Come, Mommy

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

NJ Geography - Go Figure

Liam and I ventured into Princeton today to do a little shopping - lots of family birthdays coming up in June. On the way home we cut through campus, and I turned onto a street that I drove every day as a student. In the 10 years since then, the avenue has been converted into a one-way street, and I was going the wrong way. I drove into the nearest driveway to turn around. A small voice piped up from the back seat:

Liam: "Mommy is doing something funny with the car."

Me: "I'm just turnng the car around, kiddo. We can't go this way on this street."

Liam: "Oh! Mommy's lost!"

I wasn't technically lost, this time, but the kid has a point. I've been in New Jersey for 16 years now, and I can tell you one thing for sure - driving here is so not like driving in the Midwest. There's a hellacious amount of traffic on the roads, many of which were constructed in the pre-suburban sprawl years and are not adequate for the traffic volume of today. And there are some quite aggressive drivers out there just to keep things interesting.

But what really gets me lost and fast is the geography of the state. Specifically, the names of places and roads. Suppose you find a road that goes through, say, three towns, A, B, and C. In the Midwest, this might be named County Road 11 or some such thing. In New Jersey, that same road is likely to have two names. The stretch between towns A and B will be called A-B road, while the route between towns B and C will be called B-C road. In the towns proper, this road will have a different name entirely, like Main Street or Maple Street. Same road, different name, and it gets really confusing for roads that run through five or six towns.

Then there's the issue of town names. I discovered on a recent drive that Red Bank is a town on the Delaware River south of Camden. Who knew? I was pretty sure Red Bank is a town on the shore in Monouth County. Hhhhmmmm. After consulting my trusty road atlas, it turns out that yes, Virginia, there are two towns called Red Bank in the state. And just the other night Kevin took Liam out for a drive to get him to sleep, and told me he drove all the way to Bellmawr and back. I assumed he must have been driving at warp speed to get down the South Jersey and back in ninety minutes, but before I could criticize his driving, he informed me meant Belmar, which is much closer to us. Then, a few years back, our vet phoned in a prescription for one of our ferrets to a pharmacy in Moorestown. It's a good thing she gave me the phone number of the drugstore, for it was by reading the South Jersey area code that I realized she most definitely did not call a pharmacy in Morristown, about 40 miles north of here.

It's all very confusing at times. But there is one good thing about driving here in this very congested place. If you get lost, there's almost always someone handy to give directions.

6 Comments:

  • I am so with you. I particularly hate the jughandles. Why oh why can't I just make a left turn from the left lane folks???

    We also have an issue with street names around here. Our street name exists in every town bordering us, but it is not the same road. So half the time when we order a pizza I get a call from a very confused driver in the wrong town...

    I spent a long time being confused about Morrisown and Moorsetown, I really thought they were the same place and people were just pronouncing it differently.

    By Blogger chichimama, at Thursday, June 01, 2006 6:38:00 AM  

  • Oh my gosh I agree with you and I'm a Jersey born girl, but off of Route 22, the same road is Finderne Avenue that becomes Main Street when it is in Manville and then changes to Millstone River Road in Millstone and then River Road in Hillsborough! All the same street. There's no traffic here in Texas - we get excited and look when a car goes by! Gran-Gran

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, June 01, 2006 8:02:00 AM  

  • Jeez. That sounds terrible. I don't think I'll ever get used to Chicago, where we moved a year and a half ago. Honestly. So I feel your pain.

    By Blogger MrsFortune, at Thursday, June 01, 2006 11:16:00 AM  

  • Two towns in the same state with the same name?! I'd be confused too! Though I've lived in our area for 12 years and I still can't tell you if you head "East" or "West" from the airport to our house. (Really, it's South, but that's not the way the highway is marked.) It's LEFT and then RIGHT, I know that much. ;)

    By Blogger Jennifer, at Thursday, June 01, 2006 12:07:00 PM  

  • This post made me smile! I discovered the Red Bank/Red Bank problem when I was trying to find directions to the the one across from the Philadelphia airport. It didn't seem right to be driving to North Jersey to get there!

    By Blogger Suzanne, at Thursday, June 01, 2006 8:28:00 PM  

  • It isn't just Red Bank. I'm pretty sure there are a couple of Dovers. And, there's Union and Union City. I know there's more doubles, just can't think of them.

    I remember visiting relatives in IN and driving into South Bend. They started complaining about the traffic and I couldn't believe it. It was like mid-afternoon in the suburbs in NJ.

    NJ driving is an adventure! It is not for the faint of heart.

    By Blogger Nicole, at Wednesday, June 21, 2006 9:52:00 AM  

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