I drove across the country. Baltimore to Los Angeles. With my life in my car.
My life these days being some clothes and jewelry, my computer and phone, books and dvds, a few odds n' ends and myself. I don't really own much else.
Which was good because I intended to fit everything into my Honda Fit and still be able to see out the back.
You know, safety third.
(At least that is what my friend and I say. Let's be real, vanity and a good photograph tend to trump safety sometimes if this shot is any proof)
Before I get to the epic photos from the second half of my cross country venture, I need to start with the beginning. When I soloed from Baltimore to Denver.
In case you haven't been following my Journal, I probably ought to explain real quick what is happening.
When I had moved out to LA originally in 2004 it had been for college, and then I simply stayed after graduation for several years. I bought my first car in California and became a California resident. Then I decided to go to grad school back in Maryland. I flew on an airplane back east and had my car shipped since I was very short on time.
Time was short because I attended BhaktiFest in Joshua Tree (I wasn't willing to miss it) before moving back and only arrived in MD a few days before classes began. This time, I decided to move back to Los Angeles from Maryland and make a cross country road trip out of the return.
I packed up all my current belongings and mapped out the entire trip myself. The whole thing has been a bit of a gamble and an exercise in trust and self-reliance.
First stop: Pittsburgh
I set off from the Baltimore area a little after 12:00pm with the intention of getting into Pittsburgh around the 4:00 check-in time at my hotel. Having my life in my car, I was not keen on just parking my car on the street, therefore I didn't want to get in before I would be able to park in the private lot designated for hotel guests.
My brother used to work in Pittsburgh at Chatham University and thus is very familiar with the city. As a gift to me, he kindly set me up in his favorite hotel in the city. The hotel, Shadyside Suites, takes old buildings and refurbishes them into apartments that are rented out predominately to short-term guests. My brother rented me a huge apartment suite for the night.
It was a full apartment situated in a renovated old mansion, and as such, possibly the best hotel room (or in this case, series of rooms) that I have ever stayed in.
It was such a spacious apartment, I happily could have moved right in.
I only had one night in Pitt, so after marveling at the accommodations, I swiftly set off to make it to the Carnegie Museum in order to have a couple hours before it closed.
I walked the 20-30 minutes to the museum and quickly decided which exhibits I would prioritize with my limited time.
For me that was the Hall of Statues, Hall of Architecture and the Hall of Minerals and Gems.
The floor plan of the Carnegie is part of its artistry. In the Hall of Statues the statues are presented not in a typical museum display, but as part of a grand multi-storied room with columns, more reminiscent of how the statues might have been meant to be displayed as artwork in a home or building.
The Hall of Architecture was even more dramatic.
It is an enormous room with massive casts of sections of old Greek and Roman buildings set up so that one feels as if she had just walked into ancient Rome itself.
I wish I had a top quality camera with a very wide lens so that I could have more accurately captured the enormity of the hall.
Then there was the Hall of Minerals and Gems.
The gemstones department is typically my favorite at every natural history museum. What can I say, I love crystals.
The Carnegie has a beautiful display of minerals, rocks and crystals. I spent the majority of my time admiring the beauty that mother earth creates.
A bit before the 8:00pm closing time my stomach began to growl and I could feel my blood sugar getting low, rather fittingly since I hadn’t eaten since before I set off.
I left the museum and walked to Walnut Street, the epicenter of town, and hit up some Thai food. I had a glass of wine while waiting for my food to be prepared, and then I took the food home with me to relax in the comfort of my apartment for the night. In other words: an awesome evening.
The following day I managed to get to the Phipps Conservatory, the second venue on my itinerary. Although, not as early as I had intended. I had meant to get there right at opening (9:30am) so as to have an hour and half to wander around before getting back to the suite and packing up before my 12:00 checkout time. Alas, I dawdled in the morning and ended up having about an hour.
Pittsburgh is a very cute town, but MAN is the weather less than ideal.
As I hauled ass to the Phipps, of which I should note included walking only about a mile because I took the bus, I was already dripping sweat when I arrived. As I bought my ticket, I stood at the counter and attempted to inconspicuously wipe the beads off of my brow. After what could have been an embarrassing experience had I not been leaving Pittsburgh probably to never see those people again later that day, I went straight into the bathroom to clean up. I had to wipe myself down with paper towels. It was excellent.
Why was I dripping with sweat after speed walking for all of a mile?
Because Pittsburgh in June is apparently hot and ridiculously humid.
Seeing as how Pittsburgh is known for long brutal winters, the fact that its summers are equally uncomfortable allows me to say that Pittsburgh, despite its charming township, is not somewhere I would prefer to live.
Regardless, I did manage to cool off to a comfortable body temperature once inside of the Phipps, where I was a treated to a botanical paradise.
Pittsburgh is a cute town. It has a small town feel within a moderately sized city. Public transportation is good and it has a lot of things to do. But seriously, the weather is not great. Ultimately, I believe that the people and community are far more important than the weather, but weather can still be a big factor.
Regardless, it was a great first stop on my westward adventure.