Tuesday, June 6, 2017 – NYC to Ridgefield, Connecticut
Had the clouds cleared, we would have gone to the Top of the Rock this morning, but as the sky stubbornly stayed overcast, we slept in and relaxed until checking out at noon.
We took a subway from Times Square to Penn Station and then got tickets on the New Jersey Transit to Newark Airport, where we picked up our rental car. There are talented musicians throughout the New York subway system, and we stopped and enjoyed their music as the opportunity arose.
Music Under New York
At the airport we rented a gray Nissan Versa from Dollar Rent a Car, where they tried to extort us with an obscene fee to rent a PlatePass (aka E-Z Pass). Many of the toll roads in the northeast are electronic only, with no option to stop and pay in person. If you don't have an E-Z Pass, your license tag is captured by camera, and you get a bill in the mail, charged at the highest undiscounted toll rate. If you're in a rental car, the bill goes to the rental company. Dollar Rent a Car then adds an additional administrative fee of $15 PER OCCURENCE and charges your credit card directly.
Alternatively, Dollar Rent a Car would like to “save” you those fees by charging you up front $18.49 PER DAY, for each day of the rental, to use their PlatePass, which covers unlimited tolls. You can't just rent the PlatePass for the days you use it. Other rental car companies have this system also, but they don't all charge this much. The cashless toll system overall might be convenient for locals, but it's pretty abusive to visitors.
Having refused Dollar's E-Z Pass, our own alternative was to assiduously avoid all cashless toll roads. Easier said than done, but we did it. This is called “taking the scenic route,” which we wanted to do anyway. End of rant.
From the Newark Airport, we were headed to John and Kathy's house in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The most scenic part of the drive was through Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park, past numerous lakes and summer camps in the rugged Hudson Highlands (part of the Appalachian Mountains) east of the Hudson River. I couldn't believe how high the speed limit was on these twisting mountain roads!
We rolled up to John and Kathy's in Ridgefield about 5:30. In addition to our niece Cailin, who we saw a couple of days ago in NYC, nephew Ryan was there this week as well, along with the family's two beagles, Ellie the elder and Maggie the younger. John made chorizo burgers with spicy guacamole for dinner, then we went on a short walk with the dogs through the cute downtown.