Saturday, July 31, 2010

the bark-off, continued

Jubilee trying to figure out the Bark-Off (I hope she doesn't figure it out!)

The Bark-Off

We had been having a little problem with Jubilee barking.  She likes to lay out on the balcony, or watch out the window, and there are various things that she feels like she needs to bark at.  Dogs walking down the street.  The maintenance man driving around in his golf cart.

Today we went to Petsmart and bought a "Bark-off".  It had mixed reviews from people in the neighborhood, but it was less than $10 with a guarantee that if it didn't work we could bring it back.

We set it next to the balcony door.  I heard Jubilee bark once, then she ran back to the bedroom with a scared look on her face.  I haven't heard her bark since, and she's been out on the balcony with all sorts of reasons to bark.  I think she's cured!

This is the tree that is just off of our balcony.  I can't believe how many berries are on it.  The birds feed well this time of year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walk in the Woods

Honest to God, sometimes I don't see how heaven can be any more beautiful than earth.  Since I was a child, I have loved to walk in the woods.  This is an off the road place that is sort of nearby where I take Jubilee for a walk occasionally.  It is a nothing place.  No one is ever there. 

Easy Street

Yesterday Jubilee and I went someplace the other side of Evans City to check out a trailer that someone has for rent, lease-free.  It was on Easy Street.  I'm content where we are now - less than 3 miles from where John works - so that I'm hesitant to consider a move.  Easy Street was about 30 minutes away, and though we were way out into the country we were never far from a heavily traveled road.  It didn't feel like "country" to me.  There was a sign just down the street saying "Fresh Brown Eggs for Sale", though.  Here are some photos of Easy Street and the countryside.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pittsburgh! (the first of many visits, I think)

Driving into Pittsburgh from the north, you have no idea that you’re getting close to a big city.  The hills are heavily forested and it seems as if you are out in the country.  Then you go over a hill and there it is!

I don’t think I have ever been to Pittsburgh before.  I expected it to be like the other river cities that I know - Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis.  But Pittsburgh is a little different.  The surrounding hills, for one thing.  All around Pittsburgh there are hills with what looks like another world up on top of them. One of these days we’re going to take one of the funiculars up there!  And there is the curiously interesting mix of old buildings interspersed with the new, all of it closely related to the rock and minerals in the land.

We really didn’t know what we were doing when we got to Pittsburgh (which is frequently abbreviated to PGH, I think to remind you of the H that comes after the “burg”), and got a little lost, as usual. 

The first “destination” that we found was something called “Station Square”, which is collection of restaurants (like the Hard Rock Cafe) and shops on the riverfront.  It is something of a tourist place, with boat tours, bicycle rentals, and those funiculars.  John tells me that they are called “inclines”, but I prefer funicular.

We did some touristy stuff.
This is the “Clinton Furnace”, Pittsburgh’s first successful blast furnace for making pig iron.  A sign says that “operations began near here, 1859, using Connellsville coke as fuel.  The furnace’s technology initiated a new era, leading to more advanced furnaces capable of producing huge amounts of iron and resulting in the modern blast furnace.  Clinton Furnace played an important role in establishing Pittsburgh’s dominance in iron and steel making.  Operations ended in 1927.”

Here are some more photos from Station Square:

That bridge behind me was the first wire rope suspension bridge to carry a highway across the Monongahela River, built in 1846 by John Roebling.  Here's another photo of it:
The Just Ducky Tour bus/boats:
From Station Square, we set out to find Point Park, which we thought was going to be a big deal, since this is where Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio River.

We came across a scary exposed hole, right in downtown PGH.  Luckily John was driving.  (My history with holes is here.)

And we walked across a beautiful part of downtown PGH, right past the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) and United Steelworkers buildings ...
When we got to Point Park we saw that it is not a big deal, at least not now.  It is mostly an empty field, under construction.
This is the Confluence!

From here we headed over to a part of Pittsburgh known as "Lawrenceville" to meet up with John's work-friend, Jim.  Jim told me that Stephen Foster was the "founder" of Lawrenceville, but I don't believe it.  I know Stephen Foster from the musical drama that plays in my hometown of Bardstown, KY, and Stephen Foster was a poor struggling song writer!  Anyway, Lawrenceville is a most interesting place.  Here are some photos from Lawrenceville:
John and Jim insisted on showing me the Church turned into a bar ...
That's the confessional back behind all the liquor.

John got another "door" photo for his collection ...

And we ended the day at a very fine Thai Restaurant, "pasadee's garden" ...

That's pumpkin curry on the left and "street noodles #2" and shrimp tempura on the right.

We now know enough about PGH that there's a lot more to see and experience.  The next thing on my list is the South Side Market.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Raccoon Creek State Park

John had to work for part of the day on Saturday so instead of going into Pittsburgh we went to Raccoon Creek State Park.  The park was west over to the town of Freedom and across the Ohio River.  Still in PA, but very close to the West Virginia border. 

It is a fairly large park with a lake and more than 40 miles of hiking trails.  The day was warm and most of the people we saw were at the lake.  The first trail we found that didn’t look overgrown with poison ivy was the Heritage Trail.  After an initial climb to the top of a hill, it was a fairly level walk.  The forest here seems to be very “branch-y” to me.  There are not a lot of large trees. 
This large tree caught my eye:
Here is some ground cover that we had never seen before, anyway.  Like a Christmas tree covering the ground. 
A good hike, we both broke out into a good sweat so that we felt like we’d been to a spa or something.  I got a little patch of poison ivy on my wrist, but it seems to be mostly gone now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our (first) apartment in Cranberry Twp

Another attempt at a video. This is the corporate apartment where we are living now in Cranberry TWP, PA. I heard last night that we will not be able to get into the other apartment until August 12th, so we will be here another 3 weeks. It's a nice place. I'm adding it here, I think, so that I'll have a "memory" of it. As with the other blogs in the "America" series, sometimes John and I like to look back and remember where we lived and what we did.

I'm a little worried about Jubilee today. She was up most of the night bothered with her allergies. At about 3:30AM I gave her 2 benadryl, which didn't help much, but now she is zonked!

Warm and humid here today. Looks kind of like rain. I am enjoying the summer weather - "warm and humid" doesn't come close to what it means in Florida. Rain or shine, we're going to explore Pittsburgh tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday morning adventure

Jubilee and I set out exploring this morning.  I had a plan - the Rachel Carson Trail in North Park - and I had written directions from Mapquest.  But, like last week, I got hopelessly lost.  Babcock Blvd, where I was supposed to turn right 3 miles after turning onto PA 910, was not there.  So I kept going, and since the roads around here go round and round, I went in circles.  You never know whether you’re going East or West, North or South around here, because the roads don’t pretend to follow a grid.  Finally I saw a sign for North Park, and went for it.

It seems to be a large park, with lots of ball fields and playgrounds interspersed with wooded area and neighborhoods.  We stopped at a deserted ball field and found our way toward some hiking into a wooded area.  But we were never far from the sound of a highway, children playing, or the rat-a-tat-tat of something (guns?) that made Jubilee a bit nervous.  She was always wanting to head back to the car. 

There were some parts of the hike that looked a little foreboding.

Didn't see any thistles at all, but the grasses were interesting ...
Driving around I sensed how we are just skimming the surface of this land and its peoples, there are so many families and homes and stories that surround us.  Even though it looks relatively rural, most every little pocket is cultivated.  I even saw a sign for a friary.  The only way that you ever really know a place is when you start making relationships with others who live there.