……because it’s about time I wrap it up!
Okay last full day there and my plans are all city. I decided I wanted to check out Pamela’s Restaurant, made famous by Obama as he has hired the chefs to cook in the White House, followed by biking and more general exploring of the City and it’s neighborhoods.
It’s chilly when I wake up, around 35 and cloudy. I dress to ride, city style (aka my cut off jeans and normal shirt), and load my bike on the car and head out for breakfast at Pamela’s. There are a few locations so I set out to The Strip first and find that one packed. No surprise as it seems like from what I read that location is the one Obama visited and also in the closest to downtown spot. I decide to risk it and head to another neighborhood, Shadyside. I get there to find it busy but still able to get in and get the last table. I settle down to the breakfast special of crepe pancakes (Oh My God!), eggs and bacon. Oh yeah, life is good. I waddle out after that breakfast and look to park and ride some of those calories off.
The day before, I had seen a perfectly good area to park on the North Side but for some reason spend extra time driving around town thinking there must be somewhere better that is still free. Well I drive around and eventually end up parking at a trailhead on the North Side for the greenway. I first ride away from town and am following the river (the Monongahela I believe) and seeing several other cyclists and runners and walkers on this brisk morning.
I also see several rowing teams because apparently that is a big sport here.
I keep riding and the trail runs right into the side road for the railroad. It apparently is still the trail but all of a sudden Yoshi has to fight railroad ballast with his skinny tires so after a little bit decide it’s time to turn around and head back into the city and venture downtown.
They do have bike/walking paths across most of the bridges so I do cross the bridge above. I venture into downtown and on the “Riverwalk Trail” to ride on other side of the river but then run into construction and have to turn around. I thought about hitting the streets but with my luck of getting lost easily this trip I thought I would stick to the greenways. So back over I head and load up to head back to the hotel, drop my stuff off and spend the rest of my day on foot and in my car.
I did have one more objective for the day. At 6pm I wanted to be at Steel City Improv to check out the “Improv Jam” they have every Saturday. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. I drive around some more and do some walking around Shadyside and The Strip again but end up settling down for a couple of good pints at the Penn Brewery. Good beer and a good crowd.
After I have a little bit of “social lubricant” in me I head to the improv jam. I get there a little on the early side and they send me into a small theater and have me write my name down and put it into a bucket. There ends up being close to 20 people showing up and we do a few games and I get to be on stage for about 20 or so minutes myself and am sad when an hour or so after the jam starts it is already ending. If I did live there I would definitely be checking it out often, as it was one of the most fun things I did the whole trip and really I so wish Asheville had it!
So after that I drive around a little more and of course, got lost again. I was getting a little emotionally frustrated having spent this much time completely alone and was thinking a lot of my friends and the familiarity of Asheville. I was getting a little anxious to get home. So being a bum I called it an early night again and went back to the Great Travelodge and chilled out one last night in Pittsburgh. I reflected on my time and made plans for the next morning.
I hit the hay and woke up fairly early Sunday morning, having enjoyed my time but anxious to get home. I did think I should get one good last meal in so I headed to Pamela’s in The Strip. I was a little early than Saturday so beat the main crowds and saddled up to the old diner style bar to a big breakfast before hitting the road. I did get to see all the autographed pics of Obama that the city is proud of and do have to say the President does have great taste in food (he does love 12 Bones after all).
Anyway I finally hit the road and have to say was quite happy after driving through clouds and then rain to have the sun come great me back home in Asheville! I was definitely happy!
So here is my overall take on the big city. I liked it, I would definitely visit again. It has a lot going for it, great access to outdoor opportunities, great bike scene, lots of performing arts and comedy, lots of nightlife. The negatives were: “holy crap I’m supposed to drive those roads in winter and I can’t imagine biking a lot of them year round!” , downtown streets and the greenways were good to go but otherwise, scary! ; also I just really am not a team sports fan and I’m afraid I might be beaten for that, so many people had on Steelers shirts and hats and stuff and it wasn’t football season!; one last thing, although the people seemed nice and I liked it better than most cities it just does not have the people we have here in Asheville. I don’t know that I can replace that anywhere.
Asheville you spoil me and I love you!