Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pennsylvania - Day 14 - Pittsburgh

Marriott’s SpringHill Suites hotel parking lot, Pittsburgh
Saturday, 14 April 2018

It was an odd day.  The weather was beautiful, warm and sunny for much of the day, and at least half of Pittsburgh was taking advantage of it by being out.  There was a marathon scheduled which, as these things do, blocked off many streets, much parking and a bridge.  This made traffic even more impossible than it apparently usually is.

I’d been warned about driving in Pittsburgh.  I knew that the Allegheny River and Monongahela River (I’ve always loved the way that name sounds) met here to form the Ohio River.  What I was told is that the streets conform to the rivers so meet at odd angles and don’t form much of a coherent pattern.  And that’s right.

What’s also right is that there are 10 bridges leading across one or another of these rivers into the city, and that it’s almost impossible to drive anywhere without being led right back over one of these bridges.  That happened to me at least 3 times (I got pretty confused after a bit).

In this photo, the Allegheny is in the left rear, the Monongahela is in the right rear, and the Ohio is in the foreground, with Pittsburgh in the center.

There’s a large park at the point where the 2 rivers form the 3rd and I wanted to go there – but try as I might (and I did try hard) I never could figure out how to get there.  It may be that I might have had a shot at it if there hadn’t been a marathon, because so many streets were blocked off that I had to make turns I didn’t plan on.  But I got lucky on one of those turns because I ended up on the other side of the Ohio at something called the West End Lookout, and that’s where I got the view I wanted of the rivers meeting.  After that, I didn’t need to get to the park.

Cathedral of Learning
Then I decided to go north of downtown to University of Pittsburgh.  I’d heard about the Cathedral of Learning and wanted to see it.  And I found it (which felt like a real accomplishment given all the impediments).  I also found a few thousand other people, a number that increased rapidly as the day went on, who were out enjoying some kind of celebration that I never figured out what it was in honor of, but it involved a band and people carrying signs (the one I read said something about supporting America’s Park Service) and other people playing volleyball.

I was really lucky and got a legal parking place next to the campus, and I walked the dogs over by the Cathedral and around the area.  When we got back to the RV, I found we had been completely blocked in.  There wasn’t more than a foot between me and the car in front or the car behind, and maneuvering in the RV requires more than a foot.  I had to wait an extra hour until I could see the people behind me come back, and I jumped out and offered to give him the extra foot in front if he could fend off other cars from zipping in while I tried to get out.  He was very nice about it – but he really did block me in.

I still had to find my way out of the city, but that time my map study actually produced a
Heinz Chapel
route that worked.  As I was driving past the Cathedral, I found the Heinz Chapel, which is gorgeous.  And I also found a wedding party, complete with enormous stretch limo and bride and guests - the wedding hadn't happened yet.  By that time, what's another traffic clog among friends.

I came back to the shopping area where I’d spent last night and had good luck at the first hotel I stopped at.  I think from now on I’m going to avoid Walmarts – which I don’t like anyway and never shop there unless I’m staying in their parking lot – unless I can’t find a hotel that will accommodate me.

Tomorrow I’m going to Erie.  Snow is expected on Tuesday.  I don’t understand why nobody has said anything about “Groundhog Day” - no Bill Murray plans to do away with P. Phil that I've heard of.

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