Friday, May 13, 2011

Virginia Vacation Journal: Day 8 - Home again!

You know when people tell you not, under any circumstances ever to do a certain thing?

And then you do it?

We did that today.

“Never,” we were warned, “Never, ever, EVER, under any circumstances, should you take I-95 through New York City.”

We were told this by innumerable people, all of whom had learned from hard experience and were eager to help us avoid a similar fate.

I am reminded of a similar situation on another vacation when we were warned about a visit to a local tourist attraction called Six Gun City.

We didn’t listen then, and we didn’t listen now.

At Six Gun City, our punishment for failing to listen was a full day of crappy rides. Our punishment today was much more severe.

We were headed home today and, fearing whatever calamity would surely befall the car next, we were eager to get home as quickly as possible. We decided, against all the advice we had ever been given on the matter, to travel the most direct route–through NYC–rather than spend an extra half hour driving around the city on the Tappan Zee bridge.

“We’ll get to see Washington D.C. and NYC,” we cheerily told the kids.
“Isn’t this the way that everybody said not to go?” Tori asked.
“Yes. But it’s Sunday, so the traffic shouldn’t be bad today,” I answered in my omniscient father voice.

And I still think that if there hadn’t been a Yankees game and a bike race happening in New York, the traffic wouldn’t have been quite as bad as it was.

We zipped through Washington D.C. The fleeting glimpse of the Capitol Building was not as spiritually fulfilling as the kids had anticipated. The densely packed 2 lane highway we traveled left little time for me to sightsee, as I was preoccupied with not driving off the road.

New York, however, afforded me, as the operator of the vehicle, plenty of time to sightsee. We spent much of our time in and around the city, parked on the highway, leisurely surveying the decaying tenements that lined the road and breathing the heady clouds of exhaust fumes that swirled around us.

I suspect that those same exhaust fumes were 100% responsible for my calm, relaxed state of mind as we crawled, inch by inch, toward the Washington Bridge, where my suffering could develop into full-blown rage and panic..

I have never handled dense, aggressive traffic well. We live in a small town where one blinking, yellow light serves as the entire traffic infrastructure. When suddenly confronted with 12 lanes of homicidal drivers squeezing through toll booths and then cramming into two lanes, I am not at my best.

I managed, through deep, exhaust filled breaths, to remain calm until the toll booth one lane over from us suddenly changed its light from green to red. The 20+ cars already lined up there suddenly had to make other arrangements. Mostly, they decided to get in front of me. I wasn’t keen on the set-up and explained to the other drivers, in word and in gesture, that they should consider other plans.

We did eventually get through the toll booth and were then free to race along at a brisk, invigorating 2 or 3 mph for the next hour or so.

Traffic was oddly clumped in places for the entire ride through New York and Connecticut, but our choices were limited at that point.

We were treated to one delightful moment of nostalgia when, getting gas in Connecticut, we found ourselves at the same gas station where I had purchased brake fluid on the first day of our trip.

And then, after a mere 11 hours in the car, our vacation was over. We returned home safely, suffering only numb butts and the loss of a few hundred thousand brain cells due to inhaling so much exhaust. As long as I still remember how to replace a muffler, I’m sure everything will be fine.

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