We had a nice sleep-in then had a coffee and a cinnamon bun for breakfast which is traditional fare of Delaware. The Delawarians (if that’s what they are called) are very proud that they were the first State created in the USA.
John and Carlie decided to take us for lunch in Wilmington. First of all we went through the beautiful Dupont Estate - the famous Dupont Company started in Wilmington and is still a major employer in the city. It was a beautiful sunny day and we drove round the city and down to the waterfront but it was hard to see the water with so much building going on.
After a wonderful stay and a delicious lunch with many really good conversations about Antarctica and the Explorers Club, we bid farewell and headed south initially to join the New Jersey turnpike, the toll road to New York.
We’d left at 1.15pm - 45 minutes earlier than planned. This shows the efficiency of the Levinsons and no wonder John became the President of the Explorers Club of New York, he is just so dynamic!
We decided that we should drive into New York even though we had to leave the vehicle in New Jersey on the western side of the Hudson River. It looked to us that the most sensible way for us to get into downtown Manhattan was to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. We had a really quick drive on the expressway to within about half a mile of the tunnel and then it was bumper to bumper traffic.
We eventually did the half corkscrew to the toll gates and right at the entrance to the tunnel the toll collector decided that we couldn’t go through the tunnel as we clearly had propane on board. We explained that the Earthroamer was a unique vehicle and did not have propane at all - it was all diesel powered. We even got out the special brochure that we’d been handing out and which makes a point of this. But the toll collector wasn’t going to have any of it! As far as she was concerned every campervan in the world has propane and we weren’t going to go through the tunnel.
When we objected again, she called a policewoman over who said “I’ve been told there’s propane on board so you’re not going through the tunnel”. It was obvious that there was no hope of winning so we had to give in. We thought at the time that there was no way we could turn back as the toll gates were so close to the tunnel entrance we could see a major catastrophe in trying to reverse. But no problems - the policewoman lifted some cone markers away, stopped the traffic and got us to do a U-turn right at the entrance.
We then drove north towards the George Washington Bridge through a maze of back streets. Amazingly enough the same situation happened again. We got to the toll collector who looked at our vehicle, refused to take the $3 toll and insisted we cross all the traffic to the right hand side of the road (we were at the left hand booth). We did this with great difficulty with Pip waving her arm out the window to stop the traffic so we could cross. When we got to the right hand side there was no one there and we didn’t know what to do, so we just drove across the George Washington Bridge, in effect without paying any toll. Maybe there will be a fine in the mail - we didn’t know what it was all about. The toll collector just simply didn’t communicate.
When we got across the Bridge, we dropped onto the Henry Hudson Parkway and saw notices advising that only passenger vehicles were accepted. We wondered if lower Manhattan was the same as Washington DC - i.e. no campervans allowed.
Eventually we turned off the Parkway and found ourselves on Broadway. Yes, the famous Broadway of New York. We were going to drive right down towards the Empire State Building but decided that because the traffic was so bad and we had made it onto the Manhattan Peninsular and clearly into the New York State anyway there was no need.
We headed north west along Broadway, back across the George Washington Bridge and then drove south near Newark International Airport. We knew that somewhere close by was the shipping point for our Earthroamer and we needed to be there early the next morning. By shear luck, just as we drove into the town of Kearney where we’d found there was a Ford dealer we saw a Wal-Mart store. Just what we needed! We pulled up into the carpark and stayed the night there.
We wanted to have the vehicle serviced with an oil change before shipping it, so on the following morning we drove a few kilometers to the local Ford dealer. When we got there they then decided that our seven ton vehicle was too heavy to be lifted on their hoist, so we drove back to the Wal-Mart store where we got a fantastic oil change in about 30 minutes at their car service centre. The total cost, including oil and a filter was $110.00
We then drove the vehicle to the P&O Wharf on the Hudson River at Port Newark. It took us a while to find the Auto Terminal because the company had given us the wrong address on the emailed information sheet but eventually after a couple of phone calls, we found the correct place, did the paperwork, took our forms to the Customs Department, had them stamped and took them back to the wharf again. We said farewell to our Earthroamer knowing that in a couple of days, it would loaded on board a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Southampton. Our fantastic trip was over.
We stayed that night at a small hotel next to Newark Airport and the next morning headed into New York City to stay at the fantastic Peninsula Hotel for a couple of days before we boarded the Qantas plane for the 23 hour flight to Sydney.
Our Stage Two was over. Our vehicle had operated flawlessly except for the lightning strike and we had no accidents or even incidents. We were indeed fortunate.
Of the 40,075kms around the world, we had now covered 32% of the distance.