Friday, February 10, 2012


Every time the middle of February rolls around, I start planning a trip to Pittsburgh out of habit.  It's been two years since this (used-to-be) annual trip has taken place, but old habits die hard.  When Leslie was an undergrad at CMU, February was an easy month for all of us: no major trips for Ron, no major grading (yet) for me, no major exams (yet) for Leslie.  We got lucky three years in a row: A LOT of snow fell during those Februarys, but never during any of our trips.  Pittsburgh is always cold this time of year, but it was never unbearable.  We lucked out.

I love Pittsburgh. I love it. I love it so much that I endlessly pored over real estate ads for weeks after each trip. (This was always brought to an end by Ron saying one of three things: 1) "You know that Leslie is going to graduate and move back to Philly, right? So you'll be out there.  And Leslie won't be."  2) "You know that you'll be five hours away from your mom, right?  So you'll be out there. And your mom won't be."  3) "It snows there. A lot. And you hate the snow.  A lot.  Are you understanding me?  If you live there, it will snow. More than once. Every year.") Oh well.

The drive out there from Philly is sorta ... uh ... boring? monotonous? long? really long?  Let's say: long enough to make you think, "What's the point again? oh right--I remember. Wait, no I don't. Remind me?"  Each year, I made it a point to grab a bunch of CDs that I had been meaning to listen to and save them for that eternal stretch between Harrisburg and Monroeville (the first sign of civilization in Western PA).  As a result, certain albums (i.e., Fleet Foxes, Death Cab for Cutie, anything that was ever played on Gray's Anatomy, etc.) always, always remind me of February trips to Pittsburgh.  For the rest of my life, each time I hear "White Winter Hymnal," I will see a tractor-trailer dotted stretch of road before me, the wimpy-not-so-impressive Appalachian Mountains in the distance, and tall, grey-brown skeleton trees densely packed along the sides of the highway ... you can almost hear them wishing for their green-leaf clothing because it's so cold out.  That drive is long enough to make you say, "Thank GOD that's over" when you arrive ... but short enough where you think, "Oh, it's not so long" the day before you depart.

So herewith, a photographic hit parade of all things we did in Pittsburgh. There are a lot of repeats each year because I couldn't bear to give up some things to do new things.


Gorgeous church in gorgeous Shadyside
Special exhibit at Phipps Conservatory

Allow me to orient you: You are looking down into a reflecting pool which is mirroring the ceiling.

Mudge courtyard:

Day ...
... night.

Dozen cupcakes!
Omg, Dozen: I miss you so bad.  You're so cute.  Nothing in West Chester is as cute as you. I miss you all the time.  Every time I eat a cupcake at Starbucks, I want to cry because it's so not the same.

The Golden Triangle
Breakfast at Crepes Parisiennes
I totally forget where I was and who I was talking to, but I was raving to some total stranger about how much I looove Pittsburgh and how much I looove Crepes Parisiennes and this person says to me, "Hey, is that place in Shadyside? My brother used to work there."  Coincidences like that make my head explode.


Walnut Street in Shadyside
Dessert for breakfast at Prantl's bakery

The Warhol Museum ... it totally makes sense to me that this guy came from this city.
Dozen again!  Oh, I miss you Vanilla Vanilla.  I really, really miss you.
Crunchy French toast at Smallman Street Deli in Squirrel Hill: "Crispy coated Challah, dipped in fresh egg batter. Grilled to perfection. Served with butter and maple syrup."  This will change. your. life. French toast will have a whole new meaning for you.
Coffees and lattes at the Creperie.

Brown sugar and butter crepes with walnuts and whipped cream.
Creperie photo 2009

I hate being repetitive, but here we go again:

This trip was right after a huge storm--something like three feet of snow fell a few days before. The city was still recovering from this major inconvenience, and public parking was a mess (most of it was still under snow).  When we went to make our Dozen outing, a Pittsburgh resident yelled at us when he saw us feeding our parking meter: "Don't you DARE feed that meter! The goddamn, good-for-NOTHING Mayor [who shall remain nameless] of this GOD-FORSAKEN CITY has lifted all parking fees this weekend because he can't get the GODDAMN CITY CLEARED UP FROM THIS MESS.  DO NOT GIVE HIM ANY MORE OF YOUR MONEY. STOP! FEEDING! THAT! METER!" Point taken (and thank you!).  By the way, this guy was the preppiest, well-dressed, middle-aged person you've ever seen.  And he was yelling this at us from ACROSS the big parking lot.  Clearly, he was ... fed up.  This guy needed the arrival of the Spring Equinox badly.  And probably a light box for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Or, maybe he just needed a cupcake?

Cosmo cupcake (cranberry and lime)

We toured the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning (aka, Tower of Knowledge, Cathedral of Education, Tower of Wisdom ... it depends which one is on the tip of my mom's tongue while she's talking) on Pitt's campus:

The French Room
 These are actual classrooms.

The Norwegian Room
People take college classes in here.

The German Room
Really. It's true. I know somebody who did.

The Austrian Room
Walking back after touring the Cathedral--it was warm enough to unbutton our coats (typically unheard of):

"Maybe she's born with it ..."
Knit One in Squirrel Hill
Kards Unlimited! I love you!
Creperie coffee

She's just joking--there's nothing bad in there.

2010 creperie shot
Like I said, a lot of repeat shots ... I get attached to things and hate switching them around or giving things up.  This may explain why I'm wearing the same coat each year. (I won't lie: That was sorta on purpose ... I just made it a point to wear a different color scarf each year so that I could tell each year apart. What's REALLY sad about that last sentence is that I was in grad school at the time and I never should have had room in my head for anything so dumb.)

So Pittsburgh, I'll be missing you this month.  Sending you a big Valentine's Day heart from the other end of the PA Turnpike   --xoxo

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