Pittsburgh: Pleasantly Surprised

Having said goodbye to Hamilton, we headed south through the state of New York, stopping briefly in Corning, New York to grab a quick (but entirely too delicious) slice of pizza with Chase’s uncle and cousin before making late-night camp at Allegany State Park in southern New York.  The next morning we began out trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It didn’t take more than about two hours before we heard a rather large thunk towards the back of the bus.  Was it one of the lengths of wood for the future rooftop porch falling over?  Had we hit a rock on the highway?  Nope.  It was the thunk we had all been silently dreading—a flat tire.  Luckily, we were able to hobble to the closest truck stop and order a new set of tires for the bus.  Goodbye food budget, hello ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner!.  We spent the next five hours waiting for the technicians to replace the tires and learning about the nature and culture of truck stops (which, by the way, is not so lovely and wonderful).  We were finally able to leave after a delicious bus-cooked meal of stir-fried squash and onion over rice (who says fine dining on a bus isn’t possible?) and made it to Pittsburgh later that evening.  Lucky for the Locavaux crew, we made plans to stay at the lovely Leff family home and were greeted with beers upon arrival.  The next few hours were spent slicing everything and anything with the prided deli slicer owned by Mr. Leff.  That man sure does know his deli meats.

The following day was spent installing the bus rooftop porch and taking a personalized tour of Pittsburgh as led by the Sam Leff.  Did you know that Pittsburgh has two hundred bridges, a.k.a. the most bridges in one city in the world?  Neither did we.  And man is the view of the city from Mount Washington beautiful!  We enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal with the Leffs that evening and learned about the vibrant and growing arts scene that is emerging in Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately, we were unable to see much in the way of live music in Pittsburgh as that particular evening did not seem to boast many performances at the local bars and cafes, but we did receive a giant list of places to hear music most other nights in case we returned in the future.  If you’re ever in the area, here are some suggestions we received:  Altar Bar, Mr. Smalls House of Fun, Beehive Café, and Coca Café!

The next morning we were fortunate enough to have lunch with Katya and Jesse, friends of Joe Mettler’s and active participants in the local music and acting scene.  We discussed local music in Pittsburgh, the Locavaux Project, and their own plans for “In the Basement” productions (check out their work at http://www.inthebasementco.com) over a delicious meal at Coca Café.  Thank you Katya and Jesse for stimulating conversation and inviting us into your beloved city!  You’ve pretty much convinced us that we need to come back to Pittsburgh soon.

But for now, it’s time for Michigan and the Great Lakes!