Early today, I was hopeful the drive from Lancaster to Long Island would be ok. I knew there would be some crazy spots, maybe some frustrating moments, but we would make it, open a beer, and all would be well.
Well, as we were approaching New Jersey, toward the end of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I had a feeling I should check out some RV groups to see if anyone had suggestions about NYC bridges and tolls. For some reason I didn’t get an immediate reply, which should have been a warning that no one has done this before. Every comment and question posted on the Facebook RV group pages gets a quick reply.
John was annoyed when I said he should pull over so we could check the route and toll amounts. I saw on one website that the bridges on our phones’ suggested route didn’t allow RVs. Then I read that RVs can’t drive on designated parkways in New York. We would have to go north a bit to cross at the George Washington bridge and we would have to avoid all roads called parkways.
By the time we got to the bridge, we had paid $60 in tolls to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I had $22 cash left. As we approached the GWB, I asked son John if he had some money. He found a roll of pennies. When we got to the toll plaza, the attendant demanded $84. Seriously. To cross the George Washington Bridge in an RV pulling a toad costs $84.
Ha. We didn’t have that much cash. She said they would send us a bill. Wasn’t that nice of her?
By the way, it’s free to cross back from NY to NJ.
There was one more bridge to cross before we got to Long Island. The Throgs Neck Bridge over the East River. I couldn’t wait to see how much that was going to cost. I was almost disappointed when John read the sign to me – $8 cash for cars, $10 all other vehicles. Somehow our bill came to $19.25, the price of a truck and a car.
Next we needed to ignore our phones telling us to take a parkway and stay on the 495, the Long Island Expressway. Drivers were horrible. I started thinking this was a stupid idea. We said we wouldn’t drive anywhere near LA, but we would drive around NYC?
We had to visit NYC. We couldn’t drive around the country and not see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the museums, right? Although, thinking about these things right now as I sit in our RV at this state campground, I am not the least bit interested in trying to get into the city to see them. At all.
When we looked at our route and considered New York, we found the Liberty Harbor RV Park. It’s right across from the Statue of Liberty, walking distance to a ferry, and costs $100/night. I thought that was too expensive for what was described as a gravel parking lot, so I started looking for other campgrounds nearby. I figured there had to be something reasonably priced and located where we could take public transportation into the city. I couldn’t find anything.
I looked and looked, because somehow I became determined. I found the Wildwood State Park on Long Island. I had heard of the Long Island Railroad and assumed thousands of people commute to the city everyday. The campground had decent reviews on rvparkreviews.com. Instead of paying $100/night, we could pay $410 for 11 nights to fill the gap before our next reservation in Connecticut. So I booked it.
Well, since then we’ve discovered the train into the city will cost about $20/person each way. And we’ll have to go into the city at least twice if we want to visit more than one landmark. My mother-in-law bought us tickets for the Lion King, so that will eat up most of one day.
But, hey, if I’m going to offer guidance to families traveling around the country in an RV, I should have a few big ones under my belt. And at least we can say we’ve driven to Long Island the next time we’re trading stories with other RVers.
Everything was fine once we got to the campground and unloaded and setup. Then we realized we had a redbox DVD to return by 9 PM to avoid another night’s fee of $1.59. Are you surprised that we didn’t run out to return it?
We had a few beers to start our recovery, but please keep that quiet because alcohol is not allowed at this campground.
Our next stop is in Mystic, Connecticut. It will cost $200 to take the ferry.
Now we know why.