Turnpike Angst, A Visit to the Old Neighborhood, Fun with My Girls–a Great Sunday!

After two harrowing trips on the NJ Turnpike, I’m, thankfully, here on this bright Monday morning to report about yesterday’s goings on!

With the clocks jumped ahead that one hour, I did wake up slightly more tired than usual, but with some strong coffee as my medicine, I was up and running on the road to NYC by 7:30 AM.

Yesterday was “girl’s day” all the way. I picked up Oona, stopped at my BFF’s Jeannie’s, had brunch then headed off to a fundraiser to support the McGough Academy of Irish Dance…but first, I have to vent about the less-than-stellar driving habits of some traveling along the NJ Turnpike.

These days, I’m used to the PA turnpike, which is really quite small when compared to the size of New Jersey’s part of “I-95”. (Better known to the tri-state residents as “The Jersey Turnpike”). Drivers on the PA Turnpike rarely signal, which is a complete lack of consideration.  In addition, the PA Turnpike is, for the most part, driven by its residents.

The Jersey Turnpike is another story; it’s a major thoroughfare.

400px-New_Jersey_Turnpike_Shield_svgI’ve spent many years driving from NJ to NYC on this road, but it was much better in the pre-texting, pre-cell phones days!

As such, there are lots of drivers from many different states. The worst being Virginia; and let me tell you, Virginia may be for lovers, but it certainly is not the state for great drivers.

I swear Virginia may be for lovers but it ain’t for great drivers! Get outta the left lane!

When I’m driving on 95, especially early on a weekend morning and traffic is at a minimum. I love the sight of the rising sun and I love listening to my music–it’s a very relaxing “me” time!  If there is one thing I cannot stand,however,  it’s a driver in the left lane that has NO intention of moving over at all when you are trying to pass. Those drivers also exhibit no intent of moving over, and  insists on using the left lane as their personal driving space and on this very same highway, decides to drive between 55 and 60 MPH! Most of those left-lane addicts sport Virginia plates! Where are the State Troopers? Why is it that the only drivers who seem to be pulled over are the ones going 80MPH or so? Why aren’t these drivers who use the left lane with no intent of using it as a passing lane and drive under the speed limit  pulled over?

Why aren’t those who endanger other drivers by yapping on their phones pulled over? Why aren’t texters pulled over?  The driving phone conversationalists are easy to spot. They are usually driving 45 miles an hour on a major highway or turnpike.  The texters are more dangerous–they not only drive slowly, but they continue to drift from lane to lane haphazardly–creating an even bigger danger–and the majority of them are NOT young drivers either!

Stop the madness. I want to get where I’m going in one piece. Actually I just want to GET where I’m going!

 To make matters worse, as soon as I crossed the GW into Manhattan, and got on Riverside Drive to merge onto the Henry Hudson Drive, a car going 25 MPH in a 50MPH zone pulled out from nowhere and into the middle of traffic. Virginia plates!!! I’m not the only one who beeped my horn, slammed on the brakes, made a motion with one of my fingers and yelled out a four-letter word that was not “snow”!

It was a pleasure to be back in the City. Before we moved to NJ, we lived in the upper-most tip of Manhattan—just above Washington Heights in the neighborhood known as “Inwood”.

map-inwood---manhattan-ny-hotelsThis is “Up” Uptown–a hidden gem in NYC!

It’s one of those neighborhoods where everyone knows everyone else. People watch out for each other (i.e. when my car battery was being stolen, one of the neighborhood’s residents who knew me from a friend of a friend, rang my doorbell immediately to let me know what was going on), the area west of Broadway is very residential with beautiful apartments and homes. Inwood Hill Park has a ton of activity during the warmer months—from tennis to softball to baseball games.

Inwood hill park

Birds on ice at Inwood Hill Park

hudson bridge

Henry Hudson bridge uniting Manhattan to The Bronx!

My phone camera is still on the blink—I did manage to get two pics of the park looking over to Riverdale in the Bronx. I have to visit the Apple store today to get this camera fixed.

The playground in the park was a great hangout for we moms and the kids all learned social skills at a very young age. It was, and still remains, one of the most affordable areas in the City—you get a ton of space for your money and the neighborhood is accessible to both the “A” train and the No. 1.

So anyway, to make a long story shorter, I picked up Oona (she’s staying at her dad’s apartment in Inwood until she finds a roommate) and then we ventured off in search of a parking space. With luck on my side we found one in less than two minutes. One thing I was so happy about—as was she, I have not lost my touch for parallel parking. Man, I was able to park my car in one fell swoop and without any love taps to the cars in front and behind me.

With the slushy mix of melting ice and snow, it was a challenge to walk up the hill to Jeannie’s, but it was worth it.   Our one “cuppa tea” turned into three and we spent quite some time reminiscing about our days hanging in the playground, driving to the beach and to Tallman pool with six kids in the car and the fact we gave our kids snacks and my lack of a set bedtime for my kids during the summer.   Were we the worst mothers in a time when the “earth mother” brigade was in full force? No, even though we did not wear Birkenstocks and wore makeup, we were excellent mommies! *note to self—write a future post about my mothering abilities.

It had been a while since I actually spent a bit of time in my old neighborhood It’s usually spent dropping someone off or picking someone up—but today was so great. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed it and missed Jeannie! And for once, I loved spending time with Oona in her territory, not downtown or here in PA. It gave very warm feeling and a feeling of that sense of familiarity. I really miss City living so much!

We enjoyed a great brunch at Indian Road Café and Market—which, back in my day was a local little grocery store we just called “Murrays”. The walls that housed bread, milk, eggs and processed cold cuts have been replaced with a very hip little meeting place. It’s great—and it makes me so happy to see it filled with young families and older residents. A place where the community can get together for some very good food and a great atmosphere! It’s charming and I am all about going back!


I cannot wait to get back to this café. I only wish it were in Inwood when I lived there!

Our last stop of the girl’s day was up in Yonkers. Or as I like to say “Yonkizz”. It’s been awhile since I drove through the Bronx and up north—so like any BFF, I handed my keys to Jeannie and said “You’re driving”—which was a great move because she is extremely laid back when it comes to driving on the Major Deegan—as I am not!

We attended a fundraiser up at Rory Dolan’s for the McGough Academy of Irish Dance.

mcgough academy fundraiser


A school that’s a shining and rising star!

Oona used to dance with the teachers who run McGough. In fact, she and one of McGough’s teachers and Associate Director, Megan DiBiase, started dance together and have been friends since they were four years old! There is something very special when your childhood friends remain throughout your life and into adulthood. It was nice to see my daughter support and be happy for her friend’s success!

oona and megan

Megan (l) and Oona (r). circa 2007. Four Provinces Feis, PA. Open Champions–Megan 1st, Oona 2nd!  Miss those fun days!

We had a fun time recalling old competition days and watching this new generation of Irish Dancers was a pleasure! The kids were not only adorable, but incredibly talented. I’ll tell you, McGough Academy of Irish Dance is only going to become more and more successful!   A tip o’ the wig and a bow of the jig shoes to you ladies. Thanks for a fun afternoon.

With Jeannie dropped off, and Oona dropped off, I was able to reflect on my drive home—thankfully distracting me from Virginia driver road rage upon my return back to PA.

Friends are important—and sometimes life’s events may cut you off from those great friends. But somehow, other life events manage to bring you back together and you just pick that friendship back up is if there were no pause. Life is great that way, isn’t it?   Life is even better when you can be happy for the success of others and know that you can share in that success!

There are many times when I wish I lived back in the City. Sometimes I get really upset about it. I miss the excitement. I miss working down on Wall Street—the best job I ever had in my life, but the new Wall Street isn’t the old Wall Street I worked on! I miss being 30 pounds lighter because I walked everywhere! EVERYWHERE! I miss the feeling of community and that feeling of security of living in a sturdy pre-war apartment building. I miss being able to walk down to that corner store if I ran out of milk instead of having to get into a car and driving. I miss the fact that I could feel safe knowing that major hospitals were well within emergency distance—just in case I fell off the subway platform, or if got hit by a city bus or if a brick fell off a building and onto my head. (I’m a hypochondriac—what can I say?).

But I’m lucky. I got to come home to Monsieur Bonaparte—who is always happy to see me no matter how much of a pain-in-the-ass I am. Besides, after being on the turnpike, I needed that aperitif those aperitifs!  And at the end of a most spectacular day, I was snuggled in bed and nodded off into a restful state of being!

kir royale

Kir Royales and relaxation–perfect way to end a weekend!

XOXOXOXO!  Since March is for St. Pats and the Irish Dancing madness has begun, here’s a rockin’ version of one of Oona’s set dances “King of the Fairies” performed by Horslips!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Horslips "King of the Fairies", Indian Road Cafe and Market. Inwood, Inwood Hill Park, irish dance, McGough Academy of Irish Dance, NJ Turnpike, NYC, PA Turnpike. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Turnpike Angst, A Visit to the Old Neighborhood, Fun with My Girls–a Great Sunday!

  1. MB says:

    Great article! Thanks for the promo for the girls!!

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