Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pittsburgh: Marathon, Gateway Clipper and the Zoo

We were in Pittsburgh, PA the first weekend of May in order to visit with my sister and brother-in-law, and so The Woodsman could run his third marathon.  Pittsburgh is a great city for kids.  If you're looking for a good destination for this summer and you'll be in the area you can't miss with a visit to "the Burgh".  Here are some highlights of our weekend.
I always drive the same route through town when we go to visit my sister even though it's no longer the most direct to her house.  I just can't resist driving through Chatham's campus - especially in the spring when it's blooming with hundreds of tulips and is popping with green. Many of the campus buildings are Pittsburgh Robber Barron houses - like Carnegie and Frick, they're regal and ancient - like a beautiful elderly woman all dressed in her Sunday best.  Picture a British prep school and you'll have the image of the campus.   I have so many good memories of my years there.  I'll admit, I like letting Reading Girl see the campus too- who knows, maybe Chatham will be her Alma Mater one day.  But, the other reason to drive that way is that it's the only way I can go where I know I won't get lost. 
On Saturday my parents took the kids to the Carnegie Science Center where they spent all afternoon jumping and running in the Highmark Sports Works.  They explored the climbing tower, bungee jumping, and lots of other sports related science activities and information.
While they were enjoying some much needed grandparent time (my parents had been gone for a month on a trip to the South West), the other four adults headed to the Strip District.  No, we did not head for an Adult's only bookstore or anything crazy like that.....  The Strip District is an Ethnic food market just a few blocks up from downtown Pittsburgh.  I'm not sure why I forgot to bring my camera along... boo!  You'll have to check out the links for images.  Highlights of our wanderings included:
- the Korean Deli - where I was tempted to bring home several gallons of KimChee - oh the choices
- the Polish Deli - I tried a traditional Polish donut (Paczki), and The Woodsman had his first Periogi.  One misses so many things growing up in the South.  /sigh/
- Penn Mac (Pennsylvania Macaroni Company) - I could have stayed in here for hours!  Every Italian ingredient you could want or imagine - including an entire section of olives in 5 gallon buckets where you could serve yourself.  My sister and I chose to have our lunch here - olives, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.  I can still taste the deliciousness.
 - Penzey's Spice Company - I happily spent at least 20 minutes sniffing every option, then settled on Zatar (the Middle Eastern Spice used to make Fatoush salad - my favorite), Sandwich Sprinkle (salt and a bunch of herbs - I'm now completely addicted), and Smoked Paprika (which I've been missing since I ran out of my carefully hoarded stash from two Christmases past).
 - A store that only sold sausage.  I really wanted to buy the traditional U.K. sausages used in Bangers and Mash.  Why do the Brits have such great sounding names for food?  Who doesn't want to eat Bubble and Squeak? 
 - Lots and lots of street food choices including a Pizza Roll the size of a ten month child for only two dollars.
 - A chocolate shop with wonderful exotic and imported choices where I bought myself an early Mother's Day present of chocolates that have a shot of liquor (like Grand Marnier or Kirch) in them.  The perfect evening choice - a cocktail and dessert in one.  Don't worry, I have them hidden far, far away from the children.
That evening The Woodsman and I went out for dinner to our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant where we ate our fill of Falafel and Fatoush, and then went to bed early in anticipation of the next day.
Before dawn we got up, dropped The Woodsman off at the starting point and headed to a Pamela's in Oakland (where they make the best breakfasts I've ever had).  From here, while eating a Chorizo Egg Sandwich and Crepe Style Pancakes with Strawberries, Sour Cream and Brown Sugar, we watched the early elite runners come through.  Something ironic there about that isn't there?  High calorie breakfast, sitting around on our behinds, watching other people get A LOT of exercise. 
Kenyan James Kirwa as he approaches the finish line Photo Credit A.P.
If you've never watched a marathon you need to at least once watch the front of the pack.  Those early runners aren't even sweating.  They look as if they're just taking a simple little stroll.  When in actuality they're going about 13- 14 MPH.  Where we were watching was near mile 12 at the top of the first really big hill (and Pittsburgh has some doozeys).  The early runners looked like they could run several marathons - the human body is amazing.  When we were done with breakfast we staked out a spot on the sidewalk to cheer for, and encourage, the other runners and to wait for The Woodsman.  The rest of the family was spread out along the course so we all managed to see him two different times - he looked great and was really pleased with his performance.

This was how I found him - totally understandable.  26.2 is a long, long way!

Vertical and smiling - amazing.

Post run celebration at Auntie H's house - don't you love the chalk work on the steps!
After lunch we all headed to the South Side to take a river tour of Pittsburgh on the Gateway Clipper.  This was the perfect family activity (especially since one of us really, really didn't want to do much walking).  Pittsburgh is a really gorgeous city - especially when seen from the water.
Waiting to disembark.

The Point - Pittsburgh's iconic skyline image.

Our favorite Pittsburgh hosts - Thanks guys!

Heinz Field - Steeler Territory

Mom and Dad sporting their new South West Gear (Chaco Canyon and Roswell, NM)

The next morning we headed to the Pittsburgh Zoo before we had to leave town.  I'm so glad that the kids haven't gotten too old to enjoy the zoo.  We got to watch the keepers giving the elephants their baths, and saw a sweet baby gorilla nursing and napping with its mama. 

We ended the trip as we always do, with a stop in Squirrel Hill to pick up real bagels from Brueggers.  Four years in college in the Jewish section of town made me really, really spoiled for good bagels.  I wish I could perfect the art of Jewish bagel making, but alas, it continues to escape me.

Other great kid activities are the Children's Museum (Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood is my favorite - you can get on the trolly), the Carnegie Natural History Museum (in my opinion the best dinosaur display on the East Coast - way better than the National Natural History Museum), the Carnegie Museum of Art (I could stay in the Monet Water Lilies Room for hours), Phipps Conservatory (love the carnivorous flowers) and the National Aviary (Penguins!).

I'm definitely NOT a city girl.  I was glad to get back to open spaces, unlocked cars and quiet nights without traffic, but I loved visiting in Pittsburgh.  Of course 90% of that is the B and B we get to frequent when we visit.  Sorry... I don't think my sister is taking reservations. 

What are your favorite kid friendly cities? 

Happy Travels.
My mom's favorite animals (the giraffes - not the kids).

1 comment:

  1. His first perogi??? I now know what we're having for dinner the next time we get together. Dan makes a mean perogi... and I like having an excuse to tell him to make them!!