Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Three Rivers Run Through It

After a week of almost total isolation, Marissa and I pull out of the woods of central Pennsylvania and headed for my own private Valhalla.  Pittsburgh.  Home of The Team.  My Team.  My Beloved Team.  For as long as I've been a Steeler fan, I've spent precious little time in the city they call home.  Of course, the fact that I live in Texas has a lot to do with it, but even when Mother was living a mere 25 miles outside of the city, I didn't get a chance to get there much when I visited.  Mother wasn't comfortable with the city.  She never went there on her own, and, from what I could ever tell, that hadn't changed from when she was young.  She could travel half way around the world on her own, but somehow driving into Pittsburgh just wasn't her scene.

By the summer of 2007, I had only been to one home game ten years before, and that was in old Three Rivers Stadium (which I do remember somewhat vaguely - I was more than a little tipsy, but the thing I would have liked to forget I remember all too well, Cowboys 37-Steelers 7).  I had never been to Heinz Field at all.  I almost always get to at least one actual Steeler game a year, but I follow them around on the road.  I am not alone in that.  I've met PGH natives who have to travel outside the city to be able to see the Steelers live.  They are definitely a hot commodity.  About the only silver lining I can think of for the Big-Jerk Ben suspension is that maybe, for once, tickets might be just a tad easier to come by.  But, I tend to think they won't; Steeler fans are likely to show up to games just to yell at Ben.  Sigh.

Anyway, point being:  weird as it may be, I drove into a city I felt I had a deep connection to, but I really knew very little about.  Marissa and I were yet to meet Leslie, our lovely hostess for our trip last December.  I knew I had relatives who lived in the city, but I didn't know how to reach them, and I was shy about trying to get in touch with the family I did know, so we wandered in blindly, no idea which end was up and with no set itinerary.  I set Heinz Field as my center point and charted our course for the next week around it.  Winging it like that, with no official plan I actually think is the best way to really see and learn a city.    Problem comes in when you wander into areas you shouldn't at times you shouldn't be there, which we did a time or two, so I need to polish my technique before I go out and publish any travel books.  But nothing bad came close to happening, so all in all I think we made out okay.

I've detailed the city in this blog before.  I won't belabor it again.  But, let me just say this:  Pittsburgh beyond a doubt has the most beautiful skyline in the country.  It's small wonder that a house that fronts onto that view will run around the half million mark, while a similar home a few blocks back is modestly priced.  The view is indeed priceless.  The city itself is a complex jumble of a little bit of everything.  It's got professional sports.  And then it also has the Pirates.  It has multiple institutions of higher learning, like I wrote before, but it is born of the grit and grime of the steel mills.  There is art, music and beauty. There is sadness, poverty and crime.  All of it unfolded before us during the week we were there.  I felt that we had only scratched the surface of a very deep well.

I'll share some of my stories...but, let me leave you tonight with some visuals to acquaint you with the city first.

1 comment:

  1. ah man c'mon.. that's the picture you use? There's two brilliant ones (both of which my eyes are open fully) that come to mind right away: the one where I'm posing with your big cigar man only I've got a cig, and then the legendary one of me sitting in the Steelers locker. I looove that picture of me, if I may be vain ;)