Escape From New York! Roadtrip Day 01

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.


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  1. Happy Motoring!

    Since you love the tunnels on the PA Turnpike, I’m sure you know that three of the original 7 tunnels – Sideling Hill, Ray’s Hill, and Laurel Mountain – were abandoned through re-alignment in the late 60s. They’re still there:

  2. Having followed your blog for a couple of months I just realized how much I look forward to following the road trip. I have never been to the US and when you think about it, it’s amazing to be able to follow online. I really hope you will update often!

    Have a great trip!

  3. I’ve driven across the country twice — which I loved, and would love to do it again and like you recommend everyone do it at least once — and have taken road trips up and down the East Coast and throughout the midwest… I disagree though with your assessment of Interstates. I LOVE THEM. It’s all about the sky and speed. That’s the fun part. So sure if you wanna crawl through random small towns — have it your way. I want to take our great national interstate system. Fly high above cities! Zoom through cornfields! See the weird check-point when entering California (you totally missed the plant check by not taking the interstate into California!)

    To each his own! Have a fantastic trip!

  4. Have you ever taken US30 through PA? Parts of it are still quite charming reminders of pre-Interstate travel, other parts are almost ghost towns.

    And then there’s Breezewood, where I believe the only requirement of elected officials is to ensure that I70 and I76 never have a proper interchange.

  5. Love the sign. Guess they don’t know that you had emerged from hellaious traffic of Manhattan. LOL Looking forward to pics of the trip!

  6. Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.
    Charles Kuralt

  7. Love this! I moved here from the Midwest, Indianapolis actually. You have a lot of blank roads and religious billboards in front of you. 🙂

  8. “No time for Foco now!”

    haha. How I love thy blog, Scout!

    -C @ Corks + Caftans

  9. I ‘heart’ you and your blog. Can’t wait to hear about the trip! Save travels…

  10. Hope this trip is less mechanically eventful than the last one. If you want to have a real boring drive take Interstate 10 anywhere. A good little snippet is between San Antonio and Houston. 2 hours of nothing followed by an hour of getting from the west side of Houston to the east side of Houston.

  11. Love your shots of the City (I’ve only been twice), and am looking forward to your trip. Come on through the Show-Me State.

  12. I recommend you stop in Bloomington, IN for a meal, and hit up FARM. It’s a restaurant owned by an Indiana native, former NY chef, who moved back to open his dream restaurant using only local ingredients. I recommend trying the FARM fries … so good! There’s also a free wine tasting at Oliver Winery in Bloomington with is surprisingly good!

  13. Wow. It’s crazy how your pictures of the interstate on the east coast look exactly like all the pictures I’ve ever taken on the interstate in the midwest! Definitely, stick to the two lanes!

  14. Hey scout, its Grand Central Terminal (GCT). Grand Central Station is where you catch the subway.

  15. You had a Hyundai Accent sedan. Why didn’t you go for a larger and more comfortable Nissan Sentra?

  16. love the road trip blog, and the NYC info.

    here’s a storm chaser blog I also love. extremeinstabilitydotcom
    he’s based out of Nebraska… excellent weather photos, and high level meterological data.

    if you cruise thru Nebraska, you should look him up! good luck on the rest of your trip!


  17. Excellent pics of the road trip, so far!! I live in Kansas, and what you have seen in Indiana and Ohio is pretty much what you’ll keep seeing through the midwest.

  18. The ladies were probably weighing old gold jewelry.. if I had to guess

  19. And, as you might also know, Scout, those abandoned old Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnels were used in the recent filming of “The Road.”

  20. Ugh, NYC gridlock!! Grrrrr. Got stuck in it Thursday night going to see South Pacific. I was driving, savvy native New Yorker that I am. And completely forgot you couldn’t make north bound turns on certain avenues during rush hour. Trapped on 57th Street, we ended up on the East Side. Took me 45 minutes to get back to the West Side. Everything is good…until I missed the swerve onto CPW because I was talking, drove into the Park and came out again at 90th and Fifth. It was like a nightmare. We made the curtain, no thanks to me, but missed our dinner reservation. My friend said she didn’t mind, but I kept on guard in case she did a Richard Widmark with my wheelchair. lol