A geocaching trip down to South Jersey and the pine barrens. Got a cache nearby and then zipped down the turnpike. It got bad before exit 8A this time but I turned off at exit 8 to visit a virtual cache so I didn't see how long that traffic jam really was. Then I took local roads to get to I-195 and then the parkway and didn't encounter any congestion until the Toms River area.
Originally, I'd intended to hit a cache that was supposedly hidden at a picnic area right in the middle of the parkway. Because of the Toms River area congestion, I decided instead to head off to the Lebanon State Forest and go for the five caches there that I hadn't found yet, and pick up the parkway cache on the way home. That decision turned out to be a great one because of what happened later.
Managed to do all five caches in the state forest, averaging an hour per cache. None of them posed any significant challenge and I managed to park closer than the suggested parking for a few of them. That's the great thing about the pine barrens. Old (and bumpy) sand roads criss-cross the area. If you're willing to drive around on the sand roads for a bit, you might just find a closer approach. And unlike the roads of today, parking can be done almost anywhere along a sand road. It's a matter of looking out for the closest sand road and then the most direct walking trail heading in.
After that, it was time to head home and bag the parkway cache on the way back. Pulled in to the rest area and found Timely, the geocacher who hid that cache! Apparently, he had returned to the area to take some photos and move the cache to a better spot about 10 miles down the parkway so I was just in time. (yes, yes, and very timely too.) I have met other cachers before but this is the first time I met a cache owner at his own cache. Had a nice chat with him and while we were there, the state police pulled in to ask what exactly we were doing there. I think that's part of the reason he was moving the cache. The previous finder also had an encounter with the police. Everything was okay once Timely explained to the officer what was happening, and he advised us to be careful when pulling out onto the parkway because of the heavy traffic.
Traffic was free-flowing all the way home. Wow, is the summer rush still on?
Decided to take a trip to the east end of Long Island to get some caches. Never been there before so it would be a new experience. The Hamptons traffic was a new experience too. :)
First stop was in Queens to visit two virtual caches, and then the next stop was at an arboretum in Nassau Co. Then it was off to eastern Suffolk Co.
That area looked quite a bit like South Jersey. The LIE cut right through a pine barrens area. Then I headed off towards Hampton Bays to get two caches and what's this? A sand road! Anyway, that was quite a day of driving and caching as it was about 20 miles between caches and the last one was in Montauk, not far from the end of the island. Again, most of the caches were hidden in a straightforward manner with no tricks.
But when it was time to go back, it seemed like everyone else was also heading back to NYC too. That's where the problem began. As you head further east on Long Island, the highways get narrower and narrower, and some of them end long before the end of the island. By the time you get to the Southampton, only Route 27 remains and it is a mere local road with traffic lights. If all the New Yorkers should decide to return to the city at the same time, what you get is a long line of traffic winding its way through the towns in that area. So yes, it was pretty slow getting out of there.
Stopped at the Long John Silver's / A&W co-branded restaurant in West Islip on the way home because it was just off the Sunrise Highway, which is what Route 27 becomes in western Suffolk Co. Fish and root beer is good eating. :) Headed out onto the Southern Parkway after dinner. It was clear for a good distance but hit a wall of traffic at around the Route 135 and 107 interchanges south of Hicksville. (Yes, that's one of those towns with funny names on Long Island. Also check out Shinnecock, Sag Harbor, and Bagatelle on the map.) Luckily, I knew the local roads and headed up Route 107 to the LIE. The LIE was okay for a bit and then had traffic congestion for six miles until I turned off to the Cross Island. The final problem was on the George Washington Bridge, which had an accident on the lower level, closing all lanes. With all the traffic heading for the upper level, you can guess what conditions were like there. Even with all that, it took a bit under two hours to get home from West Islip. Not my best time but it could have been much worse.