Detroit to Pittsburgh

OK…it was more or less only a place I was supposed to spend a night sleeping, and only won out over Cleveland because I was offered a place to stay. But I liked Pittsburgh so much I allowed myself to get a full day off schedule for the first time so far just because it was so cool here.


This is in marked contrast to Ohio, which I will specifically describe as one of the most unpleasant places on the tour so far. Toledo was such a traffic and construction snarled hellhole that I didn’t even stop to get money or food before getting on the overpriced Ohio Turnpike. Of course, as it turns out, there are NO ATM’s along the pike, despite the distressing number of Hardee’s. This made getting off said turnpike a very interesting experience as I had about two bucks in my pocket at the time. I now owe the state of Ohio three dollars. It’s a good thing there was no comment card attached to the citation. All in all, I’d just as soon skip Ohio next time, crappy turnpike and all.


But I did love Pittsburgh, once I finally arrived! It’s a beautiful place; with the rivers and the hills and the trees, it easily rivals San Francisco as far as the natural setting goes. In fact, the addition of actual trees and greenery affords Pittsburgh a beauty which is almost impossible to find anywhere in California.

As I drove in, on the winding highways cut between the hills and the rivers and saw that the actual city was pretty damned cool too, I realized that one night wouldn’t be enough. Fortunately, David, my host, was amenable to this idea. The fact that the Goodyear blimp was in town to honor my arrival made it all the more special. Obviously, the city really took my visit to heart.


Fifty years ago, the steel industry ruled Pittsburgh and it had a reputation as perhaps the ugliest and most unpleasant place in the USA. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much. Actually, I didn’t catch much evidence of the former steel domination. What I did see were great neighborhoods, interesting buildings, and the boys of the University of Pittsburgh (some of the most visually appealing of the trip so far). Apparently, the writers who so despised Pittsburgh were unable to see past the smoke and soot which used to be everywhere.


I guess there’s nothing really specifically spectacular about the place. I just liked it. The geography offers a great setting for the town and the mountains and rivers divide it into quite manageable village-like areas. It was good that I had a guide, or Pittsburgh might have been damned near indecipherable, my geography degree notwithstanding. A host who provides topographical maps is always a good thing.