Scenic route to NYC

After a LONG semester and a few more weeks of writing Christmas cards, cooking and organizing a New Year’s Eve Mass, I was much relieved to visit New York for some R&R.

Driving was the best option because of the unusually mild weather at the new year.  I would usually hop on the usual highways, wait to cross the Whitestone Bridge and be at my mother’s place in 5 hours.

But this time, I meandered a bit.  Two of my Oblate confreres had helped at a retreat in Huntington on Long Island a month ago.  They took a ferry across Long Island Sound.  A ferry ride intrigued me.

My online research pulled up two ferries:

  1. Cross Sound Ferry from New London, Conn., and Orient Point, N.Y.
  2. The Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company from Bridgeport, Conn., and Port Jefferson, N.Y.

I opted for the first one because I had never been to the tip of the north fork of Long Island and the second one charged more on peak days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  The online reservation was quick.

On Jan. 3, 2020, I drove two hours to the New London ferry terminal and arrived about an hour early.  The Mary Ellen pulled in.

Ferry Mary Ellen
The ferry Mary Ellen pulls into the terminal at New London, Conn., on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

As passengers debarked, some hopped onto the bus to nearby Indian casino, Mohegan Sun.  I found it funny how far people would go to gamble money.  The ferry ride lasted an hour and 20 minutes.  I meditated and read by the window.  Most passengers either chatted or napped.

The drive down the North Fork was slow because of the two-lane highways.  But I didn’t mind.  I noticed several signs for vineyards along the road.  That evoked memories of my trip a decade ago to Napa and Sonoma valleys in Northern California.  I can do a wine tour next time.

A hour after landing, I arrived at Riverhead, one of the bigger towns in Suffolk County.  A missed turn forced me onto the Long Island Expressway.  But I managed to return to The Shrine of Our Lady of the Island.  My mother and I visited the shrine in 2016.  I got a Mass enrollment for a friend.  I prayed for 15 minutes in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  It was very peaceful there.

My thoughts came to my thesis project.  I asked God to help me understand the relationship between the Virgin Mary and Holy Spirit.  My eyes wandered to a window and spotted this artwork.

Marian window art
The Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit (as the Dove) fly to each other at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at The Shrine of Our Lady of the Island on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

Seeing the art put me at ease.  I had a hunch about that relationship, but I would for now allow that to mull in my mind and heart.

From the shrine, the drive lasted an hour and 15 minutes to my mother’s place.  It was an enjoyable jaunt.  This route almost doubled my travel time to 9 hours.  The ferry ride was 5 times the toll for the Whitestone Bridge.  But I didn’t have to be stuck in traffic at the bridge.  The quiet times on the ferry and the shrine turned the trip into a Day of Recollection.

If you want a more restful drive between Boston and New York, maybe you should consider the ferry.

God bless.


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