Day 7, October 17, 2003: Lakewood, NJ to Riverhead, NY
Undoubtedly this will be a short account since nothing much pleasant happened all day. I have, if not a hatred for, at least an aversion to most large cities. And today was the New York day...
Thirty-or-so miles north of Lakewood, after breakfast, I decided that at 99,000 miles it was time for an oil change on the Miata so I stopped at one of the quick lubrication places along the highway and had them take care of it for me. On a whim, before leaving the garage I asked the supervisor how close I was to Fort Monmouth. He informed me that it was only a few miles away so I headed in the indicated direction and after only a few wrong turns located it.
I had attended a six-month training course at the US Army Signal Corps School at FM starting in 1965 and was curious to see how my vague memories of the place matched up with current reality. I need not have bothered since nothing at all was recognizeable. Literally nothing. I can't say whether it is a matter of a massive dieoff of brain cells on my part or massive changes on their part or some combination of the two but I might as well have never been there before. Before leaving I walked through their communications museum then headed out into the grey drizzle and starting north again.
I stopped at the Navesink Twin Lights, a rather unusual example of the lighthouse art and science. They have made the original stone structure into a fairly typical museum but it is free and they allow visitors to climb one of the short towers to look around. By the way, if you ever do make the climb, pay attention to the sign which says "watch your head" because if you are over four feet tall you might well do what I did and have a dent in your head and a dull ache for the rest of the day.
Bashing your head on a heavy iron brace is one thing. Driving around New York City is another. Both are painful but somehow the former seems less so. Naturally I made efforts to avoid driving into the city itself and my clever plan was to head up the coast to the Amboys, zip across Staten Island to Brooklyn and up through Queens on I-495 and to continue out Long Island until I found a nice place to stay. Ahhh, the stuff that dreams are made of. What I actually did was to sink myself into a continuous traffic jam embedded in a massive highway con/de-struction project that seemed to start at the NY border and continue through Queens. A Miata belongs on the open road, not among a thousands of near-stationary trucks spewing toxins. A foul, foul drive...
After getting out on Long Island I discovered that there were bloody few places to stay along the way. And many there were already booked solid for some reason or another. Out near the very tip and quite late I finally found a motel that would deign to allow my presence in exchange for an exhorbitant amount of money. Even after talking them down by every means known to man the room wound up costing twice as much as any other for the whole trip. I guess that when one does not plan ahead far enough to make reservations this is what happens.
From the room that night I made 11:00AM reservations for the cross-sound ferry in the morning and hoped for the best.