Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An All American Weekend In The Burgh

Here's the highlights of 4th July Weekend in Pittsburgh with my sister Danielle and her husband Ray:

Friday we went to the Posner Center at Carnegie Mellon University to view one of 4 remaining copies of the original printing of The Bill of Rights. (see A Rare Bill.) It is easy to feel a very close connection with history when you can see and read (albeit behind glass) an actual document that dates from 1789. With no crowds, there was plenty of time to linger and ponder the document, it's content, what it means, its history. In addition to the Bill of Rights, the rest of the Posner Center is a hidden treasure as well. There is a great collection of rare books, including a Bible from the 15th Century, with beautiful handmade bindings. It is very difficult to see those books behind glass and not want to reach through and handle the book, leaf through its pages and examine the details.

After a brief romp on the Dinosaur playground at Schenley Park and a quick nap, it was off to Music Picnic #3 of the summer by The Brazilian Guitar Quartet. Sometimes called "The Dream Team" in their native Brazil, the latin rhythms and delicate melodies were perfectly suited to a hot summer night. The grounds of Clayton were packed, with families and couples spread out packed into every available inch of space in front of the stage, and spilling over around the backs and sides. We have rarely seen it quite this crowded. The music complimented a delicious dinner of beef barbecue, with fresh strawberries, finished off with cupcakes and brownies from the Cafe at the Frick and complimented by red wine selected by Ray and Danielle. Dinner was followed by games of hide and seek and chase on the Frick's huge front lawn.


On Saturday, we heeded the siren call of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Rregatta for the return of speed boat races. Instead of going to the crowded Point, we watched the races from the grassy banks of the North Shore. The scene was NASCAR on the water, with the boats running at up to 135 mph on an oval course running from just past the Fort Duquesne Bridge to the fountain at the head of the Ohio river. Being on the North Shore also allowed us to sneak over to the water steps to splash in the water fountains and cool off.

After another mid-afternoon siesta, it was over to Lawrenceville and The Church Brew Works for dinner, a favorite of Ray and Danielle's and special to Gretchen and I because we held our wedding rehearsal dinner there and we also went there for dinner on September 20, 2000, the night before Russell was born. The old church provides a beautiful, spacious and importantly kid friendly setting to enjoy handcrafted beers, pizza, and not quite the same-old food like pierogies stuffed with black bean and buffalo with a jalapeno reduction sauce.


Sunday morning, it was off to the Strip District for a Pittsburgh institution, breakfast at Pamela's. Since it was a beautiful sunny morning, we ate at the tables in the shadow of the beautiful St. Stanislaus Church. Tyler loved the corned beef hash and the chocolate chip banana pancakes!

Monday, July 4th.

After celebrating our annual bacon day tradition (July 4th being the only day we buy and prepare bacon for breakfast), we capped off Independence Day with fireworks at The Point. The Pirates play 81 home games each year, and there are just about as many nights in Pittsburgh with fireworks. The 4th of July fireworks were the first since the previous Sunday when Pittsburgh commemorated Jimmy Buffet's 1st ever concert at PNC Park with a fireworks display from the Roberto Clemente Bridge. As always, the fireworks display by local fireworks legends Zambelli Internationale was fantastic. Pittsburgh's fireworks obsession is probably best summed up by this quote from the Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neill's column "Hey, don't I know that guy?" on July 3:
"I remember being in Washington, DC on the Fourth of July more than a decade ago, and watching a fireworks display that was, one would expect, the best the nation could give for its own birthday. But when it was over, I stood there thinking "That's It? That's all you got? I can get that after a Pirates game."


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