Monday morning began much later than expected; I'd been up very late Sunday night packing, and I had no choice but to answer my body's cries for sleep. So it wasn't until noon that I picked up the rental truck and began loading it. That took only a couple of hours, followed by cleaning the place out. After I turned my keys in and canceled the cable account, I ate, napped, and got on the road just after six. At first, it was a harrowing experience. Not even driving minivans prepares you for getting behind the wheel of a sixteen-foot-long truck. But I picked it up quickly, and proceeded without incident as far as the Whitestone Bridge. Approaching the bridge's toll barrier from the north, the middle lanes are all reserved for E-ZPass holders, with cash lanes to the left and the right. Being on the left side of the road, I naturally went toward the far left. Only after it was too late to reverse course did I discover those lanes did not serve trucks, and that I should have been on the other side of the road. This earned me some scorn from the New York City Transit Police, but they got me through. I even got to take the truck over one of those (apparently) flexible barriers that separates the toll booths.
Once that hurdle was jumped, I found myself on the Van Wyck Expressway. With a truck, I couldn't make use of any parkways, so I had only one viable eastward option - the Long Island Expressway. I saw the signs overhead, but I thought that the ramps for the LIE and College Point Boulevard were separate, and so I missed the exit. Now I'm going, and going...and running out of choices. I exited the Van Wyck at Union Turnpike. Now I'm in the middle of Queens, at night, with no idea of where I am or where I'm trying to go. I eventually get myself to Queens Boulevard...and then it ends, forcing me into a decision. Luckily, I chose left. Now I'm bringing the truck down Jamaica Avenue - and not knowing the way out, I just stayed on it as the numbers on the cross streets rose. I was pretty sure I was heading east, but not until the Cross Island Parkway was I sure of that. As soon as I passed over that roadway, the street signs magically morphed - and I was on Jericho Turnpike, thus solving all navigational problems. The rest of the trip to Northport was cake.
I was at the local Public Storage location at its time of opening the next day to unload the contents of the truck. Once that was accomplished, and the truck was returned, it was 11:30, and I knew it'd be touch-and-go on reaching Orient Point to catch the 1:00 ferry across. Fortunately, when you're a walk-on and you pay in cash, you can get there five minutes before the scheduled departure and still board. Once we reached New London, I knew that even with a taxi, I wouldn't get back in time to make the 3:00, so I reserved for an hour later. With time to spare, and no rain overhead, I elected not to spring for the cab and walked back to the apartment complex - a bit more than half an hour. Upon arrival, I took one more look, then told myself, "no sense dragging this out...and besides, I have to use the bathroom." So it was through New London one last time, back down to the ferry terminal. On the trip back over, I broke out my GPS receiver; it was funny to see the image of a car with nothing but water around it. The Garmin also alerted me to an unexpected occurrence upon our arrival at Orient Point - two aborted attempts to dock the Mary Ellen. The first was a clearly bad approach; the second was only a minor readjustment. After those were cleared, at 5:34 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, I drove the Blue Trooper onto Long Island, with the full knowledge that the Submarine Capital of the World is squarely in the rear-view mirror.
The final trip back was uneventful, though it took a bit longer than expected because I followed the Garmin and stayed closer to the North Shore (instead of dropping down to the LIE). At 7:38, I pulled into the Ancestral Palace...and proceeded to avail myself of a long-overdue shower. And change of clothes. And shave.
I have a couple of things planned for the next couple of weeks to keep me busy and prevent complete and total atrophy. I'll talk about them soon. But for right now, know simply that is so unbelievably great and awesome to be back home, finally and for real!