Jul 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Road Trip and The "Strip"

Finally, part 3 of our trip to Pittsburgh for the bakespace get together. Jim and I were excited to be getting away for the weekend. We hadn't been anywhere, alone, without our girls, since we were married (going on 13 years). At the same time, I think we were both a bit nervous...I mean, we have to be cooped up in a vehicle? just the two of us? for like 5 1/2 hours? Now I know what you're thinking, 5 1/2 hours isn't that long right? Well you haven't traveled with my Jimbo. (yup, that's my Mr. wonderful doing his dork face in the pic) I mean, the man doesn't stop for anything. The only exception is for gas. Seriously. You have to hang your ass out of the window just to pee...there's no stopping nor slowing down for that matter. Not kidding. We took the girls to Florida once for vacation when they were little. Drove straight through...18 hour drive...had to beg him just to pull into rest stops.(grab the wheel and jerk to the right is more like it) Three little GIRLS, do you have any idea how many times 3 little girls have to peeeeeeee? Well when you get to be my age, your bladder IS LIKE A LITTLE GIRLS', only bigger and WEAKER if you get my drift. But that wasn't going to stop me from getting the hell out of Dodge, so I loaded up on salty snacks, limited my fluid intake, and away we went.

It took careful planning, but my master plan for appealing to my man's stomach in order to make a pit stop worked (somewhat). Of course I started this process as soon as we hit Dayton OH (are we going to eat breakfast?), then again in Columbus, I reminded him that we hadn't eaten breakfast, so how about some lunch? Finally, as we got west of Columbus, somewhere in BFE (Zanesville, I know now only 'cuz I looked it up), I remind him that we won't be eating lunch at Karen's in Pittsburgh, and I still had the cake to set up so it would be a loooong time before we would get the chance to eat. BINGO! That did it! (I didn't even have to jerk the wheel) So he takes the next exit (From I-70 E, exit 160 for Sanora Rd.) and as luck would have it, we find this little jewel. In the freakin' middle of no man's land stood a Denny's Classic Diner! Way too cool for this foodie to pass up. Nostalgic, grease/salt, and a bathroom!!! What could be better? (at this point, hell, I didn't even care if it was clean). The inside was just as cool as the outside. That loud hubbub diner rush (order UP!), people sitting at the counter, more people crowded the tables and booths that were all decked out in red, white, black, and chrome. Awesome. I can't even remember what we ate...Hey, it was just the same ol' Denny's food, ya know? Doesn't matter. I still highly recommend it. It was the quintessential road trip stop!

I started getting a bit nervous because it was heating up outside, and after all, I had a three tier fondant cake in the back of the truck that I was babysitting. So we gulped down our food and headed off. We soon hit the tip of WV and I couldn't help thinking of one of my bakespace beeps Debbie (aka monkeybusiness) that couldn't make it to the get together this year. So I waved HI and snapped a pic as Jim zoomed through, peddle to the metal. (I think he was afraid I wanted to make another stop) Sorry Deb, I would have visited, but the man wasn't havin' it. LOL It wasn't long before we saw this welcoming sign, oooh, we're almost there! The trip had gone smoothly up until the point my husband asks me to check the exits. Navigate? I'm expected to NAVIGATE? Now, had he told me this way back when, I could have been doing something constructive, uhm, like reading the haphazard stack of printed off Google maps (AND the directions Karen had emailed) instead of filing my bitten off, non-existent fingernails. So, as I get my bearings, I instruct him on which exit to take (I believe 3 times), I look up and he's taking the wrong exit??? He says, "I asked you". I say, "yup, and I told you... 3 times".... (Give me a gun).... A short squabble and couple of off and on-ramps later, we're back on track. I say, "wish we had a GPS". He says, "I do, on my blackberry"(???)..... (Give me a .22 rifle). Yup, the whole time, GPS, on his blackberry, WTF? So we finally made it to Karen's, miraculously unscathed I might add, and come to find out....he was right....(OK, Give me a DOUBLE BARRELED SHOTGUN)....that's WAAAAAY worse than ME being right. What he FAILS to admit, however, is that he was referring to the directions that Karen had emailed...NOT the Google maps that HE had printed off that he was having me to refer to. [eyeroll] MEN!

Ok, so fast forward past our wonderful weekend at Karen's. Sunday morning, after checking out of the hotel, we had decided to go into Pittsburgh and check it out since neither of us had been there before. I seriously wanted to see the "Strip District" downtown that my PA buddies, Karen and Spryte are always talking about. I must say, it was totally worth the effort and didn't disappoint. "Wicked Cool" as they say. A long strip of shops, restaurants, and street vendors.
First on the agenda was breakfast, so we walked down to the end of the strip and found yet another nostalgic diner, Pamela's Diner. I'm not accustomed to being put on a "waiting list" for breakfast, but when there's a line out the door spilling out into the sidewalk, it's gotta be good, right? (either that or it's the only place around) It proved to be worth the wait.
Jim was quite happy with the blueberry stuffed crepe-pancake-type thingy that he ordered, while I opted for their "classic" breakfast of eggs, chorizo sausage, and a whopping side of what they call their "World famous, layonnaise potatoes". True to the claim, these were quite possibly the best dang fried 'taters this southern-bred gal has ever tasted.(and trust me, it's hard to beat the south when it comes to 'taters) Now normally, I'm one of those weird people, that don't like their food to touch on their plate...but for breakfast, and one like this I might add, I don't mind a'tall.

After we ate, we (obviously) were in need of some walking off that breakfast. Time for some SHOPPING! It didn't take me long to figure out why my foodie friends are always so enthusiastic about the "Strip". Of course there were tons of the usual touristy type shops that sold flavored popcorn, fudge, candy, and the like (which of course we gladly patronized). There was a Penzeys spice store, a fish market, produce stands, a huge kitchen gadget/supply store, and so much more stuff I can't even remember it all. You name it, they had it. But when we came across the "Pennsylvania Macaroni Co" I was totally stoked! As soon as we hit the door in fact, I was greeted by a display of not-so-easy-to-find-in-Indianapolis baking items. I couldn't contain my excitement (that's apparent in the pic) I'm telling my hubby, "YOOOOU don't understand....". LOL! His reply, "oh boy, we're gonna need a basket". In complete awe, I had yet to see their international cheese shop, Deli, fresh pasta, fresh bread, and oodles and gobs of cool-as-hell grocery items. To say it was like a kid being in a candy store doesn't even begin to describe my euphoria. A little passed the front door and around the corner I spot the oil and vinegar. Like, a whole ISLE of it...Screw the basket...where are the carts? I'm tellin' ya, Indianapolis is a large (huge in fact) city, chocked full of great restaurants, pubs, liquor stores, and cool stuff...but when it comes to food shopping of any kind, our city totally sucks. Perhaps only my foodie buddies will understand my excitement, my husband sure didn't. But bless his heart, he hung in there, all the while skillfully maneuvering the basket, catching stuff in mid air as I threw the items over my shoulder. Ok, it wasn't quite that dramatic, but seriously, I could have done way more damage to his wallet had my ankles and feet not started to swell up like helium balloons. I did end up with quite a hull. In fact, we had to purchase a cooler and ice while there, just for the array of cheeses, pepperoni, and stuffed olives that we bought. Besides, I wasn't about to take any chances with my prized fresh mozzarella ball in brine, nor my apple wood smoked cheddar score....mmm.mmm.mmm.

We made it to a few more shops then my swollen ankles really started to hurt. Which was weird, it's usually my back that goes out (due to a joint disorder). Perhaps DD had too much salt and alcohol over the weekend, ya think? Plus my dumb ass wore cute little sandals and didn't bring my tennis shoes. (what the hell was I thinkin'?) Anywho, I had talked to my buddy Spryte earlier in the day (check out her blog "Spryte's Place", she's one cool chick), when we first got there, and made plans for her and Jon (her hubby) to meet us somewhere for dinner or a drink later, since they live just on the south side of downtown. We were so looking forward to meeting up with them. Both Jon and Jim brew beer and make wine at home as a hobby, so I thought it would be really cool for our guys to hook up. Sadly, regretfully, just a few hours later, I could no longer walk in those cute little sandals.....I had to bail. (sniff, sniff) So sorry Spryte! Next time for sure chicky!!! (and I WILL be back to your wicked cool town)

Yup, it was time for us to hit the road and head on back home. We made it just outside of Pittsburg and pulled over to gas up. Although I was careful not to complain about my situation (afterall, it was mostly self inflicted), Jim had enough of my squirming and took the opportunity to throw me in the back seat so I could lean the front seat forward and put my feet up. Like a toddler with my pillow, snacks, and juice box (well, ok, it was a 7-Up bottle), I was happy as a clam. We're both thinking, why didn't we think of this before? I had no idea it was so comfy back there!

As we headed off into the sunset (literally), Jimbo with his toddler in tow, it was a smooth ride home......That is, except for the detour in Columbus due to an accident on I-70. Which sent us an HOUR out of our way...thru the worst part of Columbus, OH (shock face)....which looked disturbingly familiar...you know, like from all those episodes of COPS??? Yeah, not kidding. So he starts with the read-the-map-where-are-they-taking-us thing. (gee I dunno, 'jus follow the REST OF THE CARS, duh). Oh boy, here we go again. I say, sarcastically of course, "Uhm, I believe you have GPS on your blackberry, no???". I'm thinking; "better yet, why don't you pull over and ask for directions???" and "where's that gun".... LMAO

I'm happy to report we made it home safe and sound and without killing each other. With only a few minor wounds, I might add, considering what could have happened. In case you're wondering (and as if you care), it only took about 2 days in my recliner and drinking about 5 gallons of water for the swelling to go down *they're still just a wee bit swollen in the pic) All in all, it was a great trip and worth every bit of discomfort... and marriage counseling.

In fact, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat....and plan on it soon....with tennis shoes on..... and a GPS.


tango's trash & treasures said...

LOL your too funny!

girlichef said...

LMAO!!! What a fun post :D I would have been the same way in the store...it must be the foodie inside. Plus, men just don't get it. Carrying the basket was the perfect task. Sounds like you had a really great time :D

Danielle said...

oh man...what an awesome store! I think theres a store around here somewhere that sells isles and isles of cake decoration stuffs....but I haven't gone yet. I'm afaid LOL.

Sorry...ok...i got stuck on that store. Great road trip! at least you weren't on a smelly bus LOL Love the pictures. Sorry about the ankle thing. Mine did the same thing when we went on vacation. seemed like they'd puff up like puffer fish every time I was sitting for any length of time (airplane, car)...sucks.

Culinary Alchemist said...

Most excellent food finds... You are gonna LOVE that mozzarella... :) I am all kinds of excited to see how you are going to use the items you found... :)