Our 2010 roadtrip began where all the great expeditions of history have set out: White Plains, NY.
You’re not going to get very far on a road trip without a car, and as neither I nor my girlfriend own one, we had no choice but to rent. I spent much of last week researching the cheapest rental options in New York City, ultimately reaching the conclusion that if you want to rent a car, you do not do so in New York City. For a 2 week+ rental, you’re literally paying a $1,000 premium to drive out of Manhattan, and I was quite willing to travel great distances by public transportation to knock that down a bit.
Ultimately, I discovered that not Connecticut or New Jersey but White Plains offered the cheapest deal on a compact – about $350 a week with Avis. If you want to paint a slightly more romantic picture, you could say the road trip actually began at Grand Central Station, where I boarded a 10:25 Metro-North train to White Plains to pick up the car – and is there any better place to begin a journey than Grand Central?
We loaded the car around 3pm and set out. The plan was to cross the Manhattan Bridge, head down Canal Street, and depart Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel. On Tillary, I noticed this amusing truck ad:
But no time for Foco now! We sped onto the glorious (if always sort-of dirty-looking) Manhattan Bridge, windows down, music blasting, ready to escape the congested city for a brave new world…
…and then we slammed into mid-afternoon Canal Street traffic.
Dante Alighieri only experienced nine circles of Hell, but if he had made it down one more level, I believe he’d find himself in a compact-sized car trapped in Canal Street gridlock.
If you’ve never visited Manhattan, Canal Street runs from one end of New York to the other through Chinatown. On good days, you can travel the entire length in under ten minutes; today, we were doomed to sit in sweltering heat for a solid 45. On the plus side, I was able to leave my car, purchase a pair of $5 knock-off sunglasses from a sidewalk table, and return without traffic moving an inch.
Unfortunately, the day wasn’t going to get much better. Today was our dreaded Interstate day.
I forget the quote or the original speaker, but someone once said something to the effect that you could travel thousands of miles in the US on an interstate and feel like you haven’t moved an inch. And when you compare this picture…
…with one I took hundreds of miles later, you have to agree.
A true road trip should never involve a single inch of Interstate pavement unless absolutely necessary. However, we’d decided to begin our roadtrip in Indiana – we’d both visited New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio many times before – and didn’t want to waste our limited time. Our plan was to put in a good 7 or 8 hours Friday night, then connect with the two-lane US-50 in Indiana, the true start to our journey.
I wish I had something to post from our Interstate trip, but honestly, the two pictures above are essentially all we saw. I absolutely love the tunnels in western PA that travel under entire mountains, but by that time, it was too dark to take any pictures.
One minor note: I always enjoy the odd distortion tankers create…
…both of the road from the rear…
…and from the side.
We spent the night in St. Clairsville, then continued on through Ohio the next morning. When I saw this sign…
…I realized New York City was long gone, and our journey was about to begin.