TOWB: Day 10, Pittsburgh to Ephrata(or Snow and Home at Last)
The Crowne Plaza in Pittsburgh has hard mattresses and slow breakfast service, but we persevered and got on our way for our last day on the road. There was a gorgeous layer of fluffy snow on the car and more coming down for us to watch while we ate breakfast. Once we got underway we saw right away what a beautiful city Pittsburgh is.
Our first stop gave us an even better view. We went to the Duquesne Funicular, one of two that call Pittsburgh home. It was brutally cold as we made our way to the station at the bottom and found a very ancient car in the station. Soon we were on our way and treated to an amazing view of the Ohio river, Heinz Field, and downtown Pittsburgh. There was an observation deck, also brutally cold and windy, but we went back inside and found that there was a self guided tour of the mechanism for fifty cents. Fifty cents, what a steal! We probably spent a good half an hour looking at all of the informative signs and graphics that were spread around the machine room. They had a great graphic that explained exactly how everything worked and number placards on the different parts of the actual machine so you could always see exactly what the diagram was talking about. The coolest single detail was easily the wooden teeth. No, not the ones in George's mouth, the teeth on the giant gear that drives the drum that the cable spools on to. Each tooth is made of wood(except we were told later that a bunch have been replaced with plastic) and wedged into place from the sides. This stop on our trip ended up being surprisingly great.
Next we went to The Mattress Factory, an installation based museum with three separate buildings. The main building, a former mattress factory(surprise) has 4 floors worth of exhibits, but most of the floors averaged only about 4 exhibits because of the size of some of the installations. My favorite floor was all by an artist named James Turrell. He worked in light and shadow, which I feel like a lot of people say that about painters, but with James Turrell it's the literal focus of his work. The best example I can give you is his work called Pleiades. It's a completely dark room that you enter through a long hallway. When you get into the room, you find one of the two chairs and sit down. Then you just stay there, in the complete darkness. Only it's not actually dark. At one end of the room there is some illumination, but it's so, so, so dim that you can't tell if you're really seeing it or you're hallucinating. I was in there for probably 20 minutes and I'm still not sure what I saw. The other two buildings were actually row homes that had been bought by the museum and turned into galleries.
Then it was lunchtime and we went to a little tiny pierogie shop called Pierogi Plus. It was in an old gas station under a bridge and it was a to go only shop. We got some cheese and potato, some ground beef, some bacon, cheese, and potato, and some bacon, cheese, jalapeño and potato. They were delicious and swimming in butter and onions.
Then it was off to the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the final leg of the trip. Got an EZPass to feel more like a Pennsylvania citizen, and then really got baptized back into the northeast lifestyle with a drive through the snowy back roads of Lancaster county. I stopped by the house I grew up in, which was also the house that Balson and me left from to drive to California 13 years ago. It was a great way to end the trip.
Look for some sort of recap in a day or two. Now I'm going to sleep, sleep in, and then unload the car from living out of it for ten days. Thanks for following along!