Steel City

Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
Trip End Nov 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Fred and Leslie's House (Parents of Mick's friend, Greg)

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, September 26, 2010


We awoke at a reasonable hour, not too late and not too early, and folded up the semi-comfy futon we'd slept on. Breakfast was toast this morning, two reasons. One, we had a bunch of sliced bread in our that was probably getting questionably close to molding at this point. And two, we were eager to try out an antique toaster that belonged to one of Mai’s housemates, a contraption that had earned the nickname "the toaster that is going to burn down the house" for it’s questionable electric engineering. We then packed up our stuff, said our thanks and goodbye to Mai, her mom, and her housemates, and began our trip south toward Pittsburgh, our night’s final stop. First things first, though, we had to see Niagara Falls! After an hour our so skirting Lake Michigan, we pulled into Niagara Falls (the name of the actual town, too). Brit could hardly contain her excitement (she was skipping), and insisted that we partake in a boat tour down to the falls. We walked along the Canadian rim overlooking the torrential cascades, mist like anti-gravity rain, and we got our first glimpse of this amazing natural wonder. Very, very impressive.

We then purchased our tickets for the “Maid of the Mist,” the small ferry that was going to shuttle us to and from the falls. Upon boarding, we were each handed a full-body poncho, and soon the reason for such cover-up became clear. As the boat pulled up to within 100 feet of the falls, we could barely keep our eyes open in the lashing mist, which seemed to seek out every bit of body and clothing left exposed by our ponchos. We were amazed to see seagulls wheeling perilously in the mini-gale, seemingly impervious to the elements that had us ready to retreat for the ship’s protected cabin.

By the time we returned to shore, we were very satisfied and had the soggy shoes to prove it. We returned to the car, changed into fresh clothes, and hit the road once again. Before leaving Canada entirely, we decided to stop at Tim Horton’s, a coffee chain often referred to as the Starbucks of Canada. We’d heard rave reviews about this place, and barely managed to scrounge up enough Canadian change to get a coffee and a cookie. The cookie was pretty good. The coffee. . . not so much. We’ll stick with Starbucks for our quick highway pit stops.

Next it was onward through Buffalo and back across the border, this time with slightly more resistance then previously. Mick failed to see the painted line he was supposed to stop at while the car in front of us was inspected, and the border agent was not happy. She affected as much condescending irritability as she could, it seemed, and we were worried the border team was going to get called in to search our precious Rocketbox. As luck would have it, though, she let us on our way after a few more grumbles, and we were back in the states.

Four or so hours of southbound driving later, we were pulling into Pittsburgh, where we were going to be staying with the parents of Mick’s good friend, Greg (the same Greg we visited for dinner in NYC). Fred and Leslie were great hosts, and offered us a three-option menu for dinner. We chose the salmon (the other choices were filet mignon and grilled chicken), which was accompanied by asparagus, risotto, and some great wine from our very own Sonoma County (it’s amazing how much wine we’ve encountered on this trip that comes from California). We chatted with Fred and Leslie about their impressive careers (Fred does some major landscape architecture work, and Leslie is a dietician for several professional and college sports teams), Frank Lloyd Wright, Greg and his brother, our road trip experiences and plans, and what was for dessert (several flavors of ice cream and Whole Foods cookies).

Our hosts refused to let us help with the dishes (this is another theme of the trip), and we thanked them again for their wonderful welcome. Then we had our choice of two great bedrooms – we chose the one that wasn’t the “dog’s bedroom” – and settled in for the kind of great night’s sleep that one finds only in a warm home, following a great dinner.

Recent Expenses
$30 – Gas
$10 – Falafels
$30 – Niagara Falls boat tour
$3 – Coffee and cookie from Tim Horton’s
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