Tuesday, November 13, 2007

on the road

The morning begins with that panicked feeling of waking up and not knowing quite where you are. Staring up at a cat, Dot in this case, whose settled on my chest in a effort to keep warm in a our now bare apartment, things begin to come back to me—I have to drive to New York today. After blinking through sleep crusted eyes, the realization of what’s to come sets Jennifer and I into action. It’s 4:30 in the morning and we both take showers and set about the final few items we have to pack in our 10’ U-Haul which is by this point beginning to bulge at the seems. We make quick stop at the local 7-11 for some “breakfast.” Jennifer, decides on a donut, banana and a coffee, I, however, opt for a more filing fare, sausage egg and cheese biscuit and a large coffee. We have to make a stop at our now former landlord’s home to drop off our keys and then we hit the road. We eventually leave town about 15 mins later than we were planning but this wasn’t really a big deal.

The trip was fairly uneventful until we reached the DC area, where traffic began precipitating around the beltway exits. Google maps suggested we take the 395-495 exit toward Tyson’s corner which, at the time of arrival, 7am rush hour had the traffic pretty much bumper to bumper. The road signs in this area, however, informed us that we should take the 495 eastern route of the beltway. Faced on the one hand with the assurance of Google maps but the obvious delays, and on the other with a quicker route and the uncertainty and fear of drawing outside the lines, we stashed the Google Maps and set about figuring out the route on our own. Fortunately, in our whirlwind of purging our old apartment, I managed to salvage an old road atlas from 1995 which we hoped was good enough to get us there.

Around the time we reached Baltimore and the first of many toll roads we eagerly extended a fistful of dollar bills to the cashier. To our bewilderment, which quickly turned to panicked horror, there was no one in the booth to accept our cash. As horns from angry motorists behind us blared we realized we had driven through the EZ-pass only booth. After a few seconds of looking back and forth at each other we realized the only thing we could do was keep on driving. We fully expect a bill from U-Haul within the next few weeks for this infraction. I would love to have seen the toll-booth photo of our faces. Needless to say we kept a sharp eye out for EZ-pass and Cash Only lanes from then on.

We made a brief stop somewhere in Maryland for a bathroom break, coffee, and a pack of chocolate donuts (for energy of course). It was a gas station on the top of a hill with no parking spaces to be had, so we parked at the bottom of the hill and hiked up. When we returned to the truck we checked in on the cats, to which we administered pills supplied by our vet to calm them down for the trip, were groggy and trying to fight of the drug induced slumber, without much success. They rode between us in their cat carrier, perched on a couple of boxes which would not fit in the back of the truck.

Our first fill-up occurred at the very first service center on the NJ turnpike. I think it was about $65 dollars to fill-up and apparently it is NJ state law that the gas station is full service or at least that is what the sign said at this particular service center. We tipped the guy a couple of bucks got out stretched our legs and got back on the turnpike. I have heard terrible stories about the turnpike but I actually found it to be quite a pleasant drive, at least for most of it. It did get a little bit rough once we could see Manhattan in the distance. I image I would have been a lot more freaked out if I had been driving the Fit on this road as opposed to the massive U-Haul. We got across the George Washington Bridge without incident and made our way onto the Henry Hudson Parkway. We chose this route because we thought it might be easier than the Lincoln Tunnel. We also heard that they have a problem with letting out of state U-Hauls through the Lincoln Tunnel, so we decided to avoid it altogether. I’m glad we did because the Henry Hudson Parkway was a beautiful drive. It was difficult for me to keep my eyes on the road with so many other things to see. We took the 56th street exit (apparently a little too closely as I rode up on the curb to a cacophonous crash—gotta love alliteration) and parked. We are home. Time to unload….

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