’re going 60 plus miles an hour?” Bizarre isn’t adequate in describing the situation, one I’m sure we’ll not forget anytime soon.
Once again, the kindness of people is evident.
When we got off the exit, Ron looked at the map and found an alternative route. Then we stopped and found another alternate route because the first one didn’t work. In the end, we took 25B the whole way out because we didn’t know what else to do. As Ron said, “Well, we’ll get to see a bit of Long Island,” which is what we wanted to do, after all:-).
Two golf courses spotted so far.
First time for everything, on our alternate route, we came upon a railroad crossing with red lights blinking, the warning bells chiming, and the stop board beginning its descent. Unfortunately, you can’t stop big rigs like ours on a dime. Ron gunned the truck and said, “Are you freaking kidding me?” We barely made it through the intersection before the boards were down. No harm, no foul.
I told Ron, “I now know why people from Long Island take the train to work.” Who would want to drive this nightmare regularly? As with all things, I’m sure you learn to navigate your way around if you lived here; we obviously don’t.
Ron said at 3:46, five hours into what should have been a four-hour trip, “This is the longest 60 miles I’ve ever driven in my life. I swear the whole trip is 232 miles or something.” Traffic is horrible, as Ron says, “Too many people and not enough roads.”
Arriving at Wildwood State Park at 4:45 p.m., Ron said, “Not counting tire blowouts, today’s drive, top ten of worst drives ever.”
While setting up, park rangers handed Ron a flier. Severe weather in the forecast; we were under a watch until 11:00 p.m. Since I had friends whose vacation rental had a tree fall through the roof two weeks ago, I was nervous. In the end, we never received a drop of rain.
Sitting relaxing after set up, Ron and I talked about the drive. He says it’s one he’ll “never forget.” I said to him, “Think about what you did today. You drove a 35 ft. trailer through NYC. That’s badass in my book.”
He got a charming look on his face and said, “That is badass.”
Now that we’re here, we’re breathing a sigh of relief. No doubt, today’s travels were an adventure for both of us.
Ron’s wallet opened up after he realized he wouldn’t have to drive past NYC again. We’re on the Cross Sound Ferry to New London, CT at 1:00 p.m. Friday:-)
According to Ron, “If we hadn’t missed the ferry in Cape May (CM), he wouldn’t have done this. But since we did, why not?”
Cynically, I think he doesn’t want to endure another day like today. The ferry is $199, pricey. He said he was so cheap; he would have driven if not for the CM thing. Whatever, I’m happy not to have to drive that route again.
Wildwood is the first state park we’ve camped in that sells beer and wine. We also learned the campground is the only state-run park with full hook-up on Long Island. They don’t offer wifi or laundry services. Our hotspots are struggling.
Located on the sound, viewing the sunset over the water is one perk of this campground. The park has a beach carved out of the landscape. Collecting rocks from the beach instead of shells is something I’ve never done before. Ron said this area was formed by glaciers, so boulders are sticking out of the sound, and small cliffs are overlooking it. The water is crystal clear.
I was reminded of the reclaimed coal mines back home in PA. My brothers used to ride three-wheelers up the vertical hills as kids. Mom and I used to watch. Straight up, gas floored, climbing those hills was a feat. One I never did. Our funniest memory, Mom sitting on her three-wheeler, accidently gunned it. She ran into the tree in front of her, gratefully, not getting hurt. A family memory that still brings chuckles.
As with all new places, I took a stroll around to check out the area. Wildwood also boasts of being the largest campground on Long Island, 767 acres.
We lit the fire early and watched lightning bugs fly through the air. My efforts to catch them on video failed. I was reminded of my childhood in PA. Catching lightning bugs was a highlight of summertime. I’m guilty of creating rings from their lights—carefree moments playing barefoot in the grass with God’s creation in its glory.
Ahh, summertime nights, nothing better:-)!