New York City: A day trip!
Being that I have an uncontrollable fetish for buying and selling and playing with emergency response lighting products, I recently won a government auction for a few light bars in the Long Island area. The crappy part was that I had to go and pick them up.
Well, I take that back. I was looking forward to the road trip. Over the last 5 years or so, I really haven't gone on many road trips. I have generally stayed close to Buffalo, NY. When I was living in Ontario, I would go on road trips every other weekend. Driving North for hours, exploring the back roads and logging trails that crisscross Northern Ontario. But here in Buffalo, NY, it is a pain to go North into Canada. The border isn't too bad, but anywhere within 2 hours of Buffalo is either just urban (or mostly suburban) sprawl, or farms. And while I find farming quite interesting, I wouldn't make a road trip to farm country just to drive past fields of farms. Western New York is mostly farm country, but with some interesting foothills in the South. There are places to visit, and I suppose I really should try to get out more.
I had never been to New York City... So I was looking forward to seeing it, if only briefly. The trip started nice and early, leaving my house around 6am. I had cleared out space in my trunk of my CVPI in order to carry the light bars home. "Nightbird", my wife, was my navigator. We took I-90 East to the I-390 South, and followed the I-87 / Hwy 17 East to the I-81 South. We stopped outside of Binghamton for food and gas at the Love's.
We continued into PA, through Scranton, PA and onto the I-380 South. The landscape was really lovely and we were enjoying the drive. We were making decent time, and having a good time listening to the most recent No Agenda show, which was a clip show. We were chuckling at some of the clips when we rounded a curve in the expressway to see a truck on the shoulder and a bunch of debris on the right lane. Everyone was merging nicely into the left lane, and passing by. We were planning on it as well, until I passed the scene and noticed another truck down an embankment in the trees. I activated my lights and pulled over in front of an uninvolved truck which had also stopped to assist. I grabbed my medical kit from the trunk and a few flares, and walked back to the scene.
The other truck which had struck the trees was in rough shape, and I dropped the flares up on the shoulder, and headed down to assist the other truck drivers in trying to gain access to the driver in that cab. The trucker which had also stopped to assist was also a volunteer fire fighter, and both of us worked to keep the patient alert and talking. The driver of the truck which was struck was heading back up to his cab, and I asked him to deploy the flares I had left up at the shoulder. The injured driver appeared to possibly have a broken arm, and had blacked out for a bit. I was concerned about the strong smell of diesel fuel and ensured that the truck was turned off, and that there was no sparking.
I also had noticed liquid leaking from the other truck, so I went up to try to determine what that liquid was. The other driver was still working on placing the flares. He had never used flares before and I guess had to read how to use them. I asked what the liquid was, and he confirmed that it was just water. Before long the paramedics were on scene and highway patrol. Both myself and the other volunteer updated the trooper, and were thanked, and freed to leave as the scene was filling up with local responders. The other volunteer, whose name I believe was Andrew, complimented my lights, and I mentioned that lights are kind of my hobby. He asked for a card, but I don't actually have any... So I gave him my email address.
Continuing on our adventure, and after a slight navigation error taking us off course for a few minutes, we entered New Jersey on the the I-80 East. Just outside of Columbia, NJ we ran into some bad luck, literally. Traffic was dense, and we were in the middle lane, with vehicles on either side, and right behind me. The one main disadvantage of having a Crown Vic, Police Interceptor is that people tend to drive in your blind spots, and not want to pass you. In this case, that sucked, because a large piece of what looked like a muffler was knocked into my lane right in front of me by another vehicle. I considered swerving, but knew that the last time I looked I was in close proximity to other vehicles. I also didn't want to slam on the breaks, because I feared people rear ending me, and at that speed and distance, I didn't think I could stop for it anyhow. Instead I aimed right for it, hoping that it would hit my air damper and maybe I could drag it off the highway with minimal damage. That didn't quite work out, and I imagine I bumped it into another lane (likely causing it to hit other vehicles) and in the process it hit my tire. I continued on for a while trying to get over safely without breaking too much. I didn't know the extent of the damage so I didn't want to slow down and be disabled in the lane.
We sat on the side of the highway for about an hour, waiting for a tow. I didn't have my spare because, well I had cleared out the trunk to make room for the light bars. Of course I had left my flares and medical kit in there. Having driven for 14 or so years without ever having a tire blow out, I figured what were the odds. But the odds that I came across an accident were much higher, so I figured I kinda needed the med kit and flares. But alas, I suppose the odds always seem to catch up to ya. At least that is all it ended up being.
We found out we were in the middle of a forested area, and tire repair shops were hard to find. The tow truck driver was very cool, and while his driving scared 'Nightbird', he seemed like a decent guy. We exchanged emergency response stories. The tow wasn't too expensive, and he brought me to a local shop which had a tire in stock which fit my vehicle. The shop, George's Tire in Hackettstown, NJ had a very decent used tire which the owner (presumably George) mounted and balanced for me. He also fixed a dent in my rim from the impact. All for only $35! I enjoyed watching a small local freight job pass by while waiting.
The Norfork Southern SD40-2 was pulling several empty covered hoppers which has delivered plastic pellets to a nearby factory. The car was ready shortly after the train passed, and we were on our way. We passed by the factory where M&M's were produced. The tow truck driver had pointed it out to us. Continuing along the I-80 and eventually onto the I-95 I began seeing the skyline of New York City for the first time. Well, not really, as I had apparently seen it when I was younger, but I really do not remember that.
We continued over the George Washington Bridge and were astounded at the $13 or so dollar toll. Yuck! The Cross Bronx Expressway was amazing. Three lanes of traffic each way, running under the city. It seemed to barely fit into the passageway it was built in, and traffic was almost at a standstill. It was about 4 PM, and the beginning of rush hour! Fuck!
We slowly made our way towards the I-495 and then eventually ended up at our destination around six in the evening. Following the advice from the police officer, we ate at a local diner which wasn't overly great food. Only average. The town was affluent, with people driving expensive cars. 'Nightbird' was calling everything 'quaint'. The diner was filled with affluent people as well, and their conversations were kind of scary. Zimmerman, Snowden... Their conversations were like listening to CNN on repeat. They were regurgitating the news, word for word. And the sad part is they were not really inputting any original thoughts on the subject. Only repeating the talking points of people on TV. These were likely higher level managers who worked in downtown Manhattan.
We were searching for alternate routes out of Long Island to avoid tolls. Sadly, short of going through Manhattan, there were none. But, that being said, I kinda wanted to experience driving on the city streets of Manhattan, so I decided to go that route. We were also biding our time, as we wanted to wait out the worst of rush hour.
Manhattan was busy, as expected but interesting. I quickly adapted to the douchebag driving style required, and frequently cut people off as I had to navigate unfamiliar streets. We exited the island via the George Washington Bridge again, and took the Palisades Parkway up to meet with Hwy 17. Eventually around midnight we found a hotel and slept for a few hours before continuing home. The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful, and now I have a few new light bars to play with.