How to Turn Five Hours into Twelve

Cruising in the convertible on a sunny fall day.

According to Google Maps, it should take five hours and seven minutes to get from home to a wedding we’re attending on Long Island. But Google Maps just has no sense of adventure.

We set out early, just before 7am, with the intention of taking “the road less traveled” from Alexandria, Virginia, to Woodbury, New York, on Long Island. For us, that means crossing the Potomac on the Wilson Bridge and immediately exiting onto a local road. We head for US 301 through rural southern Maryland connecting just before “301” joins US 50 to pass Annapolis and cross the Chesapeake Bay.

The Delaware - Cape May/Lewes Ferry
Greg relaxes on a deck chair
Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse

We point the car toward Lewes, Delaware, deciding to take the Cape May/Lewes ferry for a cruise across the Delaware Bay to New Jersey. It’s a stunning, unseasonably warm fall day. The sun is shining brightly. The water is calm. The people on board are quiet and friendly. We lean back on a deck chair and soak up the sun as we shove off the dock and cruise past the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.

A few seagulls zig zag in the air over the ship’s bow for most of the crossing. We stand at the railing for awhile, chatting with a couple from New Jersey and keeping an eye out for dolphins. We don’t spot any swimmers, but a butterfly soars on the thermals over the cars on deck. We pulled into port on the Jersey side and made our way to the Garden State Parkway. By now, we would have been checked in at our hotel on Long Island if we had taken the “faster” route. This is so much prettier though, and relaxing.

Welcome to Brooklyn sign
Google Map traffic on cell phone
traffic on Belt Parkway, Long Island

We drive almost the entire length of New Jersey before heading across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and onto Long Island just as evening rush hour hits its height. It’s 5pm and Google says it will take just over two hours to go the next 26 miles.
HA! We laugh at the absurdity of traffic and use the slower pace to notice the neighborhoods bordering the parkway and to look south over Jamaica Bay at the ferry shuttling commuters and tourists to their destinations.

The skies to the north turn dark – really dark – and lightning flashes. We pull over and put the top up on the convertible just as the rain starts falling. The final hour is rainy and dark as the sun sets behind us. We arrive at the Inn at Fox Hollow just after 7pm … twelve hours after leaving home!

It was a picture perfect day (well, most of it), with sun shine, views, a relaxing pace and lively banter without the intrusion of cell phones or distractions. Some may call it a wasted day. We prefer to think of it as a great way to spend a day together and see another little piece of America.

© The World A to Z, LLC 2015

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