I’m always looking for new places to camp with my Airstream and recently I embarked on my first adventure to New York City, specifically, Long Island to visit my son who attends the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point. My son is a senior there and I wanted to camp in New York before he graduated so I thought fall was the best time to try. I’m glad I did because I stayed at Nickerson Beach in Lido Beach, New York and I’m certain that during the summer there is no way I would have found a spot.
The campground was easy to find and the spots were nice and level. The staff were warm and welcoming and all of my neighbors were kind. I even saw a wedding ceremony at the campground on Saturday morning! (I wonder if that couple met at this beach and that’s why they were having their ceremony there.)
The area surrounding Lido Beach was very nice with lots of options for restaurants and shopping. This area was very different from New York City and seemed like a quaint beach town. We went thrift store shopping nearby and had a delicious brunch with mimosas at the Morning Rose Cafe in Bellmore. Later, we cooked burgers and just hung out together at the campsite. I really enjoyed sitting around the solo stove with my two sons and their friends. It was the perfect weekend spent with my boys.
The camping experience was great and I am getting more and more at ease with setting up and packing LJ up to tow home. On this trip I learned that driving up and back were my biggest challenges, not camping. I probably should have researched my routes better as I ended up paying A LOT in tolls. I went up through the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland and two nights I stayed at Harvest Host wineries, which were free except for the bottles of wine I purchased. It was a nice break from the day of driving since the total drive one way is 12 hours without towing a trailer. (I stayed at Layton’s Chance on the way up and Triple Creek Winery on the way back. I’ve written about those wineries in other blogs.) When you drive up the Eastern Shore you go over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel first and since you are towing a trailer you have to stop at the toll booth and can’t blow through with the E-Z Pass. The booth attendants give out dog treats, which are the biggest milk bones we have ever seen. It was a nice surprise and Goose was extremely happy! That tunnel wasn’t hard and the entire Eastern Shore drive was peaceful.
I took the New Jersey Turnpike, went over the Goethals and Verrazano Bridges while completely avoiding Manhattan and the tunnels. I was happy about that but for some reason Wayz took me through a residential part of town after the bridges. I went through Atlantic Beach, NY and took the road right on the oceanside all the way to Lido Beach. There were a lot of twists and turns but that was an easy route compared to going over the George Washington Bridge.
On the way back was a different story. Again, I didn’t do my research and just drove where Google Maps took me. I’m not sure why I chose Google Maps instead of Wayz on the way home, but it took me on a parkway, which apparently is a no no for RVs. I didn’t know that I shouldn’t drive on a parkway because of the low bridges. Quickly, I realized this may have been a mistake and was really worried. I often say that I don’t get scared towing because I’m too dumb to get scared, well this time I was seriously anxious and beating myself up for being really dumb. With every bridge I approached, I kept envisioning my AC unit crashing in the bridge and my RV appearing on Facebook videos with lots of terrible comments about the dumb woman driver who just went for it.
I kid you not, everytime I went under a low bridge I would look to my left to see if the cars passing me were trying to tell me I lost a piece of LJ. At this point, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t take an exit and try a different route. I’m not sure either other than with each bridge being okay, I thought I must be good. But the bridges kept getting lower and lower. It was crazy.
Thankfully God got me through and I couldn’t have been happier to reach the Verrazano Bridge in one piece. I later called Andy to ask what my clearance is and he said 10 feet. I swear some of those low bridges said their clearance was 8 feet and some were less than that. Maybe I read the signage wrong but it felt really low.
Once I got on the New Jersey turnpike I was home free, except for the time that I stopped to get gas and went in the truckers’ lane. It was diesel only and I couldn’t loop back around to the car lane for regular gas. (Oh, and forget backing up!) So, I hopped back on the turnpike and prayed that the next exit was close because I was down to less than 90 miles in the tank and I get about 8 miles to the gallon towing. Fortunately, the next stop was close and I got in the correct lane, got gas and took a rest break. I also walked around the trailer to make sure I didn’t lose anything on that Long Island parkway. Whew!
Lesson learned! I should have known something was up when Andy said I was crazy wanting to drive through New York with the Airstream. Now I know! I’ll definitely do it again though (I’m already thinking about heading to western Long Island to check out Montauk) but I’ll plan my route way better next time avoiding parkways and extra tolls.