{Image Source: Herbert Spencer}
What do you do when you're in the path of a hurricane of an unknown category that immediately follows a rare earthquake and live in a nearly-century-old house?

You get the f*ck out.

Yes, despite the fact that I spent much of my youth in Alabama and have lived through several hurricanes and tropical storms, we decided to evacuate ahead of the storm. We were waivering on our decision for a while--mostly about how wussy we were being about leaving town for a tiny little Category 1 hurricane--but in the end, we opted to be safe rather than sorry. We cleared the yard, taped the windows*, threw the kids in the car, and got the hell out of town before the interstates were packed.

We probably could have stopped hours before we actually did, but we've been discussing making a trip to Pittsburgh for over a year now, so we just decided to keep heading west until we made it to the Iron City.

Holy mackerel, this place has changed. What was once a blue-collar city has turned in a metropolis full of beautiful parks and classic neighborhoods. It's a city dedicated to the arts with plenty of opportunities to see shows, visit museums, and hear live music. The river region has been totally revamped, and would make even the most seasoned shoppers feel at home. I couldn't believe it.

We ended up staying at the Springhill Suites at Bakery Square, which, yes, gets its name from the plethora of bakeries that used to be in the area. It's an up-and-coming neighborhood, so while the surrounding area is a little sketch, the immediate area is just cool. I mean, Google has its Pittsburgh office there. That should say it all.

We got up on Saturday morning a little bleary-eyed but thrilled to see the sun shining and a cool breeze blowing. Nothing like what we saw on the Weather Channel, which, at the time, was broadcasting footage from North Carolina. 100mph winds, downed trees, the weatherman standing, like a jackass, in the Atlantic Ocean and barely able to stand up straight. We patted ourselves on the back, said, "Best decision EVAR," and went downstairs to eat waffles.

After much deliberation, we decided to go to the Children's Museum. I went there when I was a kid and remember having a great time, and I wanted to share it with my own offspring. Like everything else in Pittsburgh, the place has changed. For the better. Some of the old attractions are still there, like the Garage Works room and the Rat Wall (for lack of a better term), but they added a few new things too. The kids had a blast running around,climbing on things, playing dress-up, launching parachutes, and playing in bird seed. Frankly, it was more fun than a normal weekend at home, and a helluva lot more fun than huddling in the hallway.

After lunch from Giovanni's, naps for the under-3 set, and a dip in the pool for Ana, we set back out into the city to meet my dad's cousin and his family for dinner at the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh. I have to say, I was a little nervous about seeing them again because I didn't remember them at all! The last time I saw this part of the family was 11 years ago at my grandmother's funeral, and I just couldn't remember everyone. Turns out, these guys are awesome. And I shouldn't have had to worry about conversation, because I got a lot of backstory on the family history. The food and beer were also delish. Of course.

We probably could have called it a night at that point, but when we got back to our hotel, there was a beach party in the square. Yeah, I know. The local businesses had all popped up booths, put up a stage, and built a sandbox. They also had free beer (!), so we decided to hang out for a little bit. The weather was beautiful, the kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves, the music was good ... it ended up being the cherry on top of the day.

Sunday, we took a little tour of my grandparents' Pittsburgh: we started with Mass at their old parish, then visited their graves and old home. (All in spectacular condition, I'm happy to report.) We followed this by lunch at Eat'n Park, affectionately called Choke'n Puke, in the South Hills. Sadly, at that point, we had to go home--as much as we wanted to stay, we knew we couldn't avoid the inevitable forever. We could prolong it, however, so we took the long way home. That, by the way, was worth it: not only did we not have to pay the extortionist fees on the PA Turnpike, but we also saw a beautiful part of the country that I've never seen before.

Returning home, we saw that the damage wasn't that bad. Power was patchy, but we had it at our house (yay!), and all of the trees remained standing. None of the windows shattered, and aside from a little water in the basement, we didn't have any property damage. So could we have stuck it out? Sure. Was it more fun to evacuate for the weekend? You betcha.

Did Hurricane Irene affect you? If so, how did you spend your weekend?

*Yes, I know that taping the windows won't keep them from breaking. It's for shatter control.

1 comment:

  1. Meh ... I was stuck inside at work all day, watching the weather channel newscasters collectively have kittens. That being said, the highlight of my day was seeing the weather channel streaker in Virginia Beach. Ah, rednecks...


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