We’d already planned to meet my long time friend from college, Larry, and his wife Holly, while we were in Pittsburgh – they used to live here and drove down to visit while we came through. After the last few days, I was worrying a little about another day of riding into a huge city on our squeaky bikes with our creaky bodies.
Larry checked in Saturday after we arrived in Wheeling and said he’d thrown the bike rack in the car and that it would be an easy ride out to Wheeling to pick us and the bikes up the next day. We were so relieved! We went across the street to a restaurant that was actually really good. We said that Wheeling is struggling and downtown seems especially broken down, so I guess we were kind of surprised to find a good farm to table restaurant across the street. I mean, it wasn’t crowded, but anyway.
Seeing the city in the morning sun made me think that the place has some potential – if they can come up with work for people to do. Larry and Holly were going to meet us at noon so we had a leisurely morning, with breakfast at a place called Mugshots with great coffee and a busker outside— and posed for our mugshots as the lawbreakers that we are — and took a walk along the Ohio River afterward in the sunshine.
We went back to the hotel with its crazy signs and infamous guests and got things ready to pack in the little car … and did not put on biking clothes!
Speeding up the Ohio River Valley past old mills, a nuclear power plant and people out on the river made me wonder what it would have been like to be pedaling on the path on the other side. But I was very happy in the car chatting with friends.
Navigating into Pittsburgh from the west on I70, you go through a tunnel and when you come out, there is a dramatic sight of the city, the rivers and the whole valley.
From Lisa: We are sort of tag teaming on our posts now and I will echo Dan’s relief about being in a car with lovely smart friends driving through the foothills of the Appalachian mountains on a very hot day, rather than biking and avoiding dead animals on the shoulder of hilly roads.
Larry was Dan’s college roommate at Luther, and he has been carefully following this journey, and wisely decided to throw their bike rack in the back of the car when they left home in NY to come to PA to visit friends, including us. We had looked for a bike shop in Pittsburgh that could do some work on our bikes while we would be on town and Larry drove us right to Bike Heaven, this cool bike museum and shop with room after room of collectible bikes, and bike sales, and repair services.
We left our bikes in the capable hands of Tom the bike tech and headed to our AirBnb in the Deutschtown neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where we dropped off our gear and headed out for a late lunch with Larry and Holly.
We had a lovely time and were delighted that Larry stopped to show us some favorite spots in Pittsburgh, including a visit to the first Carnegie library. (On our trip we have passed through many small towns where their public libraries are still in operation, and often in a Carnegie building.)
We also began to crash with what was maybe a combination of exhaustion and relief and called it an early evening, and went back home to watch one of Larry’s movies (he is an actor) and really enjoyed it and stayed awake till we actually went to bed.
We woke and had coffee, then walked over to the Andy Warhol Museum (he is from Pittsburgh) and then met Larry and Holly for lunch and they took us over to one of the operating funiculars (after visiting the Mr. Rogers statue) and the back to Bike Heaven to pick up our cleaned and tuned bikes.
We are ready to tackle our last week of this trip – down the Great Allegheny Passage and the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) towpath and into the District of Columbia to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I (this is Dan) don’t want to jinx anything – tomorrow morning we leave on an 80 mile day down the GAP and I have no idea what to expect, so I would say I’m just guardedly optimistic but that is all for now. The weather calls for rain.