See Pittsburgh and die
Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 02:44PM

I can confidently confirm that spring has not come to Appalachia.

TG and I spent much of last week in Pittsburgh.

Why we were there is a longish story but it resulted in a late-winter sojourn that was lightish on sojourn but heavy on winter.

As in, it was so cold, I feared I'd perish.

Yes; I am given to hyperbole. It's how we roll on I'm Having A Thought Here. Deal or click out.

(It's funny because I am often colder in my own house than I was in Pittsburgh. I keep it cool in my house; bring a sweater and an extra pair of socks when you visit. Year round.)

But I have a barely-used warm winter coat and having lived in the Chicago area for many years, I know how to dress for cold. Ergo I was bone-chilly only a few times and not for very long.

Still. You may have it because I don't want it. The cold weather, that is. I'll keep my winter coat.

So anyway. Pittsburgh.

OK it's a fetching city -- mountainous, cold (did I mention?), steel/rust belt, seriously industrial-north vibe notwithstanding. It has a certain wild, raw appeal.

In another post I'll tell you about the time we spent within the hilly chilly confines of the city's historic Allegheny Cemetery -- initial interments circa 1844 -- and the way I clambered around massive monuments in wind-driven snow and temps in the twenties, not knowing where to aim my camera first.

It was almost too much to take in.

But that was the whole first day. I'm still trying to get the photos edited. On day two (second verse colder than the first), we visited the world-famous Duquesne Incline.

Upon seeing how steep the one-hundred-fifty-year-old transportation system actually is, I nearly declined to board said incline.

But it was so freakishly frigid on the platform (and on the stairs and overpass leading to it from the parking lot), I was happy for the relative warmth of an unheated antique trolley car clinging to the side of a snowswept mountain.

Once perched on a time-worn wooden bench in said bright-red car, I aimed my camera out the window at the view. You can see the reflection of the windows in this photo.

Also the sun had emerged briefly from the clouds scudding across the blustery blue-gray sky.

Have I even mentioned the wind? A man from Canada remarked to TG that it's cold where he lives but not as windy as Pittsburgh.

Be that as it may, I have been to Canada in the winter and you are welcome to that whole scene too.

But it was fun as long as you didn't look down. And I didn't. Only up and out, and mostly through my camera lens. The single degree of separation helped.

Once at the tippy top, TG and I emerged into a small building that serves as the station, up on the mountain in a neighborhood known as Duquesne Heights.

Apparently the wind had died down for a moment. Note the flag lying limp. Trust me: it was a momentary lapse.

We took a tour of the inner workings of the incredible feat of nineteenth-century engineering that is the Duquesne Incline. Where they change the lifting/lowering cables every two years whether they need it or not.

The trolleys run (one up and one down, at the same time, passing one another at one point in each ascent/descent) three hundred sixty-five days a year.

Except on Sundays and holidays -- when the trolleys are fired up at the decadently late hour of seven -- the transport begins churning every day at five forty-five in the morning and the last runs at twelve forty-five the next morning.

Then the twin trolleys take a five-hour breather before reviving for the continuous ups and downs of a new day.

We took in the breathtaking views of the town known for its bridges, for the manufacture of glass, for the University of Pittsburgh, and for the Pirates and the Steelers, from the outdoor overlook.

We plundered the gift shop, buying souvenirs for ourselves plus the children and grandchildren. I got a miniature replica of a red trolley to hang on my Christmas tree later this year.

After that, there wasn't much else to do. A few restaurants cling to the mountainside, offering magnificent views of Pittsburgh poised at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers.

But they were expensive and besides, it was too early to eat. So we boarded the next departing trolley and were carried back down the mountain where we once again traversed the overpass and descended the stairs to our shivering car.

We'd bought more parking time than we could use, so TG gave our dashboard ticket to a young couple just arriving. It was our way of helping to make America great again.

Then we drove around with our seat-warmers on, and actually ended up back out at Allegheny Cemetery. In the post where I tell you about that, I'll reveal why we were drawn there twice in two days.

Altogether it was a uniquely interesting and most informative and supremely enjoyable trip.

I sort of wish you could have been there with me but since you couldn't, now I sort of feel that you were.

And that is all for now.


Happy Thursday

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