Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Heading South

We are at the Wal-Mart in North Brunswick, New Jersey (map).

It took us a while to get everything packed up yesterday -- we had unloaded a scooter at the beginning of our visit, and I had no fewer than six cords and adapters out to connect to the 15-amp GFCI receptacle we were borrowing. Also, I had several Monday-morning phone calls to make, including one to Chappaqua Transportation in Fishkill, NY, to see if there was any chance they could get us in the shop this week to replace our bent tag axle A-frame (no dice).

That put us on the road just in the nick of time to avoid the worst of the afternoon rush hour (which, here in the NY metro area, starts pretty much when the morning rush hour ends), but traffic was still heavy. We blasted out of the red zone on the Garden State Parkway, bailing off onto US-1 near Menlo Park.

One of the things that we did while we were in New City (and the reason I needed to take the scooter out) was to sign up for E-ZPass, an automated toll-paying system that works on 24 different tollways in 13 states. New York is a good place to sign up, since they do not asses any kind of monthly or annual "maintenance fee" just to keep the transponder -- you just need to make the deposit for your pre-paid tolls. Also, New York gives a discount on the Thruway and some toll crossings to NY transponder holders, plus they have a lower rate for three-axle motor homes than for commercial vehicles, whereas there is no rate difference when paying by cash at the booth. Lastly, the customer service center was only a mile from my uncle's place.

So Wednesday I rode down there and signed up, getting an RFID transponder for Odyssey that codes it as a three-axle motor home "over 7,000 pounds." They told me the transponder would work on the NY State Thruway by noon on Thursday, and everywhere else in the E-ZPass system in 48 hours. They also assured me that, once the vehicle coding was correct, our coach would register the proper toll in each state.

Yesterday was our first chance to use it, and, apparently, it did not register at all in any of the three toll lanes we passed on the Parkway. Harumph. I called customer service, who assured me that no citations would be issued, since Odyssey's license plate is registered in the database to our account. They will simply deduct the proper tolls from our account when the system matches the plate to an unpaid toll. We have the transponder at the top center of the lower windshield; the next toll plaza we go though, we might try holding it up in the upstairs windshield to see if that makes a difference.

Today we will continue south on US-1 until it intersects I-95, which will blast us over the Delaware and around the Trenton and Philadelphia metro areas toll-free. We're making a bee line for warmer climes, although we will make a brief stop in DC in the next couple of days to visit Red Cross headquarters.


  1. The Walmart in Fair Lakes (Fairfax, VA area) allows overnight parking and there is a great Italian restaurant, Cantina D'Italia. I would love to see your bus in my neighborhood, it would make my holiday season! You guys ROCK!

  2. Sean,

    Please post what loation worked the best for the transponder. I will be getting my 1991 Neoplan on the road after a 2 year refit and the best location would be nice to know.

  3. Sean,
    I should have posted this earlier, we have a Farm around 40 minutes from where you are currently located. Its about 8 miles from 95 where it crosses the Delaware into PA. We could have supplied you with at the minimum 30amps and sewer. If you are interested please post a reply or in the future if you need to overnite in the area. I have been following your blog for a couple of years. Its Great! safe travels.

  4. @maddogscot: We should be in VA tonight or tomorrow. Not sure about Fairfax -- our current plan is to stay at the Red Cross facility in Ashburn while we visit HQ. Stay tuned.

    @anonymous Neoplan owner: will do. We should be heading through the Harbor tunnel today or tomorrow, and will give the upper windshield a try.

    @travelalot: Thanks for the offer, but, as you likely already know, we were already in Delaware or Maryland someplace when your message came in. I do get them on my Blackberry, BTW, but I never look at it while driving.

  5. @maddogscot: Update -- we will have to take a rain check. Louise is still feeling rather crummy and not up for a visit, and we need to get on down to the Flying-J for fuel. I'm sure we'll be back in DC sometime in the future, though.

  6. Hey folks,
    you Might want to ask EZpass for a license plate mount version instead of the window mount if you continue to have issues with it not registering. For that matter, I bet that mounting it up in the living room would work well, other than blocking your view up there. How often are you in EZ-pass areas though?

  7. oh dang it!! I missed you on Tuesday--I live only 10 minutes from the North Brunswick Walmart and I would have been out there in a flash to make you welcome to the neighborhood. You didn't say, did you actually overnight there? I always wonder what the rules and regs are in my own backyard.

    As for the EZpass transponder, we found with our C that the machines stopped reading us when it was on the front window (originally it was fine, but maybe they aim the beams higher now.) We moved ours upstairs to the C-cabover and now it works fine. Try putting yours at the bottom of your penthouse window and see if that helps.

  8. @Debbie and Joe: Whoops. To answer your question, yes, we spent the night, more or less at the far corner of the lot, closer to Burlington Coat Factory (the map link is actually pretty accurate -- we generated those from the GPS built in to the satellite dish).

    Usually, I post to the blog in the morning, so you'll be reading about where we just spent the night, rather than where we are about to spend the night. And when I write "we are parked at ..." I usually mean that we have spent or will spend the night there; we seldom deploy the dish otherwise. Occasionally, we need to do so and I might post, but I try to mention that it is not an overnight stop.

    All that said, when we first arrive someplace, I usually update our map on the Datastorm Users page (http://map.datastormusers.com/user3.cfm?user=1237). So if you check there, you will often see where we are even before I post to the blog. The "Where we are" link in our sidebar takes you to a page that links to and explains the map.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!