Monday, October 27, 2008

American Road Trip On the Cheap

As the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge faded in my rear view mirror last Thursday afternoon, I had only one thought in my head: Finally! I had woken up late, had spent way too long packing for this road trip and had been sitting in Brooklyn traffic. Typical. Now, however, my Volvo was zipping over what was once the world’s longest suspension bridge, heading west, and nothing could stop me.

Nothing, that is, but the police officers at the toll plaza.

“Don’t let him leave!” shouted a transit officer. Was my 1989 station wagon in violation of some obscure regulation? Had my paying the $9 toll with a crisp $100 bill set off some alert?

No, the officer said: I had a video camera on the roof of my car, and filming New York City’s bridges and tunnels was illegal. I pulled off to the side and bit my nails while the officers talked among themselves, deciding my fate. Another delay, I sighed. Typical.

Not that it really mattered. After all, I was about to spend the next 12 weeks driving cross-country, seeing the United States as the Frugal Traveler and writing about (as well as videotaping) my journey. Five more minutes couldn’t hurt.

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