Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Last Week in PA

Our last week in PA was filled with family, friends, food and fishing. We enjoyed eating out and ate at over 25 different restaurants during this stay. Several times we went to our usual favorites like the Union Grill, Sam's and Burgh's. Other times we went to places that we love to go to with friends and even went to the Kopper Kettle a place we have never eaten in thirty years of living in WashPA. Some, like Eleven and the Back Porch, are places to go on special occasions and since we are here so rarely that makes it a special occasion. We have really enjoyed our time here seeing so many good friends who we miss so much while on the road.

Here we are with Rick and Denise at Eleven in Pittsburgh. We had a great meal and a wonderful evening catching up on what has been going on in our lives. You can tell this is a fancy place, I wore a shirt with buttons.

Here we are at Pete and Rosemary's where we had a Greek meal that was as good as any we had eating out. They have a beautiful back yard complete with a grape arbor where Pete gets the grapes for his famous jelly. They even got out the columns to give their place more of a Greek feel. We are looking forward to hearing about their fall trip to Greece.

Another evening we went bowling at the Meadows Casino with Mike and Sherri. Check out the "English" the bowlers are using to try and bring the ball to the pins. That is a deceptively impressive score. It was the team score about six frames into the game. We may not be very good but everyone, even Mike, had a fun time. After bowling we ate at the Terrace Restaurant and Mike, Nanc and I lost some money in the slots. Sherri was the only winner.

On the last Wednesday of our visit the teachers did a road trip to the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh. This is a neat brewpub in an old church. The brews and food were heavenly. Top left are Kim, Sandy, Nanc and Patrice. Bottom left are Ron, Becky, Pat, Ann Marie and Bill. Sorry John I did not get a pic of you. That evening we got one last fix of local jazz. Dan on the guitar and Josh on the sax were joined this week by another former student Ruben on the trumpet. Ruben is also an author and his book, A Young Man's Wisdom, about growing up and becoming a father is a great read. It is available on Amazon.

Our last day in WashPA was a big one. Richard and Valerie, rving friends who we have met on the road several times, stopped by while traveling from Michigan to their new condo in Charlottesville, VA. We had brunch and had a couple of hours to get caught up. It was so nice to see them again and we are so glad they were able to squeeze in a visit.

That evening we went to dinner at the Back Porch with all our old euchre club friends. Tim, Diane, Sherri, Mike, Tom, Georgie, Nanc, Jim, Jack and Marylou. We all had wonderful meals and as you can see from the next pic some of us got a little out of hand.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is typical of our PA friends and shows why we miss them all so much. They are such a fun group.

We left Washington on Wednesday and went to Pymatuning to visit with Mike and Sherri at their cottage for the weekend. We had a great time all weekend and laughed so much we hurt. In addition to the GREAT fishing, Nanc and Sherri did some retail therapy and played many games of upwards and frustration. Then we all played euchre where the guys once again triumphed over the gals.

And the final fish story. Over the last 25 plus years I have been fishing at Pymatuning many, many, many times. On ALL those trips the biggest walleye I ever caught was 22 inches which makes this trip so special. As you can see from the previous post I caught three very nice fish on Wednesday. On Thursday the skies were threatening and we were only out for an hour before a storm ended our day. BUT in that hour I landed (with Mike manning the net) another big 27 inch walleye. This really makes up for the many days I sat in the front of the boat without a single fish while Mike caught fish after fish in the back. As you can see he did not go fishless this time either as he hooked several catfish, a couple of perch and a small walleye. The last two days of this trip brought me back to reality as they were typical days of catching small walleye, catfish and perch.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gone Fishin

If the the worst day of fishing is better than the best day of work then the best day of fishing must happen only in retirement. We left WashPA for a few days of fishing with the Sharps at Pymatuning before heading west.

We were not even going to go out on the boat the first day so we were not on the water until almost 5PM. On the first pass a real big one got off the hook, but then on the second I landed this 27 inch walleye with Captain Mike doing a fine job with the net. This is the largest fish I have ever caught.
On the next drift I landed this 19 incher which is a nice size fish for Pymatuning.

Then on the next float I upped my biggest fish with this 28 inch beauty.

What a great few hours of fishing. A special thanks to Capt'n Mike for finding these beauties and manning the net. We will be eating fish tonight.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friends, Food, Music, Let's Go Bucs

We continue to enjoy our time back in PA and have finally completed all the doctor visits and are almost done with the spring cleaning of the rig. We have had a whirlwind social schedule getting together with friends. We have an appointment to have a couple of things (new slide covers) done at Newmar at the end of the month so we will be heading back to Indiana when we depart PA. We have made reservations, something we don't often do, in the Black Hills of South Dakota for a week in the middle of August so we will have about seven weeks to add Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas to our map on the way west. After the Black Hills we will be in Gillette, Wyoming for 12 days to attend the Escapade. Following that we have reservations for a week in Cody and a week in Yellowstone (hope we get out before the snow). Our friends Mike and Sherri are going to meet us there so we can tour together. After Yellowstone we have a week to drive 1000 miles to Albuquerque, which is hyper speed for us, for twelve days with the Boomers at the balloon fest. By then it will be time to start looking for a place in Arizona for the winter including a stop in Q for a Class of 07 reunion.

Another Wednesday lunch with the teachers. It was the last day with kids for those still working so a few additional teachers joined the group. Joy is retiring and the shirt says it all. Pictured are Jim, Becky, Peg, Ken, Lena, Sandy, Joy, Bill, Kim, Linda, John & Nanc. We really do love being here and seeing so many friends, but we also really love the flexibility of the life we live.
We went to the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church Festival and had a great time visiting with Pete and Rosemary, eating the great food, listening to the music and watching the kids do traditional dances. They start with the youngsters and then the high schoolers show their stuff. It is great seeing how they are working to preserve their culture.

Father George conducted a tour explaining the significance of the beautiful paintings in the church. We also got a history lesson on how the Greek Orthodox Church differs from the Roman Catholic Church. If you are traveling in Western PA during the festival we recommend you stop in Canonsburg to enjoy a good time with great food. The festival lasts a week and they start preparing for it in January. Among all the wonderfully prepared Greek food we were told they make over 30,000 stuffed grape leaves. Everything that is prepared is excellent and the crowds prove it.

Another dinner out with friends. Top; Nanc, Mike, Judy, Ed, Donna and Jim all loved the food and conversation at Al & Rubens. Bottom the band plays some great jazz and blues. Josh, on the sax, and Dan, on the guitar, are former students and we always make it a point to see them when we are in the area.

We took in a Pirate game at PNC Park with our friends John and Patrice. Top left is the newest statue of Bill Mazeroski celebrating his walk off homer to win the World Series against the Yankees at 3:36 on the afternoon of October 13, 1960. That is a moment that is burned into the brain of every Pirate fan. People still gather along the wall of old Forbes Field that was left standing to replay the broadcast each year. Middle is Hall of Famer Honus Wagner and right the Pirate Parrot. The wall and scoreboard in right field is 21 feet high to honor number 21 the great Roberto Clemente. There are other statues of Clemente and Willie Stargell that I did not get pictures of. We got to see Maz, Willie and Roberto play many times over the years at both Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium.

The view of the city from behind home plate. It was a perfect day to take in a game.

The setting sun reflects on the skyline looking from our seats in left field. This is truly one of the most beautiful ball park settings in the country. Of course, we are just a little prejudiced.

Here the Bucs have the bases loaded. They did score a run here and won the game 3 - 1 over the Mets. Here in Pittsburgh they are celebrating because the team's record is over .500 at this point of the season. Remember, we have suffered through 18 loosing seasons, a professional sports record. I don't understand how the idiots who run baseball expect people to support the game when the winners are always those who can afford to buy the championship. "They" say we are a small market team as a explanation but it is the same small market where the Penguins have won THREE of Lord Stanley's Cups and the Steelers have won SIX Super Bowls since 1974. Go figure.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's a Burgh Thing

We are still in PA doing the things we need to do. We have been poked and probed and are happy to report all is well. The importance of our health has really hit home recently with the reports of the passing and illness of several friends. Our thoughts go out to all who are dealing with health and family issues. We have been having a great time with old friends and family and are happy to see all our favorite restaurants are still doing well. Our bill for groceries is way down for the month but the dining out is through the roof. We have more than one favorite dish at each place so several visits have been required. We have been doing some much needed motorhome cleaning including emptying, cleaning and reorganizing the basement. It is amazing how much stuff we have accumulated in four years on the road. Nanc has cleaned closets and I still have to wax the exterior

We got together with the Euchre group for an evening of food, fun and cards. Nanc tied for first and had to spilt her winnings which really cut down on the profits for the night. Of course my coming in last also contributed to this financial setback. Left to right are Tim, Nanc, Tom, Diane, Georgie, Mike and Sherri. The euchre tournaments are one of the things we miss on the road.
We had a fun day at the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival. Three streets were closed and they had groups all weekend. Dahntahn was alive with music n 'at. Pittsburgh has a proud heritage of jazz, but the local NPR station has just changed hands and the hours of daily jazz on the radio are in danger which has resulted in a lot of uproar and many letters to the editor.

Some of the Burgh's art. Top is a transformer man made of bridges, a mural celebrating the cultural district and our very own magnolia tree that blooms year round. Bottom is a sculpture of a musician, a juried piece by a former student, Toby Fraley, and a neat fountain in Katz Plaza. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city and no longer the smoky steel town most people think it is. It is doing well in these tough economic times with an unemployment rate well below the national average.

There were many artists selling their wares and all kinds of food at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Yinz could get perogies or a jumbo sandwich along with a can of pop or an ahrn to wash it dahn. The festival was really crowded because there were so many jagoffs in tahn from Philly to see their team loose 2 out of three to the Buccos.

At the Point (see pic in the last entry) the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers come together to form the Ohio making this spot a strategic location for both the French and British in the middle 1700's. The French first controlled the confluence but burned Fort Duquesne and fled when the British approached. The British then built Fort Pitt and the blockhouse is all that remains from that fort. This was part of the same war that led to the expulsion of the French Cajuns from Canada to Louisiana that we learned so much about when we stayed in Abbeville.

Today the Point is a beautiful state park that gives a much different view of the city skyline. The outline of concrete shows the location of the walls of the first fort. Pittsburgh is a beautiful stop if yinz are traveling in the area but unfortunately there are really no good RV parks within twenty five miles of dahntahn.