(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)
“Oh there you are,” said Ben, “you’ve missed the opening round in the ‘Most Scenic Drive in America’ debate.”
As I set the smoothies down in front of Ben and Bob, I said, Great, because this morning we have the red, white, and blue smoothies. Who are the contenders?
“Well, I nominated either the Pacific Coast Highway or the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Bob, “But Ben likes the long drive to the Keys.”
You’re both wrong.
“How did we guess?” asked Ben. “And your vote?”
Ben and Bob looked at each other doubtfully.
I’ll tell you. I had to go out to Long Island on my last trip North and so I got off the New Jersey Turnpike to go over the Outerbridge Crossing Bridge. This dinky little bridge that goes from New Jersey to Staten Island and they charged me $8.00 toll. I knew that next I had to go over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the largest bridge in the world, and I thought, ‘If I have to pay $8.00 to get over this thing, how much are they going to charge me to go over the Verrazano Bridge, $120?’
Anyway, after I got on Staten Island…
“That’s one of the counties in New York City, right,” asked Bob.
No. That’s a good trivia question. Ask somebody to name the five counties of New York City and then ask them the borough name.
“They have boroughs and counties?” said Bob
Ben looked at him. “Why are you encouraging him?”
Ignoring Ben, I said, Yes, Staten Island is the borough of Richmond County in New York City.
Anyway after you get onto Staten Island you go through the largest landfill in the world. Fresh Kills Landfill. You can even see it from space. They closed it in 2001, but reopened it to sort through the World Trade Center debris. Now they’re making it into a park. Pretty spectacular.
Then you go over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the largest bridge in the world.
“How much WAS the toll?” asked Ben.
Nothing. They only charge a toll one-way: on the way onto Staten Island. How weird is that? You’d think they would charge people to get out.
Anyway, the largest bridge in the world. It’s so high that ocean liners can go under it. It’s 228 feet high and if you are a passenger the view is spectacular – you can see Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, everything.
But, if you’re the driver – don’t look. Just stare straight ahead and try not to think about it. It’s scary.
Then you get into Brooklyn. Great views. Massive cityscape, constant construction, bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you’re going at sixty miles an hour, it’s scary, but usually it’s bumper-to-bumper stopped traffic and you have plenty of time to look at the view.
“I’m still not sure where you’re going with this,” said Bob.
Wait. And after a while, the view on the left opens up and you can see the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s Island, Ellis Island, the skyline of Manhattan, and then the Brooklyn Bridge, and then the Williamsburg Bridge.
“This is scenic?” asked Ben.
This is America. The Statue of Liberty. The Brooklyn Bridge.
Then, when you turn off of I-278 onto the Long Island Expressway, you are on the largest parking lot in the world. All the way out to Montauk Point.
Ben was almost finished with his smoothie, so he could see his escape. “And this is the Most Scenic Route in America? Why?”
The largest landfill in the world, the largest bridge in the world, the largest traffic jams in the world, the largest city in the world, the Statue of Liberty? You have to ask why this is the Most Scenic Route in America?
“All this for only an $8.00 toll?” said Bob.
Right. Tolls, trash, traffic, the Statue of Liberty, and New York City. What could be more scenic and more American?
I’ve been a little loose with the facts. The Verrazano Bridge is the longest bridge span in the Americas but not the world and the Fresh Kills Landfill is probably not the largest landfill (and the largest man made structure) in the world anymore. New York is not the largest city in the world (Tokyo), and as far as the Long Island Expressway being the world’s largest parking lot, well. And if you really want to know about the counties and boroughs that make up New York City, go here. And technically I-278 does not go through the landfill, but the landfill is part of the drive from Outerbridge. And, it is The Most Scenic Drive in America.