Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New Jersey - Day 1 - getting there

Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA
Saturday, 1 December 2018

state #9



I haven't driven this far in a long time and it wore me out.  I left the CT KOA just before 8:00 and checked in at the NJ KOA right at 3:00.  We had 3 rest stops in between but were otherwise on the highway all day.  Long day.

It started with a very heavy frost on the ground - almost looked like snow it was so heavy - and skim ice on the deeper ponds.  I had coiled up my water hose last night, not wanting to have to deal with thawing it out in time to stow it away for driving, so at least that wasn't a problem.

At a service area along the road I saw the longest limo I've ever seen.  There would have been room enough for a basketball team inside.  Seriously.

When I got toward the middle of the state (still in CT), I started passing exits with names familiar to me from when I was staying in the other campground - North Branford, Bishop's Orchard, Thimble Islands, Leete's Island Road.  But I found I had to work my brain a bit before I could remember where they all were, what they looked like.  But it came back to me and I can now remember well where the grocery store and the Tractor Supply are and how the roads run.  I should do more memory recall exercises as I travel through a state so I don't forget things as easily.

As I passed New Haven I started seeing places I hadn't seen before, such as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge at New Haven.  It's got an unusual construction and I wanted to include a photo here, but the ones on the internet that don't have a copyright problem don't show it clearly.  You may want to look it up for yourself.

Just past the bridge at some road construction I saw a highway sign saying "shift right 2 lanes," which apparently meant I (in the far right lane) was supposed to follow the road farther right.  At least, that's what I did.  But I don't remember ever being told to "shift" myself before.

When I passed Bridgeport I saw what almost looked like an oil refinery, which seemed most unlikely so I looked it up.  Bridgeport isn't laying claim to any oil business but does boast of being one of 3 deep water ports in CT so gets a lot of shipping business, has major shipping repair facilities, and is the 2nd largest receiver of bananas (the actual fruit - whoda thunk it?) on the East Coast.  I just always thought of Bridgeport as a bedroom community for NYC so am impressed with all this activity.

All through CT I saw many many private buses - at least 18 of them.  They didn't seem to be part of a tour or a school group and surely weren't all rock bands going to another gig.  Seemed odd.

We stopped for a break at Saugatuck, the place the train went from Naugatuck.  And like Naugatuck, Saugatuck has a river of the same name, but seems to be part of Westport in some way.  We passed the Westport Railroad station, which has several HUGE parking lots nearby (for commuters, according to the signs).  And we parked in the empty lot for an enoteca and pizzaria incongruously named Tarry Lodge (you'd hardly find a building that looked less like a lodge anywhere).

At Cos Cob I saw dozens of boats of all sizes that were shrink-wrapped, and oddly some still seemed to be in the water, though that doesn't make sense.

I ran across the first area of serious congestion at Stamford.  Never did see a reason for it but it had us at a standstill for a while.

I met another congested area when I got near the Tappan Zee Bridge - now officially the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge, but nobody calls it that except the Cuomos, apparently.  Of course there's a story behind that and here's the link, if you want to take a look.  Now that's another bridge I would have loved to include a photo of but ran into copyright problems.  As I was driving up to it I kept thinking how much it reminded me of an enormous sailing boat with all its sails and rigging.  Pretty neat looking bridge.

I wasn't in New York for very long but was reminded by their signs that the state speed limit is 55 mph.  I doubt if there were many vehicles other than me who were actually going as slowly as 55 mph, but that's the official state position.

And on into New Jersey.

My first impression is that New Jersey is packed with towns, one after another after another.  I couldn't tell where one ended and another began.  Maybe it's easier on the side roads but on the toll roads, designed for through traffic, I lost track in a hurry. 

For instance, at one point, the Garden State Parkway (New Jersey's nickname is The Garden State) had 2 huge cemeteries, one on each side of the highway, and I'm not at all clear where that was.  Maybe South Orange?

But New Jersey is ranked 11th among the states for population, yet #1 for population density.  The difference may be because New Jersey ranks 47th in size - it's only 70 miles wide and 170 miles long - so that's a lot of people to pack into a small space.

I passed an enormous building - could see it coming from a distance and thought it must be a place of some distinction - and it turned out to be Galloping Hill Golf Course.  Very large parking areas filled with cars.  Guess it was a good day for golf.

I stopped at 2 rest areas that had designated visitor information centers, looking for state maps (preferably) or anything with tourist information in them.  Not a chance.  These "information centers" each consisted of a huge map on the wall and pamphlets with lists of hotels.  Not even any place where an information person could be during tourist season.  I'll bet the federal government hasn't bothered to check on what their money is going for; apparently some of the states are diverting that money into something else.

Anyway, at one of the rest areas I saw a sign saying "Now available - robotically served frozen yogurt!"  I'm still having trouble imagining what that could be.

I passed 2 gigantic warehouses - one for Wayfair and one for Amazon.

I remember the Garden State Parkway from about 40 years ago, and thought at the time it really was sort of a garden with lots of vines and plants along it - it was really pretty in places.  Either I didn't get to those places today or things have changed because now it's just a highway.  Maybe when I get farther south I'll find what I remember.

By the way, on the NJ map at the top, I've got a line going almost across the state from east to west, but that's not accurate.  NJ has so many highways that on that little map I mistook the route I took.  Assume instead that I didn't go wandering off in the wrong direction but instead took a direct route from the state line to the campground south of Philadelphia.

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