Driving Into NYC

photo is a link to CBS news report after a search on “Lincoln Tunnel Helix images”. It’s a still from a CBS video which shows the moving traffic

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to drive into New York City? I’m not talking about riding the bus, because someone else drives the bus. I’m talking about the rite of passage of driving The Helix (Rt 495 from the NJ Turnpike to the Lincoln Tunnel) and emerging in mid-town Manhattan on Dyer Avenue.

NYC skyline and a bit of the Hudson River as seen from the Helix

The very first time I drove in NYC I was in college. That means that I’d only been a driver for perhaps 3 years or so. My mother, who was an actress, got food poisoning after a rehearsal in the city. She couldn’t take the bus home. I needed to go get her. At night. I called her best friend, Cathy, and Cathy rode with me into mid-town Manhattan. Cathy served as moral support and navigator.

NYC skyline from the Helix, approximately 7am, May 24,2023 – through the car window

As intimidating as that trip was, it was decades ago. The roads got worse, the traffic got heavier, and people seem to have a lot more road rage. Not to mention the aggressive window-washers who accosted you as you were stuck on Dyer Avenue. Driving in NYC got a lot worse after my initial foray. A few mayors ago laws were passed to prohibit the incessant horn-blowing and “blocking the box” (sitting in the intersection because you didn’t clear it while you had the light). I think that since the very bad traffic perhaps 10, 20 years ago, the driving has gotten much better and the window washers are gone.

this billboard has been here for decades. always kept up-to-date. 🙂 you are looking south – Hudson River and NYC to your left, about to loop to the right to the tunnel entrance

If we’re going to the theater or some other event/excursion we often take the train. Now that we are Senior Citizens that senior discount is FANTASTIC. No WAY can you drive & park for less than 2 or 3 train tickets. 🙂

the cliffs along the helix, homes with fantastic views of the river and NYC. I assume they are high enough to avoid the noise and pollution. at this point we’re making the turn to head to the tunnel entrance

Sometimes, however, it is necessary to drive in. My brother-in-law needed to get to the upper east side of Manhattan for an appointment with several surgeons. He cannot drive. My sister, who could drive, wanted to be focused on her husband, not traffic. Driving in NYC is not something she enjoys at the best of times. I offered to be the limo driver.

and here we go….

Unlike Honour and my husband, my sister cooperates when she is a passenger. *grin* I told her to take pictures of NYC from the Helix. She went above and beyond, taking photos of what it actually looks like to get down the Helix and merge 7 lanes into 4 tunnel lanes, including the bus lane. There are 3 tubes, 2 lanes each. But 2 lanes are needed for traffic heading out of NY. In the afternoon the tubes switchover to provide more lanes for outbound traffic.

surprisingly little traffic this morning – it was about 7:00 am and I expected a lot more rush-hour traffic

As you might expect, while most people understand the rules of merging and patience, and understand ultimately we will all get through the tunnel and into NYC, there are always a few who are more important and in more of a hurry than anyone else.

yeah, yeah, we all need to just get along and merge

I actually LIKE driving in to NYC. Some people like playing video games. I like the real-life challenge of driving in rush hour, jam-packed traffic, with crazy people who are akin to video dangers and booby traps 🙂

don’t forget to remove your sunglasses

Yes, it is exhausting. But to drive into the city means you need the adrenaline flowing, your senses heightened AND your patience running at 110%. Fully charged but calm. Hey, it’s a crazy way to commute but someone’s gotta do it. 🙂

you do this for 1.5 miles. wondering how far the river IS above the tunnel ceiling

Colors of the Day

Ten weeks ago I began commuting to work. *grin* Not really, but that’s how the idea arose. We were having “Ladies Lunch in the Sukkah” (not yet blogged) and we were talking about the various changes in every day life since the pandemic. We were discussing the pros and cons of working from home. While I love the convenience, I do miss the office companionship. Kate said she missed her commute, because that was her only exercise. Amy said she’d read somewhere that missing the commute was a common theme and she’d read an article that suggested walking around the block 5 times before sitting down to work. I don’t know why but that resonated with me 100%.

Kate and I agreed we’d try “commuting” together. Well. *grin* It didn’t work out. The very condensed version is we made it ONCE, in the AFTERNOON (the commute home), along with her elderly dog. If you have ever taken a walk with a very small elderly dog you understand that there is no way we reached what I would consider a commuter’s pace. We also only made it around our block once. I’d say that counted as 2 blocks however because our block IS the size of 2 since a street stops before it bisects the block.

I knew I’d never make it around the block 5 times – how boring would that be???? Silly as it sounds, I didn’t even want to walk AROUND it once. No, I don’t know why. Maybe that’s leftover from all my own dog-walking days. I decided that “5 times around the block” meant 20 sides – 5 x 4 sides to a block. I set out in the morning and walked 20 sides. Yay me!!! I did it again the next day, and the day after. I got faster, I got more fit, I got inspired.

I am now walking 32 sides (that’s 8 blocks if you are counting 🙂 ). That includes The Hill – I walk UP the hill. I used to walk clockwise one day and then counter-clockwise the next. But now that I do The Hill, I always go clockwise so I can go UP The Hill. There is another slight rise walking in the last quarter of the route going clockwise so I always feel very virtuous at that point.

I mapped the route and it is 2.54 miles. On a good day – meaning one when I feel I can go at an exercise pace – I can do it in just under 45 minutes, or just better than 3 mph. Yes – these little numerical breakdowns are EXACTLY how I get through the walk each day. I use the time to try to take my mind away from my life & work, to try to practice ‘mindfulness’ – being in the moment. Hence the photos (this batch is the last of the fall leaves, I’m sure). I’ve also managed to NOT walk on days when I knew my body was not going to respond positively. Yesterday’s walk was a very short walk, no hills, no rises, because my back was hurting. I doubt I even did 2 miles. BUT – I DID get out and walk and I did it without pushing myself to the point of pain. *smile* I’d call that a successful walk.

Workday Wonderland

Coming off the exit

I went up to Corporate yesterday for some meetings. I was a little concerned about the weather forecast. They’d been predicting 1-3 inches of snow up there by dawn and perhaps another inch in the morning. The commute was surprisingly trouble-free (for me anyway – there were accidents and tie-ups all over the place according to the traffic reports). I only wish I’d had time and place to pull over to take a picture of the trees along the lake as well. You may think that I was shooting in black & white but I was not. *smile* The world was gray and black and white all the way up, during the day, and then walking back to my car by moonlight (and safety lights & cameras). It was beautiful.
shush. I know I shouldn’t have been taking this photo.

walking from the parking lot

almost to the door – see the sun starting to break through?

looking out the window

heading back to the car. the lower ‘moon’ is the security light

i know it’s blurry but I had to try. 🙂

At Least It Wasn’t Raining

The big broad Hudson (looking back to NY, NJ ahead on the left) under a beautiful blue sky

Yesterday was one of THOSE commuting days. It took me 2.5 hours to go 75 miles up, and just about 2.5 hours to return. That’s 5 hours commuting to spend about 6 hours meeting with folks. I spent a LOT of time simply sitting in traffic, waiting to inch forward. I remembered why I used to try to be on the road by 6am and not leave the office until after 6pm. That made for an extremely long day but a much shorter commute. Yesterday the weather was beautiful, although a bit chilly in the morning. I should have tossed on a jacket for the ride up. I was in the convertible and even with the windows up and the heat blasting, my shoulders were cold. Riding up it took me nearly 90 minutes to reach the Palisades. I think that might be 40 miles. That’s terrible progress. I think the fastest I ever got moving on the NJ Turnpike after Exit 11 might have been 40 mph. Most of the time it was 25 mph. On a road where I can usually hit 80 mph.

Pretty sailboats on the Hudson by South Nyack

Coming home I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the Tappanzee Bridge (No, I will NOT call it the Mario Cuomo Bridge) as you can see by the pictures. Apparently there was some accident further north on the NY Thruway. Heading from Westchester county to Rockland county in the afternoon rush hour is always slow, but this took it to a new delay for me. I apologize for the poor quality. Every time I picked up the phone to take a picture, we got to inch forward half a car’s length. I finally held the phone up and pushed the button and hoped something would come out. Of course the camera assumed I was looking at the barriers, not the pretty sailboats out there on the Hudson. Still, I think you can get the idea. I do love looking at the river, the palisades, the mountains, the boats. That and the Kensico Dam and reservoir really make up for the ride on the NJT between exits 11 and 14. *grin*

Before cropping

It’s Not ‘Traffic’ in a Convertible


I may have mentioned that I enjoy driving my red convertible. A lot. Somehow even when I’m stuck in a traffic jam if I’m in the convertible with the top down, it’s just not that annoying. My other car has a sun roof and I keep it open as much as possible, but it still feels like being locked in an box when I’m stuck not moving in traffic. In the convertible it feels like I’m out enjoying the day.

This week I drove up to HQ for some meetings. The weather was perfect convertible weather. I listened to the traffic reports before I left and I knew there had been a truck fire on the highway and I knew I’d hit some of the remaining jam. I hoped that I was leaving sufficiently after the incident that most of the traffic would be gone. I know, silly me, but if you don’t have hope in this world, things get bleak fast. Of course there was the 5 mile backup but you know what? I didn’t really care. I took out the suntan spray I keep in the car, took off my dress jacket, sprayed my arms and coated my face, and enjoyed the sun on my skin. Hit another traffic jam up on the Palisades, and I’m in the trees there, but still the convertible makes a difference. You can smell the surroundings much better with the top down than in a car with all the windows open. (And yes, that is both good and bad. Going past landfills is not very uplifting. 🙂 ) The Palisades section of the road had that heavy moist tree smell.


I was far enough behind rush hour that the bridge was not a problem so I got time to actually look at the gorgeous new structures. The last leg of my journey takes me past one of the NY state reservoirs. I love that piece of road. No matter how stressful or aggravating the commute has been up to that point, the sight of the water and trees and rocks always resets the mood. 🙂


New Jersey Turnpike –
Like the Homeowners’ Motto
“It’s Always Something”

Kensico dam

Don’t Get Too Close to ME

Driving up to CHQ this morning I was in the usual stop-and-go slowness on Rt 287. I was in the far left lane and looking to merge right as my exit was approaching. I happened to notice the hubcap on the truck next to me. Quite eye-catching, isn’t it? I don’t know it there was a matching cap on the far side as well, but I do know that none of the other wheels on my side of the truck matched that hubcap.

What do you suppose he does with that hubcap?

dangerous hubcaps

OOTD 20150430

I confess – I really, really enjoy these warm, sunny spring days, driving my new-to-me convertible with the top down.  🙂  “And she’ll have fun fun fun!”

Let me add that I’m really enjoying being ABLE to commute again. Whereas I love the option to work from home and skip the commute, NOT having the option and HAVING to work from home can get tiresome. I missed the camaraderie of the office and the change of scenery. I still don’t enjoy the traffic congestion, but I’m so happy that I can drive again. Even if it’s NOT in the convertible! 🙂