Friday, June 19—Washington, DC to Woodbridge, CT
Lisa and I said goodbye to each other this morning as she headed for Dulles and her return flight to San Francisco and I resumed my ride around the perimeter of the country. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together in the nation’s capitol.
The GPS propelled me through the Friday morning commute on a zigzagging route northeast generally toward the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. This route out of DC showcases some of the rougher neighborhoods of the district. The homes were a bit shoddy and unkempt, but the people were smiling in the cool morning sunshine.
The traffic lights along highway 40 in Maryland are not synchronized, so the motion is a start-stop-start-stop phenomenon. It’s difficult finding a rhythm, and a challenge to follow the changing speed limits. Somewhere in Aberdeen I accelerated to pass on the right a vehicle stopped to turn left. At that moment I spotted Officer Wade who was standing on the side of the road and signaling me to pull over. I glanced at the GPS indicating the speed limit was 55, and I was doing around 40. As I pulled to a stop and parked my Harley, he asked me why I thought he stopped me. I told him I had just accelerated to get around a stopped vehicle. He sternly told me I was going 40 in a 30 zone. I quietly commented something wasn’t right because my GPS indicated the speed limit was 55. Another officer participating in this speed trap smiled and said other people had said the same thing. As I surrendered to the notion of being cited, I started telling Officer Wade about my ride around the country and the fact that my wife had flown out to meet me in DC where we celebrated our 40th anniversary. He looked at me, smiled, and said that magical word, “warning.” He told me how the speed limit in this area drops from 50 to 40 to 30 in about five blocks, and starts going back up in four more. My observation was that this five-to-six block stretch is a cash cow for Harford County.
My first stop was in Havre de Grace, MD where I met my friend and former business associate Siobhan. We’ve kept in touch over the years, occasionally making connections for each other in the foodservice industry. We had a great time catching up and sharing stories about our respective families. Siobhan is a great person, and it was a pleasure to see her again.
I left Havre de Grace on I95, and a series of tollbooths started popping up. By the time I reached my destination, I’d paid $32.55 in road and bridge tolls. That’s to be expected in this part of the country, but it still seemed excessive.
The New Jersey Turnpike greeted me with a significant downpour. Then the sun came out, the humidity went up, and it got downright uncomfortable.
As I passed the New York skyline, One World Trade Center stood tall—like a middle finger pointed toward anyone who thinks 9/11 would really slow down America. Big shout out to Mitch who lives in that jungle, a place too challenging for me on a Harley.
I was hoping to get by New York on my way to Connecticut ahead of the commute traffic. But it seemed I wasn’t the only one trying to go north at 3:30 pm. I got stuck behind the only cash toll booth leading onto the George Washington Bridge, so I jerked my ride out of traffic and into a cash toll booth about five slots to the right. I didn’t understand that that this tollbooth provided entry to a different direction (Secaucus and the Lincoln Tunnel) than the one in which I was headed. Once paid, I accelerated for a gap in between a line of orange cones to the left and squeezed back into the George Washington Bridge traffic.
As I sat there on my overheating Harley I recalled that one of the riders I met back in Shenandoah Forest National Park suggested I take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to bypass some of the traffic. I re-routed my self off the George Washington Bridge parking lot and onto the Palisades Parkway north. It is a beautiful ride, leading me to the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River (photo borrowed from the New York Times). Once across and after a few highway changes I found myself on the Merritt Parkway, an absolutely beautiful, tree-lined roadway—but at this time on a Friday evening, also a parking lot. Yet the scenery was a deep green, dense forest of deciduous trees
I finally arrived at my destination for today, Pam and Whitney McNulty’s. Pam is my niece and sister of Debbie who I visited in Leesburg, FL. I was able to spend some time with Pam at my brother’s home before he died a few years ago, so I knew her a little better than I knew Debbie. But I really didn’t know the rest of her family. Her husband is an engineer who seems quiet and reserved initially. But he has a wonderful, dry sense of humor. Their daughter, Caitlin, is a very bright, personable young college student. It was clear that she and her dad have a very special relationship. Colin was away at college, so I’ll have to catch him next time.
We ate dinner at a pizza parlor in the Italian section of New Haven. There are at least six Italian restaurants in about a five-block area. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana opened in 1925, and has had people standing in line to get in ever since! They serve classic pizza with uniquely fresh, chunky pizza sauce. It was truly one of the best pizza pies I’ve ever eaten.
Pam and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning sharing each other’s life stories. It was a blessing to have this time with her, and an outright affirmation of this purpose for my ride round the country. Thanks, Pam, Whit, and Caitlin!
Route: 1E, 50E, 295/Baltimore-Washington Parkway, I895, I95, 40, I95/Delaware Turnpike, I295, I95/New Jersey Turnpike, I95, 9W/Palisades Interstate Parkway, 9W, I87, I287, 15/Merritt Parkway
Miles Today: 328
Time Today: 10:40
Total Trip Miles: 6,457
Weather: Overcast in the mid 80s to 90s, some rain
Lodging: McNulty Residence
Dinner: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana