Pittsburgh Winter Weekend

The Allegheny River and the Rachel Carson Bridge

When we knew that Greg had business in Pittsburgh in January, I immediately started researching “what to do in Pittsburgh in the winter”, and wow, did I find alot! So many things in fact, that we will have to return to this wonderful city since, on this trip, we only had one day.

We woke to a temperature of 5°F but it had warmed up to a walkable 15°F by the time we set out to explore. As you can see, the Allegheny River was iced over next to the shoreline. The City of Pittsburgh has created the Three Rivers Heritage Trail which is a multi‑use riverfront trail system. The “33‑mile nonlinear trail has segments on both banks of Pittsburgh’s three rivers with access to city neighborhoods, business districts, and local attractions”. The sun was shining brightly and once my fingertips adjusted to the freezing temps, we thoroughly enjoyed our time along the river.

Once we got back to the North side of the Allegheny, we enjoyed public art, a greenspace called Magnolia Park with gorgeous blooms contrasting with the snow on the ground, and a frozen fountain.

We also explored the outside of The Pennsylvanian which was constructed in 1900 for use as Pittsburgh’s Union Station. The website explains that “The Pennsylvanian is considered one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings. The handcrafted, dome-shaped rotunda at its entrance – encapsulating the vision of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham – serves as a prominent symbol for Pittsburgh. The New Yorker art critic Brendan Gill proclaimed the building as “one of the great pieces of Beaux-Arts architecture in America”. The building is now a wedding venue and private apartments, so we were not able to explore the inside.

After all of this time outside in the really fresh, really cold air, we warmed up in a local brick oven restaurant with tap room. We were seated right by the brick oven which was the perfect antidote for freezing temps.

Pittsburgh has many museums to choose from and we chose The Clemente Museum. Our guide was a fabulous story teller, and while Greg, the baseball fan, already knew the story of Roberto Clemente, I was inspired by his humanitarian efforts and bravery in the face of racism. I highly recommend a visit to this museum which is located in the former Engine House No. 25, built in 1896, and located in the Lawrenceville section of the city.

After our tour, we walked over to the 11th Hour Brewing Company to quench our thirst. Pittsburgh is such a walkable city! My friend Ruth and I visited several years ago for a Virginia Tech / Pitt football game and we walked and explored for hours.

We ended the day with an incredibly delicious dinner at Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar afterwhich we drove to the top of the Monogahela Incline for a nightime view of the city scape.

It was a jam packed 36 hours in this wonderful city, and we cannot wait to return!

Cold and Wet: Happiness is Snow

Even though it means lots of digging to get the truck out and shoveling the driveway in order to get to work, I am always thrilled when it snows! The warming of the climate has caused so many worse things than alot less snow in Southwest Virginia, but even still I am saddened when we don’t get any. Ten days ago, we had the first snow of the year, and even though it was just a few inches, it made me happy.

This was my view on the way to work at 7:15am

And this was my view on the way home 12 hours later

This past weekend, the forecasters began calling for a significant snow fall, and the predictions started a full week ahead of time. Usually that means that the snow won’t happen but this time, the weather dudes were right! The wet stuff can cause misery, especially for the homeless and the less fortunate, but since it started on a Sunday, I was lucky enough to be able to just enjoy it, and photograph it, even if the photos were from my cellphone.

The frigid temps gave the beautiful fluffy stuff an icy coating, but we shoveled enough to get the vehicles ready for the morning commute.

Love it or hate it, you have to admit that snow makes for a beautiful landscape.

Stay warm and safe, ya’ll!

Christmas Day on Duke Of Glaucestor Street

Colonial Williamsburg (CW) is a popular vacation and holiday destination, yet we are often in Williamburg, Virginia to visit my parents who retired there over 30 years ago. With the moniker of “the world’s largest living history museum”, CW comprises approximately 301 acres featuring “iconic sites, working tradespeople, historic taverns, and two world-class art museums”. Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area houses restored and historically preserved buildings, 88 of which are originals, including Bruton Parish Episcopal Church. The church was established in 1674 by the consolidation of two previous parishes in the Virginia Colony, and remains an active Episcopal parish.

While our primary purpose of visiting is to see and enjoy family, Christmas Day found us walking the streets of CW, a safe, outdoor activity in these days of Covid.

The Capitol Building

One of my favorite things to see are the wreaths that adorn the doors. Each year, Colonial Williamsburg holds a wreath making contest. Wreaths are judged on the types of natural materials used, the creativity and elements of the design, and the originality and faithfulness to the spirit of eighteenth-century decorative ideas. I didn’t have a chance to see all of the wreaths while there, but I did capture of a few of my favorites created with turtle shells, eggs, peacock feathers, oyster shells, pinecones, artichokes, pomegranates, and other natural items

Eggs, Turtle Shell, Orange & Cloves, Smudge Sticks from Dried Sage
Peacock Feathers, Lotus Pods, Pomegranates
Oyster Shells and Pomegranates
Artichokes, Pomegranates, Pinecones, Lotus Pods, Okra Pods

Aren’t they just so creative and beautiful? As always, if you are ever in the Williamsburg area over the holiday season, be sure to plan to take a tour.

Our Version of a First Day Hike

First Day Hikes is an initiative of America’s State Parks, and hikes are offered, with waived entrance fees in state parks across the country. To be honest, I thought that this was just a Virginia thing, but all over the US folks are encouraged to “take a hike to inspire those New Year resolutions that are centered on getting or keeping fit”. Virginia has 41 State Parks, yet Greg and I have only visited 11. We have work to do!

We didn’t make it out to our local Claytor Lake State Park on New Years Day, but we did take our version of a First Day Hike. It was more an “Urban Walk” on Main Street and across Memorial Bridge over The New River but even still, it was great to be outside.

While I mourn for the Earth when it is 70°F in January, we definitely enjoyed the breeze as we walked over Memorial Bridge, enjoying the views.

Walking along Main Street offered views of historic architecture as well, while the clouds added much to the scenery.

Perhaps next year, we will do an official First Day Hike, but our Urban Walk was a great start to 2022.

Cheers!

New Year / New Blog Commitment

My very first blog post was in 2012 and I posted regularly until late in 2018 when somehow the fullness of life and work kept getting in the way. Back when I began, the goal was to “be able to look back on my life later and remember what a fabulous one it has been”, and by fabulous I mean truly fortunate. I intended to have Life on the Bike be a journal, of photos and words.

Each year, I create a desk calendar for family, friends, and personal use, and when exchanging the 2021 calendar for 2022, I noted one thing for sure. While my eye may be the same, my technical capability has markedly improved. Even still, it was fun to go back and view the years through my lens, and that is what I want this space to be. A record of travel and personal growth. Thoughts, introspection, and life’s journey. In order to make that happen, I need to commit to blogging more regularly!

Since 2012, I have published 738 posts, yet this past year I posted just 24 times, only 3.2% of the total posts. What should my commitment be? Weekly? Two Times Monthly? Only when I travel? How do you all commit yourself to documenting your lives?

In the meantime, from my hometown to yours, Welcome to 2022! May it be a healthier, more hopeful year for all of us!

The New River in Radford, Virginia

Greensboro: Denim and The Gate City

Long before becoming the third largest city in North Carolina, Greensboro was known for being the largest denim maker in the world. As Greg and I walked around the city last weekend, we saw many signs of this denim history. As I stopped to capture this mural, the driver of the car that was idling right in front backed up so I could take the shot. How very cool! And how perfect that the guy leaning against the fence was wearing jeans. We stayed at Hotel Denim and would have eaten at Blue Denim restaurant if the tables had not been booked all evening.

To commemorate Greensboro’s rich history with the denim and textile industry, Wrangler, VF Jeanswear spearheaded a public art project, dubbed “Jeansboro”, of painted jeans sculptures all throughout downtown.

Greensboro is also called Gate City because by 1890 there were more than 60 trains passing through the city each day. It had become a major transportation center, largely because of the denim industry.

We enjoyed the street life, the historic buildings still in use, and visiting the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum opened in 2010 as a comprehensive museum of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. It commemorates the Feb. 1, 1960, beginning of sit-ins at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, by the N.C. A&T Four college students, reflecting careful planning carried out with colleagues at Bennett College. Their non-violent direct action challenged the American People to make good on promises of personal equality and civic inclusion enunciated in the Constitution”.

Did you know that MLK was due to be in Greensboro the day that he was assassinated? He canceled his visit in order to remain in Memphis to continue his work with striking sanitation workers.

We only had 24 hours in Greensboro and are already ready to go back and explore some more!

Taylor’s Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Twenty-nine years ago, four women met while attending the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. Friendships were born during the challenges of graduate school and the process of becoming Nurse Practitioners, and a few times each year, we gather to celebrate our great good fortune in having met. We’ve been together through celebration and devastation, and have shared many a meal, a beverage, and lots and lots of laughter.

We call ourselves the Girls of August – the GOAs – (we WERE girls when we met) because during the first week of August we spend the week together. The only requirement to the location is that there must be water, whether it be ocean, bay, river, lake, or puddle. This year we stayed in a small rural location on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

A hurricane, a surgery, and Covid derailed the 2020 gathering, so this year’s vacation was a gift. A gift of time, friendship, the natural world, minimalism (no TV, no nearby stores), good food and drink, and wonderful friends.

Taylor’s Island proved to be the perfect place for those looking for a break from traffic, TV, and the fear of Covid. It was also the perfect place for the GOAs.

Cheers!