30 August 2005
Our last week in Pittsburgh was mostly relaxing. After the day in downtown we had a couple days of not doing much at all but laundry and running errands. The last Wednesday and Friday we were there we spent with friends and family. Thursday was spent with Bill and I going to Laurel Caverns (http://www.laurelcaverns.com/). There we went on the hour-long tour of the upper caverns and played mini-golf in the Kavernputt. (http://www.laurelcaverns.com/kavernputt.htm) Bill and I have decided that we will try to mini-golf if it’s available everywhere we go. Laurel Caverns are different from most caverns you can tour (or so they say) because there aren’t many formations like stalactites and stalagmites, the floors and walls are mostly smooth and have been worn out by flowing water. It’s a constant 52 degrees and I was pretty chilled by the end of the tour despite my jeans and sweatshirt. It was interesting to see where people have carved their names and years along the years until it became illegal to do so. There are names and dates on this wall (insert pic with names) back to the early 1800s.
Bill and I left Pittsburgh yesterday, August 27th, at 8:00am and arrived in North Carolina around 5pm, we drove for 9 hours straight only stopping to gas up the truck. Today we haven’t done a damn thing. Well…we haven’t left the RV in any case, we’ve spent the day trying to figure out where in our trip we are going to go from here, since our plan keeps getting shot down by weather, timing, and gas prices. We new it was the right time to leave Pittsburgh because it rained on us all day yesterday while loading up, driving, and setting back down in NC. I don’t know what we will do if we ever have to move the RV when the weather is dry.
The Hula girl is compliments of Bill's best friend and his wife, they bought it for me so I wouldn't be bored while driving. Stay tuned for Hula across America. I need to name her, any suggestions? Email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Bill thinks we should name her after a wind goddess, anyone know the name of a Hawaiian wind goddess?
That’s really all for now, I’ll write again when we’ve seen or done something cool in NC.
We're safe, we're sound, we went Gem Hunting yesterday and it was a lot of fun, but that's another story for another day.
28 August 2005
I know I already posted about going to the Carnegie Museum on the 12th, but here is a picture of me in front of a plaster cast of a wooden doorway to a church in Norway that I came across. I don’t remember when or exactly where it is from, and I couldn’t read it off the plaque behind me, oh-well.
On the 21st of August, Bill and I took the entire day to spend downtown. We started by parking centrally in downtown and then walked to several places of interest for me. We started out by going to PPG Place, my favorite buildings in downtown. The courtyard in the middle of the buildings is really cool; we sat here for a bit and watched a pair of boys playing in the fountain. The buildings themselves were the largest all glass buildings of their time when they were built. I think they look like glass castles, which is probably why I like them so much. When in the courtyard, you are surrounded on all sides by the different buildings; all looking like glass castles it’s pretty cool.
After watching the little guys in the fountain, we walked over to Point State Park. The Point is at the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers. It is also home to the Fort Pitt Museum, the Block House, and the site of Fort Duquesne. If you ever want to learn the history of the French/Indian Wars, visit Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, it’s everywhere you look. When you first walk into Point State Park you can see and walk the original Music Bastion of Fort Pitt. (http://www.fortpittmuseum.com/WelcomePage.html) After you walk into the park they have outlined in stone where the original Fort Pitt stood so you can get an idea of the size and structure of it.
The day we went to the Point was the day of the Annual Firefighter’s Muster. There were engines and firefighters from all over PA as well as surrounding states; there was even an engine from NYC. It was really neat to see all the different engines, especially the antique ones. The best part for me was the Western PA Firefighters Honor Guard. They marched in from across the street and stopped under this bridge to play, the acoustics where amazing, I have it on video. Nothing like bagpipes to give this little girl goose bumps. They then marched all over Point State Park playing all the Armed Services songs and others, it was really something.
After this Bill and I walked across the Stanwix Street Bridge to get to Station Square (home of the wonderful sugar scrubs). Station Square used to be nothing but steel mills that have since been torn down. All over Pittsburgh where old mills used to be they have kept something from each of the mills and incorporated it with what they built there now. I think it’s great that they are trying to preserve some of the proud heritage of this place. Station Square is very cool, the fountain here plays in time with music and they use the blast furnace from an old mill with it. At key points the blast furnace will ‘smoke/steam’. You also get an awesome view of my favorite building from here. While at Station Square we saw one of the new Steelers, probably out getting to know his new city. The new Steeler we saw was number 41, Zack Touiasasopo, who happens to be from Woodinville, WA…my home state. And for those of you who know my family, know the story behind that, and those of you who don’t…too bad. We didn’t bother Zack, or even take a picture; we just left him alone and went about our business.
After spending some time at Station Square and seeing Zack Touiasasopo (spelling?? Sorry Zack if I butchered it) Bill and I walked back across the bridge, back to the truck, and went home for the evening.
I know that Bill has had a hard time coming home with so many changes, but I’ve really enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh.
21 August 2005
I can see why those lakes create their own weather patterns; they are certainly big enough too. The sand is really soft and kind of a yellowish color, it got in my shoes and between my toes, I guess I don’t have to exfoliate now.
The entire time we were eating a seagull was hawking us, he kept walking closer and closer in a circle pattern so we wouldn’t notice, and it was kind of funny. The Gulls are smaller on the lakes than they are in the Pacific Northwest, about the size of large city pigeons.
That’s really all I have to write about right now, here are some pics of Bill and I from around Pittsburgh.
Pics of Bill and I with The Ultimate Steeler Fan (this guy is in the football hall of fame in Canton, OH) and with Art Rooney's (The Chief) statue.
And of course, a picture of Jerome Bettis, my favorite Steeler...THE BUS! The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round. It was really incredible to be that close to the field while they were all warming up.
Ok…things I remembered that I wanted to write about but forgot.
1. I saw lightening bugs for the first time in my life; they were cool. Bill keeps laughing at me because I have to go outside to watch for bugs.
2. There are butterflies here the size of my head, and they are everywhere! We also have bats at our RV Park, but that’s not weird, we have those out west too.
3. I now understand why the Arizona DRY heat isn’t that bad, because the heat here with humidity…sucks. It’s hard to breathe, and it wipes you out.
4. They have crickets and cicadas in the city that are so loud you can hear them with the truck windows rolled up and the AC on, they hum in waves, it’s strange.
5. I saw a kid with a mullet, some parents are so cruel.
6. I refuse to drive here, I don’t care, I’m not getting behind the wheel of a car here, these people are insane! I told Bill that he never again gets to make fun of Seattle drivers…not ever!
7. I can’t remember if I already wrote about this or not, but watching the sun drop out of the sky as a big orange ball that I can look right at and not have it even leave spots in my eyes just isn’t right.
Ok, I think that’s about it for things that I’ve forgotten to write about. We just sat through two waves of really intense thunderstorms. With the first waves came golf ball sized hail that, lucky for us, did not break through the roof of our ultralite trailer…whoohoo! There was some incredible lightening and thunder that shook our RV, the rain was crazy too, came down in sheets. The second wave was more lightening and thunder and rain, but skipped the huge hail, which was just fine with me, that was a little humbling. So we continue our trip with more crazy weather and where as we weren’t moving for this round, we still survived it, although we don’t currently have power. We are lucky to be in an RV since we have battery power to run the lights (but anything plugged in doesn’t work, neither does our AC, let's hope they get the power back up soon) and if we need to cook our stove and oven run off propane as well as our refrigerator. So we’re good to go and even though we aren’t able to watch the Steeler’s game that’s on right now, we have the radio on which also runs off battery power.
I think I’ll leave it at that for now, hopefully soon I’ll be able to post this, but I have to wait until power is restored to the park since the wireless router won’t be up and going again until then.
PS - I'm posting this from a local Krispy Kreme that has free wi-fi internet. I've just had my first Hot donut experience...mmm...hot donuts!
16 August 2005
Tuesday the ninth we drove out to Maryland to recon a couple of RV resorts and campgrounds to see what we will be dealing with while we are out that way…good thing we did. We found one we like, but it’s more expensive than we had wanted to pay so we need to do some more research and see what happens. On our way home from that drive, we went to Gettysburg, what an interesting place. (http://www.gettysburg.com/) It was particularly fun for me to go with Bill because he’s incredibly well versed in military history. It was really something to stand at Pickett’s charge and have him point out where they were going and what they had to go, then stand on the opposite side and have him do the same thing, it really put it in perspective. We didn’t have a chance to explore all of Gettysburg as it was already late in the day and I was already tired, but I hope we get the chance to go back because it’s a cool place. Going on one of the Haunted Gettysburg tours wouldn’t suck either, but only because I’m a geek and like that sort of thing. Our drive back from Gettysburg was another story, we apparently picked the wrong way and it took over two hours just to get to the turnpike, ugh….figures. We finally got home from this adventure (having left at 7am to recon MD) between 10-11pm, exhausting.
The next day (august 10) we decided to relax and just go mini-golfing, that was a lot of fun. It was about 96 degrees outside and we were both sweating by the time we were done, but it was still a lot of fun. We ended our 18 holes and Bill beat me by 2, although it should have been by about 15, Bill is very generous with my inability to mini-golf. After our mini-golfing fun we went to the DQ in Latrobe because it was close and they build truly LARGE soft-serve cones…mmmm…..soft serve (cue Homer Simpson sounds).
Thursday, August 11, brought shopping. Well, not really shopping so much as checking out the ability for shopping in case we need stuff. We drove out to Pittsburgh Mills (new shopping center) because that’s where the Iron City Beer store moved to, Bill I both got Iron City Beer shirts. They didn’t have any Primanti Bros shirts for girls, so I didn’t get one. They did have one really cool Primanti Bros shirt that I was going to get anyway, but the only size they had was XXL….right….that’s like a tent on me…not going to happen. We’ve also checked out some different shopping areas that are new since the last time Bill was here. Homestead is an area of Pittsburgh that was all steel mills the last time Bill was home, they’ve since torn them all down and built a really nice shopping area that is a lot like University Village (for all you Seattlites). They have Starbucks and Old Navy…really…what else do you need…oh yeah, and a Borders. I’ve also found a cool little place in Station Square (another shopping area across a river) that sells sugar scrubs to die for, really, I’m set!
Friday, Bill and I went to the Carnegie Museum of Natural Science. It was pretty cool, although the dinosaur bones (http://www.carnegiemnh.org/) are under construction and that was hugely disappointing. We spent several hours there and toured their special exhibit, which was the Bog People (http://www.carnegiemnh.org/bogpeople/index.htm). They also have an amazing gem and mineral display that was really fun for me to wander through but probably a bit boring for Bill.
Saturday was SOOOO much fun. Bill and went back to the Heritage Museum, but this time brought Bill’s best friend and his wife, we had a blast. The most fun for me was watching them together revert back to younger days….especially through the area of Western Pennsylvania Sports History. We spent many hours in the museum, and of course…had Primanti Bros for dinner afterwards. The day on a whole was great, not really anything I can express in words, being able to meet and spend time with Bill’s friends is great.
Sunday was a relax and laundry day, fun and games.
Monday, yesterday, we went to the Steelers vs. Eagles preseason game. This was amazing, it was my first ever Pro-Football game, and what a way to do it. Bill’s best friend got us VIP tickets and I can’t think of a better way to experience my first pro game. We were RIGHT on the goal line, I could have spit on Jerome Bettis during warm-ups (not that I ever would, all hail The Bus), I could see Ben Roethisberger’s eyes through his face cage, it was awesome. They also fed us, which didn’t suck. We had dinner just before the game at an Outback Steakhouse that is in PNC Park and looks out onto the diamond. So mom, I’ve been in PNC Park, it’s really pretty. Anyway, I was pretty full from dinner, but it was cool to have something to snack on later on during the game without having to spend a ton of money on stadium food. The food we got were boxed lunches from Subway. I had a turkey sandwich, potato chips and a cookie.
The game was awesome, we won, (Here we go Steeler’s, Here we go) we got home safe, all was good….it was a perfect first time experience. Oh, and the VIP seats have quite a lot of legroom, that was just another bonus.
Today had been really mellow. Slept till just after 8am, got up, checked email, had lunch, then Bill and I went to Monroeville Mall just to see what they have (mostly we’ve been checking out the sports stores for Steeler stuff, they are all over priced). We found a store today that was having their Grand Opening sale an everything in the store was $5.98 or less, oh, you betcha! It’s called Steve and Barry’s University Sportwear. It’s mostly clothing for Barbie girls and Jocks, but I found a couple of things I really like. Then we went to find the nearest RV store, picked up some essentials, hit the Super Wal-Mart for more essentials, and came home. We are now getting ready for dinner and watching the NFL Network…it’s cool too.
Ok, so my one funny Pennsylvania story for today. The day we got here Bill’s mom made a comment that kind of made me snicker. I was telling her it was a good thing we drove through Ohio at night because even in the middle of the night it looked flat like South Dakota. Her comment was “Yeah, you know when you hit Pennsylvania because we have mountains.” Now, this made me snicker (after having turned around in a 360 to view my surroundings), because the highest point in PA is 3, 213ft, its called Mt. Davis. I think it’s cute that they call that a mountain. I had to give her a bit of a hard time of that since Mt. Rainier in my home state of Washington is 14, 411 ft, and the highest point in the lower 48. Bill laughed right at me when I told him this because I looked so baffled about where the mountains were. He explained that they are rolling hills, but are referred to as mountains….awww….gotcha! So that’s my funny PA story that I remembered but had forgotten to mention before.
Oh, another thing, this tripped me right out, you can watch the sun set…seriously, you can look right at the sun as it’s setting, the whole way. Because of the pollution and whatever, it’s just large orange ball and it doesn’t even leave you with spots in your vision, let alone burn the retinas right out of your eyeballs, it’s freakin weird!
Ok, I’m done for now, I’ll have more to say later and maybe some pics from the Steeler’s game too, we’ll have to see.
12 August 2005
Friday, August the 5th Bill and I had a very full day. We started out with a tour of Heinz field (where the Steeler’s play). The tour took about 90 minutes and was actually really cool. It was pouring rain that day so we didn’t go out and sit in the bleachers and since they had just redone the field, to the tune of $700,000, they didn’t let us out on the field either. However, we did get to tour the locker rooms. We didn’t take any pictures of the visiting team locker rooms, but lets just say…they were less than impressive. It would be incredibly crowded in the visiting locker rooms with all those big guys. It was pretty funny to see the different in accommodations. Not to mention that the Steeler’s get to walk out of their locker room straight onto the field, the visiting team has to walk out and around the stadium practically before they get to enter the field…funny stuff. This is the first year of the tours that the Steeler’s are letting people into their locker room. The Pitt Panther’s still won’t let anyone in theirs; they share Heinz Field with the Steeler’s. During the tour we got to see the press box, the suites, the field (but not walk on it), the Steeler’s locker room, and the cables and tubes over head in the halls that carry the beer…very important for most sport’s fans. The tour ended in the Great Hall, where they have a bunch of Steeler and Panther memorabilia. Bill had a bunch of glassware from the old days with Steeler faces on them, including some of the guys who are now in the Hall of Fame, that he donated to the Steeler organization after the tour, they will be displayed in the Hall of Fans in the Great Hall.
After the tour of Heinz Field we parked at The Strip and walked around looking for Steeler stuff, we didn’t find anything that jumped out at us (other than a Steeler Scrunchy for me from Feinberg’s), so we headed to the John Heinz Regional Heritage Museum. What a cool place. Bill and I spent over 4 hours in this museum. They have two levels covering Western Pennsylvania Sports alone. In this they have an entire hallway dedicated to the Latrobe Football team, on which Bill’s Great Grandfather played. He was one of the very first paid professional football players in history. I can’t begin to put into words how cool this place is (both the museum and Pittsburgh). Everywhere you turn there is something to learn about…it’s incredible. The museum had a really cool section on the history of the city; it was really dark through most of it, so we didn’t take pictures. They split it up so you walk up to a street post that has signs pointing in different directions and marked for the different time periods (i.e.: 1800s, 1900s, etc), and when you walk through the different time periods, it’s like being there, right down to walking on wooden boardwalks just like they would have been. It was really something. They show rooms and what it would have been like to live as a mill worker through the centuries, it shows the rich diversity of culture and how they lived differently. It’s just a really cool place. They have a section on the steel workers and what it was like when the mill’s closed (Bill was there for that) and how life changed after that.
It was just really incredible. We stayed until the guy came on the intercom and told us to get out. After that is was late in the afternoon (early evening) so we just went home and had dinner. Oh, a quick funny story, when we first got to the museum, Bill and I had lunch in their café. I ordered the Meatball sandwich and Bill had a cup of chili, when the guy brought us our food he asked who got the meatball, I said it was mine, he looked at Bill, looked at me, looked at Bill and said “ No offense, but I would have guessed it the other way around”. I thought that was kind of funny. What can I say I have a healthy appetite.
Hugs to all~
08 August 2005
Wednesday August 3rd was an early wake up for Bill and I. We were up, ready, and out the door by about 7:30am heading to Canton, Ohio (about 3+ hour drive) to go see the National Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/We got there at about 10:30am and started out way up and into the Hall. It’s a really cool place, especially for football fans. Football and its history have a special for Bill, as his Great Grandfather was one of the first professional football players in recorded history. It was fun to see the stuff at the Hall of Fame about Bill’s great granddad. We got as far as the room with all the busts in it when a gentleman from the Hall ushered us all out of the room and out of the building saying they were having an ‘incident’ and needed us all to leave the building as quickly and calmly as possible. We got outside and congregated under some tents they were setting up for the Hall of Fame weekend, and preceded to wait under the watchful eye of the Canton Fire Dept. After awhile they had us move even farther back and pushed us completely off the grounds, at this point Bill and I decided to leave and go get lunch since there were rumors milling among the crowd about a bomb search. Since that would take awhile, and it was stinkin hot, we went and had lunch…took out time…came back and by that time they were letting people back in, we showed our receipt and were let back in with no issues. We continued on past what we had already seen and made our way through the rest of the Hall without issue. The Hall has some wonderful displays commemorating the players who have also served our country. It was really a lot of fun, bomb scare aside, and I look forward to any chances I may get to go back. And the story wouldn’t be nearly as fun to tell without the added bit about being evacuated for a bomb threat.
After the Hall of Fame, Bill and I drove back into Pittsburgh and had some time to tool around a bit. We went to the strip, but most everything was closed by the time we got there…but not Primanti Bros. (http://www.primantibros.com/) The Travel Channel deemed Primanti Bros on of the Top Ten Places to Pig Out and they weren’t kidding. I had one of their famed sandwiches with everything on it (including your fries and coleslaw) and it was delicious! As a matter of fact, all the food here is delicious and it’s going to be nothing short of miracle if I get out of this state without gaining weight. Primanti Bros is something you can’t really appreciate until you try it, so if you are ever in Pittsburgh, stop by The Strip and eat at Primanti Bros, bring cash, it’s all they take, you won’t be disappointed.
After cramming the Primanti Bros sandwich down my business (I finished the whole thing, I haven’t been eating with lineman for last 6 years for nothing), Bill took me up one of the two inclines in the city. (http://incline.pghfree.net/) The Duquesne Incline has been around since god was a boy, but still works. It’s partly wooden, partly steel, very creaky, and I made the mistake of looking down…stupid. Other than that, it provides a beautiful view of the city. We got off at the top for a bit to take pics of the skyline. The glass building with the pointy tops is my favorite building; it looks like something out of fairy tale. It’s the PPG Place building, and is absolutely beautiful in person.
After all of this we drove around the city and it’s outlying areas for awhile. Bill was blown away by how much had changed in the 6+ years he’s been away. When he left, the Steel Mills where still standing, they have since been torn down (with part of them left behind as memorials) and replaced with housing developments and shopping centers. They’ve also redone large portions of the waterfront, not to mention the fact that Three Rivers Stadium was still standing when Bill left, that has since been demolished for Heinz Field to take its place.
Amidst all the change Bill and I are having a good time, I especially am having a good time exploring this place where Bill grew up.
Ps - Dahntahn = Downtown
06 August 2005
The following day (Monday August 1st) was spent catching up and doing laundry, and more laundry, and more laundry. I got to experience a real Laundromat (not an RV park Laundromat which are usually much nicer than public ones), and I’m not terribly excited to go back, although we are getting to the point that we’re going to have to. They still let people smoke in the Laundromat’s here, which just makes my head want to explode, not just from the smell, but from the thought of it, here I am trying to get my clothes clean and smelling nice like fabric softener, and there’s some guy in the corner chain-smoking waiting for his clothes to finish. I don’t get it.
After laundry we went to visit with Bill’s family that was really nice. I finally got to meet the rest of his family, it’s about time. We had a really nice visit that included dinner, we ordered pizza from a local place here…it was FABULOUS!! When Bill’s mom asked me what we usually liked I told her to order anything, so long as there was no fruit on the pizza, because fruit doesn’t belong on pizza in my opinion. Both his mom and grandmother stopped and looked at me like I was from another planet. (they thought I was kidding about people actually putting fruit on pizza) Bill’s mom finally said, “what are you talking about? Fruit on pizza? Who’s heard of such a thing?” and left to order. This left me with his grandmother to explain that on the West Coast they have such a thing as a Hawaiian pizza with Canadian and pineapple. When I told this to Bill’s mom, she got the funniest look of revulsion and ‘that’s just not right’ on her face, that I had to chuckle at…my thoughts exactly…fruit doesn’t belong on pizza.
The next day (August 2nd) we attempted to go to the opening day of Steeler training camp, what a mistake. The place was a zoo and they had the field blocked off so that you could only watch practice from a hilltop that you’d be lucky to see the players at all without binoculars. So, since the crowd was so thick and it was so hot, we left and went to Fort Ligonier instead (http://www.fortligonier.org/). Fort Ligonier is a cool place. They’ve rebuilt the fort the way it was originally based on archeological findings and documents from the period. They have it set up so that you can walk through all the buildings and in the buildings they have set up inside the way they think it would have been at the time with information about how and why they did things the way they did. It was really a lot of fun and very informative. As an aside: There are plaques all over Pennsylvania that have historic information on them i.e.: at this site in whatever year, something historic happened. It’s incredible to be driving down any street and see them, everywhere.
After Fort Ligonier we drove to the Latrobe Brewing Company, home of Rolling Rock Beer, and checked out their company store. We didn’t do the tour, but we may sometime before leaving, we’ll have to wait and see. They have a hallway that’s done up like a museum and not only do they have Rolling Rock stuff, but also things that are specific to Latrobe, like the fact that it is home to the first Banana Split, Fred Rogers (aka: Mr. Rogers), Arnold Palmer, and others, it was pretty fun to read all the ‘fun facts’ about Latrobe, PA.
All in all we’ve been having some pretty full days. My next post will be about our trip to Canton, OH to the National Football Hall of Fame.
05 August 2005
After being in PA for a day or two, Bill and I decided that we would see a few things despite the fact that we were still dead on our feet. One of the first things we did was to drive out to the memorial for Flight 93, one of the planes that was hijacked on 9/11 that was taken back by the people on the plane and forced down in a field in Shanksville, PA instead of crashing into one of our nation’s building that could have killed 100’s if not 1000’s.
The memorial was incredible. Everything there is so personal that it’s heart wrenching. There is everything from toys to jewelry to military medals. There are stones and memorials all around that have been placed by individuals as well as small and large groups. There are notes written on every printable surface, the guardrail leading up to the memorial is covered in notes and magnets and words of support and thanks. The wood frame of the memorial is the same, notes and words of thanks and thanksgiving adorn every inch that could be written on. The benches that look out over the field where the plane went down are engraved with all the names of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
I didn’t read a lot of the notes that were hanging on the memorial, and the stones in the ground, because I didn’t want to cry. I’ve read them since and cried anyway. The memorial was quiet, almost reverent, and I hope they don’t rush to remove what’s there to replace it with one all-purpose monument, because the way it is right now is so touching.
If you ever have the chance to get out to Shanksville, PA, be sure to visit the Flight 93 memorial, it’s really worth the drive.