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Author Topic: August 2019 Road Trip Metro Detroit - Poconos - Jersey City - Niagara Falls  (Read 107 times)

jOnstar1979

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I finally got to take a road trip this year that I planned over 4 years ago. My kids and I love Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky, Ohio and have been there a few times already. When I heard of the opening of the Pocono location a few years ago... I plotted out a quick road trip with stops to see the Statue Of Liberty & Niagara Falls. Last month... I made it happen! Not only did we have a great time at these locations, but I finally got a chance to see some of the highways of the east that I have always been interested in.

First day of the trip, was from Southeast Michigan (Where I live) to Pocono, PA. It was I-75 down to I-280 in Toledo and over to the Ohio Turnpike. I was looking very forward to this drive, but very happy to get the hell out of Michigan just to get away from all the construction. I have to say that this has to be the worst year for road repair in the Detroit area. Almost every major highway is under construction and good luck to anyone that can find an alternative that is not under construction as well.

Ohio was not too bad. Just a little bit of construction that slowed me up a bit going from SB I-280 to the Turnpike. The turnpike did have a couple of construction areas, but nothing that really slowed me up much. I-80/90 is pretty boring for the most part until you get east of Cleveland Metro area.  I was not all that interested in Ohio as I have drove through this state many times and often drive there for work, but this was my first time experiencing I-80 east from the 80/76 junction where 80 bails off the turnpike.

I have been in Pennsylvania before on I-90 to east of Erie, and I-76 to I-70 East through Breezewood down to Maryland... but never I-80. I have to say that I really liked the scenery... but I-80 felt like Michigan for a while as it seemed as if every 7 to 10 miles the freeway came down to one lane for construction. Yet even with all the construction... Pennsylvania stretch of I-80 is in far better condition that most of the freeways in Detroit. I have to say that I-80 is very scenic throughout the whole state and I was not bored at all. Once getting into the Pocono area, I got to add another interstate to the list I have been on, and that was I-380. I only took it to the next exit (PA 940 to Kalahari) for the first day, but on the 3rd day I drove it all until the end at I-81 in Scranton. 

Now after some fun for my kids and I at the water park the first night... we left Kalahari early in the morning for a couple of hours to go see the NYC skyline & the Statue of Liberty. Jumped back on I-80 East through the Delaware River Gap and through the State of New Jersey. I was quite impressed with I-80 through Jersey. Much more scenic than I expected and I really liked the 8 lane section through the hills all the way to Newark burbs. The freeway was in very good condition. I was a little bit worried how the traffic would be during rush hour... but I surprised to see that it moved pretty well for the Newark, NYC Metro area. From I-80, I added another 2 interstates to my list with I-287 south to I-78 East (Via NJ 24 East). Now I really liked I-78 for the most part until it turns into an eastern extension of the New Jersey Turnpike when it goes down to two lanes. Traffic was stopped crossing the bridge into Jersey City. I would have been annoyed, but it did give me a chance to get a good look at the Skyline of NYC which I was real excited to see. If you have never had the chance to take in the skyline of New York... it is one hell of a sight to see and very worth the drive.

After spending a bit of time seeing the Statue of Liberty... the kids wanted to head back to Kalahari and have some more fun. On my way back I decided to take a detour to Hackensack and check out another location of the company I work for. Instead of taking 78 back to 287... I jumped on the New Jersey Turnpike north and took it to I-80. This was a cool drive for me, because I have seen many road videos of this area and wondered what it was really like driving. The NJ turnpike split interested me too and I have read up on that section a few times over the last couple of years. I ended up on the West section of 95 to reconnect with I-80 West. My roadgeeking was getting a little much for my kids as I asked if they wanted to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel and go see New York real quick. I wanted to so bad!!! Yet I knew it would not be just a quick detour as I more than likely would have driven around Manhattan on the Hudson Parkway around to the FDR and back to Jersey on the George Washington Bridge. If I had another day... I would have done it, but my poor kids had waterslides on the brain. I couldn't blame them! So after a quick stop in Hackensack... we shot back I-80 to Pocono.

The next morning... the kids & I checked out of Kalahari and headed up I-380 north. Another very scenic drive. Yet adding another interstate to the list... a very short section of I-84 in Scranton before ending at I-81. The only other section of I-81 I have been on, is the section joined with I-77 in Virginia. I-81 was a very nice drive, but I was a looking more forward to driving I-86 in New York. I have been on I-86 too, but only a short section on the west side from I-90 near Erie, PA to Jamestown. I-86/NY-17 is a beautiful drive in parts and I really liked the Binghamton section. From there, it was I-86/NY-17 West - I-390 North - NY-63 to Batavia, then my first time driving the New York Thruway to I-290 and finally I-190 to Niagara Falls. I have heard many times that New York state roads were one of the worst in the nation, but to be honest... New York has it's stuff together compared to Michigan roads. I was also very impressed with the scenery. The Buffalo area was not all that exciting and seemed a bit run down... but Niagara was very nice and I can't wait to get back there one day. The no toll booth electronic tolling on I-190 caught me by surprise. I'm waiting for that toll in the mail. Couple of the signs had me confused just before going over the bridge, asking to call a number for toll options if you don't have an EZ-Pass. I tried calling that number several times and it was not in service... so I was a bit worried I was going to get a fine or something. Again, another first for me driving through a toll that did not have a cash toll booth option.

After a fun night with the kids in Niagara and the next morning walking for a little bit checking out the falls... it was time to make the trip back. I-190 South - I-90 West - I-280 North and back to the endless amounts of orange cones on I-75. It turned out to be a fun trip for us all. The kids were happy, but ready to get out of the car and stay out of it for a while. We got our water park fix & much roadgeeking for me. I admit... 3 days for that amount of driving may have been much on us all, but I would do that trip all over again in a heartbeat. I already am thinking next summer for a quick weekend road tour of NYC.



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webny99

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Re: August 2019 Road Trip Metro Detroit - Poconos - Jersey City - Niagara Falls
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2019, 11:13:50 AM »

I-86/NY-17 is a beautiful drive in parts and I really liked the Binghamton section. From there, it was I-86/NY-17 West - I-390 North - NY-63 to Batavia, then my first time driving the New York Thruway to I-290 and finally I-190 to Niagara Falls. I have heard many times that New York state roads were one of the worst in the nation, but to be honest... New York has it's stuff together compared to Michigan roads. I was also very impressed with the scenery. The Buffalo area was not all that exciting and seemed a bit run down... but Niagara was very nice and I can't wait to get back there one day. The no toll booth electronic tolling on I-190 caught me by surprise. I'm waiting for that toll in the mail. Couple of the signs had me confused just before going over the bridge, asking to call a number for toll options if you don't have an EZ-Pass. I tried calling that number several times and it was not in service... so I was a bit worried I was going to get a fine or something. Again, another first for me driving through a toll that did not have a cash toll booth option.

Yes, I-86 (Southern Tier Expy) is a scenic road with little traffic, and a great alternative to the Thruway if you have time!
The section through Binghamton has been constantly under construction my entire lifetime, but it has lots of character, and will be super nice once the Prospect Mountain project is complete.

The Thruway is a super high quality road too, just boring and can fill up with rolling roadblocks, especially during peak travel season. Much of the section you traveled got paved this summer - a very needed project. The Grand Island Bridges went AET last year, and the entire Thruway will next year (2020). I am not sure the point of those "call **826" signs, but knowing NYS, they will make sure to bill you based on your license plate, so no worries there!  ;-)

Just my opinion here, but the city of Niagara Falls is actually the most run-down part of the entire region, even worse than Buffalo. The actual Niagara Falls State Park, however, is very nicely done - tourist-friendly without being overly commercialized like the Canadian side.
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