New England · New York & New Jersey

NYC, Cape Cod, and Connecticut

NYC & Statue of Liberty
Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, from the ferry

OK, so I deviated from my own standards on several fronts with the map above.  First and foremost, it’s not an exact replica of our trip into downtown Manhattan – GoogleMaps is not capable of creating a map using multiple types of transportation (driving, walking, and public transportation – all of which we used).  This is as close as I could get, basically.  Our actual route was: ferry to the Statue of Liberty, then drive and park near Exchange Place, where we picked up the PATH train to the World Trade Center station, walked up Park Place and caught the subway up to Times Square (see pics below).  Obviously, this is also not anywhere remotely close to a Back Road… but, it was still a cool excursion.

Manhattan
Manhattan

The kid loved it.  When we walked out of the subway station onto Times Square, her jaw just hit the sidewalk.  It stayed there pretty much the whole time we walked around. 

42nd & 7th
Times Square – 42nd & 7th

It was adorable, and I wish I had a picture of her walking around with her head craned back, gawking at all the crazy buildings and billboards.  Plus, we met Iron Man.  Sold.

Iron Man & TBR
Iron Man meets TBR

 

This one was more my speed.  Back roads, less traffic, very scenic, and small family-owned restaurants galore.  Like Sandy’s at Plymouth Beach.  If Sandy’s doesn’t epitomize everything TBR stands for….    It’s off the beaten trail (and literally ON THE BEACH!), family owned and employed, and delicious local food (fresh seafood!).  Amazing.  Plus, we got to see lot of good New England Americana and a little American history too – visiting the Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock.   Quick trivia – do any of you know why it’s also sometimes spelled “Plimouth” ?

Cape Cod
Cape Cod

OK, so this was one of the most poignant, surprising, and surprisingly tragic back roads adventures I think I’ve ever been on.  When plotting our trip home, I noticed almost immediately that we would be passing right through Newtown.  I wrestled for almost a half an hour over whether or not we should go past Sandy Hook – it’s a tragic part of our national history, there might be a memorial there that’s worth visiting, maybe a way to make donations.  But, ultimately, I agreed with Amanda’s assessment – it’s not a tourist destination, and the people of the town are almost certainly still fighting hard to move past the tragedy. 

The journey from 95 into Newtown was surprisingly enjoyable.  I figured the connector/multi-lane portions of 15 and 25 would be like most any other highway, which they most assuredly were not.  15 was a twisty and tree-lined (in the narrow median too!) 4 lane road that, if you didn’t know on a map where in the US you were, you would never guess you were only about an hour from downtown NYC.  25 never felt like the 4 lane highway it initially was either – it wound and curved its way towards Newtown, lined by small businesses nearly the entire way. 

Newtown itself was almost depressingly beautiful.  If it weren’t now remembered for it’s infamous day, it would be just another absolutely gorgeous Norman Rockwell-esque American town – not unlike Staunton VA .   It was a place that you would let your kids run around town and play until dark.  And I cannot say enough about our meal at Old Heidelberg restaurant, just outside of town limits.  Delicious food, genuine German beers on tap (no, not St Pauli or Becks!), VERY authentic atmosphere, plenty of outdoor seating – this place is just ripe for a summer road trip!

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Now for the surprisingly tragic.  Walking to our car in the lot of Old Heidelberg, we noticed the traffic had piled up down Route 6.  Getting on 84W was an incredibly lengthy and frustrating process – it took us over half an hour to go less than a mile.  Looking at the traffic map on my phone, 84 was solid maroon, meaning no movement whatsoever, for probably 6 or 8 miles.  At our current pace, we were looking at a really, really long delay.  I was frantically searching for a back way to get around the maroon – which ended abruptly, turning green immediately at the end, with no “red-to-yellow-to-green” transition.  Ultimately, I found the path outlined on the map – which ended up being a remarkably scenic drive – and made our way around the back up in virtually no time.  At least three times each during this little offshoot, Amanda and I said to each other “we should move here” – it was that inviting and beautiful. 

As we re-entered 84W, it was almost as though Moses had parted the sea of traffic in the westbound lanes – behind us, an ocean of cars, state troopers, ambulances, and fire trucks.  In front, absolutely no one.  I said to Amanda at the time that it looked like they had the highway shut down, which they generally only do that for bad accidents.  I had no idea how right I was.  Though the back road excursion saved us at least 2-3 hours of sitting in traffic while also introducing us to more of the beautiful New England suburbs, I certainly would never wish an incident like that on anyone.  Our thoughts and prayers definitely go out to the families of those involved.

This trip seems to have encapsulated much of the American spirit within the span of a few days – patriotism, colonial history, scenic beauty, and recovery from tragedy.  I hope someday that you will have the opportunity to experience the same.

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