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Old 03-11-2012, 10:37 PM   #1
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need help navigating east coast large cities

Next month (April) we are taking our 7 children (yes, we are crazy) from Utah to the East coast to visit all of the american history sites, and back again. We have a 33' motorhome and are nervous about the routes our GPS gives us for navigating the large cities, because they seem geared toward a car and not a motorhome. We have visited these areas before, but have always flown in and used public transportation, so all we know is enough to make us really nervous.

The legs I would appreciate advice on:
*Charlottesville, VA to Williamsburg, VA
*Williamsburg, VA to Washington, DC (we are staying out of downtown, near Mount Vernon for 3 days)
*Washington, DC to Norristown, PA, through Manassas, VA and then Gettysburg, PA (and we are staying in Norristown, PA and taking public transportation into Philly)
*Philadelphia, PA to NYC (which we might skip if it sounds too nerve-wracking. We thought of parking the motorhome in Tottenville, NY and taking the subway to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, which goes right into Manhattan, if parking in Tottenville is feasible)
*NYC to Franklin, MA, where we'll park the motorhome at the commuter rail station and take publick transportation into Boston.
*We'll leave from Concord, MA toward VT, which I think sounds easy enough, unless there are tricks there, too.

When we've been out that way before I haven't minded the tolls, but I hear that for a motorhome they are outrageous. Are they worth paying, or is it better to go out of our way a little to avoid them? I've also heard that tunnels and certain bridges are forbidden to motorhomes. It is hard enough to get all 9 of us going each morning and feed everyone and keep them all cheerful, and I am afraid that the stress of ending up on a road we shouldn't be on (I hate backing up!) will be enough to make me truly cuckoo. So I would really appreciate any firsthand knowledge anyone can share of these areas! Thank you!
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:49 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amymaries View Post
Next month (April) we are taking our 7 children (yes, we are crazy) from Utah to the East coast to visit all of the american history sites, and back again. We have a 33' motorhome and are nervous about the routes our GPS gives us for navigating the large cities, because they seem geared toward a car and not a motorhome. We have visited these areas before, but have always flown in and used public transportation, so all we know is enough to make us really nervous.

The legs I would appreciate advice on:
*Charlottesville, VA to Williamsburg, VA
*Williamsburg, VA to Washington, DC (we are staying out of downtown, near Mount Vernon for 3 days)
*Washington, DC to Norristown, PA, through Manassas, VA and then Gettysburg, PA (and we are staying in Norristown, PA and taking public transportation into Philly)
*Philadelphia, PA to NYC (which we might skip if it sounds too nerve-wracking. We thought of parking the motorhome in Tottenville, NY and taking the subway to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, which goes right into Manhattan, if parking in Tottenville is feasible)
*NYC to Franklin, MA, where we'll park the motorhome at the commuter rail station and take publick transportation into Boston.
*We'll leave from Concord, MA toward VT, which I think sounds easy enough, unless there are tricks there, too.

When we've been out that way before I haven't minded the tolls, but I hear that for a motorhome they are outrageous. Are they worth paying, or is it better to go out of our way a little to avoid them? I've also heard that tunnels and certain bridges are forbidden to motorhomes. It is hard enough to get all 9 of us going each morning and feed everyone and keep them all cheerful, and I am afraid that the stress of ending up on a road we shouldn't be on (I hate backing up!) will be enough to make me truly cuckoo. So I would really appreciate any firsthand knowledge anyone can share of these areas! Thank you!
welcome to the irv2 forum.

what kinda moho do you have?
are you towing a car?
you can add this info to your signature block.
what are the ages of your children?
i have not traveled the route that you propose so i cannot comment on it. some tunnels have propane tank restrictions. sometimes you just have to turn the tank valve off.
we use walmart parking lots extensively for 1 night stops.
this allstays website is free to use and is kept up to date by users. it includes other parking places besides walmarts.

Walmart Store Locations Map - Wal-Mart Guide
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:54 AM   #3
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Welcome amymaries! 7 kids?? Yikes! We have driven around the Washington DC outer loop with our 31' Class C. It wasn't too bad. Just be sure not to go during rush hour, take your time and it should be okay. We take 95 North to 495 East to 270 East then get off in Fredrick, MD and take 15 north to Gettysburg. Have fun and safe travels.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:58 AM   #4
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As a refugee from the east coast megopolis, the only place you will have trouble maneuvering the coach will be in the old cities. This is like the Battery area in NYC and inner Boston. All the other drivers will always be angry with you, so just stay off the major roads in drive time (06~09, 14~18). Take your time and let them drive around you. They also have to deal with trucks, so just let them have fun and don't let it get to you.

Do you have parking at Tottenville arranged? If you are hoping for free parking, I don't think you will find it there.
If you do not, know that it is a long ways from the ferry dock (about as far as you can get and stay on the island).
If you are not opposed to paying for services, Liberty Harbor RV Park is in Jersey City and close to transportation into Manhattan. It is sort of expensive, but the entire east coast is that.

Yes, the bridge tolls are all a rip, just be glad you only have two axles. Look up the tolls ahead of time (available on the web) and be ready argue with the tender. I think that they try to supplement their income by charging coaches as buses or trucks when they can.

I always look up the tolls, and then (they are clearly marked in Street Atlas) have it make up two routes. One with toll and one without. At 9MPG and 4+$/gal, you can decide if the toll is worth it.

The only real restriction you will face is that none of the east coast marine tunnels (like Lincoln and Holland) allow you to carry propane through the tunnel. On several different groups this has come up, and the regulations are unclear to a human reader. Just avoid them.

Good Luck

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Old 03-13-2012, 11:06 AM   #5
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You have an ambitious trip ahead of you and it sounds like fun. We have traveled in pretty much all of the area that you will be seeing. I do have a couple of suggestions or maybe they are "observations". The NYC part will be somewhat of a hassle no matter what you do. Most campgrounds, other than Liberty Harbor, are not all that convenient to public transportation. The NYC transit system is great, but it can be very intimidating if you know nothing about it - where to get on - where to get off - which train to take, etc. IMHO Liberty Harbor makes it the easiest.
You mention Franklin, MA - are you staying in that area with friends, as I am not aware of camping there. The easiest campground to take the MBTA into Boston is Boston Minuteman in Littleton, MA. Folks there are great with information. As you have guessed, once you head north from MA you will not encounter any of the issues that concern you. I lived in VT for many years and would be glad to offer some ideas for that part of your trip.

Tolls: With the price of gas - being in a new to you area - I would stick to the highways to get from one place to another, at least until you are through the NYC area. The tolls are rather high, but I believe worth the convenience.

Propane avoidance's: As posted above, most tunnels do not allow propane, including the ones in Baltimore, so you will need to take 695 (I suggest east) around the city.
You will need to take the upper level of the George Washington Bridge in NY if that is the route you take. Propane is not allowed on the lower level. If you decide to skip NYC, I would suggest going north to I84 and take that east to the Boston area. You will avoid a long stretch of tolls until you reach the MA Pike.
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:37 AM   #6
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Just a couple of things about traveling the cities in addition to the above suggestions. I make sure to have enough fuel to get past the city so I don't have to be concerned about taking on fuel in some hard to get around location. I also used I-Pass for the toll plazas. Seems like most toll plazas have lots of Pass lanes but only a few cash lanes. Takes some of the stress out of passing through a toll plaza if you don't have to worry about getting over three lanes to get to a cash lane. I believe the I-PASS is good for most if not all the North East toll plazas.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:41 PM   #7
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Hi amymaries,
Welcome to iRV2. My comments are:

*Charlottesville, VA to Williamsburg, VA
I 64 east to the Williamsburg area, I was not impressed with Williamsburg. Looking at your itinerary, there are other places I would spend more time at.
*Williamsburg, VA to Washington, DC (we are staying out of downtown, near Mount Vernon for 3 days)
I 64 west to I 95 north to the DC area. If you haver a good reason to stay in the Mt. Vernon area, go for it. However, for comfort and convenience, Cherry Hill CG in College Park, MD could be a better choice. Public transport comes right to the CG. Cherry Hill is on the north side of DC near the beltway. On get away day you'll have the DC area behind you.
*Washington, DC to Norristown, PA, through Manassas, VA and then Gettysburg, PA (and we are staying in Norristown, PA and taking public transportation into Philly)
From Manassas, get on RT 15 and take it all the way to Gettysburg. Artillery Ridge CG is the closest to the battlefield and the NPS Information Center. From Gettysburg take RT 30 east to the Norristown area. Don't miss Valley Forge.
*Philadelphia, PA to NYC (which we might skip if it sounds too nerve-wracking. We thought of parking the motorhome in Tottenville, NY and taking the subway to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, which goes right into Manhattan, if parking in Tottenville is feasible)
Bit the toll bullet and stay on the main roads. Stay away from any road with the word "Parkway" in the name. These are for cars only (low bridges). It is safer.I would not park my coach in any public facility in the NYC metro area. Consider staying at Newburgh/NYC North KOA. The CG is just north of I 84 so it is on your way. One can sign up for a NYC tour and the buss picks you up and drops you off right at the CG. There is lots for the kids to do at the CG. From this CG it is an easy drive to tour Franklin Delano Roosevelt's property at Hyde Park. Now that will be a history lesson.
*NYC to Franklin, MA, where we'll park the motorhome at the commuter rail station and take public transportation into Boston.
You are very brave to leave your coach in a public parking lot. From the NYC area to Boston, the main Interstate roads are about the only way to go.

*We'll leave from Concord, MA toward VT, which I think sounds easy enough, unless there are tricks there, too.
Yep, easy ride. From Concord get on RT 2 and head west to I 91 north.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:44 PM   #8
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Hello amymaries, and welcome to irv2.

Nine of you headed to the east coast in one little RV. WOW! What a challenge!

I am a recently retired tractor-trailer driver who used to be domiciled in Franklin, MA. I operated all over the northeast for one of the major express carriers but I predominately operated between Boston and Newark Airports.

My first piece of advice is if your GPS is telling you to take any of the parkways, don't do it!. You can't legally drive on them and it's doubtful that you would fit under many of the bridges.

I would not recommend using the GW Bridge. It is prohibitively expensive, prone to long delays, and I-95 across NY is just not good road. If you decide to use it, stick to the upper deck. Watch the signs! If you make a mistake and end up on the lower deck you will be stopped, rerouted to the upper deck and possibly even fined. If you are towing a car you will be charged for4 axles the same as a 4 axle truck. I am not aware of any special dispensation given to RVs. Someone previously said to be prepared to argue, don't do it. Arguing with toll takers in the northeast is a no win situation.

If you are going to stay on the NJ side of the Hudson and commute to NYC take a look at this route to MA. You will pay tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge and the MA Turnpike but it will take you around most of the big city traffic while only taking you 20 miles out of your way.

Jersey City, NJ to Franklin, MA - Google Maps

If you insist on going right up I-95 you will pay tolls on the GW Bridge and a small toll on the New England Thruway in New Rochelle, NY. This is for the 15 mile stretch of I-95 from the Bronx to the CT state line. Part of the NY Thruway system. Summertime on I-95 brings tons of traffic. Especially on weekends when the weather in good.

When in the NY/NJ metroplex if you listen to 880 and 1080 AM you get traffic reports every 10 minutes. CB channel 19 is next to useless and is a fountain of disinformation. Many of the trucks that run the Boston/NYC/Phillie corridor run channel 28 and will generally provide you with good information.

Jersey City, NJ to Franklin, MA - Google Maps

To my knowledge there is no place to park an RV at the "T" station in Franklin, MA. Franklin is a high population bedroom community with lots of Boston commuters living there. The "T" station parking lot overflows every day.
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:11 PM   #9
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I have to echo Craig. There is no way you'll get that RV into the parking lot at Franklin Station. I worked for the railroad in that area, it just isn't going to happen.

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You could try Normandy Farms Campground north of Franklin in Foxboro but it is pricey as hell and your packed like a sardine. I believe they have a shuttle to the train. ymmv
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