When You Get Caught Between The Z and New York City
One of the continuously mysterious parts of Z ownership, for me anyway, was the almost complete absence of 350Zs from the streets of Manhattan. You can see all kinds of exotic cars in the endless streams of traffic that NY coughs up–Rollers, Peugeot, Russian stuff with DPL tags, classics, etc. but seeing a Z is really rare. I’m in NYC frequently, and I began to notice this oddity back in the Spring of ’04, when I drove my newish 350 up to The City from Florida. A dozen subsequent visits began to prove my theorem, and up to my last visit in July ’07, I STILL see a clear absence of Zs on the streets of Gotham. I wonder why???
For 4 of the 5 days I was in the City, the Z sat safe and comfy at Nissan of Manhattan, and it was an oddity for even THOSE people, it was so new and rare. Those were the days. I did take it out to Eastern Queens, which turned into one of the nastiest driving experiences that the Z ever knew. . .
This is an account of leaving Manhattan.
. . . Just past Wilmington, moving south, you finally run out of the Megalopolis.
For the past week it’s been All City, All the Time. It has been heavy, brutal traffic on streets that shake the Z’s skin; it’s been an endless, gridlocked parade of yellow cabs and 18-wheelers, a forest of big buildings and imposing bridges and always, it’s the seemingly infinite toll booths, crumbling streets and detours. Driving a Z in New York is no fun, and it becomes LESS fun when you try to find a place to park.
I broke loose of The City early on a Sunday, twirled around the Lincoln Tunnel ramp that Tony Soprano uses every week, hit the Garden State and with NYC fading to shadow in my mirror, I was gone. I got the hell away from all that concrete and made a beeline for the country, to roads where I could really DRIVE again, back into Nature’s territory and a much more rewarding ride. First, I had to tackle New Jersey traffic, more tolls and bridges and Philly traffic. All heavy, even on a Sunday morning.
I got past Wilmington about noon, and realized that I was finally exiting the urban Northeast. The ‘burbs dwindled to estates, then to farms. You no longer needed Interstates, the traffic was thin, the McDonald’s few and far apart. You can begin to feel The South creeping into you.
A few more hours puts you across the Chesapeake Bay bridge/Tunnel. An amazing experience to drive and an equally amazing engineering feat. Twenty three miles over open water and nothing but Africa to the East.The Z felt tiny and beetle-like, adrift on this vast expanse of angry and blue-gray Bay with no land in sight, as it took me across the deep, white capped waters on the thinnest of white concrete strands. A great ride, even if it does cost $13. 00. When it’s solid ground again, you find yourself in the urban annoyance of Virginia Beach, but it’s a mere gnat on the windshield compared to the big bugs along the Northeast Corridor.
By dusk you are where Man learned to fly, and the crash of the Atlantic into the dark Outer Banks sand is a different symphony than the one most recently left behind. There’s no traffic out here on the Dunes, no lights to spoil day’s end, and the sweet taste of a cold Bud while sitting on a mountain of sand watching a dark sky go darker over a living ocean is a sharp counterpoint to the hard edged, wine-sour world of cities and their always-lit lights and congestion.
The Z glowed a Holloween Orange as the random. slanty sunset threw down rays behind me. It was parked within the concrete-gray of the dunes, enjoying its only breather since first light rose over Manhattan’s towers, and it shone like a gold doubloon. Would have made a nice picture if I only had a camera. . .
The Z now (April ’04) has 25, 000 miles on the ticker. It’s a LOT more fun in the country than it is in The City, and is still the most important thing I take with me when I travel.
Additional articles may be viewed via Jerry’s SkidMarks main page