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Directionally Challenged

After a harrowing ride alone last evening, I have officially decided that driving in New York City is downright treacherous. Between the tailgaters, the potholes, the roadways that get flooded during torrential downpours and the construction sites that overpopulate our highways and bridges, I have become accustomed to using one route to drive to and from Manhattan. And that route is as follows:

Hutchinson County South to the Cross County, to the Saw Mill Pkwy, drive over the bridge, then travel down Henry Hudson Parkway to the West Side Highway and then Bam! I've arrived.

My simple route has served me well over the years and even when I've driven through rain and snow storms, my auto pilot tactics have enabled me to anticipate every bump, tree branch and turn in the road.

Unfortunately, when you've got to visit another part of Manhattan, like the South Street Seaport for instance, the West Side Highway scenario as simple as it is, just doesn't make sense. And so, that means that I need to rely on plan B - my GPS system.

You see, yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a private dinner hosted by Cookie Magazine at Panasella and Enoteca - a cozy wine bar at the South Street Seaport. Since I began my trip with daylight on my side, I only made one wrong turn (jumped the gun on a Bruckner Blvd. turn) but other than that, I made it to my destination unscathed. I even had 15 minutes to hop inside a bar to grab a diet coke before our wine tasting extravaganza.

The evening went by in a flash and I will give you the 411 in another post that'll tackle all the hot topics we spoke about (names will be changed to protect the innocent). Before I knew it, it was time to hit the road. I stepped outside and luckily, it had stopped raining so I figured it would be an easier ride back home. While something inside me wanted to drive the rest of the way down the FDR and hit the West Side Highway, I decided to be sensible, turned on the navigation system and threw caution to the wind.

At first, everything went pretty smoothly. I merged onto the FDR and started traveling north and as I glanced at my dashboard, I noticed the GPS suggesting I veer off to the right to the Deegan Expressway - a roadway I have never traversed as a driver. I'm sure I've ridden along that bumpy highway as a passenger, but I had no clue which way I was going and that GPS woman just kept sending me into what felt like a foreign country. And then it got worse. Rather than take the Triboro bridge where I was ready to happily wave my EZ Pass and go on my merry way, my Tiguan veered off in the direction of the Willis Avenue Bridge - one of the last remaining free bridges in Manhattan that seems to be made entirely of metal grating where your car slips as it drives over the surface. I then hit a third highway I didn't recognize. From there, while I saw signs for my Hutchinson Pkwy. exit which I knew would finally put my mind at ease, the GPS decided against that option and took me instead to I95 - a truck infested roadway that has always been my nemesis since college.

I loathe I95 - except for those McDonald's rest stops of course. And the reason I hate that highway is because every time my GPS told me I was supposed to exit the highway, it kept jumping the gun. I almost exited twice before I finally hit the Hutch and thankfully, I was able to merge back on the interstate or else I would have wound up in the sequel to "Bonfire of the Vanities." As my heart rate and blood pressure reached dangerous territory, I finally found the exit and slowly loosened the vice grip around my steering wheel.

Within 10 minutes, I had finally reached Scarsdale and by 10:09 pm, I was home safe and sound. After I exhaled, I was relieved that I had conquered my fears by successfully navigating some of the most challenging roadways in the Big Apple. But don't give me a bravery medal just yet. Next time, if I'm driving to Tribeca, Nolita, the Meat Packing District or the South Street Seaport, it'll be the West Side Highway all the way. I may be directionally challenged, but I'm not an idiot!

Posted in: Blog, Role Mommy Confessions on 06/04/2009

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