Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Greetings from Pittsburgh

This past weekend we flew up for a weekend in Maine. More on that later. Yesterday we started our midwest driving trip. You'llhave to pardon my typing since this is all on the laptop and my usually bad typing will only be worse.

Tuesday, August 2: We left my parents' house about 8:45 a.m. and drove into the DC to drop off our passports to attain visas for Togo. Wish us luck. Weeks ago the guy Ian talked to said it would be fine, yesterday the woman there says she sure hopes they get back in time. We have the last week in August to butt heads if need be.
By 10 a.m. we were back on the road to Pittsburgh and made it without incident by 2:30 to Station Square, a hot tourist spot in town with a great view of the city skyline across the river. Freight trains pass every 15 minutes and a choreographed water fountain soaks bystanders every 15 minutes. The kids promptly were drenched from head to toe, fully dressed. (I'm really hoping this morning their shoes are wearable, at least for breakfast.) We split a couple brownie sundaes in the Hard Rock Cafe, then climbed into the 1945 Ducks for a Pittsburgh tour by land and sea. My favorites tour notes were about the buildings. Because Pittsburgh was created as a blue collar steel and coal town, one of the buildings was created from sheets of steel that the builders -wanted- to rust as it provided a tough protective layer against the elements. Another building was built from aluminum, another had glazed terra cotta that rinses clean with every rain (unlike sandstone that soaks up all the pollution filth from the air). And the "wall street" of Pittsburgh is a glass island castle. Pictures are easier to explain that one.
Once we switched to boat mode, all the kids on board were given the opportunity to steer the boat. Of course each one wanted to go their own direction, Nicholas wanted to turn the boat around, but our captain kept a steady eye on our path.
After our tour we ate at Joe's Crab Shack. The food was OK, the decor was not so great (lots and lots of plastic children's toys hanging from the ceiling and attached to the walls) and it was really loud. Both Ian and I came out thinking yet again that restaurants simply give out too much food. The size of the people here in Pittsburgh is a testament to that as well. Ian asked if I wasn't hungry, but I'd eaten plenty... and only 1/3 of the dish. It is wasteful, I know. Next time I need to make a better choice. Do any places still offer 1/2 portions?
So now we're at our temporary home, the Embassy Suites, and today we'll be driving over to Toledo, OH. Just need to get the crew up, dressed and breakfasted.
Oh, a couple notes: If we'd had a full day, we would have played at the Carnegie Science Center, and taken the tram to the top of Mt. Washington (rated the 2nd best view in the nation, after the Painted Desert... by some magazine. Why do I find that hard to believe though?).

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