As a pop art fan, I’ve braked for Andy Warhol works at our past visits to institutions in Chicago and Columbus, OH. It was great at long last to see the much vaster treasure trove at the Andy Warhol Museum, opened in his hometown of Pittsburgh in 1994. A full five stories are devoted to the artist/filmmaker, plus a couple more stories for bonus content. They’re open late on Fridays, which worked out perfectly for our travel itinerary as well as the schedules of several other visitors, including an entire tour group that we had to weave around as we lollygagged from floor to floor.
We’d been to Pittsburgh three times prior to 2022 — in 2010, in 2017, and in 2018 — but one particular site evaded our sight every time: the Andy Warhol Museum. All three times, a variety of circumstances made it impossible to line up our schedule with theirs. Either we arrived in town late and they closed early, or we had to leave early the next morning before they opened. That’s what we get for our past use of Pittsburgh as a pit stop between other cities rather than devoting a full day or two to Pittsburgh in itself.
This year we remedied that oversight by structuring Day One entirely around the Warhol Museum’s opening hours. As it happens, they’re open late on Friday nights, so we planned a six-hour drive from home on Friday, bought timed museum tickets for that evening (which their site recommended), and prayed no traffic, construction equipment, or bridges would explode in our faces. We do love it when a plan comes together.
Longtime MCC readers are well aware we’re not into sports. We don’t actively hate them, but they’re not among our hobbies and we only attend games if we’re handed free tickets. Sports-related tourism pops up on rare occasions in our trips — like that time we loitered around Camden Yards back in 2017 — but we don’t go out of our way for it. When it’s directly in our path and we have the free time…eh, why not take a gander.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we guided you through our seven-day trip through Ohio, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania in fifty episodes —- July 7-13, 2018. It all comes down to this, per our tradition for every MCC road trip maxiseries: one final collection of alternate scenes, extra details, and surplus attractions along the way that were squeezed out of the main narrative. Enjoy!
We had traveled to the Heinz History Center to view artifacts from the life of Mister Rogers. We amused ourselves with the international catalog of Heinz food products. Elsewhere around the other seven floors, a variety of exhibits told more stories about Steel City’s lives, history, and pop culture.
Last summer Anne and I had the pleasure of seeing the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, in which filmmaker Morgan Neville extolled the virtues of Fred Rogers and the PBS childhood series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that was an integral childhood touchstone, surrogate parent, and best friends for millions of American children (e.g. my lovely wife), many of whom are now adults remembering when civility, friendliness, and neighborly love were virtues rather than optional baggage. To be honest, I was more deeply moved by PBS’ own documentary Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like, aired a few months before Neville’s take hit theaters, but both are worthy in their own ways.
A few days ago I may have gotten a little testy in a way that would’ve disappointed Mister Rogers when I noted that the MCC entry about Won’t You Be My Neighbor? earned exactly zero Likes from other WordPress users. Either my writing about the experience was terrible, or, as I joked in partial self-deprecation, “apparently bloggers hate Mister Rogers. Duly noted.”
If my snark was too on-the-nose and you really do consider Mister Rogers to be an enemy of all humankind and kindness to be obsolete hogwash…then this entry isn’t for you either. You’re loved anyway.
We both like food. Anne likes history. Before we headed home, it made sense to make time for a little food history.
On the road a curious idea for a side project struck me: take pictures of the views from each of our hotel rooms and see what the resulting montage looks like. It would’ve been a much cooler idea if we’d stayed only at the swankiest accommodations with the most breathtaking views outside — say, next to some giant national monuments or rolling New Zealand hills. We’re not affluent enough to stay anywhere we want, but I made our reservations at different price levels for variety and fun just to see what would happen. One of the hotels definitely didn’t disappoint.
Day Six would prove the least exciting day of the week. We were glad to check off two sites on our master list — Valley Forge and James Buchanan’s grave — but otherwise anxious to get through the rest of Pennsylvania and closer to home. We hit that same wall on every trip, when fatigue and homesickness begin to dampen our enthusiasm, when our meal budget is well over halfway spent, and when the impulse to make extra stops along the way loosens its grip on us.
We left a few attractions in store to ensure Day Seven wouldn’t be a featureless slog. But first we had to get Day Six over with.
Day Six would prove to be a long and draining day, but we refused to be swayed from sticking to our theme, even though it meant a detour for the sake of a politician saddled with a “consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history” per one or more Wikipedia editors. Honestly, we’re not in a position to argue with them.