Monday, July 21, 2014

Oh, beautiful, the city view

Yesterday I took my dad and my kid up the incline so we could get a great view of the city. I ended up with some nice shots. I only wish I had thought to have brought my camera; the iphone does not do the view justice.

Nice view of Heinz Field and the three rivers (mostly the Ohio and Allegheny)

The edge of the Point, with Downtown and the Mon River


Mostly the Point

View of the Ohio and a little of Heinz Field

The Ohio



We ate at the Grandview Saloon, which I have not been to, I am guessing, since before J was born. We were fortunate that the waiter got this nice shot of the three of us with the view in the background.

dad, J and I, with our fair city and a couple of rivers in the background (plus some random guy to my left)


We also took a Gateway Clipper one-hour cruise, which allowed me to get a handful of nice city shots as well.

View of Downtown from along the Mon River

The Point from the Mon


The Point from where the three rivers meet


The Point from the Allegheny (because you have to see if from three sides)

Heading down the Allegheny

Rivers Casino along the Ohio

View heading towards Downtown from the Ohio


View of the Northshore and Downtown from the Ohio


Pittsburgh, how I love (most of) thee!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vacation all I ever wanted!

We had a fabulous vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, last week. I highly recommend doing a mini-week there if you are within six hours away. Being at the beach for seven nights is a bit much for us; my skin could barely take the four days we were there. And by staying just over half a week, we saved money, obviously. But I do admit I would have loved one more day.

Food was an integral part of our trip. I love to eat. I really love to eat seafood, so I made sure that was part of every lunch or dinner. I also managed a tasty beverage with every lunch or dinner as well. That is part of what vacation is about.

Here are a couple of pics of those:

Delicious lobster bisque

Strawberry blonde ale at brew pub on the boardwalk

Steamed clams from Jonah and the Whale at the end of the boardwalk
You gotta love shrimp in your bloody Mary. But the siracha-sauce soaked beans I could have done without! This was from the Crabcake Factory.
On our way out of town the last morning, when it was pouring rain, we stopped at a "cute" bakery in Fenwick Island.

As a kid, we spent hours at the beach daily (we went to OC pretty much every year). I don't know if it is just that my skin is older, the ozone layer is depleted, or what, but I ended up burnt and with a rash by the second day. This despite my drowning my skin in sunblock multiple times. Still, nothing can beat the ocean.

Here are some shots of that; the waves were pretty tough:

I took this as soon as we set foot on the sand, our first day there. Hello, ocean!


These were the waves our last full day there. We did not go out as far.

 As a kid, our trip to OC was not complete without a trip to an amusement park and mini golf, so we made sure to do both of those things. Many of the rides at Trimper's on the boardwalk are still there, 20 to 30 years later. Unfortunately. I could not get J to go on the ones I wanted to. The four of us did ride the giant Ferris wheel, which gave us a spectacular view of the beach below.

Lost Treasure mini golf

Fore!
View from the Ferris wheel

The place we stayed at was on the bayside, though our place did not have a water view, unfortunately.

Here are couple of shots from our neighborhood:

This was the view behind our place.

Assawoman Bay, at the end of our street.

Geese in the water


Since I am doing my best to maintain my fitness level, I made sure to walk and/or run every morning. It was quite humid the first few days, but being able to walk near water helped temper the 80-degree temps. I save my longest run for the last full day, when it was overcast. I had not run on the beach since I was a teen, I am guessing. Even then I am not entirely sure I did that. It is quite the challenge running along the ocean, but there is not way I could have handled the "regular" sand.

Here are some pics from that morning:

Selfie of my running

Cool shot, I thought

I ran along the ocean. I am pretty sure I ruined my tennis shoes, but I think it was worth it.

I admit my eyes welled up with tears as we drove home. I grew up a spoiled child who vacationed at least once a year. For a couple of years my family had a house on the bay in OC; unfortunately, between two working parents and a six-hour drive, we never made it there more than three times a year. After that we had a house on Indian Lake, which we did visit often. But towards the end of high school, we had some money problems; my parents' divorce followed a few years later, and all of the sudden we were struggling. That experience turned me into a frugal person, which is mostly a good thing. I truly appreciate experiences like these. When you vacation only every few years, you savor the moments. But you also can become sad knowing that you have a few more years until the next one.

I am just glad we had a great time, that J got to have a fun vacation. I appreciated being off work for a week, and the hubby, who hates his job, really was glad to be off. Hopefully my rash will fade soon! But I am more hopeful the memories will linger on.

Here's to the next adventure!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

An update

Once again I have slacked off with posting. I did write about/sing the praises of RiverQuest, an educational boat ride on the North Shore, so please check that out in my previous post below!

Anyway, here is what has been going on in my life since last time.


  • J is done with 5th grade. Hooray. This was a tough year for a number of reasons. She had a lot of HW up until the end; she had only one homework-free weekend the entire year, which I disagree with. She also was no longer friends with the group of friends she had been (their friendships ended at the very end of 4th. Looking on the bright side, we saved some money by missing out on birthday invites, and I did not and will not have to worry about taking time off work to get her to various gatherings held during the week. :-)  I tell J that I went to an even smaller Catholic school and also did not have a lot of friends, but high school and college were different, each better than the previous.
  • Things are still going well at the job. We are slowing down, but I know that won't last too long. If only I had more vacation time, I would take one day a week off during July. But still happy to be employed. 
  • That is one of the things about my working. I finally have money to do (some) things, but I don't have much time. Pre-job I had a lot of time...
  • We are taking our first family vacation in five years this summer. It will also be our first vacation with just the three of us. I am really looking forward to it. I will hopefully have a good post around that. After our failed attempt two years ago, I do worry.
  • We don't have a lot planned for the summer. We did the RiverQuest boat ride a few weeks ago, Kennywood the last day of school, mini-golf the weekend after, and the zoo last weekend. Not sure what else will happen. But June has definitely been busy!
  • I have been getting in to better shape. I participated in a 30-day challenge (30 minutes of exercise) in 30 days. It was a challenge, but I did it. I am still trying to keep up with it, but I am okay with six days a week with close to 30 minutes per day.
  • Someday I will write that post on healthcare. :-)
I hope all of you have a great summer. And I hope I get back here before another month goes by. Oh, and I hope the Pens can find a good coach soon. Who is left?!

RiverQuest

This past fall, I had the wonderful experience of being a chaperone on a field trip to RiverQuest, a non-profit educational organization that operates a river learning center for students, teachers, and the community of southwestern Pennsylvania. During the four-hour boat trip, the students got to examine organisms under microscopes, test water, learn various facts about plant and animal life in the river and environment, and much more.


Recently, I looked up RiverQuest on the great big internet, and I discovered (or perhaps just remembered) that the organization offers Saturday cruises. So I decided the family should go. After a long walk around the North Shore on beautiful sunny day, we boarded the RiverQuest boat on the Ohio River, after having purchased our tickets at the nearby Science Center.

The one-hour trip did not disappoint. The hubby, who was still slightly under the weather, appreciated time in the sun. And J and I did various learning activities. She was particularly engaged in looking at things under the microscope, including some rarely seen phytoplankton. I had fun doing a sand activity having to do with sediment! :-)




We were one of only two families on the boat that afternoon, so we had the undivided attention of the educators. Ever the money-minder, I told them I felt bad that so few people took advantage of this educational and extremely reasonably priced boat ride ($6.95 for children and $9.95 for adults; you would pay way more than that for a ride on the Gateway Clipper). Unfortunately, the org is hurting for money, but they are exploring a partnership with Rivers of Steels. I really hope that works out. I talked to someone at RQ yesterday who was optimistic. She said there was a good chance the Saturday sails would start up again the weekend after the Fourth; right now the last one is scheduled for next weekend.

If you live in or are visiting the Pittsburgh area, please consider taking one of their Saturday cruises. It would be most ideal if you had a child to bring, but I am sure they would be happy to have grown ups as well. Hopefully next weekend won't be the last one. But you may want to check them out on the web at riverquest.org. I am optimistic that we will get the chance to enjoy another ride before the summer ends. I sure hope so!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Have I mentioned how much I love Phipps?!

Back in December, I posted some pics from an afternoon/evening at Phipps Conservatory. I so enjoyed my time there that I went back a week or so later to get a dual membership. Probably the best $75 I have spent on anything. (And it was more like spending $54 since I was able to put the $26 I spent that evening in December towards my membership.)

Including that time, I have been to Phipps at least five times, sometimes with others and sometimes alone. I have gone to the winter show, the spring show, to something in between the winter and spring show, and then J and I went today, for the summer flower show.

Maybe I will do a post of the spring show, for posterity's sake. But here is the summer show!

Here are some pictures of random, pretty flowers and plants  (I have no clue what is what):


Purple is my favorite color, so of course this is beautiful





Right now there are trains in many rooms.

Love how the yellow and pink/red mix


Here are some pics of the Butterfly Forest. We watched some butterflies come out of their chrysalises, which was really cool.
So neat to watch the butterflies emerge.




Here are some pics of various rooms. We saw the beginning of a wedding in the first room below (we took this pic about 1.5 hours before the wedding started). The last two pics are of my very favorite room there, the East Room.




 Some cool thing outside.


Finally, here are some pics from the Center for Sustainable Landscapes; the last one is a view of the Tropical Forest. Very cool.





Going to Phipps puts me in my happy place. Even better is when I can go during lunch during the week. Well, I can be there only about 35 minutes, plus time to walk there and back, if I want to keep to my lunch hour. But there are so few people there; it is quite peaceful and relaxing.

I said to J that when I retire, I want to work there. Maybe I will!