Enjoying Pittsburgh & then non-stop to Manteo!

Trip Start Jul 05, 2012
Trip End Aug 01, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 26 - We begin our day by eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, Joey D's Bar and Grill. The restaurant is full of Steelers pictures and stories and so we decide to make our way into Pittsburgh and see the stadium before moving on.

We only need to travel about 8 miles on a narrow freeway and we begin seeing the skyline of the city. I do not know what I expect to see, but it is not a captivating city with amazing bridge structures everywhere I look. I learn that three rivers, Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, flow into the heart of the city. The traffic is moving steadily, but it is heavy and we exit the freeway near the stadium. We are soon there at the stadium, and there are very few people about. The streets there are empty and so we enjoy parking and taking pictures and driving around the Heinz field and the stadium. We really like seeing the yellow seats inside the stadium. 

From the stadium area we can see the beautiful yellow bridges and the Cable Car that runs to the top of the mountain. I am really liking this city.

We leave and plan to drive across one of the cool yellow bridges. We do follow the nap and it leads us to one of the bridges that cross the river, but I am disappointed to find I am on a lower level of the bridge and I cannot take the pictures I want to take. I suggest we turn around and try it again, going over the top level, but the traffic is heavy and it is hard to turn around. So we keep heading out of the city. We see other bridges along the route spanning the river and I take pictures of them. I learn that the Heinz Stadium is often called Three River Stadium. from now on I will think of Pittsburgh as "Home of the Beautiful Bridges".

As we leave the city we pass through a tunnel called Fort Pitt tunnel and it is yellow inside! We finally make our way back to the I-76, the Toll Road. Pennsylvania is very similar to North Carolina, not very flat, lots of hills and trees and mountain ranges. We are enjoying the drive through this state. We pass several overpasses and they are ALL painted yellow!

We plan to exit the Toll Road at I-70 and head south instead of continuing east (the fastest way) to avoid the Washington belt-line. However, we miss the turn somehow with the confusing road signs and find we are about 15 miles east of where we should have merged onto I-70. No problem... just turn around.  NOT TO BE. There are no exits. We continue on and eventually come to a Service Plaza on the other side of the Interstate.

We figure we can just cross over the bridge to  the plaza and then get on the exit going back the other way. Well, that was NOT TO BE either.  Although both east and west bound traffic share this single Service Plaza (usually there is one on each side of the road), the parking lots and entrances and exits are separate. You cannot get to the west exit if you are traveling east.

We find a large wall map in the service area and try to figure out how to get back to where we want to be. We will have to continue about 10 miles and exit and take back roads or back track a long way. We decide to exit and take the back roads, along with several other travelers standing around this large wall map that appear to be in the same boat we are in. . Can I say here, I DO NOT LIKE TOLL ROADS!!!"

We continue east on the Toll Road, take the next exit, and use our GPS to find our way on multiple two lane back roads. As we travel, we enter West Virginia. We drive through some interesting towns. We see the Hispanic man that we met at the Service Plaza sitting on the side of the road studying his map and we point the direction we are going. He follows us like we really know where we are going!  He doesn't know we are just winging it right now, trying to drive south and west enough that our GPS will take over and direct us away from the Washington, DC belt-line.

Eventually we begin to drive on 4-lane roads and when we reach Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, our GPS now shows our direct route away from Washington.. I set the GPS to go to the Outer Banks!  If we continue driving, we could be at the beach by midnight.  Art says he wants to keep going, but I say let's see how tired we get. We know it would be wonderful to wake up tomorrow morning at the beach and have a whole day to enjoy it! However, I check out hotels for Williamsburg and Newport News just in case

We soon enter Virginia and keep driving. It is dark by the time we get to Richmond and we begin to decide that we are not stopping, but will keep going. Because we have made some short stops, our GPS says we will arrive around 12;AM.

We start seeing signs for Outer Banks, directing us silently different than the GPS. We follow the road signs because there has been construction in the area.
All of sudden I realize we are driving through the Chesapeake Bay tunnel, under the ocean. I had gone through this tunnel when I was young and have always wanted to go through the tunnel again. We emerge from the tunnel and we are on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It goes on forever. We see some super interesting structures all lit up to our right but cannot tell what they are. I am dying to know, so we will have to come back and go over this bridge in the daylight.

We drive on in the dark, watching carefully for the Welcome to North Carolina sign. We missed the Virginia and West Virginia signs. We have tried very hard to get them all.  We finally spot it and we cross into NC. We turn around to get the picture in the dark.

We still have about an hour to go before we reach our hotel. We pass by the Grave Diggers Racing Shop.  Although it is dark, Art stops to get ONE picture of the lit up truck. We continue on and soon we are crossing over the Wright Memorial Bridge which takes us to the Outer Banks.The Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge is pitch black dark over the water.

I cannot believe it, but there is NO traffic. Very few cars. If we were at Myrtle Beach or Panama City beach, the roads would still be packed at midnight. But here, all is quiet

We make our way down the beach to Kill Devil Hills and locate our hotel. We are in luck. Although I had a reservation for a non-beach front room, the man at the desk upgrades us to a Dune View room, which means we are facing the ocean, have a patio and have two doors. Better than the standard room. 

We get to our room. It is wonderful, cool, clean, smells great, and has great air conditioner. I am soooo happy to be here. It feels like home, here in NC, at the beach. We love it!!!  Despite the late hour we take the short walk down to the beach. There is not one person on the whole beach we can see. We have the whole beach to ourselves!  We spend just a few minutes overlooking the ocean, happy to be here, all the way from the California Coast to the Carolina Coast!!! I thank God he has taken us safely across this whole USA!

I go to bed knowing I have a whole day to relax and enjoy the Outer Banks and Manteo tomorrow. This is going to be a vacation from our vacation. :)

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