Pennsylvania Vacation

Debbie and I spent three days in Pennsylvania for a last gasp at coupled freedom before the Kid arrives. I planned out our itinerary well in advance and we had a great time; plenty of stuff to do and plenty of time to do nothing. We left Monday morning and went to Pittsburgh where our first stop was the Strip District. The Strip is basically Penn Avenue and is a bit like Cleveland’s West Side Market area, except longer in distance and less corrupted by expensively uncomfortable townhomes. We ate at the Smallman Street Deli right after we arrived, basically a shot in the dark choice, but an excellent one. They cure all of their deli meat in-house, buy their bread from a local bakery and make their sides fresh. Debbie got a roast beef sandwich with mozzarella and tomatoes as her side, and I went with pastrami on rye and macaroni salad [pic].

Panorama from the Kentuck Knob Overlook

After lunch we strolled down Penn Avenue and window shopped. I ended up buying some tart pans from a kitchen supply store, an item I’ve been unable to find in Cleveland. We also went to this place called Fudgie Wudgie which has the smoothest fudge [pic] I’ve ever tasted. Then we drove around downtown Pittsburgh, gawking at how much livelier and less run-down it appears than Cleveland and went to the Pittsburgh Zoo, which isn’t nearly as nice as the Cleveland Zoo, although it does have a much nicer aquarium. Debbie bought the coolest a stuffed octopus in the world. While getting lost downtown I got a glance at the PPG Wintergarden, which I thought was a great idea and certainly something that Cleveland could benefit from having. Throughout our Pittsburgh stay I couldn’t help but compare Pittsburgh and Cleveland; after a few days of reflection I think the main difference between the cities is that Pittsburghers seem to have a greater sense of solidarity and pride in their city than Clevelanders. I’m not sure what the reasons are for this, but I heard no one say anything bad about the city the entire time we were there, something which it seems even people who claim to take pride in Cleveland [like myself] can’t help but be down on the town quite often [something I try not to do.]

We left Pittsburgh and headed southeast, toward a little bed and breakfast called the Glades Pike Inn. We got one of their package deals to go see the Frank Lloyd Wright constructions, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. I’d been to both houses years previously on a trip with my mom. It was such a good time that I decided to go back. The Inn was built in 1842 as an inn, and was perfectly suited to be a bed and breakfast. Our room had a fireplace, which was very very nice. The innkeeper, Janet L. Jones, was very hospitable and eager to direct us to other local restaurants and places to visit. She’s definitely interested in building up the tourism for her neck of the woods and is a go-getter. She recommended that we have dinner at the Pine Grill which was delicious. Debbie and I got the same thing, pesto-topped orange roughy with herbed rice and steamed vegetables [pic]. I also had a Penn Dark, which tasted a bit like alcoholic Coke, without the sweetness.

The Red Army by Ray SmithThe next day we went to both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Debbie and I both agreed that Kentuck Knob was our favorite, which was my opinion so many years past when I went with my mom. Kentuck Knob is owned by Lord Palumbo who opened it for public tours in 1996, which was probably right around the time I first visited. The panorama at the top is the view from Kentuck Knob, and the farm pictured is where Lord Palumbo and his family stay when they are visiting. They only use Kentuck Knob for entertaining visitors. On the far hillside are some huge wind turbines producing electricity for the area. If someplace that rural can make it happen, I sure hope Cleveland can do the same. In transit from Fallingwater to Kentuck Knob, we stopped at Ohiopyle and ate lunch by the waterfall.

The sculpture garden at Kentuck Knob is something that I think was added after my first trip there. Some of the sculptures were of the boring various-bits-of-rusted-metal-welded-together-nonrepresentationally type, but there was a Claes Oldenberg applecore and some man-made ponds that were beautiful under the pines. Pictured to the left is Ray Smith’s Red Army. They also have two pieces of the Berlin Wall, I think they only had one when I was there last. Somehow I liked it better when they only had one. After the tour, we had a nice walk down the hillside and back to the car. All that we purchased from the gift shops were post cards and a reusable grocery bag, $4.67 total.

We got lost on the way back, but ended up in Somerset for dinner, and another relaxing night at the Glades Pike Inn. The next day I was starting to get sniffly, and I’m full blown congested [again!] now, but on our way back through Pittsburgh we stopped at the Andy Warhol Museum. It only took about an hour to get through the whole museum, the only things I really liked in there were a couple of Jasper Johns paintings, mostly we went because I thought Debbie would like it. Warhol has never done it for me. Since we had so much of the day unexpectedly available to us, we went to the sales-tax-free Prime Outlets in Grove City and blew a few hours clothes shopping. We got home around 7 on Wednesday night, made dinner, and zonked out. It was a good vacation.

You can view all of the vacation photos here.

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