Adventures: Part 2

[Part 2 of 2 of a series of adventures I had on Wednesday; apologies for the much belated publication]

The next part was getting from Newark, NJ to Ithaca, NY. My plan was Garden State Parkway -> I-287 -> I-87 -> NY-17/Future I-86 (see this post for clarification on that designation) to Binghamton -> I-81 -> Route 79 (to Ithaca).

You might have heard about some pretty bad flooding in the northeast last week. Did you know some really bad flooding was centered around Binghamton? Apparently, I didn't. [First day's drive shown in red.] So I got a little ways on Future I-86, before I got to a highway closure. Backtracked, and referred to my map to find smaller roads. I thought I'd tack up towards Route 28, which goes across the Catskills, and then try taking I-88 towards Ithaca. That part of the drive made me really start to appreciate Interstate highways, compared to winding, two-lane country roads that go straight through the middle of each town (at 20-30 mph). I've sometimes bemoaned the lack of connection to the landscape and towns due to the Interstates, but I had enough local flavor on this trip to last me a while.

The drive across the Catskills on 28 was very pretty--hiking and camping in the Catskill State Park looks like it would be fun. As a side note, I thought that Jews -> Catskills was a stereotype, but I haven't seen that many Hasidim since I was in Crown Heights. As I got close to I-88, I starting running into detours. Several detours later, as night was falling, I got to the interstate in Oneonta. Rolling towards the onramp, I noticed a distinct lack of traffic. Hrm. I-88 Westbound: closed off with cones across the entrance ramp. Crap. Well, at least I can backtrack on the highway. I-88 Eastbound: closed off. Crap crap.

Well, time for more country roads. I ended up at two or three different roadblocks, and got out to chat with the road crews and truckers who were trying to get their rigs turned around and out of the mess. It seems like nobody really knew what roads were opened or closed--I got directions from a state highway guy that sent me directly to a road closure.

It made me realize that the network of roads we have is a lot more fragile than we normally realize. Looking for a road to escape on at 11 at night, and only finding state troopers and orange cones gave the whole situation a vaguely post-apocalyptic feel. As the hour was getting later and my driving was getting sloppier and sloppier, I saw three or four deer on the side of the road, and ran over the splattered carcass of another, so I figured it was high time to bed down for the night. After searching for a hotel with vacancies for about an hour, the plan turned to: sleep in the car overnight. That was at 2 AM: about 12 hours after I had left New York. Reason #225 why station wagons rock: you can fold down the back and have a flat surface to sleep on.

My faith in my fellow man is low enough that it took a while for my tiredness to overcome my paranoia of sleeping in an exposed locked glass box. I found a nice spot nestled between a dumpster and a van that was being used as a storage locker. At least I had my 3 D-cell Mag Light close at hand. I do have a buddy who had a loaded Sig Sauer pistol under the blanket when he slept at rest stops--that level of protection would have made me feel a bit more comfortable.

Yeah, a really refreshing night.

I got rolling the next morning, trying another small road. I got to see some of the flood damage in daylight. This is what I-88 looked like in Oneonta:

It was a bit eerie to see completely empty highways. I also saw a flooded-out trailer park, lots of people pumping out basements, and a bunch of places where the road shoulders were dangerously undercut by rushing waters. Some more shots of the flood in Binghamton are on this flickr site. The really scary washout was on I-88 in Sidney, NY: two truckers were killed when they drove into the part of the highway that was washed away. See this flickr site for images of the damage--definitely made me say "holy crap."

Anyway, the second day's drive [shown in green] was much more reasonable--especially because I called Jofish to look up road closures on the web. He later sent me this:

Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 10:25:58 -0400
From: jofish@XX.XX
To: bats22@XX.XX
Subject: why bats' life sucked

Yeah. That part with all the "Closed" icons--that's what I was trying to drive through.

Anyway, I made it to Ithaca that day, and had a lovely stay (including replacing a set of lights in Jofish's bathroom, and his going-away party). Drove back to Canada on Friday, and made it to Dan and Daniel's in time for Dan's citizenship party.

So I'm home now: I was away from May 27th to June 30th in Boston, Dover NH, Tampa, FL, Cape Coral FL, Boston again, New York (both Long Island and the City), and Ithaca, NY: 2364 miles. Time to get back to work.


At 3:04 PM, Blogger inkandpen said...

What a mess! I'm glad you made it, though-- it was good to see you and chat about Giant Isopods: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_isopod.


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