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Thread: Florida to NYC and Back--An Atlantic Road Trip

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    Default Florida to NYC and Back--An Atlantic Road Trip

    Another post elsewhere-- about a guy driving a classic Camaro from NY to FL--caught my attention and caused me to recall the many, many times that I have made that drive, New York to Florida ( and Florida to NY) ... Maybe 30 times, or possibly more.

    I began making the drive before Interstate Highways were but a gleam in Eisenhower's eye. When I was a child in Rochester, Mom and Dad would pour everybody into the old Buick and we'd deadhead to Florida, the folks passing the wheel to one another as we crossed state lines on moonlit two-lanes. One slept, the other drove and we were in sweaty Florida 20 hours later. The cars changed from Buicks to Cadillacs to Lincolns and the back seats grew more comfortable, but the route remained the same until I-75 and -95 got built.
    In college, I made the drive twice from Upstate, just for Spring Break in Ft Lauderdale. Once a friend and I drove down from Westchester in a '56 Thunderbird that swiftly ate gas, much more than we had bargained for.
    John, the 'Bird's owner, and I had spent EVERYTHING on gas getting there, and we headed out of Lauderdale after 3 days of sleeping on motel sofas and eating $.29 McDonalds burgers-- ( and consuming a LOT of beer)-- with the merest of coins in our pockets, cherry-red sunburns and 1500 miles ahead of us.
    We drove by night with evil intent.
    We had to sneak into apartment complexes and shopping centers all the way up the East Coast in the dead of night, secretly siphoning gas, 5 gallons at a time from whatever cars that were conveniently available. This took a lot of time and stealth. Old Thunderbirds are notoriously uncomfortable to sleep in, so by day we'd find a library and sleep, then we'd morph into petty criminals when darkness fell. John pawned his watch in Richmond and we were back on cheap cheesburgers. We made it to Larchmont on fumes, nervous, hungry and guilty, but safe.
    John later joined the priesthood and is now a Major General in the Jesuits.
    We siphoned our way up the Coast, and it took us 3 days-- but it got us home safely.

    After my parents built a house in Florida I would make the drive in my cars, often with friends, sometimes alone for a Road Trip and a week on the beach. I did the trip twice in my VW Beetle, once in my Firebird.
    My last ride was the One Way trip.

    My parents were moving furniture to the Florida place and Mom asked me for my help in the move. I was living in Brooklyn at the time, sharing a large studio apartment in a classic, run-down Brownstone in Park Slope ( 4th Ave and 4th St). She slushed into Brooklyn at dawn on a crummy February Friday, the Big Lincoln hauling a long moving trailer, and we did the deadhead and were in Florida the next evening, I-95 all the way.
    I grew enchanted by Florida and decided to stay. Later, Mom cleaned out my NY apartment and shipped it all down to me.

    Except for a few brief runs, from the mid-'70s until 1995 the airplane became the principal mode for escaping Florida, and most trips I took bypassed The City and went to Rochester, where the folks had a "summer place". Some would connect at Kennedy or LaGuardia, and I'd see the grayed-out sawtooth of the skyline from afar, yearning to spend just a little time on the streets, but I never actually got INTO New York for ages.

    The first time out of Fla by car was my honeymoon, a couple years after I made the move South. In 1974, the new wife and I had just bought a new Datsun 610 and decided on New York as the site of the Grand Consummation. We drove from Ft Myers to The City on roads as close to the Atlantic Ocean as we could, putting ourselves through several adventures involving ferry boats and dead-end Delaware roads. We found ourselves on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/ Tunnel at 2 AM under a black and starry sky, where we stopped and necked until the cops chased us off. Finally, the Datsun stalled dead on the side of the road an hour north of the Bridge/ Tunnel, and the wife and I pulled out the champagne and had the Grand Consummation at a rural country crossroads somewhere in the Virginia Tidewater.
    We awakened to dozens of curious migrant workers surrounding the car. We had broken down at their bus stop.
    One had a brother who was a mechanic, and he drove 20 miles with a part to get us moving again. Nice folks, those Tidewater migrants.

    The Staten Island Ferry still carried cars then, and my wife got to see Manhattan emerging from the morning's mist as we boated over from the Island. Later, we would re-re-connsumate in glamorous Manhattan, romping among German tourists only 24 hours after a roadside romp among migrants. We spent 4 days in NY ( at the Holiday Inn on 57th, I think), and we came home via DC and the Blue Ridge. It would be twenty years until another Road Trip to NYC came around.

    I began making the drive in earnest in the mid '90s. Each time I'd get a new car, I'd drive it to New York. Once, I took a job there, so I drove my Nissan 200SX to the City and actually LIVED in it for nearly two weeks, at Fort Hamilton. It was the second round-trip for the SX.
    Another time, on a business trip, I convinced my Boss that I could NOT fly--that I totally hated airplanes. He paid for my gas-- and my Son and I drove to NYC in a new Supra. I was there in my 280 ZX in 1999, in 2000 in my Brand New Nissan Maxima (and again in 2002, 7 months after 9/11), and finally, in 2005 I recreated the Far East-Atlantic route of the Honeymoon Trip, this time in my 350Z. Unfortunately, the S.I. Ferry no longer carries cars, so I had to go through the Tunnel.

    Another time, sometime in the late '80s, I flew up to The City for a funeral and ran into a NY cousin who had JUST moved to Tampa. He had inherited a Porsche 928S Turbo from the deceased and was driving it back to Florida. We drove the Blue Ridge going South. What a ride!!!

    Although I physically reside in Florida, my heart lives in New York. I have flown to the Apple 12-15 times and I never have many interesting stories to tell about the trip, but when I make the drive, man, there are a million things to talk about.
    Last edited by Hof; September 18th, 2011 at 05:16 PM.


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