OMW: I-95 Adventures, Vol. LXV
This is a pretty condensed version, because the trip mostly went as planned, with few to no hitches — that is, until the back end of it all, which is always the worst.
I hit the road Thursday morning at 8 am, as planned, on my way back home to the tri-state area for New York Football Giants training camp, to meet up with family and friends, and also inquire about a job that I am looking land soon. I made great time until I hit unexpected construction traffic in downtown Richmond, Virginia (which held me up for a good 45 minutes, as it took an hour to drive 6 miles) and Exit 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike (Exits for the Jersey Shore + construction), which completely throttled my plans for the rest of the evening. Initially, I figured the traffic at Exit 7 was attributed to people heading to the shore, and while a bit of it may have been, most of it was due to a Bolt Bus suffering a blowout just before Exit 8. Traffic was at a complete stand-still between Exits 7, 8 and 8A.
After progressing through that stretch (a few miles of normal speed, then a mile-long pack of three lanes of stopped traffic) there was another massive wreck just north of the Goethals Bridge exit near Elizabeth. To go along with the existing construction that was taking place throughout most of the Turnpike in general from Exits 4 through 14A, this wreck completely paralyzed traffic on the northbound section of the Turnpike. The southbound section was also blocked by an overturned truck in the same area. The cops were out en masse, barricading traffic on the right-hand side of the “new” Turnpike. A few of us broke the rules and passed the “Authorized Vehicles Only” sign and proceeded to the inside (old Turnpike lanes) and did 90 the rest of the way in order to make up a little time.
Although I was able to get past the actual wreck site (I saw no collision, so who even knows what the situation was), we were looped from the Goethals all the way back onto the Turnpike. It was a mass of chaos going through the toll plaza, as people were cutting from one end to another to get to EZ Pass booths and cash booths, then dart BACK, depending on whether they were heading to Staten Island, or taking the Elizabeth/Linden exit. I took that opportunity to stop through and see my cousins and my aunt, who live in the shadows of the Goethals, before hitting the Staten Island Expressway, which was moving pretty well, along with the BQE, which was about as good as could be expected on a Friday evening. The Long Island Expressway was about normal for a Friday night, and once I got past the exit for St. John’s University, I was good money.
We had a great dinner at DiMaggio’s Trattoria out in Port Washington, and after a plate of veal marsala, too many appetizers, some “grape” and some Male Humor, I hit the road back to my longtime hideaway in Paramus. The Football Giants opened camp the next day, and I wanted to get good seats with a couple of my diehard fan friends. Afterward, I had to make several runs, which took me into the city (and the throes of weekend traffic in Manhattan), through some of my old haunts in Harlem, and back to my old building, where my superintendent was holding some old mail for me. I had to get back to Jersey, as I was having dinner with a friend of mine who I never get to see. After that, I ran back to the hotel, showered, posted some of the pictures and videos from camp and hopped back into the car to finish my runs.
I headed back out to Long Island, had nightmares with miscommunication, and then doubled back to take the Throgs Neck to the Bronx (the road was naturally backed up due to everyone spilling onto it as a result of the construction taking place on the Whitestone), and then made my normal stops in New Rochelle, Larchmont, Rye and Mamaroneck before making one more stop in Connecticut. Thankfully, I had gotten gas in Jersey before I headed back out, because I saw several gas stations in Greenwich that posted 93 octane at $5.09 (87 was even $4.69 at a couple of them). I came back down on the Route 1 side through Rye and Mamaroneck in order to get better views of the Long Island Sound — on a pretty good night to take a gaze — and then put on the road music and did 90 down the Deegan and 70 across the George (rip Huddy Combs) and got back to the hotel in time to basically pack, upload the remaining pics and videos and get to bed in lieu of having breakfast and meeting a few more Giants fan campers. All was well on Sunday until I crossed the Delaware Memorial.
From the apex of the bridge, you can see pretty damn far up and down the Delaware River, and Delaware and northeast Maryland had a nightmare in store from me. The clouds warned me. There were huge, dark clouds emitting blinding sheets of rain that looked terrific in contrast to the sun that I had been driving under throughout New Jersey. I had never seen such heavy, thick droplets of rain outside of hurricane since a trip to Florida 15 years ago. I drove 50 miles under this rain, from the Delaware/New Jersey connection through the first 35 miles in Maryland, before the rain subsided. The rain was so heavy that people were scrambling to pull off of the highway, while others were doing less than 30 MPH because of hydroplaning and lack of visibility. Ever the trooper, I never pulled off. I slowed down and maintained a safe distance, but I had to maintain an appointment with my cousin to get my hair done, and still an additional three hours to drive upon completion, so I was angry (to say the least) due to the weather and the notoriously poor driving by Virginians. The rain that had subsided in northern Maryland began anew about 10 miles into Virginia on I-95, and it rained cats and dogs until I got near Richmond (the traffic was at a near stand-still for nearly 75 miles — and a couple of since-removed videos of my rants were evident of the conditions). Once I cleared Richmond and Petersburg, I did 80 the rest of the way, and reached my destination 2 1/2 hours late, at 9:30 PM.
My cousin made swift work of my hair, finishing in an hour and a half, and I hit the road to Charlotte. It naturally began raining again in Durham, and started and stopped until I got to my parents’ house in Greensboro. I stopped in for a few minutes to see my dad, who I did not get to see on my way out, and my mom naturally laced me with tons of food to the point where I won’t have to buy any meats and vegetables for WEEKS. The monsoon-level rain began again just as I was leaving, and it stopped just as I was entering I-85 to Charlotte. The remainder of the drive was dry, and I finally made it home at 3:15 AM, after covering over 1,900 miles and 40 hours of driving over the period between Friday at 8 AM and Monday at 3:15 AM.
That would wipe out some people. I immediately got up and went right back to business as usual as soon as my feet hit the floor this morning. There is work to be done, and I hope that my next trip back home will be my moving back with a job in tow. More to come on that end once I know for sure whether I will have the job. Prayers from those of the faith are welcomed ha.