21 November 2009

Lost in Pittsburgh with no place to stay

I just got back from a family trip to Pittsburgh with my wife, dad, and brother. We go on these trips fairly regularly to indulge in nerdly things (while my wife comes along to humour me). Points of interest this time we were specifically targeting were a Penguins game (because unfortunately it's just not possible to watch NHL hockey in Ontario anymore), the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Andy Warhol Museum, and a place that sells rare replacement parts for Jaguars (the cars, not the animal, though that would be interesting if they sold prosthetic limbs and hip joint replacements for jaguars - really, my dad has three old Jags that are always breaking down so he needs the parts).

Because I'm lazy, I'll summarize interesting tidbits about the trip in no particular order:

- The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is much better than the ROM in most ways. Exhibits are more educational and interactive. For the most part, the dinosaur fossils are better (except for ceratopsians - the ROM has an excellent collection of triceratopses and the like). However, the Carnegie does not appear to have any aardvarks in its exhibit, while the ROM does. For shame.
- There is something inspirational about looking at a towering statue of rock and understanding that 66 million years ago this thing was a mighty living beast munching on some unfortunate and tasty critter.
- Photography is allowed in the museum but posting of photos in a public place is not, so while there was a mastodon butt, I sadly cannot post a picture of it here.
- The Warhol Museum did not just have Andy Warhol stuff. There was also a large number of works from some guy with an unhealthy obsession with Andre the Giant. We unanimously agreed that this was awesome.
- Tried hard to get tickets for Saturday's Pens game vs. Boston, but failed. Ended up with tickets for the game vs. Anaheim on Monday. The Anaheim game was ok. It was a sellout and the Penguins won so the place had a great atmosphere, but it wasn't a terribly exciting game since they put the game away early. Unlike the Saturday game which the Pens tied 5-5 with 0.4 seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime, then won on a breathtaking goalie giveaway early in OT. Watching it on the tv in our hotel room, the play-by-play guy called it the most entertaining game he'd seen all year. Dammit.
- Speaking of the hotel, we didn't bother booking a hotel in advance because who the hell would go to Pittsburgh in November? Answer: when the Steelers play, the local university team plays, and the Pens play twice, all on the same weekend, just about half the state shows up. We had to stay in a hotel in Steubenville, Ohio.
- The road system in Pittsbrugh is even worse than in Quebec. In Quebec, the ramps from the highway appear without warning on either side of the road. In Pennsylvania they do the same, except there's very little highway and lots and lots of ramps. Arguably, once you're inside any town in the general Pittsburgh area, it's basically ALL RAMPS. And you cannot get yourself to where you want to go by pointing yourself in that direction and just driving there. Inevitably you will take a ramp that will spin you around in the opposite direction. Our GPS was frequently confounded by all the multi-level ramps and roads. It was a complete nightmare of driving frustration. We're really spoiled in Ontario.


- I have to give kudos to the gift shop at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Fully half of the books in the store were entirely about evolution and not a Behe in sight. Unfortunately, that was about it for science books in the city. There were an awful lot of books about guns though.
- My brother lamented that we were far enough south that, other than hockey, the only Canadian culture we'd be likely to see would be Nickelback. To his surprise and delight, a guy in the Jaguar place was spotted with a Tim Hortons coffee. Apparently, there was one right down the street in Steubenville. Unfortunately, that was the last Canadian thing for the trip except for the inevitable Nickelback. Bleh.

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At November 28, 2009 3:43 p.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Nice, trip. Strangely when I get the Timmy App on iPod to tell me where the nearest Tim Hortons is (relative to Rickville, Maryland), it's 327 miles away... in Steuben, Ohio.

At November 28, 2009 3:43 p.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Er, that's Rockville, MD.

At December 12, 2009 11:46 p.m., Blogger The Proverbs 31 Woman said...

Happy Holidays! I pray that your year was full of joy and success, and I pray that 2010 will bring favor and prosperity

At December 13, 2009 6:12 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

I don't think there are that many Tims in that part of the States, so it was really a minor miracle.

One interesting thing I found there was the accents. Some people had really strong hillbillyish accents, the very stereotypical country yokel stuff that's often parodied. But many other people had no discernable accent. I had no idea such accents could coexist like that.


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