Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Turning the pike

Driving from the Lincoln Tunnel to Princeton in the early morning leaves the sun rising, red and raw and sore, in your rear-view mirror. Newark airport is still closed, so the first noticeable feature is the sweet smell of long-chain hydrocarbons given off by the oil refinery at Elizabeth. At night this is a beautiful sight; it's illuminated in a way and to an extent that it would look ridiculous as a fairy castle, but it is redeemed by its functionality. The road at this point, the New Jersey Turnpike, is well maintained, not the pot-holed horror that represents the average US highway such as Route 1, which I take for the second half of the trip. To know this, imagine the M1 full of holes with the number of lanes varying randomly from 2 to 4 and with traffic lights every 3/4 mile. And with the drivers obeying the highway code of their planet of origin.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

State of mind

New Jersey is a bit of a flop really, next to New York but not New York, full of swamps (state bird: the mosquito), smelly industry (my father-in-law) and questionable businessmen (don't ask my father-in-law any questions). All in all, not really a tourist destination. Especially in July, when you can leave an air-conditioned building at noon and have the experience, as disgusting as it is alarming, of water vapour condensing on your body. So we're not here as tourists, obviously. Mlle Inkspot comes to go crazy in shopping malls, Mme I to remind herself that 3,500 miles is not necessarily too far from her parents and I to pursue Precision Handling's interests in Princeton, a town whose smugness is less noticeable only than its dullness.