Thursday, August 19, 2010

New York, escape to and fro

You know the saying "It's the journey, not the destination?" I would really like to find the person who said that and repeatedly punch him/her in the prefrontal cortex.

I had occasion this week to transport a vampire to New York City. We got up early for the long drive. Ohio was fine. Pennsylvania seemingly never ends. Seriously. It goes on forever. You enter Pennsylvania on I-80, travel 300+ miles, get in sight of the Welcome to New Jersey signs, and then you undergo an instant quantum transportation back to the Ohio border. Little known fact: remember the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where the Enterprise was caught in a temporal causality loop for several weeks? That was based on Pennsylvania's interstate.

Furthermore, about 35% of said never-ending interstate system is currently under construction and down to one lane. This adds even more time, but what can one do, other than raise a fist to the sky and curse Obama's communistical socialism? How dare he spend money on something helpful and productive rather than just give us bribe checks as did his predecessor.

At one of said construction areas, traffic stopped. After five minutes, I turn off the car. Five more, we get out and wander the interstate. Helpful truck driver behind us tells us there's a major accident ahead. We see three separate helicopter ambulances. Then, 20 minutes later, they begin to shunt all interstate traffic onto a back road. About 20 minutes after that, they let those of us past the exit turn around, go up the on-ramp, and join the endless flotilla of vehicles clogging the isolated two lane country road. Eventually, we get into a very small town where, no lie, people are sitting outside their trailers staring at the line of cars while drinking canned beer...for entertainment purposes, one would presume. Two hours after we initially stopped, we get back on the interstate, ten miles down the road. By this point, though, the interstate is open it would've been quicker if they would've just left us alone.

We wind our way into New Jersey and follow the handy online directions to the NJ light rail station...which is fun, because although said station was in a relatively affluent area, the township apparently doesn't believe in either streetlights or legible street signs. At said station, there is no mention of parking payment, meters, or anything else to suggest exactly how we're supposed to make sure my car didn't get towed. The train ride into Penn Station was uneventful, but Penn Station itself was about 128 degrees, with 98% humidity. This made hauling the vampire's suitcase over the top of the subway gates real fun.

For my solo trip back to Ohio, I woke early...around 6:30, thanks to the cars at the nearby intersection blowing their horns repeatedly and a neighbor moving what I can only assume is a piano out of the third-floor walkup. I walked the three city blocks to a bagel factory (recommended by our awesome hostess). While munching on a fresh out-of-the-oven everything, I:
  • walk the seven blocks to our original subway stop; they don't sell tickets.
  • I then walk one block to another entrance; their ticket machine is broken.
  • I stagger the two blocks to one of the Times Square stations, knocking tourists and schmucks out of my way. The station has a working machine, but you can't get on the line I need from that location.
  • One block away was the Times Square station that did grant access to my line. The building was closed for repairs.

So I crawl on my hands and knees the three blocks back to my original stop and actually got on the train. This ended up being a seventeen block walk (Manhattan city blocks, mind you) to get a bagel and a subway ride, which takes about an hour...and although it was early, I was tired, thirsty, and utterly drenched with sweat.

From that point on, though, the trip was relatively smooth. I negotiated New Jersey's mass transit with no problem. My car was still there, both untowed and without ticket. I found the interstate and drove westward, towards my beautiful spousal unit. Eventually, my sadness at the vampire parting just turned into anger and political activist resolve. I became road-weary, but it only caused me to do something stupid once (when I accidentally entered a YouPass toll lane and had to back out without getting hit). There was still a metric crap-ton of construction in Pennsylvania (which, once again, refused to end), but there was only one stretch where I averaged four mph.

Still, in spite of the good company on the ride into the city and the relative freedom of my return drive, I think the destination was far more momentous than the journey, which just annoyed me incessantly. I just wonder if Snake Plissken would agree.


Andy said...

Let me assure you, the ludicrous amounts of construction on I-80 in Pennsylvania predate the Obama administration. My favorite parts were where they blocked off a lane for miles and miles with orange barrels for weeks at a time with nothing at all going on. I suspect the manufacturer of orange barrels has a lot of sway in the PA legislature.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry that you ran into some trouble during your trip, but I'm glad you're home safe!

Anonymous said...

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