Pennsylvania

Yes, Pennsylvania, not Philadelphia, BUT Lancaster and Pittsburgh! Boy have I had some trouble distinguishing the different cities in Pennsylvania. I honestly have no idea why, but I keep thinking we are going to Philadelphia, but we are going to Pittsburgh, which a completely different city! Michael keeps making fun of me, because I keep saying we should try an authentic Philly Cheesesteak when we get to the city tonight, but I keep forgetting we are not going there tonight. We are going to Pittsburgh.

Throwback:
This whole scenario rekindles a memory of mine from freshman year during the 4MILE Program at Bryant University, when I went on a Newport cruise with Mahah, Pratik, and Sathia. I really kept referring to India as Mahah’s country of origin, but it is in actuality, Bangladesh! I could not, for the life of me, say Bangladesh because every time I went to say it, I was under the assumption it was India or a part of it. This really taught me how much I have changed since 2006, as I feel as though I have learned a lot more, but not nearly enough, about the world. Now I feel as though I know less about the country I was born in.

My hope is that both Michael and I will gain a greater understanding about the different states and have the chance to experience the subtle differences in state culture within the country throughout the time we have with each other. As Martin Yan once said, People who don’t travel cannot have a global view, all they see is what’s in front of them. Those people cannot accept new things because all they know is where they live.” I am so grateful for having the opportunities I have had over the years to have explored several countries and been able to experience all that I have.  There is much more to learn, and I love soaking it all up!

The Trek:
We woke up at 7am on the morning of July 17th, well-rested, and ready to start our day. After our typical morning routine, we went upstairs where my dad was already making breakfast for us, freshly made spring rolls….soooo tasty! I had three and Michael ate two, with some green tea. I’m salivating just thinking about them now. We packed up the remaining items for the truck, and we were off! Our first destination in Pennsylvania was Miller’s Smorgasbord in Ronks for lunch! It took us just over three hours to reach our destination and by then we were famished. Surely enough we had selected the dinner buffet which included items such as eight different types of soups, breads, an assortment of salads and desserts and their famous hot entrees including chicken and waffles, which had originally put them on the map. There was also a carving station with beef, ham and turkey with freshly grilled vegetables. Overall, we were very satisfied with the food. We thought it was a good spot for us to get the full tourist experience in Amish Country and visited the gift shops next door.

We saw a few horse and buggies on our way to downtown Lancaster and it was really starting to look like Amish Country. We also encountered various residents blasting their rap music with their windows rolled down in their SUVs and trucks. We parked our truck on the side of the road (public parking cost us $3 for 2 hours) and walked around the town for an hour or so checking out the stores. To our dismay, the Visitors Center was closed when we got there at 4:45pm as they closed at 4pm. The Central Market was also closed, as they were only open a few days during the week until 4pm. But, it was interesting because the people in downtown Lancaster were quite different than what we had anticipated to see to say the least. At around 6pm we departed Lancaster.

We were on our way to Pittsburgh for two nights. The ride over to the city was very serene as we passed numerous farms and mountains. Figures we hit traffic at 9:40pm, as we are driving down I-376. There is only one lane open because they were doing evening construction. We finally made it to our hotel, the Wydham Garden at Pittsburgh Airport. It was definitely a long day of traveling and Michael drove the entire day. I offered to drive certain portions, but his spirits were high. We capped off the evening with a nice workout at the fitness center, which was open 24 hours. And, by then we were exhausted.

Friday, July 18th:
We slept in and planned the next few states of our trip in the morning by the outdoor pool, while eating our breakfast (eggs, yogurt and fruit from our cooler). We had a very frustrating experience with Orbitz, so we are not using them in the future. Expedia all the way!

Duquesne Incline & Mt. Washington Emerald View Park
It was pleasantly warm outside this afternoon when we packed up our new Picnic Time Malibu bag for a lunch in the park. We had some sandwiches, fruits, and some pretzels. Station Square was where we decided to park and it was $2 for the first hour and $1 per hour after that with a maximum charge of $10. The incline cable car cost us $2.50 one way per person, so it cost us $10 in total. The views were quite nice when we reached the observation deck at the tiny tourist destination. However, I was a bit disappointed because the guardrails were too high for me to enjoy the gorgeous views! Upon realizing this, we decided to take the short hike to the right of the upper portion of the incline to Emerald View Park in Mt. Washington, which consisted of about a 2.7 mile trail down the mountain. We got to the park and it was a small area at the top with a statue, “Point of View,” created in 2006, depicting George Washington’s meeting with Native American Seneca leader Guyasuta. We found a rock and decided to eat our lunch and take some pictures!

Point State Park
After that, we took a nice stroll across the Liberty Bridge to Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh. The pathway for pedestrians and cyclists was narrow but fairly sturdy. I am always astonished when I see bridges spanning across large bodies of waters and being able to withstand all the weight of the cars traveling across them daily. And, this walk across this piece of architecture really made me appreciate all of the planning and work that went behind the construction of bridges in general.

Upon arrival to the park, we stumbled across a small fort, Fort Pitt Block House, which was open to the public and closing at 4:30pm. It was 4:20pm so we decided to check it out. It was pretty cool, and it just so happens they were celebrating its 250th year anniversary since its construction in 1764. We walked to the point and just hung out by the large fountain for about an hour or so, and decided to head back to the truck for dinner. Going back across the bridge, I am carrying my hiking bag with the bear bell and picnic throw, and I was trying to test out my compass, but then it kept pointing SW for some reason where ever I would turn. I knew something fishy was going on.

Lesson of the day: I am not allowed to use a compass when it is near a magnet. I guess the bear bell has a magnet on it, so it would confuse the compass. Great lesson! Thanks Michael. We placed our second Frisbee in one of the caches near these areas! 🙂 Michael had never gone to Bahama Breeze before, which we later found out were a part of the Darden Restaurants (you know when you buy certain gift cards that say Darden Restaurants which includes Olive Garden?). We had some time to take it easy and relax a bit. I then reached out to my friend from Expo who is from and currently resides in Cleveland, so I cannot wait to go meet up with her on Sunday! Our next stops are all listed on this link here. Check out some pictures from our Pittsburgh visit!

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