|We were braced for another harrowing drive in the New York area, through Brooklyn, over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and into New Jersey to get to our new campground across the river from Philly. And, again, we were not disappointed. After just one hour of driving we had traveled only thirty miles and we were stuck in traffic just outside of Brooklyn. We had made the transition from the Long Island Expressway to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (the most important exit of our trip, Mark said. If we missed this turn off we would be headed into NYC with the camper) with very little trouble and traffic was finally starting to loosen up a bit.
As we approached one of the last two exits before crossing over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Mark looked out his window and announced, “We have a flat tire on the camper”. Having never needed it, I had not given it a second thought, but it seems that New York expressways (or at least this one) do not have breakdown lanes – there was nowhere to pull off. We limped slowly towards the next exit about half a mile down the road, wondering exactly what we were going to do with a camper on these narrow, New York streets. Thankfully the street we turned onto was a one way street with two lanes, so we had plenty of room to pull the camper over without being a traffic hazard.
We called AAA (the third time this trip) and after a bit of a wait I was connected to a woman in Brooklyn who was more than skeptical that she would be able to help us. It seems that AAA in New York does not really contract with any companies who have the necessary tools (i.e., a hydraulic jack) to change a tire on a travel trailer like ours. I remained on the phone as the AAA rep called company after company inquiring as to their ability to service us. With the likelihood of AAA helping us diminishing with every phone call the rep made, Mark decided to search out help on his own. We had happily pulled over in front of a Nissan dealership. After a quick trip to the dealership Mark learned that just across the street was a tire repair place. The guy at the Nissan dealership told Mark to go across the street and ask for Carlos; “tell him Willie sent you”.
Sure enough Carlos was able to help to us if we could pull the camper up to his store. We thanked AAA for their assistance (or lack thereof) and limped our way around the corner (literally) where, unbelievably, there was actually a large enough parking space (or two) available on the street in front of this tiny tire repair store for us to pull right into. Thirty minutes later and we were all set. Since we purchased a new spare tire the entire experience cost us $81 (however, if we could have paid cash it would have only been $75! Carlos apologetically explained that he would have to charge us tax if we paid with a credit card – hmmmm). Once again we thanked the travel gods who had ensured that our flat occurred prior to beginning our trek across the Verrazano Bridge and placed us within one block of someone who could fix our problem.
Nineteen dollars!!! Nineteen dollars!!! That was how much it cost us to cross over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. And it was not even a long bridge! Unbelievable.
The remainder of our drive was uneventful as we drove through Staten Island and onto the New Jersey turnpike (what exit?!!! Bodda bing!), pass smelly refineries and bulk storage oil tanks (lovely NJ scenery, but the price of gas dropped almost 30 cents). We are now settled in an overflow parking space of a campground in Clarksboro, NJ, which is actually right in front of the owner’s house. It is just like being plugged into one of our friend’s house, only we cannot go in and use their showers. But, there is a pool, showers, and laundry right across the driveway, so we are set for 5 days in the Philly area.