Monday, July 19, 2010

Day at the Beach with Traffic

Living on Long Island, in lower New York State, affords those of us who enjoy the seashore, the wonderful opportunity to visit on a whim.  We live a fifteen minutes drive from the Atlantic Ocean and try to be on the water once a week in the summer.

Don't ask me how many miles the ocean is from my house, I have no idea.  Here we measure distance by time of travel.  In fact, signs have recently been posted on our parkways that give a digital readout for drivers how many minutes it will take to get to a destination. 

I've visited upstate New York many times and no one there ever says how long it takes to get anywhere.  They tell you the miles and when I'd ask the minutes they'd look at me as if I had two heads.  Well, there's no traffic upstate, unless you're stuck behind a tractor or cows are crossing the road. 

On Long Island there's traffic.  Serious traffic.  Parking lot traffic.  You can be stuck in traffic that, if you wanted you could get out of your car and talk to the driver behind you.  They could be passing out drinks and hors d'oeuvrs and having a party kind of traffic.  So many people descend on Long Island in the summer heading to the beaches that the fifteen minutes it usually takes me could turn into an hour of travel time.

Sometimes it gets crazy.  Sometimes the drivers get crazier than they usually are.  People start flipping out.  No one wants to be in any kind of traffic here.  Drivers can barely wait for the lousy red stop light to turn to green, how can they handle traffic?  Thing is, they can't!

The alternative to taking the parkway to the beach is to use the local streets.  It's nice, but that takes time too, but you sort of think it's quicker.  It's really not.  There's lights, local people doing their every day thing, more cars than usual because they're going to the beach too, but they live close enough to go locally.  And on the days that traffic is crazy on the parkway, all those same crazy people start getting off the parkway to use the streets.  Same craziness, same hour travel time.

We had a little bit of traffic this week on our way to Pt. Lookout beach.  Backed up for miles, I was trying to decide: Stay on the parkway or use the streets?  I felt that the cars were moving a bit, enough to decide to just stay on and take my chances.

Why was the traffic backed up?  Was the drawbridge up for a tall ship to go under? No.  Was there police activity (that could be horrendous)?  Nope.  Could be a huge pile-up, which did happen this week with tragic results which closed the Meadowbrook Parkway to the beach for hours.  Not this day.  No.  Two cars of drivers had pulled over the side of the road to consult their map.  Every car on the road slowed to stop and look at them.  What are they looking at?  Did everyone think they knew these people?  Did they think they were celebrities, which happens now and then?  What?  What's with that?  What, or who, did they think they were going to see rubbernecking like that?

That's Long Islanders, and New Yorkers, for you.  Gotta see what's going on!


  1. Ah- Rubberneckers and beach traffic, what a combo! I miss it anyway- thanks for the Long Island memories, Dora!

  2. You are so welcome Sheryl!


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