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The Hell Hole in Princeton

September 3, 2013

Princeton sounds like such a nice place. I’d driven through a couple of times before on my way from Albany to Haddonfield. I’d seen the edges of campus, the verdant tree lined streets, and the quaint little bridges.

But I never stopped in town. I never shopped for groceries. I never needed toilet paper.

Now, I’ve only been here for two days, and there is still so much that I haven’t seen. Pretty much all I’ve been doing is unpacking boxes. But our first night here I was thrilled to make the 15 minute drive to the best bona-fide Szechuan food I’ve had in many many years.

Except after dinner, Mrs. Fussy put the kids to bed, and I went out to the store to get some things that we needed. For all intents and purposes, this should have been amazing, because I was going on a shopping spree at Wegmans.

The only problem is its location.

You can blame the disorientation of arriving in a new town. I might also blame the crap AT&T mobile reception and my smart phone’s complete inability to tell me where I am. If I stopped for a moment, I should probably blame myself for no longer having the ability to navigate without an internet enabled device in hand. But that’s neither here nor there.

Can anyone tell me why New Jersey has completely abandoned the notion of left turns? Or why they’ve felt the need to turn every intersection, regardless of how small it is, into a four leaf clover interchange?

Now that I have a couple of days under my belt, I’m starting to get the feel for it. But man, I do not like these roads.

So my new Wegmans is in a mall. Typically, I love malls. I do. Perhaps it’s because in Miami, it’s the only place you can walk around without dying from the heat/humidity/mosquitoes. But I don’t love strip malls.

Wegmans isn’t just in a strip mall. It’s in a strip mall that has been infected with a virulent case of sprawl. I didn’t even know strip malls themselves could fall victim to the kind of sprawl that encouraged their own development. At first, I had thought that Wegmans was just in one corner of a giant serpentine strip mall.

I got so lost in the mall’s parking lot, that when I came back home I went online to look at a satellite image of the place, so that I could try to make some kind of sense of the labyrinth.

Turns out, it’s not one strip mall, but three! They just are each pushed up against each other, and I wasn’t able to tell where one ended and the next began.

When I heard that Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were all in the same part of town, I was initially overjoyed. But while I love those stores, the notion of navigating the strip malls along this stretch of US1 makes me queasy.

Given the population density of New Jersey, I probably shouldn’t be surprised. But I had been working from a bad set of numbers. I was looking at population size instead. On that basis, Princeton is smaller than Guilderland. So I was not expecting this crush of humanity.

Fortunately, on Friday I’ve got a guide coming. An old friend of ours has family in Princeton, and she’ll be coming by to show off her favorite spots. I’m really looking forward to finding a farmers market and checking out the local co-op. But I can’t buy too many perishables, because we’ll be leaving the country next week.

It never stops. Luckily, I don’t either, and there are more adventures to come.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2013 12:28 pm

    That map you linked said the traffic count (AADT) is about 96000 vehicles. The only comparable counts locally in Albany are the interstates. The Patroon Island Bridge sees about 70000 vehicles a day. The Twin Bridges see about 112000 vehicles.

    Shopping-wise comparison: the intersection of Wolf Road and Central Ave is under 40000 vehicles a day. Not even half.

  2. September 3, 2013 9:16 pm

    The first time I went to New Jersey, that was the first thing that struck me: New Jersey is the land of no left turns. It’s really damn annoying.

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