Hail in Pittsburgh: March 23, 2011

Home of the Steelers!
Highlights from today: (click here for pictures)

Graham was the first one that stirred this morning and since the clock was unplugged we don’t know what time it was.  He climbed in bed with me and Robby climbed out.  Soon though, Graham was getting out of my bed and climbing into Robby’s bed.  We finally started stirring around 8:45.  There isn’t a breakfast at this hotel (Robby booked all of this trips hotels for free-yep, everyone ended up being free thanks to opening up a credit card-which we won’t ever use). 
The kids were pretty hungry so they moved pretty quickly getting ready.  Since we are in the same hotel tonight, we didn’t have to do too much loading up-other than the stroller, diaper bag, extra bag, food bag, ice chest, coat bag, toys and the kids backpacks (that we won’t need until the plane trip home).  Okay, we had to do a lot of loading up this morning and we also had to get the movie player installed.  I didn’t turn on the power to the something or other and it did cause a panic when the back seat movie thing wouldn’t come on.  Robby was minutes away from Walmart to buy another one when I discovered that there was a power switch. 
About an exit down the road was a McDonalds.  The kids eat the big pancake breakfast-most of a pancake for everyone, along with some eggs, sausage and part of a biscuit.  Robby and I had the breakfast wraps.  While Robby’s wrap cooled off and while I passed out the food, he ran into Walmart to buy a few things.  He came back out with a cart full-cokes, juice boxes, apples, cookies, cereal, poptarts and milk.  Then we proceeded to unload everything, put it where it went in the car, open the milk and pour everyone a glass of milk.  We worked on his grocery cart for over 10 minutes and then realized that we were putting on a pretty good show for the lady sitting in her car across from us who was watching every move that we made.
From there, it didn’t take too long for us to get into Pittsburgh.  It is a nice little town that is built around 3 rivers.  Our first stop was Heinz Field-home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They also have a statue of Mr. Rogers (which we couldn’t find even though we walked past it but we did see it later from the car).  It was pretty chilly this morning but we still only needed one of our jackets.  We walked around the stadium and then down by the river near an old submarine and even took a picture by a triceratops at the science center.
The kids enjoyed the little walk and were happy about getting back in the warm car.  Our next adventure took us to the projects-I had typed in the wrong street name.  But we soon found the Andy Warhol museum.  We didn’t go in since it was pretty pricey and I want to save my pricey activities for later in the trip.  Anyway, Reagan did need a potty stop so we did duck in the gift shop and restroom.  I was hoping there would have been a Campbell’s soup picture hanging somewhere in the entrance that I could have gotten Campbell’s picture with.  But there wasn’t.
We had thought about going to the park in the middle of the three rivers but thought we better make sure the fountain was going since it had a fountain.  It wasn’t and when we saw the park later in the day from the funicular, it looks as if it had flooded and the sidewalks were covered with mud.  From our walk around Heinz Field, we could see bridges, trains and even a funicular.  Really, this city is a little boys dream.
We went to the Duquesne incline next.  We parked and then walked over the street using a pedestrian bridge and the kids just thought that was pretty awesome.  When we boarded the funicular, we were in the only ones on the car which was great because everyone could go from window to window looking around.  They were quite impressed with the ride.  On our way up, there was a little rain shower but it quickly disappeared.  Campbell must have thought that she had to sit down because each time I tried to stand her up so she could see out of the window, she would turn around and sit down.  Silly girl.
Once we made it to the top, Robby read all about it while the kids looked through a window and could see the gears pulling the next car up.  They thought that was really neat.  We even bought our first ornament of the trip and Anderson was just about as excited as I was.  We finally went down and went to the next stop. 
Robby had found a local joint named Primanti Bros. in the strip district.  We walked through a little farmer’s market to get there and the kids really wanted us to buy some food.  Guess they didn’t notice that most of it was vegetables.  We had apples in the car so we did pass.  Anyway, the restaurant was a neat place.  Just a quaint little hole in the wall: cash only, pay when the food comes, open 24 hours, no silverware or even plates.  They just brought the food out on wax paper and plopped it all down on the table.  On their sandwiches, they put the slaw and fries on the sandwich.  Kind of different. 
Before we left, we made a bathroom run and it was down a flight of stairs.  Reagan asked if we had been there before-she remembered going down stairs to go to a bathroom.  I finally realized that she remembered our pizza place in NYC.  It is something what they remember.  We had talked earlier in the day about riding in the Amish buggy 2 years ago.  She couldn’t remember that until I mentioned the whoopie pie and then she did recall that the buggy had a top on it. 
On our way back to the car, we found a bin of dollar t shirts.  So Robby grabbed a few to run in and a few for the kids.  By now the sun had come out and the weather was quite nice-needed a light coat but almost didn’t when the sun hit you.  We knew our next stop was a few miles down the road so we put in a movie and headed on.
North Huntingdon, PA has the McDonald's that invented the Big Mac and since we are such Big Mac lovers (not really-don’t think I have ever had one) we drove the 30 miles to get there.  It was something to do and since we have been to the home of KFC why not go to the home of the Big Mac and since we would get ice cream there that made it all the better.  It was mainly just a McDonalds with some memorabilia in it but it did have a play area and a huge big mac.  The kids all thought it was funny to take their pictures by the Big Mac. 
While we were there, the weather turned rainy and we were glad that we just had a drive back towards IKEA and the hotel planned.  We didn’t know how bad the weather was actually-about 20 miles from the Big Mac stop was a pretty bad tornado.  We had some rain and some tiny hail once, then it cleared and then we had more rain with some bigger hail.  The second hail storm caught the kids attention. 
The first few thuds from the third hailstorm caused me to turn around and see what the kids had done.  It wasn’t raining terribly but Robby soon said “it’s hail”  It was crazy loud when it hit the car-loud enough for the kids to yell “what is that?”  It was about a quarter size and I am sure the van has dents in it.  People were pulling off the road like mad headed under bridges (we didn’t stop-my Dad always said don’t pull over on the road-take an exit).  Anyway, the hail was so big that Robby was sure it was going to break the glass and had his hand up to protect himself if it broke.  I scooted back as far as I could in the seat.  The hail ended up covering the road.  There was lightening and thunder that kept the kids entertained.  It all didn’t last for more than 20 minutes but this made traffic horrible and our 30 mile drive turned into at least a 90 minute drive.
Since we needed supper and we had seen an IKEA by our morning McDonalds stop.  The IKEA was smaller than most but still pretty big.  Reagan and Anderson went to the play area.  Kids have to be potty trained to go and we thought about sneaking Graham in but thought we would be honest.  He did enjoy playing in the kiddie area-we only bought one thing but I am mentally making my list for when we drive back to Dallas.  Since it was near closing and in the middle of the week, the place was deserted.  This made for an enjoyable shopping trip-we had the place to ourselves.  After we finished, we ate some 50 cent hot dogs and a few pretzels on the way out. 
From there, we were back in the room in no times.  Graham didn’t really understand that we were going to be in the same hotel room and was quite surprised to see our stuff already in our room.  They colored for awhile (Campbell just ate the colors), then had some milk and we called it a night.  Since they had been up late last night, we decided to make this an early night and for awhile we wondered if it would work.  They tossed, turned, talked and then all of a sudden it was completely quiet and everyone was sound asleep.  Tomorrow is Cleveland-high of 31!

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