Written by Jamie
From day one of planning this trip, we both had some anxiety as we contemplated what it would look like driving through big metropolitan cities with a trailer in tow. We knew we could avoid most of the stress by using beltways and staying just outside the city limits, but driving through New York City was going to be unavoidable – we had to get out to Long Island where my family lived, and the only way out there (short of driving up to Connecticut and taking a $100+ ferry) is through the city. To add to the anxiety, we were going to have to take a route we had never traveled before, as there’s basically only one route through the city and out to Long Island that does not have low clearances or propane restrictions. I did a bunch of research on RV forums ahead of time to make sure I planned the right route to avoid any major disasters. What I didn’t account for was the RIDICULOUS increase in tolls that we incurred just for adding on 2 extra axles. Just to be crystal clear, let me get up on my soapbox and break it down for you:
|Normal cost (2 axles)||Our cost (4 axles)|
|NJ Turnpike exit fee||$13.85||$36.40|
|George Washington Bridge||$15.00||$84.00!!!!|
|Throgs Neck Bridge||$8.00||$33.00|
I’m sorry, but $84 to go over ONE BRIDGE is literally highway robbery.
Alright…rant over. It was a stressful drive to say the least, but with white-knuckled hands at 10 and 2, Trae masterfully drove the streets of the Bronx and Queens and onto Long Island.
Our 10-day stay on Long Island was going to be our first extended stay anywhere since we hit the road, so we planned on using the time not only to visit family but to also do some work on the trailer, including getting our refrigerator fixed by a technician. As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, our brand new Dometic refrigerator had not been working since the day we got it back in FL. Unfortunately, the only way to determine what was wrong with it was to take it to a Dometic licensed technician, as they are the only ones that can submit warranty claims. We found East End RV Center near where we would be staying and went straight to their shop on the way to our campsite. Let’s just say that customer service and overall helpfulness is not East End RV Center’s strong suits. It took about 15 minutes for the owner to acknowledge our presence and come look at the fridge in the trailer; he said we’d have to take the fridge out and bring it over to him (no assistance or tools offered); another 45 minutes passed, and he said he couldn’t fix it and we would have to order new parts (which we later found out from Dometic that only he as the repairman could order). We left the fridge at their shop, hoping for the best. 10 days later and at least 10 phone calls later, “the best” wound up being another brand new refrigerator (mind you, a different model than the one we originally ordered) that they made us install ourselves (again, no assistance or tools offered). I cannot speak to the quality of East End RV Center’s repair work (since they literally did nothing but make a phone call to the manufacturer), but based on their demeanor and how they handled the situation, I would never ever recommend them to anyone. In the end, we were just thankful to have a working refrigerator for the rest of our trip.
We stayed at Sears Bellows County Park during our visit. This Suffolk County Park is very pretty, and while it didn’t have any hookups (which did make for some cold nights sleeping in Bob), its location was perfect, just around the corner from my aunt’s house in Hampton Bays. Sadly, the staff here were unhelpful and unpleasant (are we sensing a theme here?), but overall I would recommend the park for warmer weather stays – I bet it would be perfect in the beautiful Long Island summer weather!
While the weather was mostly chilly and rainy, we did catch some beautiful sunny spring days during our stay on Long Island. The time spent with family just couldn’t be beat – brats and beers around the backyard fire pit, cheering on my little cousin at his lacrosse games, a “cousin sleepover” in Astoria, a celebration of life for my Uncle Steve, laughing together, crying together – it was a great visit from start to finish.
When it came time to leave, Trae and I decided not to test our luck by driving through the city again, and instead opted to test out Bob’s sea legs and take the ferry from Orient Point, NY to New London, CT. While it cost slightly more than the bridge tolls, the ferry offered a much more enjoyable voyage. It was actually kind of a unique experience to have our home-on-wheels on a boat! We were one of the last vehicles to pull onto the ferry – they directed us straight through the center (with only about 6-inches of clearance on both sides!) and up to the very front of the bow (with only 1-foot of decking between the truck and the water!). About 90 minutes later, we arrived in New London and drove our car and our home right off the front of the boat and onto the highway to start the journey to our next destination (and our first National Park visit of the trip) – Acadia National Park!
Trae and Jamie