Something happens to me when I drive into a major city. I grew up around Philadelphia. When I returned as an adult, I had no problem fitting into the crazy traffic patterns of that city and the surrounding New Jersey area. I love the surge of adrenaline as cars weave in and out without incident. Maybe it's the challenge of surviving the trip. Maybe it's just my own strange, special way to enjoy driving. I'm open to explanations.

     Yesterday my brother-in-law's flight was switched at the last moment and he had to fly out of La Guardia in New York City. I've never driven in NYC and heard horror tales from friends. But since I'm the adventurous one in the family (if you only knew how funny that is!) I was chosen as the driver. Armed with printed directions from map quest, a navigational system, and a large coffee from Dunkin Donuts, we drove off into the sunset. Or something like that. The directions took us down the NY Thruway and into New Jersey. I am familiar with those roads through Hackensack since that is where my dad was in the hospital several years ago. Once we passed into Englewood, I was in uncharted waters.

     Things went smoothly despite the bossy woman in the GPS. (Just a side-note to those who use one. Have you ever noticed that 90% of the turns are to the left?) We approached the city and the annoying voice once again said to "turn left" which was impossible. I could bear left, but there was no place to "turn" left. So I merged left and heard the phrase I've come to dread. "Recalculating." What?? I went left, woman. What's the problem?

     As I continued to drive, I heard theme music playing in my head. Think "The Wizard of Oz" Wicked Witch of the West theme song. Now listen for the cries of the Flying Monkeys as they descend on the unsuspecting travelers. That's what happened. (Well, not literally.) I started weaving in an out of traffic while my sister closed her eyes and gasped. My brother-in-law cheered me on from the backseat. I managed to drive into Queens, navigate the streets and traffic (it was 5:00 PM), and find my way back onto the highway. From there is was a piece of cake to get into the airport. Finding the correct terminal was fun but it didn't take as long as I anticipated.

     Coming home wasn't nearly as much fun. Traffic was lighter and I'd already been that way before. The Manhattan skyline was better than any pictures I've ever seen. I love Philadelphia. It will always be my favorite city. But I think New York City is a tight second!


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