On The Road Again - Roanoke Virginia

I had someone get in touch with me about helping him out yesterday, he transport vehicles for what used to be know as Ma Bell. Here are some thoughts on my 24 hour trip to Roanoke, VA and back, providing I can stay awake that is.

Some Quick Background: The idea is to drive small "bucket" trucks from here to various facilities throughout the Northeast. Two people drive the trucks, the third drives a chase vehicle to drive the other drivers back. yesterday also involved picking up two other drivers on the way back.

The Route: I love to drive, and honestly the longer the better. The ride from here to Roanoke, VA is ten hours of driving, seven of which are through beautiful country. Three not so much. Their are two routes you can take. One is to leave Massachusetts, go down I-84 into Scranton, PA, then south on I-81. This was always my preferred route as it avoids any major city and the associated congestion. The second alternative, which I learned through Google Maps actually is about an hour shorter. This is more of a diagonal route which takes one through the vicinity of New York City, using either the George Washington bridge or the Tappan Zee bridge.
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Side note here: As I am writing this, I am thinking about how this post is actually the kind of posts I originally had envisioned for this blog. Sort of a chronicle of my daily travels "Behind the Dirty Windshield", relaying thoughts, sights and sounds along the way. Much like an old book entitled  written by William Heat Least Moon, "Blue Highways: A Journey into America"
which I read before I was driving  for a living, and way before the internet. 


Okay, where was I? I have been doing this a long time, and unlike Moon, who didn't care about getting any place or dealing with time constraints, I opted for the NYC route. Why, you ask? Here is a lesson from the "With Age Comes Wisdom" files, subtitled, "The Difference Between Young Bucks and Old Studs". It all depends on departure time.

A Bridge Too Far: Today's drivers have all these new tools, GPS, Google Maps, real time traffic updates, etc. When I first started driving we had Rand McNally and common sense. You opened the Rand McNally Road Atlas and planned your route. As you drove, you observed things like what shape the road is in, traffic, potential problems, stuff like that. You had no voice in a box telling you where to go. Each trip you learned something new. Over the years I learned that if you want to drive near or through New York City, you need to go at certain times of the day, if you do this, it is a quick trip. If you don't, not so much.We were leaving at midnight, a good time to go through NYC, although, again speaking from experience, I chose the Tappan Zee instead of the George Washington.

I can't speak for the rest of the country but it seems that here  in these parts the government must have had a lot of my money to spend on information signs dealing with traffic, etc. Without boring you with too many more boring route details, after I reached a point of no return where I had to decide on which bridge to take there was a notice that I -95, (the GW Bridge) had major delays and should be avoided. Chalk up another one for experience.

Thoughts From the Tappan Zee:

  •  Who is Tappan Zee anyway? Is this the guy who made ranges and other appliances? *
  • On a clear night you can see the lights of New York City, you can not however see the Hudson River, instead there is nothing but sheer blackness. 
  • The blue marker lights on the bridge are really quite an attractive shade of blue.
  • If you are stopped on the bridge due to construction and you have to pee, do you go outside your truck and hope the security cameras don't think you are either a jumper or a terrorist, or do you hope you won't be stopped long. 


As you can surmise, we had to stop and I had to pee, I chose the second option. I think the reason we stopped was for construction even though the Yankees had lost earlier that evening so there may have been a jumper.

Every road trip these days, especially when being done for work, is a crap-shoot. You need to make decisions on the best input you have. You use this input combined with experience and make what you consider to be the best decision. Even with a thirty minute delay, I made the right decision.

Next Up: New Jersey and Beyond

* The Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, usually referred to as Tappan Zee Bridge, is a cantilever bridge in the U.S. state of New York, crossing the Hudson River at one of its widest points; the Tappan Zee is named for an American Indian tribe from the area called "Tappan"; and zee being the Dutch word for "sea".[4] As an integral conduit within the New York Metropolitan Area, it connects South Nyack in Rockland County with Tarrytown in Westchester County in the Lower Hudson Valley. Federal and state authorities are currently planning a $5 billion Tappan Zee replacement bridge,[5] with estimated completion in 2017 - Wikipedia 
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