Monday, June 3, 2013

Doggin' Pittsburgh

Even though I talk about Doggin' Cleveland all the time, it wasn't the first book in the Doggin' series by Doug Gelbert that I bought.  When my parents first got their sweet girl, Maz, I got them Doggin' Pittsburgh for Christmas.  To my knowledge, they've only been to 3 of the 50 parks--and one of them, Mingo Creek, I think they went to before I got them the book, so it doesn't really count.

Since Barley and I were visiting for a week (and since we've covered most of the really cool Cleveland-area hikes), I decided we should tackle something from Doggin' Pittsburgh.  There are so many little towns near my parents' house that I really didn't have a clue how far away any of these places were from their house, so instead of mapping them all like I did with the Cleveland hikes, I just flipped through, found the ones with the coolest pictures, and stuck post-its on the pages.

Last Monday, I convinced my parents that I absolutely needed a picture of Barley in front of the mansion at Hartwood Acres.  After all, we have a castle picture, so why shouldn't we have a mansion picture in the collection?

"I'd be happy living here, Mom."
The house and the yard were absolutely gorgeous.  Lots of views of rolling hills and endless grass for my pup to romp in.  Despite the fantastic house, this was not my favorite hike ever.  I think a lot of factors contributed to this.  First, it was kind of a grey day, so it wasn't the prettiest day to be outside.  Second, Barley and Maz were both acting like they had never been out of the house before; Barley wouldn't watch, wouldn't heel, wouldn't sit--and usually when we hike, I don't make her heel unless there's another dog approaching or we're going down stairs or a hill as long as she'll listen to commands like watch, but if she is being unresponsive, she can't just wander at the end of her leash or it's too hard to get her under control if we come upon a dog or a child.  So, it was a battle of the wills between me and Barley.  Eventually, she got under control and we had a nice walk . . . until my dad and Maz got ahead of us and we couldn't see them through the woods.  When Barley's "flock" gets separated, she gets really anxious and once Maz and Dad were out of sight, she was back to pulling and tugging.  Third, Dad was a little cranky that Maz was pulling the whole walk, so he wasn't the best walking companion, either.  Fourth, and the only point that actually has anything to do with the park itself, the trails were really confusing.  There was a trail map (of course, Dad ran ahead and looked at it while I was getting Barley out of the car and was ready to go before I got a chance to look at it) and we had a printed version, and Doggin' Pittsburgh mentioned two trail names that were supposed to be good, but the only trail labels we found were numbers and there were no numbers in the book or the printed map. Every time we'd get to a fork in the trail, there'd be a new set of numbers and it wasn't clear where any of the options took you.  I would most definitely not have wanted to be there on my own because I am not a numbers person, so even if it had been clear which numbers connected to each other, I would not have been able to remember which numbers I'd chosen on my own!  Even though it felt like we traipsed through the woods for ages, somehow we walked less than 2 miles.  It looks like there were plenty of trails to try, though, so maybe on a prettier day with more patience and better Barley control, it would be a good place to visit again.

Later in the week, Mom and I took the dogs to Fort Necessity (Doggin' Pittsburgh's vote for the most historic walk with your dog out of the 50 options in the book).  Mom loves forts, so I thought this trip could be a way to make up for the times that we stopped at historical sites in my youth and I fussed or pouted and sat in the car.

The fort, which I guess George Washington built, was kind of dinky.  It was super tiny and all wooden--I'm used to big stone, brick, etc. forts like Fort Pulaski and Fort Frederica (my favorite!), so it was kind of a let down to see the actual fort.
The entire fort's behind that fence.

Even though the fort wasn't exactly what I was expecting, it was a great adventure!  In addition to the fort, there was a tavern nearby that had been in use then, so we took the short little trail there.
Barley wishes she could get a drink at the tavern! Hot dog!
We wandered around the tavern for a minute before actually visiting the fort.  Then it was time for the real walk.  We had a trail map and these trails were more clearly marked than Hartwood Acres, but not every option was labeled, so it was a lot of guess work (and neither Mom nor I excel at reading maps!) to figure out where we were.  We knew that there were two meadow trails that both connected to the forest trail to form a big loop.  We decided to take the meadow trail (we ended up on the inner one) half of the loop first because it was already close to 80 degrees at 9 a.m. and it was a sunny day, so we figured it was best to do the shady half of the loop later in the day.  The meadow trail was really pretty. It was sunny and everything was green.  There were great views of the hills.  My GPS always takes me through this area when I visit my sister and I love that drive, so it was fun to actually be out in the hills with my pup.
Maz was too tired to hop onto the bench with us.
Spazzy Mazzy is excited about being in the woods.
I'm not sure what Barley's weird face says about her feelings about the historic Braddock Road. 
Maz is happy about the road as long as it means she can cool down for a minute.
We had a really nice walk that ended up being a little over 2 miles and both dogs were totally worn out by the end of the walk.  But, our adventures didn't end there.  A few miles down the road there was another part of the park that had trails, so we decided to go check out Jumonville Glen.  There were pretty rock ledges and LOTS of shade for the pups, so we walked another mile and a half or so there before stopping for turkey sandwiches for lunch.
Two hot dogs on the way to the glen.

Pup and I have matching smiles!

Maz loves being a trail dog!

Overall, we had a really good day.  Despite the heat, the trails were shady enough that it was great hiking weather.  The dogs were really well behaved, too, so it was enjoyable all the way around.  I'm not sure we'll go back here very often because it was over an hour away from the house and it was $5 per person to get into the park, but it was definitely worth a visit!

I decided that Bar and I definitely have the best hikes in our neck of the woods, though!  Most of the ones in Doggin' Pittsburgh are not actually all that close to Mom and Dad's house--both of the parks we went to were an hour or more away (and in opposite directions!) and there were several that you had to pay to visit.  In Doggin' Cleveland, most of the parks are within 30-40 minutes from our house and I think the only one you have to pay to visit in the Arboretum (and we love it so much we're members, so we just pay a yearly fee and visit any time we want).  Clearly, Northeast Ohio is far superior to Southwest Pennsylvania (kidding! Pittsburgh has my beloved Pirates and PNC Park, so it will win every time!).

The pups weren't the only ones that got to have fun on our visit, though.  Last Saturday, we took a trip to Pittsburgh's Strip District to visit Wigle Whiskey.  Mom wanted to get Dad a whiskey aging kit for Father's Day, but she wanted to be sure he liked Wigle's whiskey before she bought it, so we went out to do a tasting.


Mom and I got cocktails since neither one of us likes whiskey enough to taste several different kinds on it's own.  Dad and Ben got to sample 3 different kinds and the gin that Wigle makes.  Dad liked it, so he got the aging kit and one day after whiskey's been aged in the barrel he'll put beer in it--so I'll take advantage of this present then ;)

Ben and I also had some sibling time at PNC to watch the Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers.  It was a really exciting game (and the Pirates won! Raise the Jolly Roger!)--we were playing one of my other favorite teams (I love Prince Fielder and even though he wasn't pitching Wednesday night, Justin Verlander is my favorite current baseball player, so I always root for the Tigers if they aren't playing the Pirates).  We were also sitting super close to Miguel Cabrera's home run--Ben says we made it onto Sports Center, but I haven't actually seen proof of that.  I probably don't want to see proof of that because I was probably cowering/screaming.

So, overall, it was a great trip home and we got to experience several things we hadn't done in the 'burgh before.  Now let's just hope that my pup isn't so worn out that she can't focus in class tonight!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so jealous! It looks like you guys had an amazing time!