Saturday, September 4th - Day 63 - Joyous Union

Pittsburgh Travel Blog

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Donned the running shoes, ya know, the overly sized, massive ones... and took to the streets of Vancouver bound for the sea wall of Stanley Park, a favorite for running enthusiasts.. As well as dope smoking hippies, lol


Right away I was glad to be reuinted with the beautiful architecture that is downtown Van City. Especially as it was mid evening and the sun was beginning to recede into the distance causing its rays to refract into hues of pinks and reds across the whispy, clouded sky.


I once again was a nasty shutterbug taking pics of multiple structures from multiple angles. But some of the shots turned out great, and I think I did a half decent job capturing them.


I went from Granville Street all the way around the west to the northern point where Pipeline road was. It felt like it was getting late, and I was feeling rather famished. I opted out of finishing the island loop and went down pipeline headed south.


After cleaning up at the hostel, I went downstairs to the hostel pub, The Beaver, where they were serving 3 Sliders and Fries for under 5$. Not the cuisine some of you may have come to expect from me, but I wanted to take in the atmosphere a bit. The place was jam-packed with travelers! Some 75 people or so. Hadn't seen a hostel like this in a while. Hat's off to Samesun, great facility, great service, great location. It's no wonder it's so popular.


Immediately met some decent chaps, and I use that term officially as they were from across the pound. One from Leeds, the other from Canteburry. Pitchers were on for 13$ and they pressured me in to buying myself one.


Tonight was trivia night, a clever gimmick by the hostel to keep people in their pub, buying their beer, and giving the backpackers a good experience. Just because I saw through it didn't mean I didn't like it. It was great fun! Fortunately an Aussie joined our group and we had our team of 4!


Of course looking around it was plain to see we were up against steep odds... teams of 8 formed naturally at 8 person tables, and some even opted to use their browser-friendly celphones to gather answers! Shocking I know!


Things felt like they were going well, but in the end, our team were the official losers! The winners got some sort of pass for a tour to Whistler, BC... we were awarded a Teletubby pop-up toy from the local thrift store, purchased for $3. How was this possible!? I single handedly nailed 70% of the music trivia by knowing from short burps of audio songs such as Rapture by Blondie, March of the Pigs by Nine Inch Nails, Devil's Haircut by Beck, 2 Hearts by The Knife, and.. hmm well that's 4 out of 10 so maybe I only knew 40%.... Okay I can see how we lost now.


Quite a load of characters in this place, the MC wearing a GINORMOUS neon green furry top hat, not hard to tell this guy was in charge.


The brits pressured me into a second pitcher.. Oh boy, this might not be a nice night... And then one of them, having drank since the afternoon had now become quite friendly with his money and was buying rounds of Jack Daniels and Coke. By the end I'd had 3. I slid the last third of my pitcher down the bar and switched to water. I wanted to enjoy the rest of the evening dag-nabbit, and I would!


The friendly brit dissappeared and the second was soon to follow, so the Aussie and I had no choice but to round up some good people and head out on the town!


We got outside and walked 14 steps and came across a bar called The Cellar. Some top 40 could be heard from below. Why bother going anywhere else? We paid our cover and descended into the depths. Not a large place, but a fairly decent crowd. We hit the dance floor and started shaking what momma gave us.


After only a few songs, suddenly the music dies, and a guy with a mic says something like "Alright, welcome back the ..." name forgotten. OH SHIT!!! We had stumbled into a bar playing cover music!! On a friday night that should have been filled with beats and bass!!! NOooooooOOooooooOoO!!!


However, we made the best of it.. dancing to ACDC, and ... Metalica... and... oh I don't even remember.. They did play Creep by Radiohead though. Not bad, probably my least favorite Radiohead song of all time, but at least that translates into the fact that these guys probably have taste and listen to more of it at home.


The next morning I slumbered until 11, lazily awoke, prepared myself for the wedding, and headed out to catch the skytrain Expo Line to Main Street. On the way I came across a Cafe Crepe... I could see people enjoying crepes filled with a variety of breakfast bits. Although I'd planned to just save my apetite for the wedding dinner and gorge myself for free, I couldn't fight the temptation. The last crepe I'd eaten was oh so long ago.


Gran Marnier, Banana, Nutella, and Almonds... on a padio in the warm coastal, summer air. This was living. 


One thing I have to touch on... To my dismay, I noticed people on the streets seemed so distant and unfriendly, opting to look away as they passed eachother rather than cordially smile to the passerby. What had happened to the friendly Canada I'd remembered? Had I been gone so long?! The streets everywhere else while travelling the states seemed much friendlier than this. 


Despite this, it was still easy to engage in conversations with total strangers when the desire arose. Glad to see it.


The sky train profficiently took me near my destination. I got off and approached the bus line. The hostel staff had been bang-on with the directions and steered me true. I lined up for the bus, the sign above saying the next arrival time. Incredible.. And sure enough, as promised, 2 minutes later, my bus number 3 was there to take me south on Main.


I noticed everyone sliding in their train stubs into the transfer slot... oops, I'd thrown mine out in the bin beside the bus stop sign. I stepped back to it... My luck was in, the ticket had not landed in an abandoned, half-eaten, poutine.


I watched the numbers go by. I'm ashamed to admit that it wasn't until this trip that I realized that most street signs in urban centers show the margin of numbers for the following street. I'd always just struggled to see the numbers on the buildings :S


I saw an aged building on a corner, massive, constructed in stone, and gorgeous. This was it, it had to be, My quest was done, dear reader!! lol 


Anyway, I got off. With a half hour to kill and took a few pictures. Some lady saw me and ran up "Oh excuse me, sir, I got off the wrong bus, I need change please please!" "Well... How much....?" "A dollar, please!" "well... okay..." I'm so reluctant to give money but she didn't look like she was gonna hit the bottle. "Thank you!" she turns and darts off in the direction of the residential side streets.. not to any bus stop... "Hey! You ingrate! You lied to me!!!" She just kept double-time-marching down the street. Just a dollar, but it's the principle.. That bitch probably pulls that scam on people all the time.


The hall was nice, Heritage Hall is what it's called. As I was one of the first to arrive, I was able to take so many pictures, trying to do justice to the geometry I saw as I walked past all the columns, and shapes.


Eventually more people turned up and I was reunited with some of the other only decent people from the slo-pitch time I was a part of last summer, where I met the bride and groom. Although my involvement in that team in conjunction with my trusting, over eager nature to throw a good party, would cost me nearly 10 grand that summer, I am always thankful for it because it introduced me to two good friends from that town, and was also the catalyst for my motorcycle purchase, and now this incredible trip. I know, weird eh? Lose 10 Grand so go spend 25. Easy come easy go, lol No regrets.


The service was lovely. Except for the toddler going ape-shit in the hallway, running around and kicking the walls and screaming and just enjoying himself. I was in awe... In my day my dad woulda grabbed me, shaken the hell outta me while he's eyes bulged out, and told me if I didn't 'smarten the hell up' I'd be in the washroom getting the spanking of a life time. I'm not a big fan of such methods, but sometimes, a kid deserves to be dealt with. I'd LIKE to think an intelligent, well-brought up child would understand "Hey, this is a SPECIAL day for some people, so you have to be good and quiet because you would want that on YOUR special day, right?" but these kids were clearly not being raised. Just grown. And they got crazier as the night went on. I slid stealthily from my row of chairs towards the hall door where the child was doing god-knows-what, gingerly closed the door right in front of the aunt who was supposed to be monitoring the hellions, and returned to a seat farther in the back as to not disturb the other guests. Finally, quiet enough to hear the ceremony, I couldn't help but chuckle at hearing the kid trying to force open the doors that I didn't realize would auto-lock, lol.


As I'd alluded to the kids getting more rambunxious, I had to stop this one boy who'd taken this little girls' toy and was running all over the place teasing the hell out of her as she screamed in pursuit. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about playful teasing and flirting, it's part of growing up, it's the game between boys and girls, men and women, but there's supposed to be something redeeming about it. A dash of sweetness. This was just cruelty.


The boy slid under a table to conceal himself by the table cloth. I bent down, and sharply lifted the cloth, "You're going to stop being mean and give that girl her fish back, do you understand me?!" I said in a controlled, domineering voice he'd probably never heard before. He shot out from the table and fled, dropping the fish. I picked it up, walked over to the little girl who was searching for the assailant, and handed it to her. The simple "Thank yooouu" warmed my heart. Mission being accomplished it was time to hit the dance floor and shake my groove thang again!


Hmm.. I may have painted myself as a Saint... Truthfully, I was probably one of the worst behaved kids in our church growing up and my life-long friend could attest to this. So could my mother.. and my father, lol however.. It was never at the anguish of little ladies.


The bride's sister, a photographer, had the ingenious idea of setting up a photoshoot for people to put on gag items (no, not gag-balls... get your heads out of the gutters, sickos) and do some photos. Awesome stuff. I look forward to seeing myself with a mustache again, it's been too long. The sombrero was just icing on the cake.


After the night ended, the brides parents drove me back to their place in a distant suburb where I could requisition my new Canadian celphone so that the remaining canadian portions of my travels wouldn't be hindered by lack of communication. I was grateful. It also gave me the opportunity to write a message in the card I'd had my parents mail to them (I didn't want it damaged in my cases during the trip). I wish them the best, I'm sure they'll do well.


The father of the bride kindly drove me back to downtown as the sky train was no longer in service. I was very appreciative as it's a long ride, but it meant I didn't have to spend the cab money and it could go to something better later.


On the way, the father being in the mood after watching his daughter united, he told me his own story, one of love, one of heart ache, but ultimately, one in which he found the perfect mate for himself. It was a touching one. Myself personally, I've only had two brief tales of heartache resulting from being young and incredibly naive. I should just say 'stupid'. However, I'm sure one day the rest will come along when the time is right, I'm in no rush.


I awoke today at 5 freakin AM, got myself ready in pitchdarkness.. with the aide of celphone luminescance, while trying to avoid disturbing the other hostellers in my room (Tip, always choose a mixed dorm room. Girls are way less likely to get obnoxiously drunk and piss their bed, as well as steal stuff), and then I made my way to the airport. Fairly uneventful, I'm now on my way back to Pittsburgh, bottle of Duty Free Canadian Crown Royal Whiskey in reperation to the friends who babysat my baby.


Unfortunately with the timezone changes, it will be nearly 11 when I return. And I'm so far from downtown, I don't think I'll go out and even get to experience this city. Another time in life.


Update - No sooner did I finish my blogging did I turn to my right and ask the flight attendant about their new iPad and what they thought of it. They were off duty and flying home to visit family. Eventually it was suggested that I go to a place called Parmanti's because there was a baseball game going on in Pittsburgh and it would be packed with people. Despite the fact that some sleep would have been useful, I decided in the spirit of the trip, to just go for it.


Got into town, called some motels downtown which had no vacancy, contemplated getting a room in the motel 6 I'd stayed in before my departure flight, and decided, to hell with it, I'm taking this bus from the airport to downtown and getting a hotel. The Hilton would have to do. lol, And it did. A nice break from sleeping in hostels, and motels, and on couches, not that I don't appreciate all that, I love it, and the motels are so affordable. But this deluxe bed, swanky room, and fabulous bedding was well received.


On the way to the hotel, wandering the streets of Pittsburgh, I came across an older couple, the husband about to take pictures of his wife (or mistress, lol) in front of the glowing fountain in the square. I offered to take the pic for them and they were thankful. I then took pics of the strange dinosaurs they had down there, too cool.. Especially the Stegosaurus made completely from pieces of mirror!


Then the explosions started happening. What the hell is that? Fireworks? I rounded a corner and saw reflecting from the buildings, bright colours filling the sky. It was such an amazing show! I'd never seen such a great fireworks display. Then while settling into my room to get ready to go out, I heard what sounded like a room service cart being dragged around in the room above me. I neared the window, MORE fireworks! Above the river in front of the park! It was gorgeous... I was so glad to have decided to get a room down here, worth the cost.


I hopped in my cab and asked for details on Permanti's. It was a sports bar that served the best sandwiches, wasn't it? There'd be lots of people enjoying themselves and being social after the game, correct? He agreed to all this. Told me that definitely something would be going on. The nearest Permanti's in the square closed at midnight, so we drove all the way to the 'strip', which looked like a meat packing district, passing  a nightclub called Club Zoo. Hordes of people milled around outside. Looked like  a promising back up.


We pulled up to Permanti's, I instructed the cabbie to wait while I had a quick peak. It didn't take more than standing up to see this was a fucking diner and there were less than 10 people having sandwiches. It pissed me off even more that the concierge also said that Permantis would be a great place to go. Are these guys assholes or completely clueless as to what people do on the weekend? I can only assume the flight attendant had meant the downtown Permanti's location.


Either way, I get back in the cab, "Take me to that zoo place. Is that good?" "Oh yeah, it's always got people there". I get out and head through the crowd. But everyone looks so young... I grab a flyer out of someone's hand and read it over... "Biggest under-age club in Pittsburgh!" the paper proudly exclaims. "Oh my god, I can't go in there".. I call the cab company thanking myself for getting the number off the door as I'd entered it. "Sorry you'll have to flag a cab because we don't do pickups from that area of town". "Are you kidding me?! There's no cabs driving by! I'm 29, I can't go in there!" lol, Even at the time it was hilarious... The mile walk back to the convention center where I finally got a cab wasn't. 


Nearing 12:30, I checked google maps on my phone. Matrix Club had 4 stars review by 4 people. Not promising but seemingly the best bet. That area of town had the most hits for 'nightclub' as well, so I had my cabbie go there. "Oh yeah, I think i've dropped people off at Matrix before..."


She goes the wrong way and I let her know that I can tell on my phone she took a wrong turn. "Oh I can go back" "No, that's fine, I'm going to walk" because I doubt she intended to turn off the meter. The meter was 4.35, "Here's a 5, I'd like 50 cents back" "Oh I don't carry change" "This 5 is the smallest I have" Suddenly change appeared. She deserved her hard earned 15 cents I think.


I headed in the direction of Matrix club and passed something hopping called WHIM, but not seeing WHIM on my map, I needed to be sure. I rounded the block, witnessed a guy calling on some massive juice monkey, then dodging two massive haymakers while laughing and screaming "I could do this all night, you slow, giant, fuck!" I was impressed! Just one of those blows would have sent him reeling. This was outside some SaddleRidge or I dunno, not important, a country bar.


No Matrix club to be found, must have closed. On to WHIM. I saw the Dodger out front and applauded him on his quick feet. He laughed and said thanks, and made some comments about the opponent. I went inside, what a nice venue, well lit front area with two bars and seating, and then a partitioned dance area through a doorway. I went up to the bar to get a drink, and began talking to some nearby people, I think about the old guy who was dancing like mad and grinding on girl after girl after girl right there for everyone to watch (We're in the brightly lit area right inside the entrance). "Yeah, that's Dancing Pete!" Turns out dancing Pete is a regular. He starts a string of hand gestures while moving his mouth. Dancing Pete is also deaf. Also in pretty decent shape for a guy looking to be in his late 40's. The girls just kept coming, like they were getting on an amusement park ride, backing into him and grinding like crazy, while some laughed, or didn't. I'm guessing just for the novelty of it. My company and I argued about who was going next, them or me, and who would videotape for youtube. I opted out. So did they. I headed to the dance area. Decent DJ's played and mixed top40, in front of a massive wall of lights, going off like an equalizer. Very cool.


Fortunately my bike babysitters had let me know that they'd be home until lunch and so the plan to pick the bike up at 7:30 am and leave town was altered. Drastically. Fortunately because I'd needed sleep after yet another late night. The bed sure was comfy though, didn't want to leave it!


Picked up my bike and paid them thanks, and a bottle of Crown Royal Premium Canadian Whiskey. I definitely felt I owed them, I was gracious for the place to put the bike, and also felt awful for waking them up at 5:30am to get my passport I'd forgotten before flying out.


On the way out of town I visited the Matress Factory, Museum of Contemporary Art. This one wasn't far off of the CAC in Columbus.. BUT, the Room of Infinity or whatever which is a room of mirrors was well worth the admission. So awesome, got some great pics in there.


The other 'pieces' if I can call them that revolved around darkness. In one room a black light illuminates a square hole in a wall so it looks like a giant purple-tinted panel. Neatoh! And the other, you go down a completely dark hallway into a room, sit down, and wait for your eyes to totally adjust. Eventually you are supposed to see an image. I don't know what the image was but after a while, the shape was still undefined, but definitely brighter than the dark void we were in.


What was really fun was the people that would walk in using their celphones as flashlights because they were too afraid to walk in the dark, thus causing us disciplined enough to wait, to wait even longer. In the end, I still didn't 'get it'. Thanks JimC of RideOnTwo for that recommendation!


Headed to Permanti's to enjoy the sandwich I had no desire to eat the night before. Great sandwich! Get the pastrami and cheese with all the fixings, so good! Thanks Jeff in Ohio on RideOnTwo for that as well!


After that I took highway 30 eastwards towards Harrisburg. Although there were far too many lights, and too many towns to travel through, I was rewarded with the occassional patch of gorgeous landscape, and was thankful for it.


I've arrived in Harrisburg, staying in a motel, and now getting ready to head out and enjoy another night of Labor Day weekend.


Take care, Ride Safe

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photo by: diisha392