Southern Roads & Museums: Part 2

With the rain pelting down we head out from our Bellingham, MA home just after 9am on the first part of our multi-day southern tour.  The itinerary will include all of the 105-mile Skyline Drive (just south of Washington, DC) and 3 portions (about 325 miles) of the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway.  Hopes are high that we will have fun… but first we have to get there.

As most of us who live in this area know, unless you are going north to Canada, there are really only two logical ways to get OUT of the general greater Boston metropolitan area if you are heading south.  You go due west on the Pike past Worcester, then to Route 84 and down around Hartford.  The alternative is our choice.  Since we live almost on the Rhode Island line we travel through my home state, picking up Route 295 South in RI and merging into Route 95 South and head on into Connecticut along the BORING 95 corridor.  Yes, it’s boring, but it is pretty fast and on a Tuesday morning traffic is somewhat light.

Unlike the rain which is NOT light at all.  My baby is getting wet.

Since we have never really driven Miss P in a long recurring rain storm, we made an interesting discovery.  The windshield wiper system on this P-car is really rather neat… and SMART.  I never noticed this before.  Yet driving in steady rain, with the wipers set at a moderate speed the frequency of the blade’s swipe change with the intensity of the rain.

“Hey Linda, look at this” I mention to our trusty navigator.  She always has a map on her lap and many times she is looking down, tracking our path on the old school paper display.  “Watch the wipers… they speed up or slow down depending upon how hard it is raining or how fast we are going”. 

We observe this phenomenon for several minutes and several speed changes before either one of us speaks.  Linda is the first one to break the spell.  “Wow, that is pretty neat.  I’m not sure how it works… but it’s a good idea.  I’m glad you bought this car.  It certainly amuses you”. 

She is right.  Amuse is perhaps not the exact word I’d use.  Intrigue or inspire, or perhaps aspire is probably a better word.  I have always “aspired” to own a Porsche but it was not until I was almost 70 years old that I took the plunge and actually bought one.  Now after 2 plus years of ownership Linda and I are still learning new things about our P car. 

One feature we really like is the Navigation system.  Now remember our car is a 2011 model, so things have probably improved in 10 plus years.  FYI, we own a 29-foot motor home and tow a 20-foot race car trailer to various SCCA event.  In 2018 we bought a new state of the art Garmin GPS for the motorhome.  For this southern trip with took the Garmin along as a “backup”.   In 12 days of traveling, we never took the Garmin out its case. 

Linda does all of the navigation and we have used the P-car Nav system many times in the past.  Yet for this trip we REALLY used the Navigation.  Only once in the multiple days we were on the road did the system fail us.   We were looking for an “odd address” in Asheville North Carolina and the Porsche Nav system could not find it.  So Linda, needing never to be lost, pulls out her trusty I Phone.  She puts in the mysterious address and guides us in to our destination.  Kind of like an air traffic control operator at an airport. “You are clear to land Miss P.  Use Runway 32 Left…. You have reached your destination.  Your destination will be on the Right.”

One of the nice features of the Porsche Navigation system that I like is that the big center screen display can come up (in condensed form) on the instrument cluster right in front of me.  Thus, when we would get close to some destination, or turning point on a highway, I would bring the Nav up on the center display.   Then once the command had past, I would switch back to my preferred display which is usually “Miles to Empty and Miles per Gallon’. 

On our first day out, as we worked our way south to Wilmington, Delaware, the Nav system really came into its own.  Things were going well on 95 South until we hit New Haven.  Traffic is stopped and appears to be backed up for miles.  It’s still raining, the uniqueness of the magic windshield wipers is wearing off and it’s time to get off the road.

I find the first available exit and make our escape.  

“What are you doing” asks Linda, rather surprised we are not sticking to our agreed upon route.

“We’re not going to sit here all day waiting for the tow trucks to come and clear the obvious accident up ahead.  I know the Merritt Parkway is over that way somewhere.  Let’s see if we can find it.”

This is one of the advantages of old school paper maps.  Linda always has a general idea of where we are on the map. 

“Ok, fine.  What’s the route number for the Merritt Parkway” she asks.

Racking my brain for a moment I blurt out “Either 32 or 15.  I’m not sure.  But I think it’s either 32 or 15”.  We are in city traffic now and I’m beginning to tense up. 

The map reader takes a few moment (Recalculating… Please wait) and says “Ok… here it is.  Let’s figure out how to get there.”

Ah… the beauty of having a calm navigator at your side.  “Don’t worry captain… we’ll get this plane on the ground just as soon as we find a suitable airport and runway to land on.  It should not be too hard to find in all this rain.” 

With a combination of the Porsche Navigation system (find Merritt Parkway… it does) plus a dedicated human navigator, we work our way along New Haven city streets (Hey look, that’s Yale University) and get on the Merritt Parkway, heading south naturally.

Once on the Merritt things decidedly take a turn for the better. 

“Linda, look at the sky up ahead, I think is getting lighter.  Plus the rain seems to be tapering off now. 

Linda looks at the map.  “What way are you going to go now that we have altered our course?”

Without hesitation comes the answer.

“Merritt Parkway south and cross into New York.

Pick up 287 west and cross the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge.

They now call it the Mario Cuomo bridge by the way, if you can’t find the Tappan Zee on your map. 

Then pick up the Garden State Parkway once we get into New Jersey.”

I’ve been this way many times (haven’t we all)… so I know the roads rather well.

“Got it” says the map lady.  She finds a spot in New York and pulls out her trusty I Phone and consults the oracle. 

 “What’s the weather now in Nyack New York” she types.   

Within seconds she has the answer. 

“Right now, in Nyack it is not raining and it is expected to be sunny and about 55 degrees by 2pm.  I think we are driving out of the rain.”

Slowly I begin to relax and enjoy driving Miss P.  The rain abates and the roads dry.  The wipers are off and now it’s head down and full speed ahead as we motor on to Willimgton, Delaware.          

We easily make the Managers Special at 5:30pm at the Embassy Suits Hilton.  One dollar a drink and free cheese and crackers till 7pm.

Plus a day of driving Miss P.

What’s not to like? 

Next Time

Air & Space Museum plus Skyline Drive

-Ray Boyer