Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weekend in The Burgh

Despite the soul-crushing blow that the cancelled Penguins game caused, we sought to make the best of the remaining cards we held, so off we went to go spend the weekend in Pittsburgh.

Our trip was essentially stress and traffic-free. Pinky was actually able to keep herself to a single pee-break, at our designated pit stop in Breezewood, so we easily breezed into Pittsburgh by 2:00.  I had originally planned for us to wander around the city for a while, but I hadn't planned on it being windy and cold out, so we hunkered down in our room at the Doubletree for a while.  Because there wasn't much to look at out the window (see prior post) I was able to watch the end of the Penguins/Bruins hockey game, whose re-scheduling was at fault for bumping the Saturday night game we had to miss.

Not the most extravagant room, but cozy enough to sleep in.

About 3:00, we set out to find “Las Velas” at Market Square, to meet up with my buddies Cassie, and Mr. & Mrs. Carpetbagger.  It took us a little longer than anticipated, due to the devious nature of trying to navigate city streets that run every which way, we ended up arriving right on time none-the-less.  We were the first ones there, so any time I get someplace before Cassie does, I consider it a win.

Naturally, Cassie arrived during the two minutes where I had nipped off to the bathroom, so Pinky had to flag her down.  Luckily, I’ve probably shown Pinky about a jillion pictures of Cassie and her kids from Facebook, so she recognized her right off.  I’m not sure what Cassie made of entering the restaurant and encountering a wildly gesticulating redhead.

The Carpetbaggers joined us shortly, so we all spent a very happy couple of hours enjoying some exquisite Mexican food and some quality conversation and fellowship.

Well, since there were three girls and the two “fellows” were outnumbered, maybe I should call it “ladyship.”  Regardless, I was happy to be able to prove that Pinky is, in fact, a real live person, and not a figment of my imagination.

After the meal, and bidding goodbye to my friends, we considered looking for a place that has some live music.  We learned pretty quickly, though, that most of the places that qualified were right near where we were.  But since we didn’t really care to hang around for another 5-6 hours for the music to start, we headed back to the hotel.  After a couple of $5 beers in the hotel bar, (holy crap… those are baseball park prices!) we retired up to the room.  It was way too cold to go wandering around, especially as it got dark, so we opted for a quiet night “in.”  We’re old, so we figured we’d need the extra energy for our big day out on Sunday.

It was a much nicer day on Sunday, but still brisk.  At least the sun was out.  Pinky got up early and went down to use the pool and workout room.  I got up, showered, and banged out a short blog post from my iPad.  (My first iPad blog post!  Another milestone for Bluz!) 

We ventured out around 11:00 and went over to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.  After that, I took Pinky on the “scenic route” on the way to the ballpark.  We stopped by PPG Plaza, so I could show off the grandeur of all that dark glass.

We then moseyed down to the “point,” where the two rivers come together to form the Ohio.  Unfortunately, they’re STILL doing construction work down at the actual “point,” just like they were the last time I was down there in 2011, so we weren't able to get all the way there.  I wanted to be able to provide Pinky a frame of reference for every time they show an aerial shot of the city during a football game.

See honey?  We were right there!

Anyway, we got close enough. 

We then walked up along the river before climbing up onto the Roberto Clemente Bridge, to cross over to the ballpark.

Do all the geese in Pittsburgh only have one leg?  I’m surprised they didn't have a sign out, asking for change.  Or bread crumbs.

We got into the park about a half hour early, so we ambled around a bit before finding our seats.  We were in Row M, in the second section behind home plate.

The arrow points to our seats.

They were great seats, and featured the greatest view in all of baseball.

I've mentioned this before, but I absolutely love how the Pirates have little kids out onto the field before Sunday games, to meet the players when they go out to field their positions.  It’s great PR and costs the team nothing.

You think that kid isn't going to remember this for the rest of his life?

So we watched the Buccos beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-2… well, OK, we watched most of it.  The Pirates were winning 4-2 after the 7th inning, when the shade started covering our seats, and brrrrrr, it was a big difference.  So as the shadows crept across the field, we bade farewell to this beautiful ballpark and headed back to the car.

Rather than walking all the way back, we hopped on the free “T” subway line.  It saved us a whole bunch of time, so that we were able to get to the car and out of downtown before the ballgame let out.  We checked into our next hotel room, out near where my aunt and uncle live, and cleaned up a bit before heading there.

We purposefully didn't eat anything at the ballgame, because I knew that any meal at Aunt Grace Ann’s house would be epic.  We were not disappointed.  She brought out a huge bowl of gnocchi, along with meatballs and a pork loin, beans and salad.  And dessert.  Uncle Ange brought out bottle after bottle of delicious red wine.  It was enough food to feed an army, which we were, considering besides Pinky and I, Grandpa was there along with 3 cousins, 2 significant others and a baby.

There was much festivity and merry-making that went on long into the night.

Little EJ with his grandpa.

Little Bluz with his grandpa.

We got back to the room around 11:30, and boy did we sleep well!  After Pinky worked out (again), we got cleaned up and set out upon our errands.  I had to stop at K-Mart, to pick up a few Penguins odds and ends.  Then we stopped by the local market, for some fresh Italian bread, a couple pounds of Isaly’s chipped ham and barbecue sauce.  We hit the road in earnest by 11:00 and once again, had relatively clear sailing all the way back to Baltimore.

It was definitely a “glass half full” kind of weekend because the good times shown us by my friends and family more than made up for the butt-stinging loss of $300 worth of Pens tickets.  (No, I never managed to sell them.)

Tonight, I’ll be watching the game from home.  Maybe I’ll try to re-create the in-game experience.  I’ll turn up the surround-sound, have Pinky bring me beers and charge me $10.  And every time a player goes near the glass in what would have been “our corner,” I’ll get up and pound on the TV screen, like an angry chimpanzee.

I wonder if my Best Buy warranty covers that kind of damage…


Mary Ann said...

"TWO OUTA THREE AIN'T BAD". You had some great times with Cassie, the Baggers and Fam.
So watch tonight's game in PEACE.

bluzdude said...

And I ALSO had a stellar chipped ham n cheese sammich for dinner... 2nd night in a row!

Reeeik said...

Best Buy won't help, trust me Ailey did that to my Big screen and I got Zip from them BABY Hand prints didn't HELP !!!!

bluzdude said...

Baby-proofing is probably extra.

Mary Ann said...

FYI Geese and other birds stand on one leg to keep warm. Now that's much cheaper than fur coats unless you're a seal, a fox or a mink.

Cassie said...

So. You're saying it was cold. How cold was it exactly? Because I'm getting a vibe that it was cold but not so cold that you had to cry. But cold enough to say it was cold.

Just kidding.

I'm so glad you got to come! And despite the ...um...interesting service we had, the food was good as was the company! And we didn't bore you too much with girly talk!

bluzdude said...

I’ve tried that before but it didn’t work very well for me. People just thought I stepped in something.

bluzdude said...

Oh, just because you’re from Minnesota, you think you can make fun of other people being cold… Well, it wasn’t Minnesota-cold, but it was pretty darned cold for April, especially with the wind whipping through the tall buildings.

Yeah, I didn’t want to get into the “service,” so I concentrated on the food, which was stellar. But suffice to say, every transaction took a while. I hope the guy learns how to use that little ordering tablet pretty soon. Your 5-year old could have written our orders faster on 3-line paper.

Lastly, I wasn’t bored at all. I was enthralled by the multiple conversations that seemed to be going on at all times. So if one veered too far into “girly,” I could shift into another one.

Facie said...

Glad your glass was half full (if not overpriced)! So did you get to see Ginny, your favorite blog stalkee?!

I can't believe you did not sell your tickets. So many people want them. Cheese-o-pete.

bluzdude said...

I tweeted Ginny that we'd be there, but since I never intended this to be a big Darwinfish Fry gathering, I didn't press it. But since I've always wanted to try Las Velas , so I figured it would make a good pit stop before the game. (that we never saw.)

I tried to move the tickets, but no one was interested. And I was too unfamiliar with selling via Ticket Exchange or Stub Hub to try to learn on the fly.

I hope to get back to Pittsburgh this year, to have a proper D-Fish Fry.

Jessica R. said...

I so wish I could have joined you! I know you guys had a great time catching up and that is a great photo of all four of you!

And I was amazed by the black gothic glass that is downtown Pittsburgh too.

Jessica R. said...

I believe you on the cold Bluz. I believe I would have frozen my ass off.

bluzdude said...

Missed you too! Maybe we can join up again the next time you hit The Burgh.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

OMG! Cassie didn't even tell me this was happening. Jealous!

I feel so sorry for that baseball dude. One of my co-workers emailed the other morning to say he was bringing his kid in to visit, and I spent all morning freaking out and then hid in the bathroom when it was time for them to arrive. Having to do that before every game would be enough to make me give up my giant paycheck.

bluzdude said...

I don’t think the ballplayers have the same phobias. In fact, I’d bet that when they were kids, they looked up to ballplayers and probably chased them for autographs. So they probably see a piece of themselves in the kids.

Also, they each get a single kid, which is a much more manageable situation than facing a whole horde of screaming maniacs clamoring for your autograph.

Angela said...

I love your recap cousin Tony! It was so great seeing you and Pinky and sharing a big old-fashioned family meal together. Glad to hear the weekend was a glass half-full experience all in all. Looking forward to our next reunion! Love, Angela

bluzdude said...

Loved seeing you too, Sweetie. EJ was just adorable. He was just a couple of months old, the last time I saw him. Was cool to see him talking and playing. I don’t think I heard a single squawk out of him all night.

I hope to make it out again, sometime this year… maybe in the fall for another try at a hockey game.