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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