‘Just because’ is always a good reason to travel, but truth be told, Ewan and I have been caught up in the day to day without many ‘just because’ trips floating around our heads. However, last fall we made a plan with fellow fan friends to see the Calgary Flames on a road trip. We chose Pittsburgh and looked forward to it; being that the Flames made it to the playoffs last year (into the second round even!) we had high hopes that we’d see an amazing game.
Fast forward to March, when the scheduled trip was set, and the Flames were on a losing streak with no possibility for showing up to the playoffs. Despite the grim circumstances, the trip was still on, because why not!? At least we could support our team, enjoy the company of friends, and explore a new city.
We made a weekend trip, heading out on a late Friday afternoon. Ewan and I were lumps in the backseat as our pals chauffeured us through the border at Buffalo and into Pennsylvania. We rolled in fairly late, but after checking in to our hotel (the conveniently located “Wyndham Grand”) we stepped out and found a pub for some nibbles and drinks to end the night.
The next day we were up early with plans to check out the Andy Warhol museum. We waited too long in line at a bagel place (we were in Pittsburgh the same weekend as a National high school dance showcase was on…) but made it early enough at the museum. I had no idea what to expect, quite frankly I hadn’t even realized Warhol was from Pittsburgh before we had planned our trip, but the venue is a 7 story warehouse building with may of the iconic art pieces your brain automatically registers as Andy Warhol’s. Our favourite parts were a room that had silvery balloons floating around, and the room where museum-goers could do their own Warhol-esque Screen Test.
From the museum we ubered to the South Side with hopes to go to a place called Fat Head’s – heavily endorsed by many locals. Unfortunately we were out of luck…that first weekend of March was ‘St Practice Day’ – an all day pub crawl 2 weeks in advance of St Paddy’s Day. We had limited time before our afternoon hockey game, so headed to a pub that had room for us to grab a bite before the game.
We headed to the arena and got excited at the flock of humans headed in. The Penguin’s fans are very supportive of their team and all seemed to have some sort of team gear on. There was a small smattering of Flames fans and coincidentally enough Ewan actually came across one of his close friends from way back in elementary school also in town to catch the game! Whodathunk?
Compared to the harassment we’ve had from Canucks fans when we’d lived in BC, the fans in the arena were completely friendly with some even wanting to get shots with us. Many said thanks for us coming to town. It was a very welcoming feeling and our spirits lifted even higher when the Flames pulled out a 4-2 win!
We ended the day at a place called Butcher in the Rye. Our meal was gluttonous and perfect. Pig candy. Crispy pig wing. Brown butter brussel sprouts. Roasted farro cauliflower. More pig candy. Thinking about it now is making me drool.
Our last morning in Pittsburgh had us keen to find another great spot to eat before hitting the road home. We headed to the strip district and while the place we’d sought out was mysteriously out of business, we were able to make it in to Pamela’s Diner. It was worth the relatively short wait and filled us up to the max. Afterwards we rounded the corner and got some donuts for the road. The maple bacon ones were a hit with all of us.
A US road trip seems incomplete without a quick shopping spree (hello Target!) and stocking up at the duty free before heading home. Overall it was a great time and has me fired up to get back into exploring, whether home or away, and sharing it here!