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Friday, January 29, 2021

The Crab, Rt. 17, & Florida (Gasp!)

Of all the clogged roads in my beloved home state of New Jersey, Rt. 17 is one I try to avoid whenever possible. Predictably torturous traffic exacerbated by poorly designed on/off access is bad enough but the homogeneity of those endless strip malls can make me soul sick.   

While painfully enduring this depressing landscape recently, I tried to spot a store that was not part of a national chain. Miles went by. McDonald's blurred into Barnes and Noble, quickly followed by the Gap. On and on, as the agonizing orgy of sameness and runaway consumerism continued, it was hard to avoid thinking about all the independent businesses that have been casualties of Covid-19. I know, I know - what a curmudgeon this blogger is. 

The one thing that prevented me from sinking into further despair was remembering my last trip to Florida. Because as bad as Rt. 17 in New Jersey is - and it is bad - my driving experiences in Florida have been that much worse. What landscape fills with you dread like endless strip malls do to me?   

7 comments:

  1. Good morning, Pat. On this eve of the 'Snowstorm of 2021', why not talk traffic. Especially since it would be a pretty fair guess that there will be, let's call them, delays tonight, into tomorrow and into Tuesday.
    Funny that you mentioned Route 17. After my family moved from NY to NJ we needed to find a new route to visit family that lived upstate NY. The most direct way was to go Route 9 to the Garden State Parkway to the NY State Thruway. My father, however, was always one to find 'shortcuts' to get us places. The time added to trips during some of his more/less famous shortcuts would make for a much longer comment, so I'll not go into that .. at least not in this reply - lol. But one of his better ones was taking the Garden State Parkway to Exit 163, to Route 17, to the NY State Thruway. Of course, back in the late 60's and early 70's, there was no GPS, and much less shopping and less traffic.
    One of our more memorable experiences with traffic would be during our many trips to Florida. We would have to be sure to leave our house at, or before, a specific hour - usually well before the sunrise - in order to be passed the Washington D.C. Beltway before the morning rush hour traffic in that area hit. I can vaguely recall some trips where we would sit in traffic for a while making for a not too pleasant part of the journey. Years later it would become the reason for many funny family discussions.
    Another thing just came to mind as I'm typing these comments. When looking to move to NJ, and making various trips looking at model homes around the State, I remember us seeing the infamous NJ Jughandles for the first time. And my dad commenting that NJ drivers were some of the craziest he had ever seen. I guess we just had to get used to it - and later adapt - lol.
    As an aside, this Blog Post brought up a number of memories of times spent with my father. Thanks for that.
    Be well ... Stay Safe

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    1. RRGRMG; Thanks again for the comprehensive comment and the family stories - traffic-related and otherwise - therein. As for reminding you of your Dad, you're welcome; doesn't take much for that to happen to me.

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  2. I share your dislike of endless strip malls and Route 17 in particular. In terms of bad traffic, the worst I have been in is freeways around LA. A nightmare.

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    1. Ines; Our mutual dislikes merge! And, I agree about LA, perhaps NJ's closest competitor for perpetual horrendous traffic.

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  3. OK, Jew Jerseyians, I have also paid my dues on the Garden State's various roadways, including I 78 between our home in Lambertville and Newark Liberty ... my wife and I often joked that NJ DOT has dual missions of traffic routing and population control by constructing roadways designed to wipe out significant portions of the populace by the creation of on and off ramps that would test the mettle of NASCAR drivers let alone the rest of us. Coming in a very close second is the unenviable one-two punch of I 95 and the AC Expressway. One hour of sheer terror negotiating the speed freaks in and around Philadelphia (the traffic on the Walt Whitman can best be described as a demolition derby waiting to happen) followed by one hour of sheer boredom trying to stay awake long enough to make it to the Frank S. Farley Service Plaza without a) falling asleep and running off the road into the woods or b) blowing past a State Trooper in the median after forgetting to turn on your radar detector.

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    1. Steve; First off, because I know you personally, I need to be sure to correct your early typo, replacing "Jew" Jerseyians with "New" Jerseyians. Don't want the Proud Boys visiting my blog and thinking they've found kindred spirits here on my bell curve. That aside, I love your litany of New Jersey highway nightmares, all of which I have experienced numerous times in 55 years of driving in my beloved clogged-by-cars state. Thanks for the comment, although it's hard not to note you made no mention of RT. 17, especially since you did mention bad merge design. Rt. 17 IS the hands-down winner in that dubious contest.

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  4. Yikes, really yes big time typo...yeech, I really need to edit my late night/early morning posts! I actually never made the acquaintance of Rt17. Just dumb luck. I have however traveled the dreaded Rt 1 corridor more times than I can count. It's only saving grace is that it's the approximate route of travel Washington's army took to attack and drive and the Brits from Princeton after the battle at Trenton and a little further up the road, Grover's Mill is just off a jug handle and will live forever as one of the Martian landing sites mentioned in Orson Well's "War of the Worlds" 1938 radio broadcast. Imagine a world where the only real time mass medium was radio!

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