Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vacation Recap, Part Three - Pittsburgh, Day Two

Monday did not start out well. Jacob was cranky as usual about his clothes (lately he's been insisting on wearing a "baseball shirt", and has funny criteria for what that might entail), but at least he did well at breakfast at the hotel. We headed off to make our 10:30 duck boat reservation, but thanks to detours and a general lack of useful signage in Pittsburgh, we got lost (again) and ended up just missing our boat. Literally, they were raising the ladder as we arrived and wouldn't lower it. Fortunately we managed to reserve seats at noon, but that definitely put a crimp in our schedule. In the meantime, Jacob frolicked around Station Square. I sat on a bench and nearly lost it--it had been a rough 24 hours or so, let's put it that way. While I moped, I did take a couple pictures of the boys enjoying the dancing fountains. Of course, shortly after this picture, the fountains turned off momentarily and scared the crap out of Jacob when they started again. He came running to me for safety. I needed the hug.
Shortly after that, it started raining. Lovely. We headed across the street to the shopping complex at Station Square. We killed some time in the sports shops, and gave Jacob his first ride on a motorized kiddie ride. I figured we'd try to get some joy out of the mess created by missing our boat. He really enjoyed it, and sadly enough in the state I was in, it was well worth the 50 cents. He even put his arm around Garfield later in the ride...too cute.
While we waited for our boat, we re-did our schedule for the day based on the crappy weather and change our boat ride. The zoo came out and the Heinz Museum came in. The zoo would wait for tomorrow when the weather was supposed to be better. Fortunately the duck boat had a cover, so any rain wouldn't be an issue for this part of the day. Here are Jacob and me waiting to board the boat...
In case you're unaware, duck boats were vessels created for World War II that can go on land or in water. I have no idea what their true purpose was, because they're SLOW in the water. So slow that they let kids drive the boat themselves while it was in the water because they could do very little damage. Anyway, in cities near water, there are often duck boat tours that take you through city streets and then into the water. They're a nice way to get a general tour and some random, little known facts about the city you're visiting. The guides are generally funny (or at least, they attempt to be funny) and they make you quack at people on the street. Odd, but entertaining for an hour. Here's an outside view from the tour of the baseball stadium, complete with Honus Wagner statue out front...
I have a lot of other pictures from the tour that I will eventually post to Facebook, but most of the land ones are blurry because we were moving and the water ones aren't that exciting...some of Heinz Field, the football stadium for the Steelers, the kid-friendly Carnegie Museum, and a couple other random monuments along the river, as well as a few city shots that aren't much different than what you saw in the baseball shot from yesterday. It was a good tour and I highly recommend it. Jacob did pretty well, though he got pretty antsy by the time we hit the water about 30 minutes in. We kept him occupied with goldfish, and other than a few ear-piercing screams, he did ok.
We were starving by the time we got back to Station Square and hit up Joe's Crab Shack for lunch. We figured it was a good bet because Jacob seriously devoured their mac & cheese last year. Figures that he would hardly eat anything this time around. Craig and I shared two delicious entrees, though--one fantastic cheesy Cajun chicken dish in particular. Sufficiently full, we headed back to the car and headed to the Heinz History Center, a museum named after Senator Heinz, the one who died in a plane crash and whose widow married former presidential candidate John Kerry. The museum has quite a bit of Pennsylvania-focused history, but the main attraction is the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. Craig had been there before and promised Jacob would like it. He slept the whole drive there and for a little while once we were in the museum, but woke up just as we were getting into the elevator to hit up our first exhibit. Not enough of a nap, but we'll take what we can get. The museum features a lot of different exhibits besides the sports section--a glass exhibit that reminded me of a miniature Corning Museum, some history, some nostalgia pieces, a couple Mr. Rogers things (he was from that area), lots of hands-on kid-friendly activities, and, of course, a large exhibit on the Heinz company, ketchup and all. Again, I took a ton of pictures here but most of them will be relegated to Facebook since this blog is supposed to be more about Jacob than Mommy's fascination with glass and playing around with digital photography. Anyway, here are the boys playing football. I think I got the ball in the hole before Craig did...ha!
On the same day as his first mechanical kiddie ride, Jacob got his second. This speedboat was only 1 cent! We let him ride twice :)
Here's Craig pretending to be Stanley Cup winner and former Buffalo Sabre Tom Barrasso...
Here's Jacob crawling through a tunnel in a little playground area in a kid-friendly area...
Here's Jacob with a stuffed bear that, like the Parrot, he wanted to hug. This one's a little less snuggly-looking, though.
In a main room on the first floor, there were some larger pieces--a fire engine, an old Heinz cart, and an old bus or streetcar. Jacob really liked it, presumably because he loves riding the bus at daycare. He didn't want to get off!
After the museum we headed back to the hotel to regroup. While we were there, Jacob decided he wanted to use the potty. We sat him down on it, and suddenly he was pooping! That was the first time he ever did that! We celebrated and made a big deal of it, but I guess the kicker is that traveling is not the best time to do hardcore potty training. Not that I think he's even remotely ready for that, but it would have been nice to try and capitalize on success. He did get a cool prize for his achievement (a Club Penguin hockey figure to add to his crazy hockey game on our living room floor that I got a while back and was saving for his first poop), and he did do a great pee on the froggy potty Thursday night. Small steps, I guess.
After our big moment, we headed out to go to Steak 'N Shake and IKEA. They're both located in the same strip mall area about 15 minutes from our hotel. Steak 'N Shake has delicious burgers and these skinny little fries (like McDonald's, but thinner), and apparently their shakes are amazing (they do two flavors side-by-side in the same glass) but I've never had one. Probably because I eat too much and never have room. After dinner we headed over to IKEA, just to walk around. I wanted to pick up a catalog and check on a couple things (got the A-OK from Craig on the kitchen table set I want to buy...now I just have to find a way to get it and bring it home), and figured we could top it off with some $1 frozen yogurt on the way out. Oh, and I wanted to get some of their cinnamon rolls, because the take-home ones are so much better in the states than in Canada. I freeze them and microwave them up when the mood strikes. The IKEA visit also worked out well because the ride back provided a perfect opportunity for Jacob to fall asleep. After the night before, we didn't want to go through another marathon session. The car ride seemed like a perfect solution. I'm happy to report it worked like a charm. He stayed asleep, and slept in the pack and play all night. Craig and I could finally share a bed and all was right with the world. Day two of our trip was complete...and on to the zoo tomorrow!

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