Last weekend we were all set to do something civic minded that didn’t necessarily involve drinking local beer, namely, go down to the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Traditionally, the problem with the Arts festival is that Mother Nature seems to despise it. There’s almost always a tornado, a derecho, an earthquake or at least a torrential downpour. Sometimes a combination of two or more. A few years ago they took to lashing the booths down with big anchors and cutting smiles in all the banners so the gale force winds could work their way through. But we still used to see a runaway booth from time to time, and the banners were usually shredded by day 2.
That’s why we were so intrigued by the report we heard last Saturday, from Intrepid Tween, our 10 year old sidekick, that the following day, Sunday, would be sunny all day with a high of 85. Perfect day for a trip downtown, right? Just pick up kid; bring wallet.
But she had another, even more audacious idea.Why not take the bike trail?
It does look easy to get to the Point by bicycle. It’s right there on the map. You just take off down the GAP trail – we think that part is called the Three Rivers Heritage Trail – the part that takes you right down the South bank of the Mon, alongside East Carson Street.
Once on the South Side, you cross over the river on the Hot Metal Bridge – it has a dedicated bike/hike lane – and turn left onto what they call the Jail Trail. That’s because it ends up right behind the jail. You’re on the sidewalk for a couple blocks then, and there’s some traffic to negotiate, but the entrance to the park is right there.
Sunday dawned sunny and mild, and we checked in with the Almighty to make sure He was on our side. Intrepid Tween, however, didn’t want to embark on such a big adventure on an empty stomach, so we made sure she had a good old fashioned Eat n Park breakfast, consisting of french toast, sausage, an Oreo milkshake and a plea not to tell her mother about the milkshake.
The Costco shoppers weren’t exhibiting nearly as much road rage as usual, which we took to be a good omen, and the mile or so they fence you in, going past Sand Castle, was mercifully trainless. Sometimes the big freights will loosen your fillings along there. So we’re under the Glenwood bridge in no time, past where the eagle paparazzi like to camp and onto the leafy wooded part of the trail.
We know a lot of people who have allergies. We’ve even been know to get off the kind of mighty sneeze that lets us know the season has arrived. Ordinary pollen doesn’t bother us much, but this is not what is being produced on the GAP trail. There is a species of vegetation growing over approximately a quarter mile of the trail that is producing weapons grade pollen. We’re pretty sure it’s an experimental Defense Department project because this stuff should be harvested and dropped on ISIS strongholds, assuming the Geneva conventions permit it. They couldn’t get out a complete “Allahu” before sneezing their squirmy little brains out.
Somehow we survived the noxious spores and made it to the Steelers’ practice field, where we paused for a moment of silence then continued on to the South Side. Here’s where you cross over the Hot Metal bridge to the jail trail, and proceed to downtown.
If you were hoping we would get to the Point, well there we were. That’s when it started to rain.
There was a pretty good band playing but we had to dive under the nearest awning owned by some guy who hammered strips of tin into the shape of butterflies. Nice, but not quite our style. It let up a little and we found ourselves in the booth of an artist who painted stuff so that it looked like stained glass. The Tweenstress bought a stained glass dog which the artist was kind enough to package up for us so that it was waterproof. Keeping it unbent was on us.
We went down to the fountain but it started raining again so we ran to the food court. Finding no Oreo milkshakes available we settled on one of those big warm pretzels for $5 (I know, right?) One more downpour and we were ready to bail.
The return trip good news was that the rain kept down the lethal pollen. The doctor said whatever he’s treating me for wouldn’t have become pneumonia but we’re not so sure. We suppose the arthritis and muscle strain are just a cost of doing business..
But, you know, we would like to have a word with all the scientists – meteorologists are scientists, right? – who predicted the all day sunny weather. On the one hand, if they weren’t such idiots, we’d have gotten double hayfever. On the other hand, are they the same people who are predicticting global warming? We thought so.
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