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Escape from New York

Penn Station and Beyond
Aug. 3, 2005

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Still glowing from the Ketel One martini at the Monkey Bar, I followed Bill and Myron out of the cab at Penn Station, and while I fumbled to get a buck for the first hard-luck story blocking my way, they pointed me towards the Amtrak lines.

I didn't mind that I had missed my train to D.C., sure of catching the next, and was surprised to see mine hadn't left yet, due to some problem on the southbound lines. This seemed like good news, affording me time to stuff down a Nathan's hot dog and pick up a book. But by the time I finished chapter one, the martini's lulling effects had worn off, and I gradually tuned into the fact that none of the southbound trains were going anywhere. My cozy room at the Willard seemed to be receding.

I could have holed up another night in another Manhattan hotel room and taken a morning shuttle, but after three and a half hours penned up in Penn Station, what I wanted more than anything was to break out of the system, throw them a curve. So in a rented Camry, I snuck out through the Lincoln Tunnel and barreled across the wilds of New Jersey, towards Washington, working my way among the trucks and the toll booths on a hot and humid night.