ROAD TRIP TO PITTSBURGH – Day One – Oversize Loads and New York Rangers

Our plan was to take a road trip, filled with hijinks and wacky adventures. Clear our heads and use the time to discuss some creative ideas and plans. Instead, we wound up driving to Pittsburgh and listening to Enigma cd’s. Seems we’d have to work pretty hard on making this an adventure to remember.No problem.We left at a reasonable hour, dropped the dog off at Doggie Day Care and were on our way. We were making pretty good time, even got through the usual quagmire that is the New Jersey Turnpike without too much trouble. Before you could say Amish barn raising we were in Pennsylvania, the Keystone State! Soon thereafter we turned onto I 78. Seems just ahead of us, a huge flatbed truck surrounded by several DOT vehicles with flashing lights and burly drivers was transporting a humungous steel awning of some sort.  Oversize load. Shouldn’t be a problem – probably only going an exit or two. Bullshit. The damn truck traveled a good sixty miles right in front of us. It took up all three lanes. Why the fuck couldn’t they just build the damn roof at the building where it’s located? No, they have to order one from a catalogue and have it delivered just as we’re riding along. Just great.Out of frustration, and quite frankly, hunger, we pull off an exit and land in a rather small town. Not too much to see except a tremendous truck stop, a knife shop and an Arby’s. Jackpot! There’s nothing quite as satisfying during a road trip lunch break than a Jamocha Shake! Our area is deprived of any Arby’s locations, so this is a nice treat. Plus it gets us away from the road hogging flatbed.
Rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. The views from the mountains to the wide valleys along 76 were truly beautiful. You miss out on that when you spend most of your days in suburbia spread and strip mall heaven. We got into the Squirrel Hill area just as rush hour traffic was really building. That was a good thing, because we had opportunity to get a nice look at the skyline and the bridges as we made the turn into the city along 376. Like I’ve said, it’s a great looking city.We stayed at the Renaissance – just at the end of 6th Street by the 6th Street Bridge. In Pittsburgh, pretty much every street ends up at a bridge – but this is great – as you can just walk over and you’re right at PNC Park and Heinz Field in the Downtown Riverfront area. As we were checking in, a rude guest was complaining about something to the front desk clerk who handled him as best he could. Then made a couple of snarky comments to us about the incident in which we laughed along with him, agreeing as much as we could to try and get a room upgrade. Problem is, we really couldn’t hear what he was saying, perhaps that explains our view…

Oh well.  It’s a big sports weekend in Pittsburgh – the Penguins home opener is Friday night, and they’ll be raising the Stanley Cup Championship banner. They’re opening against the New York Rangers, who are staying at our hotel. That explained the small army of autograph hounds festooned in Ranger garb and lugging hockey sticks outside the hotel, cordoned off in a velvet rope ringed area. Interesting note, each and every one of them looked just like “Comic Book Guy” from the Simpson’s. Ranger’s broadcaster Sam Rosen kept wandering around the lobby smiling to himself. Former Islander and Penguin, and current Pittsburgh resident Bryan Trottier was also hanging out with us in the lobby. Being that he lives in Pittsburgh, we sort of figured he might be at the hotel because Mrs. Trottier was tired of him hanging around the house.

We found a nice Italian restaurant across the street for dinner. Our waitress seemed a little nervous when pouring us a glass of wine, although she shouldn’t have been. We weren’t planning on throwing any cross-checks if the lasagna wasn’t tasty enough, the table with half a dozen large Rangers behind us however, not so sure. A little after dinner walk around the city to look at the statues and back to the hotel for a few beverages at the lobby bar. Trots was still there on the lobby couch chatting up anyone within earshot. He actually was quite nice, although we didn’t attempt to keep up with him glass for glass on the wine – at ten bucks a glass you’d need a pro athlete’s bank account to really get hammered. Turned in with big plans for tomorrow!

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