Monday, May 7, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Oh no you did not...

Do not worry I am not going into the old age question of which one is better. We already know that question and the car wins hands down. Its easier to maneuver, you can stop whenever you need to, and you can kick people out mid-trip if you need to. On a more serious note, I spent the day helping my wife pack up suitcases and preparing for her trip back to Florida. Family members offered to pay for plane tickets but she needed to be there for specific days. This meant finding a flight that was going to leave in the next day or so and would accommodate those pesky food allergies my 7 y/o has been living with. This meant that she would fly, once again, with Jet Blue. All flights out of Newark were taken so the nearest terminal was JFK in NYC. They have always been very willing and able to help when they can. They even are kind enough to ask fellow fliers not to bring peanut products on the plane and they will not serve peanuts on the plane. They even try to offer a buffer zone around them. They do not have to do this but some how we always find somebody within the organization that has a family member/ child that is going through the same thing and they go above and beyond to help. I applaud them. They make life easier for my son and most importantly his mother. 

It is not a "recent" picture but it is one of my favs.
Tangent, sorry. Being that my wife's car is currently waiting for a part from the dealership it is down and out for this run. This meant taking my 03 Elantra GT. I know what your thinking, "Whats the big deal?" Well the deal is that my car is about to break the quarter million mark in miles and is modified quite extensively. It is usually not a big deal. I have made the trip to Newark International a bunch of times without incident (and who could forget the trip from Florida to NJ just a couple of months ago), but this time I had to go across the river and then another river to JFK International. I started thinking of my poor Nitto Neo Gens 215/40 R17 tires and the somewhat stiff H&R springs and even stiffer KYB GR-2 Tiburon struts. How would it fair going into the pit of roads and across Manhattan? Then across 495E to the Van Wyke Expressway? The last time I was there I was escorting oversized loads in my 94 Hyundai Excel and the roads where terrible! I was hoping they were better than they were then. Though, that car too was modified with Intrax springs and Enkei 15" RPO's with 205/50 R15 tires. Damn I miss those rims.  I also have swapped out the normal four lug hubs for Tiburon 5 lug hubs. This also meant that I would need to swap out the rotors for five lug. That meant swapping out the normal Elantra brake calipers (fronts anyway) to Tiburon ones. My hunt for parts lead me to a fellow member that was selling  SE Tiburon calipers. These are larger and are made of aluminum. The weights are identical from the  much larger SE caliper to the cast iron Elantra caliper and will release heat much quicker then cast iron.  I had also thrown in Goodridge stainless steel brake lines some time prior to the five lug swap. Braking power is definitely increased and as far as I can tell the distance is also cut down thanks to the 12" drilled rotors as opposed to the 10" also warping Elantra rotors.  This would prove to be needed in the NYC traffic. Anybody who knows NYC knows that proper spacing between cars is almost impossible. So good brakes and quick reaction time is a must! 

My worries were justified as I had to watch out for some pot holes, but mostly storm drains and large metal plates they put over giant holes while working on them. All in all, as expected, I was fine and so is the car. The roads were actually not that bad at all and most of the trip was spent on brand new pavement.  The biggest issue was not even the other "horrible drivers". Which, by the way, I have found to be complete BS. People here are NOT horrible drivers if anything I found them to be predictable. You know when they are going to cut you off or try and pass you, so you just prepare. I find it much easier to navigate through  traffic here. You want crazy drivers, take a trip to from Jacksonville to Miami going south on 95. They are certifiable! No turn signals, old people mixed in with younger oblivious texter's, everybody is doing 80-90mph and let us not forget the left lane hoggers. Growing up in the area, I find it quite enjoyable and calming to drive through the city. I know I'm weird. It's all good. My wife, however, who grew up in the woods and drove on one lane roads while she was learning is NOT accustomed to driving in 4 lanes of traffic, never mind in the largest city on the east coast. She is constantly gasping, and grabbing the "Oh Shit handle". I think there might be a wear mark on the floor from her right foot hitting the imaginary brake pedal. My son just laughs and I must admit so do I sometimes.

I had some stop and go traffic which is to be expected. The Midtown tunnel and Lincoln tunnel entrances were about a 20 minute delay and there was debris on the Van Wyke that was causing people to slow down some. New Jersey traffic was the worst by far. I think it had to do with the slight drizzle and people on route 80 putting up guardrails. There was a special on the discovery channel one time that simulated what happens when one person brakes when there is no need. It creates this butterfly effect to the traffic miles behind them. One person brakes, then the person behind them and so on. So by the time you go back just 5 miles, traffic is at a standstill. Well I was caught up some 20 miles behind where they were installing new guardrails. To make a long story short, it took me over 2 hours to get back to the house when the trip going there was just under an hour and half. Hell the plane from JFK  to Orlando almost beat me! It only missed me by half an hour. Granted in racing terms that is an eternity, but in real life it is not a whole heck of a lot. 

All in all, it was an easy trip to and fro. The airport was very easy to navigate despite being named one of the worst airports in the country. I did not have an issue with it. I did take some pics along the way back, just for kicks.  I happened to catch the new shuttle that will be displayed at the air and space museum. It was still attached to the airplane that brought it in just a week or so ago. The cities skyline is always breathe taking, even with the twin towers not being there. The erection of the new "Freedom Tower" has been under way for sometime and is taking shape nicely. I was unsure of the use of the space and of the design of the building, but after seeing the final sketches and seeing it go up. I think it was the right thing to do and the current design is sharp looking. It is really bright and when the sun hits it, it shines with such gusto! A part of me still thinks that we should have built two towers  bigger and better but I guess that is the American coming out in me. It does happen sometimes. Other famous things along the way was the Empire state building and of course many bridges. The one closest to the Midtown tunnel is the 59th street bridge. Of course all of this was done while listening to my favorite NYC radio station...HOT 97. I must admit I thought I was down south again. It was nothing but crunk and dirty anthems. What is up with that? Maybe it was the DJ, but really how can you compare Lil weezy with some of the best of all time? I did switch over to some of my own CD's. Since the death of Guru from Gangstar and MCA from the Beasty Boy's is still fresh in the minds of fans like myself they had to be played. Rightfully so, as I got thumbs up from random people on the street for playing "Whatcha Want" and Gangstar's "Full clip" If  you dont know, now you know...

Sorry but there were no trains to speak of...unless you consider the monorail at the airport a train. LOL 

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