May 25, 2007
Yesterday afternoon Lyssa and I struck out northward for New England to visit Jean, an old friend just over the Connecticut border. We loaded up the newly repaired TARDIS and headed for the Beltway around 1500 EST5EDT yesterday afternoon.
Now, seeing as how it was the day before Memorial Day weekend began, we should have realised how bad the traffic on the Beltway was going to be, but we'd figured that if we left early we'd beat the rush and not experience any undue delays.
This was not the case. The Beltway was a parking lot of people leaving work in general and DC in particular, like rats deserting a sinking ship. It took us three wallclock hours to travel the fifteen miles to exit 27 heading northward.
Three hours. Three hours of wanting to turn the engine off to conserve gas, but the temperature was in the low 90's Fahrenheit yesterday afternoon, and would surely have spelled our doom. I like to think that some people driving on the Beltway yesterday would have liked to let us change lanes, but for the fact that traffic was, in fact, bumper to bumper, and there was no way anyone could move enough to let anyone else through. Especially the tractor trailers heading for Pennsylvania. Once we'd gotten onto 95 North we proceeded to search for dinner, preferably of the non-fast food variety to rest, recharge ourselves, and stretch our legs a bit. After a few false starts we found a Cracker Barrel and cashed in those gift cards that my mother gave us last Yule. They were enough to get us hot coffee, dinner, and even dessert, which I was thankful for because we'd had a run on actual cash due to all of the toll booths we had to stop at (net cost at the end of the trip: $29.45us). Service there was remarkably fast for Memorial Day weekend - no sooner had I said, "Wait, I'll go up to the front desk and get us a business card - it'll have the address on it, and we can figure out exactly where we are," than our dinner arrived. And later on, our desserts. Talk about service.
The five hours following that were taken up by a half-hour jaunt through Delaware and an odyssey into the heart of the Wyrm that the rest of the people on this planet refer to as New Jersey, followed by a brief jaunt through the outskirts of Manhattan.
The skies in New Jersey, around 2200 EST5EDT, glow slightly from all of the reflected light from the rest of the city. This is, in itself, a nifty thing, but when you stop to consider that the stuff doing the reflecting is exhaust from the New Jersey turnpike, it stops being quite so pretty.
There was no question that we'd gotten to New York when traffic patterns suddenly began resembling the DC Beltway of yesterday afternoon. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, and tractor trailers were so tightly packed together that even the few people on motorcycles couldn't squeeze through. We were even treated to a rare sight: A dumbass driving a tractor trailer cutting people off in two out of three lanes in an effort to get to the George Washington Bridge toll plaza early, and laying on his air horn like there was no tomorrow. Lyssa and I have the contact information for the company and the DOT ID of the truck, and we'll be making a couple of phone calls later today. But as I was saying.. while traffic patterns might resemble those of the DC Beltway, there are two major differences which make me prefer New York over DC any day: First of all, the lanes are wide enough for even a tractor trailer to get a running start at changing lanes.
Second - and this is by far the most important thing - when other drivers notice that your blinkers are on to change lanes, they stop whatever they're doing and make room for you to fit your vehicle in. The put their newspapers and Starbucks coffees down or drop their cigarette into the ashtray and help you out. Hell, they don't even do this in Pittsburgh.
All things considered, it took us about nine hours to drive up to Connecticut. We got in shortly after midnight this morning and crashed around 0100. Jean was nice enough to help us offload our (small amount of) stuff and help me find parking for the TARDIS. We're here, we're safe, we're sound, we're wishing that we'd brought conditioner with us. Jean will be home from work around 1500 EST5EDT, at which time we'll probably go in search of lunch and then hit up Modern Myths, run by an old friend of Lyssa and Jean for the evening.
I should probably go and take a nap or something, I'm still wiped out from the trip up.