Back in the 1980s and 1990s, I took numerous East Coast business trips involving flying in and out of La Guardia or JFK and driving to visit offices in suburban New Jersey, suburban Connecticut, and Waltham outside of Boston. The most grueling portion of the trip tended to be driving I-95 along the coast of Connecticut, with all the 18-wheelers and the potholes they cause.
Because I`m a complete hick from the sticks, it was only a few years ago that I finally was apprised of the existence of an alternative to I-95 for driving from Manhattan into the best places in Connecticut. On a cross-country road trip, I was gearing up for what I was sure would be a stressful, spine-shaking drive from Manhattan out past La Guardia to my wife`s aunt`s house in the classy suburb of Trumbull, CN. But then our hostess called with detailed instructions on the Easy Route.
I was baffled by the notion that such a thing as an easy route could exist in the Greater New York area, and at first insisted we just take I-95 like I`d always done. Yet, sure enough, taking the Upper West Side highway, then various parkways through Westchester County, and on to the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut turned out to be a lovely experience.
Opened in 1938, the four lane Merritt Parkway runs parallel to I-95 a few miles inland through deep forests. Trucks are banned, so the road surface is perfect. Speed limits are never higher than 55, so the route is avoided by the young or aggressive.
It`s like freeway travel was envisioned in the Futurama display at the 1939 World`s Fair. It`s the only highway I`ve ever been on that felt like it should have a dress code: Gentlemen should wear coats, ties, and homburg hats, while ladies would accessorize with a simple string of pearls, but nothing excessive. It`s the physical embodiment of the secret message of Mad Men: Our parents had it better.