Tag Archives: Hogwarts

T is for Tourist Trap


crosbyBefore we get to the meat of this post, let’s take a small moment to post this once and for all…HOCKEY IS FINALLY BACK!  Big happy sigh. Penguins, come home, we miss you.

The lock out’s been awful, especially considering how well Pittsburgh’s other sports teams have performed this year.  Oh you Pirates, you heart-wrenching awful Pirates.  And the Steelers…well, that was an embarrassing season.  But today, today hockey is back.  And for a brief moment, the world seems just a little better.

I’m not going to get on my soapbox about how the NHL “owes” me something, and I won’t be watching games anymore.  Let’s be honest, I’m annoyed and frustrated with the NHL owners, executives, and players.  I think both sides have acted incredibly selfish for several long months, and it hurt the fans most of all.  But will I be watching the first game in a few weeks?  You betcha.  Because deep down, all I want is to watch my beloved sport again.  And watch Letang’s hair flow behind him as he skates the puck into the neutral zone.  And watch Sidney raise that Cup again.  Is that too much to ask for?

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  Today’s post is (sadly) not about hockey.  Today’s post is about my favorite city in the world, Pittsburgh, and all the fun I’ve had in it this weekend.

524778_609559287652_1041826364_nAs I told you in my previous post, this weekend’s adventure was about acting like those love-to-hate-’em tourist.  I wanted to get out, see the sites, have a bite to eat, paint the town red, and generally just have a good time.  Were lives going to change over this weekend, probably not.  Was I planning on having a good time, you better believe it.

So my old roommate Kara and I headed down to Oakland for the morning.  For those out-of-city blog readers, Oakland’s the area of Pittsburgh that houses the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and all of the Carnegie museums.  It’s a fun neighborhood to walk around, and while I have definitely explored the area before, I wanted to give it a closer look.

It was bitter cold on Saturday, and since all colleges are still on winter break it was also eerily quiet as well.  Without thousands of college kids streaming everywhere, the place seemed very ghost-town esque, if the middle of a major metropolitan area can ever feel like that.  We warmed up with coffee to help us brave the bitter winds, and set out to explore.

First we headed over to the Carnegie museums as they prepared to open.  Personally, even though I’m a history major, I’m not a huge fan of the Carnegie museums.  I can appreciate the culture and relevance they bring to the city, the chance for education and exploration, but I’m a sucker for the Heinz History Center.  It will always beat out the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in my opinion.  We did get to pose with some dinosaurs, though, which is something most people can’t cross off their bucket list 🙂

735175_609559157912_1979641394_nAfterwards we headed over to Pitt and the Cathedral of Learning.  It is the iconic building on Pitt’s campus, and though I’ve driven and walked by it dozens of times before, I had never been inside.   Luckily for me, I finally had the chance to head inside and tour the building.

The architecture inside is breathtaking, full of beautiful stonework, Gothic archways, and hand cut stone stairs. It is straight out of a scene from Harry Potter, and a little part of me wanted to shout “Protego!” as I wound my way through the grand hall on the first floor.  If we had been alone, I might have, but there was a high school mock trial competition in session, and it might have seemed a little weird…some day, though, I’ll make it happen.  Maybe I’ll add it to my ever-growing bucket list.

The cool thing about the COL is they have these “Room of Nations” all over the first few floors, and it’s almost like Pittsburgh’s own EPCOT.  Each classroom is set up and designed to reflect a different world culture, and each room was created to educate citizens about the different cultures in the world.  I will admit, there’s definitely less Mickey apparel in these rooms than in EPCOT, but once you get pas that the rooms are pretty fascinating.

185752_609559966292_496896217_nSeeing a new part of the city was definitely a great way to spend my Saturday.  Unfortunately the weather made staying outside for too long pretty much close to impossible, but we had fun exploring the museum and Pitt, and even got to see some amazing college tours full of apprehensive high school seniors.  Man I do not miss those days.

For now, I’m going to enjoy my Sunday off and catch up on some TV shows.  Seriously, what a great day.  Hockey’s back.  Downton Abby’s back.  And my laundry is finally done.  Is this not an awesome weekend or what?

I hope your Sunday is going as well as mine!!  Have a wonderful week my friends.



C is for Corn Maze


Another Initech-free weekend.  You’ll never believe this, but I actually had the opportunity to accept another job offer this week and I turned them down.  I know, after all the complaining I do about Initech, you’d think I’d be willing to switch jobs for just about anything.  And I am; this just just happened to be in the 0.1% of things I do not want to do.  Ha.  So for now I’ll be staying at Initech, chasing my dreams from a distance.

It’s autumn, though!  Such a wonderful time of year!  Pumpkin, apples, spices, cider.  The crunching of leaves as you walk through your yard to retrieve your mail.  Dense fog cover in the morning, hillsides that display God’s full Creation in a blaze of color and movement, the smell of wood fires starting to burn.  And corn mazes!

As I told you in my previous post, the one and only “corn maze” I went to in my life was so lame a 6 year old could’ve figured it out.  I’m 26, so….I figured it out in about 15 seconds.  It was super lame, and I was super bummed I spent money trying to have fun at such a disappointing place.  I swore next year it would be different.

We headed up to Mercer PA for a Cool Springs Corn Maze.  The place was hopping: Mormons, youth groups, Brownies, Girl Scout Troops.  We might have been the only non-family, non-group affiliated people wandering around.  That’s kind of how we  roll, though.

The entrance to the maze is marked with a large painted cutout of a train, much like the Hogwarts Express.  If I had only brought my luggage cart, I would have charged full steam at the plywood.  Alas, I forgot it at home with my owl and cauldron.  But I’m going to be honest, I dunno why the entrance was marked that way.

Fun advice if you ever go to a corn maze: don’t let the 15 year old lead the group when she refuses to use the handy map they provided us.  Taylor lead us all over the place, up on trail and down another.  Heck, in some sections her and Matt created their own trails.  It makes it really challenging to know where you’re at when you’re stomping through corn stalks trying to “find another path to try”.  It was pretty bad.

We walked through all of this. Some of it several times…

Eventually, after emerging into a pumpkin patch and snatching a few pumpkins for the road (who has a pumpkin patch in a corn maze!?) we settled into our Dora-inspired roles wonderfully.  Erika was our French-speaking Dora, Matt was lame-o Diego, Taylor was Boots, and I was Map, since I actually started using the map.  We were very lost for awhile, which automatically meant we all had to suddenly pee, and then we found our trail and made it out to the end.

The end of the maze was a magical place full of pumpkin cannons, friendly goats, sewage slides, and free ice cream.   Oh, and enough John Deere equipment to have me slightly confused as to what state we actually were still in.  There was so much going on it actually took us awhile to get through everything.  Guess it’s a good thing we weren’t lost in the maze longer, we might have missed the free ice cream.  And who doesn’t love free ice cream?

In the end the day was about as silly as you can imagine.  A little bit Amish, a lot a bit red neck, and a whole lot of climbing through grained plants looking for an exit.  I’m not sure what human thought to originally cut paths through their corn crops and charge people a small admission to walk through it, but I must congratulate them, whoever they may be.  It was a ridiculously fun time, and really, that’s all I want from my weekends!

Off to bake some cupcakes!  Apple spice might be in the works today.  Or maybe some cinnamon crunch.  Hmm, the possibilities are quite endless.