Trinity with Mister Rogers' bench/shoes @ the Pittsburgh Children's Museum
Before I start writing about this summer I figure I should finally finish writing about last summer (and probably every place else I've gone since last summer). Once upon a time, I wrote the greatest travel blog ever in this very spot. I finished it up at about 1:30 am. And just as I was about to click publish entry, my browser crashed. You know the rest. Anyway, Pittsburgh was the last place we traveled to in the summer of 2009, and it was great. When we landed, my first thought was that the airport must be a thousand miles long. I swear the taxi to the gate was longer than the entire flight. I read like four chapters of my book while we were taxiing.
Won't you be my neighbor?
My friend Rachel had e-mailed me a list of places we could visit in our (too) short first visit to Pittsburgh, and Trinity and I chose a few. The first place we headed was to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum. All four of us, Rachel and her daughter Ryen, Trinity and myself, got in for free with my reciprocal museum membership, YES! Plus I think we got parking at a discounted rate. I should explain that I'm kind of a nerd about children's television programming. I love Arthur and Postcards from Buster and especially Sesame Street, which I think is probably the greatest show of all time. So of course, I love Mister Rogers. He is a huge inspiration to me, specifically in how he saw the world. He was genuinely fascinated with everyone and everything. He is more than just the host of a children's show to me.
Trinity and me on Mister Rogers' porch
His advice might have been directed at small children, but if you really listen to the things he said on his show, you will find that all of it is useful to you as an adult, whether as a parent or as an adult who is in need of an attitude adjustment - and all of us needs that now and then. Anyway, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is the home to one of the best museum exhibits I have been to so far. Mister Rogers Neighborhood is a replica of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and Mister Rogers television home. I loved it! I would have stayed in the exhibit for five hours, but I didn't want to take all the time at the kid's museum away from Trinity and Ryen, seeing how they are actually kids and I am not ...technically speaking anyway. It was on to The Attic, the next section of the museum.
Rachel and me on Mister Rogers' porch
The best part is the Gravity Room, which is essentially a giant optical illusion that you can go right inside. The entire room is built on an angle, including the decor. Your mind tells you that you are standing straight when you are really standing sideways. The little contraption built into the wall in which you place a ball that appears to roll up
does little to aid your mind in understanding what the heck is going on. I imagine if my sister went inside the Gravity Room, she would emerge with a migraine headache and insist that she had to go home because she was going to be sick. In order to get out of the room, you have to slide down a super cool and fast slide. Of course, that's awesome. The next part was The Garage, which was filled with tools to build and play with, a giant rope climbing structure and a parachute machine that lets kids, with the help of a museum worker, shoot balls high into a roller coaster-like track.
Giant version of Mister Rogers' trolley
Not to mention an actual Mini Cooper to climb inside and play in. I had to laugh, as the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in our hometown of Milwaukee (which is actually a great children's museum - don't get me wrong) has a similar exhibit, except for the notable exception that our car is made out of plastic and wood. The only negative thing that happened when we were visiting the museum was when Trinity and I were in the women's restroom, a male employee walked in and started working without announcing himself and even acting as though it was okay. He actually started making conversation about how much we enjoyed the museum. I thought that was extremely weird, especially at a kid's museum where little girls may be using the bathroom alone. I wouldn't be too happy as a parent if my daughter came out of the bathroom and said there was a man in there!
Our next stop was to the National Aviary.
To the Neighborhood of Make Believe!
Now, I'm not really big on birds. I don't dislike birds, and I'm not afraid of them, I'm just indifferent to them. I don't look at a bird and think about how pretty it's colors are. Still, I genuinely liked the Aviary, mostly because of the PENGUINS! They were so much fun. You can climb inside the exhibit and observe the penguins doing what it is they do, which is of course limited to swimming and standing. They were playful though! We were the only ones there at the time, and the penguins were interacting with us. At one point Trinity held her ear to the tank to see if she could hear anything, and a penguin came right up and tried to bite her ear. Needless to say, it probably wouldn't have been as cute if not for the inch of glass between them. But there was. So, it was
Mister Rogers' couch!
There really isn't too much else to say about it...what's not to love about penguins? Yeah, at the base of it, they are just plain stupid looking. And sure, their lot in life seems pretty pointless. You would still have to be one heartless bastard to not love penguins.
The plan was to stop at Rachel's house and meet up with her husband Scott, and the five of us would go to dinner before I had to return to the airport. Instead we got stuck in traffic. We didn't make it to the house but we met up with Scott and went to Primanti Brothers. If you visit Pittsburgh, Primanti Brothers is the one place you absolutely have to go, no excuses! There are 15 of them in the Pittsburgh area, so you should have no trouble finding one. Primanti Brothers sandwiches are topped with french fries and coleslaw, not served as a side.
Me on Mister Rogers' couch
It's a simple and, if you ask me, obvious concept. And although I am certainly capable of putting my french fries and coleslaw on my sandwich myself, I'll be damned if I won't pay an establishment to do it for me for no reason other than that they will
. Although I should point out that I didn't actually pay for my food, Scott treated us. It's not just the gimmick that makes Primanti Brothers a great place to eat. It is truly a delicious sandwich, and I've probably eaten about 5000 sandwiches - they are my favorite food!
It was back to the Pittsburgh airport for us. This would be the ideal airport to be stuck in. Unfortunately I can't see how I could ever personally manage to connect through it. There's a mall
in the airport.
Personally, I don't like malls, but speaking as someone who works in one airport and has been delayed or stuck at multiple others for long periods of time, let me tell you that being able to shop at 20 different stores beats going to Dunkin Donuts six times in one afternoon. There is a Rite Aid there, complete as any other Rite Aid or Walgreens or CVS you might find outside of an airport, and the prices aren't any higher. I know because I went in to buy a single can of Red Bull expecting to pay $4 and instead bought a pack because I knew I had run out at home.
I definitely plan a return trip to Pittsburgh!