Heading South West and exploring Pittsburgh

After leaving the Niagara region we headed south to upper New York state.  We stayed at a place called Country Hills Campground.  This was such a lovely place, well kept and in a country setting with green rolling hills all around.  Upper state New York is very pretty, we really enjoyed our stay and travelling through the region.  Canada was very flat, so the hills are nice to see.  Jim and Denise ran the campground and were wonderful people to get to know.

Leaving the region, we headed to Pennsylvania and through the Allegheny Forest.  I chose a campsite right in the middle of the forest thinking we would go hiking but being in the forest often means narrow roads to get in, damp ground once there, insects, shade and bears.  I don’t know why I thought bear country would make for some good hiking.  We walked around the campground, that was it, pulled out the next day!

We continued on through Pennsylvania enjoying the rolling hills, pretty farms and woodland.  We are now in a campsite on top of a mountain in an area called Tarentum, just outside of Pittsburgh.  We are going in tomorrow by car to explore.

 

When I woke this morning and looked out of the window, the mountain top we are on and the surrounding area was enveloped in a thick fog. As I looked at the scene I immediately thought that it looked like a scene from the movie ‘The Deer Hunter’, one of my favorites.  I googled where the movie was set, and it was set and largely filmed in Pennsylvania, specifically around Pittsburg, and the deer hunting scenes were filmed in the Allegheny Forest that we drove through to get here!

By the time we were ready to head off to explore Pittsburgh the fog had cleared leaving a steamy hot day.  We drove into central Pittsburgh.  This is an old city in the rust belt of the US.  The Allegheny and Monongahela rivers run through the city, and converge there to become the Ohio River.  We took a funicular up a steep incline by the carpark to get an aerial view and from up there you can see the river convergence.  There are 446 bridges in the city, Venice only has 400…

 

From the rivers the city rises steeply on both sides and the surrounding areas are hilly with houses dotted around reminding us very much of Wellington.  The outer suburbs look slightly dreary reminding me of northern cities in the UK, such as Newcastle.  The houses here are mostly brownstones with dark coloured roof shingles, small yards, few trees, few gardens, probably all looks a bit dull on a wet day.  I also saw some lovely old architecture, grand churches and ornate industrial buildings that have been converted or improved, but some old buildings are abandoned and that looks a bit grim.  The wider city area has a population of 2.3 million people.

The city was all about steel manufacturing in it’s hayday, built by and worked by Irish, Welsh and German immigrants, in 1910 Pittsburg was turning out a third to half of the US’s steel. Today it still has over 300 steel related businesses.

Once in the city we decided to explore on our bicycles. The city has lots of cycle lanes but it’s not a safe cycling city, you need to be aware of what’s around you and behind you, the roads are narrow and uneven at times.

There’s lots of new shiny architecture in Pittsburgh. Glass and steel buildings that look nice.  They’ve tried to preserve some old buildings, or just their facades which are intermingled with the newer buildings.

 

There are parks in Pittsburg, but in the city we didn’t see many green spaces, no parks, flower beds etc, but then it’s not a soft city.  This city, unlike any others we have explored seems to have a hard edge-there were no tourists, all the people we saw were office or construction workers.  Lots of smokers.  You get the impression that walking around the city at night time would be rather foolish. Lots of people sitting in doorways, some just hanging out, some homeless.

Winters here must be hard.

After exploring we left the central city and drove towards our campsite but needed to get some groceries, we got off the highway at the wrong off ramp and ended up driving around the outer suburbs until we could get back on track.  The houses had an unkept feeling and a sense that there’s not much money left in this town. I hope Trump can make America great again because these are the people that voted for him!

Once back to our mountain top campsite a big storm rolled through but cleared for a lovely late sunny afternoon and a bbq!