Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Who Knew?
By Michael

The girls dressed as chocolate factory workers,
monitoring the production of their custom bars
Who knew Milton Hershey was a saint? We learned all about the guy during our visit to the real-life Hershey infomercial that is Hershey, PA. The guy went bankrupt several times before finally achieving success with a caramel venture, then selling that business and betting his entire windfall on milk chocolate--at the time a treat unknown to Americans. Now with the means to do so, he and his wife built homes and trade schools for orphaned boys, all around the town that bears his name. This philanthropy lives on.

For the duration of the Great Depression, Hershey kept his entire town employed with his own version of the New Deal, personally funding several construction projects.

A reluctant consumer of sugar-coated history, that night Windy went straight online looking for The Rest of the Story: Hershey the philanderer? Milton the heroin addict? Antisemite? Jaywalker? She couldn't find a thing.
Appropriately, it was a Sunday when we
attended Church Brew. None of us
was struck by lightening upon exiting.
Who knew that Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water closed at 4:30 p.m. Sunday?

Who knew Pittsburgh is a funky, cool, attractive city? We went there for Church Brew, a brewery in a former church. The 1902 gothic brick and stone church is beautiful inside. The late afternoon sun lit up all of the stained glass and the polished vats of beer shined. Both the food and beer were interesting and delicious. Frances's pizza came out of a wood-fire oven and Windy and I both sampled a coconut stout in addition to our distinct IPAs. Approaching Pittsburgh from the east by car reminded us both of a northbound approach to Portland, OR. Each city is married to the river running through it, and each with enough rusted steel tressles and bridge spans to impart an industrial feel. Pittsburgh is at the confluence of two large rivers and major streets downtown are paved in red brick. There is a touristy riverwalk and a couple ancient inclines that haul people hundreds of feet up steep rock cliffs from the water's edge to charming little neighborhoods with killer views. Pittsburgh charmed us both.

Who knew that wine grapes are grown along the I90 from from northern Pennsylvania through southern New York? It wasn't the Napa Valley nor Central Coast wine regions of California, but there were dozens of good-sized vineyards on this stretch, referred to as the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail.

About half way up the steep Monongahela incline, one of two
100-year-old rail-mounted gondola-like cars that counter-balance
each other, called a funicular in physics--Pittsburgh skyline
emerging behind us
 Who knew that the major interstates are now toll roads? Not only does it suck to pay to drive these roads that were free the last time I drove across country, but it makes it difficult or impossible to exit the highway at will. Windy has been using Yelp on her iPad enroute to find lodging and food. A couple times we read about a great little eating spot, only to zip by on the tolled interstate, barred from exit. Of course, there was no shortage of access to restricted exits featuring Sbarro, Starbucks, and Burger King. We'll see if this trend continues across country.

Who knew the magnificent Niagara Falls are overshadowed by a massive casino on the American side and all manner of tacky Americana on the Canadian side? Tons of penny arcades, a Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a Hard Rock Cafe, a Planet Hollywood, a Hershey Store, miniature golf, and blocks and blocks of every carnival-like store you can imagine (a haunted house, a maze, a place that sells nothing but skull-themed merchandise, fudge stores, souvenir shops, and curio stores). I haven't been to the Grand Canyon in 20 years, is it now the same way? Fortunately, there are still nice park-lined walks from the Rainbow Bridge (connecting the U.S. and Canada) to Horseshoe Falls. Today we'll explore more.

Riding in the enclosed compartment of the Sky Wheel, Horseshoe falls in the background.


  1. Been following you guys as you're just a few months ahead of us. We're hoping to be gone by April of next year. We're originally from Pittsburgh and all our family is still there so it was a walk down memory lane to read your post. We usually come into town from the West and breaking out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel onto the view of the city at night is not to be missed. You needed much more time to explore - the North Shore market area is fantastic and the Primanti Bros. sandwich is not to be missed.

    Thanks for the memories,
    S/V Kintala

  2. I knew about Pittsburgh; we went for a 3-day trip a couple of years ago, and we barely scraped the surface of stuff to do. It is a really cool city. Glad you like the Niagra room, and sorry I didn't warn you about the commercialization; it's pretty heinous, no? Love the shot of the girls making chocolate bars.

    So, I was just at 3rd grade orientation for Caden, and one thing they recommended for the summer was that he do some letter-writing. Is it possible to get snail mail where you'll be? If so, email me the address; I know there's no one he'd rather write to than Eleanor.

  3. What is that thing on Mike's face? It looks like a genuine, happy-go-lucky smile! So, so good to see that mug.

    Paul J


Thank you for taking the time to comment; we look forward to reading your feedback. Don't forget that you may also contact us directly at delviento@hotmail.com (please type DEL VIENTO in the subject line)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...