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.
The last day. The final hours. The way home.
Pittsburgh to Indianapolis is a six-hour drive. Two detours for Presidential burial sites in Ohio made six feel like twenty.
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.
Every vacation has a final day, by which time everyone’s overloading on new memories and experiences, exhausted and ready to return home to the comfort of their own bed, and in dire need of time apart from their travel companions. On our early road trips we came to learn that the final day of our trips felt ten times longer if we didn’t give ourselves something to do on the way back, something to look forward to besides the open road itself. Downtown Pittsburgh had more than enough character for the three of us, even on a deserted Sunday morning.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.
After the record-breaking nine-day epic that was our 2009 trek to the farthest reaches of South Dakota, we decided to scale back in 2010 with a shorter drive in a different direction. We previously drove through the corners of Pennsylvania in 2003 and 2004 — through Washington in the southwest corner on our way to Washington, DC; and through Erie in the northwest corner on our way to Niagara Falls. This year, that extra-large wooded state would be the center of our attention.
As one of America’s original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania contains multitudes of U.S. history and authentic places and things from centuries past. For the three of us, we figured it would do well. Anne is a big history buff. I’m willing to drive just about anywhere within reason. My son would be dragged along for whatever ride until such time as he developed a separate life and identity.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
Another few hours of I-70 brought us from out of Ohio’s clutches, across a short span of West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania, our adopted home state for the next several days. We would have felt right at home among its copious forests and construction sites, if it hadn’t been for the occasional verdant mountains to remind us we weren’t in Indiana anymore. At least they guaranteed we were free of Ohio.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…
DAY SEVEN: Friday, July 14th.
When morning came, I didn’t want to leave the Omni William Penn, but we didn’t want to live there, either. It was time to go home. Before we left Pittsburgh we made one last stop — beyond downtown but with a fantastic view of it. We previously visited the elevated neighborhood of Mount Washington on our 2010 road trip, but somehow missed one of their storied attractions, a reminder of a pivotal time in pre-American history.