Day Two of OBECRT found us traveling from Quantico to Boston; Peabody, MA to be specific. Staying in Boston proper can be a little pricey, but Peabody was affordable and it looks like pretty easy access in to Boston if you’re traveling on a budget.
Thanks to the smaller size of states in the Northeast, today’s haul moved us through DC, MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, and MA — six states + DC! We left fairly early and managed to skirt the notorious DC traffic by following the toll roads, but unfortunately didn’t see any of the sights that a direct-through-town route would have shown us. Having driven in DC traffic, though, trust me when I say it’s not worth it to put yourself in that position unless you want to drive through at like 10AM and push your whole day back.
For me, the drive up was really cool — there’s such a difference between the view I’m used to down in Georgia/Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee and the view up in New England. We missed peak leaf time, but the drive was full of fall colors, except for when it was grey and rainy and stereotypical through New Jersey.
That’s not to say I didn’t sort of enjoy New Jersey, and that I didn’t absolutely do the other stereotypical thing and listen to the Soprano’s theme song as we came up the Turnpike and saw Manhattan in the distance. No, I didn’t get a Tony style video to go along with that.
What I found really exciting was driving across the George Washington Bridge in to NYC. I really didn’t have much of a hankering to visit NYC; I have plenty of friends there, plenty of friends from there, but it always seemed big and overwhelming and expensive. That being said, I really did love driving through the city and I wish I had a phone at the time that did the hyperlapse thing, because I absolutely would have done it through there. We made good time, even though we wound up there during what I expected to be rush hour, and even though you hear horrible things about NY traffic. I’m sure on the surface streets things were crowded, but even in spite of a lane closure and an accident, everyone just kept on moving and we made it through in no time! If we get a cheap flight up there, I wouldn’t be opposed to giving it a long weekend.
Google Maps sent us straight up 95 to MA, and since it’s almost all toll roads, we got to experience our first go with the rest area/gas station/service plazas that dot the NE. I didn’t get a picture of any of them because every time we stopped, we were attempting not to die in the process. I like the idea of these plazas, and not all of them were equally as harrowing, but the smaller ones (mostly in CT) are not for the faint of heart.
The larger plazas (and if you’re familiar with Florida, you’ve seen them there as well) have parking lots and multiple restaurants and a quick shop inside, but the smaller ones are a gas station/convenience store/drive through where you have a minimal amount of time to slow the hell down, and an even shorter amount of time to get up to the 80mph everyone in CT insists on driving before finding yourself on the highway. There were a couple of times where we got stuck either slamming on our brakes last minute or (at the stops with limited sight lines) nearly getting hit by a very irritated New Englander. The upside is that you’re never that far to your next fill up, and that you almost always have a food option that isn’t a Snickers bar. It might be McDonald’s at every other stop forever, but at least McD’s has a grilled chicken sandwich!
Speaking of Connecticut…
Look. I love you guys. Your state is beautiful, and I’m sure you have lots to offer, but if I never drive through CT again it’ll be too soon. And it turns out that this is one of those things that EVERYONE in the NE knows, but never tells their friends. Always take the alternate route that Google gives you, take any chance you can to get off 95 (even if it takes you through little towns plastered with Trump signs the size of my house), and do your best to just pick a lane and stay in it for however many miles you have to go so that you can pay attention to all the people trying to hit you. I’ve driven in a lot of cities and states that have been listed the worst drivers by multiple national publications — Connecticut wins this award for me hands down.
The drive in to Peabody gave us an insight in to the unique layout that is streets of Boston’s suburbs. I’d had one prior experience years ago when visiting a friend, but not enough to convince me that spending a few minutes understanding the map would have been a good idea.
Pro Tip? Spend a few minutes understanding the map. Just do it. It is absolutely time well spent. There are central roads that go under bridges, which are crossroads connecting one side of what’s basically a small highway, and all of the things are off of what are basically access roads. There really isn’t much of a differentiation, though, and the signage can be very confusing, especially if you’re getting there after dark.
Our kindly hotel front desk worker (whose name I now can’t remember, but she was amazing) at the SpringHill Suites Boston Peabody was kind enough to stay on the phone with us and walk us through step by step directions to get there. When we arrived, she greeted us warmly and gained a place in my heart.
We settled in, took a brisk walk up to whatever restaurant was open (nothing to write home about; pizza and beer and keno machines) and had a quick bite before hitting the sack.
Next up, Winter Island and Salem!
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