Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where burghers eat steak (Trip report Part 3)

After two days of rain and up and down poker fortunes, I was ready to give poker a rest. Instead of going back to the casino for Sunday, I decided to let Hermes do my driving for me. I punched up a list of local attractions on the way to the airport and one entry kept intrguing me. Kings Creek Cemetery. I had no idea why a Cemetery was listed as an 'attraction' but I couldn't help but wonder. What the hell, I thought? I have time to spare. So I punched it up and drove there in about 20 minutes. The road got progressively more rural as I made turn after turn until, finally, I was on a small gravel road and then a dirt road. I saw the sign in front of me for the cemetary but couldn't see any tombstones. I found a place to park in the mud, got out and looked around me. I was in a forest. No other way to describe it. It looked like just a small area in a forest. There were trees everywhere and lots of weeds and overgrown grass. I saw a wooden sign and then I realized why it was posted as an attraction. This was a state park. This overgrown mess of nothing was a state park. I walked along a small trail for a few hundred feet and nearly tripped over what turned out to be a completely abandoned graveyard. I mean abandoned. The newest grave I saw was from 1904 and most of the citizens had died in the early to mid 1800's. The stones were toppled over, broken, moss covered, etc. But a few of them had fresh flags next to them. These were marked as being graves of soldiers in the Revolutionary war. One tombstone in particular caught my attention. It was the grave of Samuel Harper, Jr., who died in 1814. 11 days later, his wife died as well and they were both interred together. On their tombstone reads, "They were lovely in their lives, and in death were not divided". Sometimes, in this day and age, we forget that some people really do live their whole lives together. Incidentally, lest this story become too romantic, they died of Camp Fever (an old term for Typhus because it was transmitted between men in encampments), not broken hearts.

I wandered in the wilderness for about 20 minutes, taking some nice pictures and breathing in clean oxygen and got back in my car. Next, Hermes suggested Janoski Farms for breakfast and fresh farm strawberries. Both were delicious (I avoided the biscuits and gravy this time around). Next up, the Frick Art museum near the city of Pittburgh. In order to get there, I had to travel through a beautiful little town called Squirrel Hill. It's a very hip little town with a cool main shopping drag with coffee shops and bohemain book and record shops. Very cool indeed. I chatted up the local coffee baristers (not at Starfucks, thanks) and they tipped me off to the Downtown Arts festival going on in Pittsburgh. I went to the Frick first, but I was going there next.

The Frick, named for Henry Clay Frick, the steel magnate, is a very pretty place that I could completely imagine a wedding being held at. It had beautiful gardens and Frick's original home on the property (a magnificent dwelling) as well as a small museum with some of Frick's original artwork. The Reubens that they have is a gem. In addition, the carriage house is also a museum filled with old carriages and even early and rare automobiles, from a working Stanley Steamer (runs on water) to one of 3 specially made Stainless Steel Lincoln Continentals (awesome). A nice experience on a lovely day.

I drove into downtown Pittsburgh and I have one thing to say. The view coming out of Fort Pitt tunnel is spectacular. Downtown hits you right in the face and it's a pretty skyline. The arts festival wasn't spectacular except for two things. One, I had something called a lobster burger, which was awesome! It's like a crabcake, but with more lobster than crab and egg and meat in there as well. The second was an artist named John Cheng, who did watercolor drawings on silk that were incredibly beautiful. I wish he had a website. :-(

Not much else to report. I went to the airport where I am now waiting for an incredibly delayed plane to arrive and whisk me home. I have NOT had good experiences with regional travel.

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