As mentioned in some previous entries, I spent the weekend of July 30 and July 31 traveling from Rhode Island to New Jersey. Since my frame of reference is Rhode Island, doing 95 percent of my driving in that tiny state, I can’t help but do a comparison in my head between that and other states during the entire drive.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest thing that took some getting used to was the sprawl in New Jersey. In Rhode Island, once you take your exit off the main highways – routes 95 and 295 in the north, routes 1 and 4 in the south – you’re almost always within five minutes of your destination. In Jersey, I got off the turnpike and still had another 40 miles to go.
I was also expecting a road similar to the aforementioned Rhode Island routes 1 and 4, namely, two-lanes in both directions with a speed limit between 35 and 50. Instead, the routes in Jersey had speed limits around 50 and 55, even though they were only one lane and through residential and commercial areas! It was kind of amazing, but also kind of terrifying, because I was driving on these roads for the first time from 1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
The worst stretch of road though was definitely Connecticut. Route 95 seemingly goes on for 5,000 miles, and roughly 4,995 of them are only two lanes. Other roads were more congested, but the two lanes of Connecticut created these weird, low-speed bottlenecks, especially since it was raining out.
The worst drivers though were the minivan folks in New Jersey. On the turnpike, I saw at least six of these people – I know, because I was counting. All of them were just hanging out in the high speed / passing lane, happy to go between 60 and 70, and refusing to yield when pretty much everyone else out at that time of night wanted to go between 75 and 85. My hypothesis is that they were too busy yelling at their children and trying to blame the Finding Nemo DVD for sweet, silent salvation.
For my 300-plus mile trip, I made fairly decent time. I’d estimate I spent about five to six hours driving each way – It’s hard to determine the exact time, because I did stop frequently for service plaza (Steveats) reasons. I was actually pleasantly surprised about the lack of severe traffic on my way back Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. I stopped twice for soda and dinner, and checked my email and other things for about an hour, but otherwise I only hit a bit of traffic in southern Connecticut and as I got on the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Final thing – My hotel / motel in New Jersey was an establishment known as the Red Carpet Inn. For $69, I wasn’t expecting much, despite the “teehee” price tag. It met my low expectations in some ways, as there was a stain on one of the two bed comforters, the lobby smelled like weed, and my phone didn’t work. However, it had its own parking lot, great AC and the room was shockingly big. So, you know, if you’re traveling in southern Jersey you can do a lot worse.