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Braving The Brooklyn Queens Expressway In Our Bus
We didn’t have much choice actually. Leaving Long Island and heading south bound in a 35’ long bus meant we would have to take the Brooklyn Queen Expressway through New York City.
The trip was a mere 66 miles to our campground in Jersey City, right across the water from downtown Manhattan. Our next 1 hour 25 minutes became the gnarliest drive we’ve experienced, to date.
We decided to unhooked our tow car to ease up on the difficulty of this adventure. Dennis drove the Bus and Jeanette, the Honda. Then we headed, somewhat blindly, into the mouth of the beast.
Blockades and construction zones, pot holes and debris jammed the fast-moving expressway. Every bump seemed to crunch into the very bones of the steel built bus.
As we braved the unpredictable thoroughfare, we were forced to make split second navigation changes to avoid the forbidden tunnels, remain on the upper levels of the bridges and stay off the Parkways.
So it’s no wonder that somewhere between Brooklyn and Staten Island, the road quickly divided, and I (Jeanette) merged onto the wrong freeway. A desperate text alerting Dennis read, “ I went north???.“
Meanwhile, Dennis is balancing the wheels of the bus narrowly between each line of the road. The lanes are more uncomfortable than grown men in tight Christmas sweaters. But his path is slow and sure.
Mine however was scattered as I raced to catch up with him after my misadventure. Speeding, weaving; I’ve really embraced the kick ass New York driving technique, still, I end up blowing past the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge exit.
Once I found my way back on track, I merged onto the bridge right as Dennis was reaching the bridge as well. My adrenaline pumped and the excitement of seeing Dennis right then, had me yelling and waving over two lanes of traffic.
As we made it closer to our destination, the beast, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, finally opened up to city streets and before long we were parked at our sweet little parking lot of a campground in Jersey City.
“If I wasn’t a man before this drive, I am now.” Dennis told me.
If We’d Known Better
When we set out three years ago, we cut our teeth driving our first motorhome (the CY1) to beautiful Yosemite. Without a full understanding of how to down shift to help slow our 14,000 lb. box of bolts, we melted our brakes over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, narrowly avoiding a Thelma and Louise style ending.
Now, our new motorhome “the bus” is eight feet longer than our previous one and has a diesel engine, air brakes, and we’ve added a tow car. Learning to drive this monstrosity will take time, no doubt. Our time began on the door step of New York City and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
If we’d know better, would we have braved these gnarly roads? I hope so. It seems as though they are the guardians of amazing places and for those brave enough to take them on, the most coveted places await.
We’ve realized that dragging our bed, the fridge, a toilet, and a couch all around the country, across states, over mountain ranges and even through NYC is worth the exchange. When we stop, a cold beer awaits our frazzled nerves and our cozy home invites us back behind the drivers seat and into our own little slice of paradise… where ever we’ve parked it.
Urban Camping & RV Parking NYC:
Where We’ve Stayed:
Liberty Harbor RV, NJ
The nearest park to NYC, it’s basically an expensive parking lot with a view of the Statue of Liberty. It’s all about proximity though and this IS the closest campground to NYC.
11 Marin Blvd Jersey City, NJ 07302
PATH Transportation Map. Grove Street to 33rd or WTC
Inner City Camping Options:
Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field “Camp Gateway”
A no hook-ups campground in Brooklyn. It was closed on our visit due to recent storm damage.
Book it at Recreation.org
Psst. The Roaming Pint parked in Brooklyn in their RV. Check it out.
24hr Parking Lots in Manhattan
Parking OUTSIDE of Manhattan is probably a better option, but if you do decide to go really inner city, then you might be looking at a 24hr parking lot. The ones we spotted were clear about nobody being on the property after 3am. So call ahead to one on the big lots that have clearance for oversized commercial or fleet vehicles. Park Fast is one option.
Tips On Driving Around NYC In An RV
Tunnels & Bridges
Can I Drive my RV through the Tunnels?
The short answer is NO. If you’re carrying a LPG tank over 10#, you can not enter a tunnel. We spotted a few RVs (tour buses we suspect) in NYC that had a sticker reading, “No Propane” on the front. You’d have to get pre approval for such clearance.
Is my RV carrying hazardous material or explosive gas?
Most likely, Yes. If you have a LPG tank, even if it’s empty, you are carrying explosive gas.
Can I drive over the Bridges in my RV?
Just like tunnels, there are restrictions due to hazardous materials. All trucks, commercial vehicles (including RVs) must keep to the upper levels. Watch for the signs, some bridges don’t allow trucks at all!
Can I drive my RV on a New York State Parkway?
State wide, RVs are not permitted on Parkways. The signs don’t clearly specify RVs, Motorhomes, or Trailers but the guidelines are as follows.
If your vehicle:
- Is over 5,500 pounds
- Has combined plates
- Is carrying roof top cargo
- Is a trailer or moving van
Very Helpful Links from NYC Dot & The MTA