Neil and I have decided to go to DC for a few days in the middle of our trip to the States. Since we've already rented a car for 2 weeks, we're driving down. This could be interesting ;-) We'll be sharing the driving (Neil trusts me in the States). Letting him loose on the New Jersey Turnpike, though... ;-) I've informed him that, sadly, we will be missing the Vince Lombardi rest area (we'll be entering the turnpike too far south).
Interesting note: if you plug my parents' ZIP code into Google Maps directions, it tells you to go via the Bronx (BAD BAD route). If you put in their exact address, it sends you via Staten Island. Now, my assumption is that their start point for 11747 is further north and directs the algorithm to use the Northern Parkway to get off LI, even though that route ultimately sends you in a roundabout way and through worse traffic. BUT, because the mileage is almost identical, it doesn't realise that. What's exceptionally interesting is that I looked at their start point and it's pretty close to my parents'. (We discovered this because I double checked, using their exact address, and Neil meanwhile had just plugged in the ZIP and mentioned the Throgs Neck Bridge as part of the route. We tested it and sure enough, that's the quirk.)
(Comparison route: My way, which I'd already thought was right:
Southern State -> Belt Pkwy -> Verrazano-Narrows Br -> Staten Island Expwy -> West Shore Expwy -> Outerbridge Crossing -> Rte 440 -> NJ Turnpike.
Other route: Northern State Pkwy -> Grand Central Pkwy -> Clearview Expwy -> Throgs Neck Br -> Cross Bronx Expwy -> George Washington Br -> New Jersey Tpke. If you've ever driven in NYC you know that the Cross Bronx / GWB / Turnpike is a bad route anytime and is a particularly bad way to go to DC!)
Must see if I can borrow my sister's EZ-Pass. (I'll pay her back for the tolls, I just want to be able to skip the massive queues in the cash lanes.) (EZ-Pass - automated toll collection. Think DART Tag, if you've seen that, only this works in the entire Northeast which has lots of toll roads and bridges! Current MTA B&T toll is $4.50 one way cash, $4 E-Z Pass, double toll collected westbound only on the Verrazano. NJ Turnpike is paid per mile travelled. Apparently, it will cost us $3.10 cash. Oh, 2nd plus to SI route: Less money paid on turnpike tolls. :-) )
And now that I've given you an incomprehensible lesson in road geekery...