The Ipes took a road trip to Pittsburgh and Michigan in November

Getting on our way for another road trip

It’s been a while since we have seen friends out in Michigan. We didn’t have any plans for the long 4-day weekend in mid-November dedicated to the NJ teacher convention. Why not drive out to Michigan for a few days? We also thought about the time we drove through Pennsylvania in 2014,  stayed outside of Pittsburgh, and never saw the city. What if we checked out Pittsburgh for a day?

We made plans to pick up the kids from school early on Wednesday, leave by 2-3 PM, and try to reach Pittsburgh by 8 PM. Check into our hotel, have dinner, walk around, see more of the city Thursday until 3 PM, be in Michigan by 8 PM.

Best laid plans….

By the time we actually finished packing, got Josh a haircut, picked up both cars (from two separate Nissan dealerships), ran our errands, dropped off the key to the pet sitter, and got snacks, it was almost 5 PM. How? Why? Argh, every time.

A free massage near Harrisburg, PA

Thankfully, the road to Pittsburgh from NJ and the nearly entire length of Pennsylvania was clear on a mid November Wednesday night. No traffic! We stopped halfway near Harrisburg for a fuel tank refill, some chicken nuggets and drinks, and an unplanned free massage.

By the time we got to the outskirts of Pittsburgh, it was 10 PM, and we were ready to get out. We had mapped out a few nearby locales once featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives starring Guy Fieri, and based on the late hour, we selected Nadine’s for some tasty comfort / diner food. Funny, it was more seedy dive bar, grill off for the night, and no minors allowed. Sigh.

Luckily we found a nearby fast-food place called Wings Over Pittsburgh open until 1 AM (open until 3 AM on Saturday nights — thank goodness for college towns), and picked up takeout to eat in the hotel room. The next time we come out here, I want to try Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh — the German menu looks interesting.

And checked into our hotel room at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Pittsburgh Southside Works. It’s your basic decent hotel with suites and basic complementary breakfast. Not a lot of amenities, but the room size is good. Our hotel room had a nice view of…. an industrial rail line.

In the morning all refreshed, we had breakfast in the lobby, packed our belongings, got ready, and drove to the Carnegie Science Center to tour the museum for a few hours. It’s an interesting museum but I think it skews towards small children. We enjoyed the Hall of Robots and a water exhibit. I was disappointed that the miniature model train village was closed for renovation. Rats.

Afterwards, we took a walk along the riverfront to find the Fred Rogers statue, but that was covered up to protect it from nearby renovations. Really? Back to the car, and drove to the Starlight Lounge for lunch, another restaurant once visited by Guy Fieri. Let me tell you, while the food was tasty and served with in large portions, the decor was pure dive bar. I’m getting rather incredulous about this particular reality TV show.

And that was it for a quick less-than-24-hours in Pittsburgh. We would have preferred more time, including seeing a Steelers game, but we were expected in Michigan later that night. The drive to through the rest of western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and southern Michigan was pretty uneventful. No traffic congestion, no accidents. Cool!

We arrived at our hotel around 9 PM and it was rather cold. We checked in, made it to our room, then grabbed some drinks and small plates for a light dinner in the concierge lounge. Oh and we simultaneously watched the Steelers play on Thursday Night Football, and two episodes of Shark Tank.

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