Day trip…

Well, I hadn’t planned on making this blog into one of those that recounts my daily activities….

For one thing, it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’, and since I don’t fully understand the whole world of blogging, I still don’t get why anyone would want to read a person’s blog of daily activities, even if the person is a movie star or Mother Teresa.

Second, my daily activities are not generally blog-worthy.  Nor are the activities of my son, my cat, or the neighbor’s dog/horse/llama.  I highly doubt that anyone would be interested in reading of my glamorous and fun-filled days of napping, doing the laundry, doing the dishes, napping, sometimes cooking some really fantastic meals, playing WoW, and doing more laundry.

Despite the fact that I am presently making some very delicious caponata of which I nearly ate all the olives before they made it into the pan, have a glass baking dish containing white socks and an undershirt drying in the heated oven because our dryer no longer actually dries anything (Spenser asks, “Oh, is this a new recipe you’re trying out?”), and my kitchen sink which was empty twenty minutes ago now contains 2 dishes, 3 glasses, and 3 utensils since my son greeted the day, I hardly consider this worth expanding upon.

I will, though, tell you of a Bad Thing I did yesterday, while taking a day trip into Brooklyn with my mother.

My parents each grew up in Brooklyn, and some, if not most of our extended family still live in the ‘Downstate’ area of New York.  While growing up, we logged many a mile in our family car, traveling to visit this extended Family.

The basic travel route we took included the standard procedure of crossing the Tappan Zee and Throg’s Neck Bridges and then choosing 1 of three routes to our destination.  Nana was in one direction, Staten Island/Brooklyn relatives was another, and Aunt Libby in Massapequa was yet another.
I, as well as others in my family, have pretty much come to learn this ‘basic’ route by heart.  I’m not even sure if I could write down the exact directions, it would probably go something like this:

Keep going south and look for signs for the Tappan Zee bridge to make sure you’re not lost.  After that you might have to get onto I95 for a few seconds, I’m not sure, but other than that, never follow signs to NYC, or south, or any tunnels, those are bad.  Even though you think you’re going south.  NYC is too south.  Look for signs for the Throgs’ Neck Bridge.  Stay in the right lane going over the bridge, it will take you onto some other highway.  I don’t know which one it is.  Maybe the sign is for Belt Parkway or Cross Island.  Stay on that until you see Nana’s exit.

Don’t ask me what is West/South/East, I don’t know, I just know.

Over the years, my sister Rosalie and I have discovered that this ‘basic’ route was not exactly the most efficient way to go.  There were shortcuts through New Jersey, ways which required only one bridge crossing, etc.

Now I have been pretty hard-nosed about the whole thing, mainly because I don’t have OnStar like my sister, but mostly because I’m more comfortable with going the old-fashioned way.  It’s a good thing I didn’t grow up with a horse and buggy.

This brings us to our journey yesterday, which had a shiny new mapped out route through parts of New Jersey, with newer, exciting bridges to explore.

I have had some previous experience with one of these exciting bridges, which happens to be the $^*#@%($@%& Verrazano bridge.  It costs $14 to cross that %$^@* thing.  Fourteen dollars!!!!!!

Anyway, the Verrazano bridge has TWO levels.  If you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, you usually just scramble for whatever level is closest to you, because there are 38 lanes, 57820 cars around you, and you treasure your life and that of your occupant/s.

What normally follows is that you are desperately trying to read the exit signs while contemplating the fact that you’re on the claustrophobic lower level and that there are another 57820 cars driving over your head,  all while simultaneously attempting to navigate your car without dying a horrible, slow death, because there is no way an ambulance would make it to you in this fustercluck.

What immediately follows is that you realize that you think you need to be 27 lanes over to the left in order to make the exit you need.  You’re not completely sure, because the sign flashed briefly in your peripheral vision whilst trying to avoid the pickup truck and sufficiently dinged-up Mercedes barreling into your lane.  What inevitably follows is that you only make it to lane 24 before you have run out of time and available bridge, and you are now going into completely unknown territory, along with your 57820 new friends, who, invariably, and smugly, knew exactly where they were going.

I won’t discuss the trip there, which somehow landed us on the upper level of the V, the strange fortune of navigating to the correct exit while not dead, and getting into Brooklyn and only driving for 27 blocks in the wrong direction under an elevated train because the numbers on the buildings suddenly jump from the 900’s to the 4000’s, and by the time we actually located another number on a building, we realized the numbers were going down and not up.
That was, apparently, the easy bit.

The way home was slightly different.  I’ll skip the part about landing on the lower level of the bridge from Hell, about missing the signs for the NJT (or whatever we were supposed to be getting on), and fast forward to being lost in Some City in New Jersey, with 57820 new friends, and more city traffic.

I understand that it has taken me a very long time to get to the heart of this story, which is telling you of  something I did, which I have never done before.  I know for a fact that this Bad Thing is something that is done with little conscience and on a daily basis in large cities, by other less law-abiding and carefree citizens, but this is generally not something that Catherine the Law Obeying Driver From Upstate would ever consider doing freely.

Whilst waiting behind a new and more hyper 57820 roadmates at a busy intersection, my mother decides to open the map.  As I’m trying to point to where we are on the map, and trying to follow where we are supposed to be turning (to the right, immediately, with 2 lanes of traffic barring our way), I look up and notice that the cars in front of me have progressed forward through the intersection.  I gleefully step on the gas just as I notice that the light is a full on and glaring red, and there is quite a bit of beeping going on.  At this point, I am almost but not quite approaching the halfway point of the intersection, and, having to make a quick decision, I plow through the intersection illegally, waving my hand and saying, ‘sorry!!!’ to my jovial and gesturing signs of good cheer roadmates.   Muttering, “I can’t believe I just did that.  I can’t believe I just did that”, with my mother clutching the door handle, we escape onto a side street unharmed, and search for tranquilizers in our pocketbooks.

In the end, it was not the fact of wandering around two different cities in a state of country bumpkinesque confusion, or the fact that the lady in the grocery store did not know what a ‘box of candy’ was (no joke), or having to hear my mother say, ‘ask that guy where to go!’ every five seconds (while at an intersection, said guy is selling god-knows-what in a little bicycle cart, and looks a little un-showered), nor even the fact that we wasted a quarter of a tank of gas by traveling a mere 17 miles in city traffic, it was that one Bad Thing which plagued my memories for the day.  Hard to believe, but there it is.

There is a bright side to all of this, however, though it did take me quite a while to get to the point. My Bad Thing, while not really that bad, compared to, say, murdering someone,  is still far more interesting than my laundry.  Even if, it is, baking in the oven in a glass dish.


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