Friday, July 22, 2011

Pittsburgh from the three rivers

On our way home from Canada we detoured via Pittsburgh to visit our friends Larry and Mary who used to live in our community. As part of the entertainment, they took us for a river boat tour of Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately it was a hot muggy day that obscured everything in a layer of haze.

An Alcoa aluminium smelter. Note the correct spelling.

Pittsburgh is really proud of their Steelers and deservedly so. Some day the Philadelphia Eagles will win.

The entrance to the wharf where various pleasure boats were lined up.

This was our boat.

I liked the railings.

And the back deck. The black thing towards the bottom left was used to turn the boat.

Inside the boat's pleasure dome.

The support from an old demolished railway bridge. It was the Wabash Bridge and this pylon and a matching one on the other side are all that remain. There is a road tunnel in the nearby mountainside that I suspect initially was used by the trains.

Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, more than Venice. I believe that the main bridges over the three rivers should be painted different colours to match the rainbow. It would make them easier for visitors to distinguish them from each other.

Downtown Pittsburgh with a freeway running along side the river. 

An interesting old building. These are the kind of interesting old buildings that seem to have disappeared from Toronto.

More bridges.

The Smithfield Street Bridge. It has been designated a National Historic Civic Engineering Landmark. The colour of the paint has to remain the same so I suppose it won't be part of my rainbow bridges scheme.

Another view of the Smithfield Street Bridge.

One of the two remaining inclined planes that go up the hill on the south side of the river. This is the Monongahela Incline, named after the river. The other incline is the Duquesne Incline.

Freeways on the hill side.

A tram crossing the river.

Another interesting old building.

Now here is something interesting in new buildings, the side of the United Steelworkers Building.

Heinz Field Stadium where the Steelers play. In the foreground is the junction of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers where they form the Ohio River.

Downstream on the Ohio River.

Outside the Carnegie Science Center they have a submarine the USS Requin.

PNC Park where the Pirates play baseball. It's a new stadium and has a great view of the city from the spectator seats. It's the second smallest major league stadium, but in a city with a smaller population than the major cities, that's not a bad thing.

This building was designed in the days of no air-conditioning so that all offices had a window. The center of the building is hollow.

This wave shape was cool.

The Three Sisters suspension bridges were supposedly used to test out the design of the much larger Golden Gate Bridge. More about that here.

The Fort Wayne rail bridge. This was raised in 1918 to allow taller boats to pass underneath. At one time there were sets of tracks on two levels but only the top level operates these days.

It really is an interesting looking bridge.

Fishing. We later saw some brave soul swimming in the river.

The boat turned around just before getting to the 16th Street Bridge.

On our way back a train passed over the Fort Wayne bridge. We were well on the other side of the bridge when the last wagon of the train appeared.

On a clear day, this view of the junction of the rivers would be terrific.

We had a discussion about these barges moored on the south bank of the Ohio River. We decided that they were filled with radioactive material and were kept there as a threat to the state of Ohio, just down stream. If Ohio misbehaved, the barges would be unleashed.

I presume these are catfish that we saw as we got off the boat.

Since it was a hot day, we went to church for a beer. 

The Church Brew Works is a brewpub housed in a former Catholic church. The beer I had was not too great and not cold enough but the others were pretty good. I did have an excellent quesadilla for lunch.

We were finishing our meal when Mary noticed this stained glass window. At first she thought the center figure was a man with no pants on and then since we were some distance from the window, we wondered if the central figure was going the grope on the person to the left. Fortunately for the propriety of stained glass windows, all was above board. Unfortunately for us, all was above board; we were hoping for a good snigger.

So despite the heat, it was a very enjoyable boat ride. Next time we may do a walking tour.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rattlesnake Point and Crawford lake

We drove a few miles north to the Niagara Escarpment to take a look at a couple of conservation areas.

The path through the woods to Rattlesnake Point. It was a lovely afternoon and it was exceedingly pleasant strolling along under the shady trees.

Looking out from the point.

There was a curious rock pillar just below.

You could take some steps down to look more closely at the pillar. Apparently the area is popular with rock climbers.

It was amazing how some of the rocks managed to stay up there. I certainly wouldn't linger underneath.

There is much less ground level vegetation here that we would find at our woods in Maryland. Some areas like this were completely bare.

We then walked back to the parking lot and then drove to Crawford Lake.

Before walking to the lake we visited the Wendat village which was home to some Indians from the Iroquois tribe. The village is reconstructed and is surrounded by a picket fence.

This building was constructed based on the findings of archaeologists.

A reconstruction of the archaeology process.

The bark used to enclose the building.

The building is quite large with very high ceiling. I wonder how the Indians managed to climb up there to put on the roof.

One half of the building was set up to show what life was like in the building. Here are animal skins on what presumable would have been a bed.

Moose antlers.

Tennis racquets. Just kidding, but they did have some sticks that looked like lacrosse sticks.

There was a park ranger who demonstrated how the Indians would have made a fire using the local flint stones. She used a white fluffy plant called milk weed along with some flammable bark and when she got a spark it really went up very quickly.

This looks like where you would shoot your arrows from to keep raiders away.

The building from the outside.

As part of the archaeology exploration, they found the traces of two other buildings and have erected the skeletons of the buildings to show where they were.

You might be surprised to know that the Iroquois were the inventors of solar hot water. Apparently it got pretty funky in the big buildings and so they needed to have a good shower every now and then. Hot water would have been very welcome in winter.

Some people may have claimed that they invented the Iroquois helicopter, but I am not one of them.

Some fake fish drying in the breeze.

Then we walked down to the lake.

It's everything you would expect a small Canadian lake to be.

Very clear water. If you click on the photo you may be able to see a small fish.

There is a boardwalk constructed around the edge of the lake for part of the way.

It's a pity we could not spend more time there and walk completely round the lake.

The side of the Visitor Center. We were intrigued by the layering of the rock.