Day 2: September 12, 2008
A Rainy Day
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This drive by shot is at the site of the Ship Hotel. Rainfall would vary throughout the day but would rarely stop completely.

The rain discouraged picture taking or even stoping until I was well into the suburbs of Pittsburgh and pulled into Peppi's. To roadies, this is a 1947 National diner. To local football fans, it the home of the "Roethlisburger". Named for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, it's a combination hamburger and sausage sandwich topped with an egg and American cheese. I ordered a basic mushroom cheese steak then watched it prepared. Cheesesteakery requires quick hands.

This "road closed" sign was not far from Peppi's but it was neither the first nor last that I encountered. With the aid of a preprogrammed GPS, I was successfully tracing the LH through Pittsburgh until a right turn on Stanwix Street was called for. Stanwix was completely closed by construction. I made a couple of attempts to recover but soon gave into the rain, the traffic, and the construction. I escaped downtown over the Monongahela instead of the Allegheny and turned north. By the time I reached a bridge, the Monongahela and Allegheny had joined to for the Ohio so I crossed that to pick up the path in Pittsburgh's north side.

The picture of the train marks the highlight of my day. Maybe that's indicative of the way my day had gone or maybe it just shows how easily satisfied I am. The rain that had severely limited the day's photography, was at a complete stop when I reached the "yellow brick road" section near Glenfield and I heard the rumble as I was getting out of the car. My quick-draw shot (ain't autofocus grand?) got the locomotive, the curved highway ramp, and the beginning of the yellow brick section. The rain stayed away long enough for a few more pictures. Then, in less than a minute it went from nothing to drizzle to a fairly heavy steady rain that sent me back to the car. When the rain started to diminish a few minutes later, I started a slow drive over the bricks. By the time I reached the other end and turned around in the convenient lot, it was back to a drizzle.

I found the "yellow brick road" rather easily due to some good advice from Brian Butko: "...whatever way you're traveling, take the ramp for Erie. ...don't make the turn to Erie, skip it, just look for the little Glenfield signs." Brian also gave me some advice on motels but I blew right by the first two and the third was full when I called in the early afternoon. "Normal" travelers are usually slowed down by rain. It often has just the opposite affect on roadies. Rain keeps us from making some planned stops and conceals some of the serendipity. When we do stop, we'll snap a quick picture or two and forego the normal dozen with two foot variations in position or a third of a f-stop change in exposure. That's what carried me past those motels and uncomfortably close to tomorrow's planned overnight. I was seriously thinking that I might end up spending two nights in Minerva when I saw a vision. In Baden, the words "MOTEL & GRILL" promised both of the things I was looking for. I turned around to check it out. Yes they had rooms - for $40! They also had a bar with about a dozen beers on tap and another hundred or so in bottles. The menu looked good with reasonable prices. It was like a bit of Heaven at the edge of Pittsburgh.

The name "BA' RUNI" comes from the names of the two families who opened the current operation about seven months ago. Apparently, whatever it replaced was none too savory. Bar, restaurant, and motel areas have all been remodeled and look great. The rooms have no telephones and my desk lamp was defunct but the room was otherwise beyond my $40 expectations. There is a catch though and it's one that might keep this off some people's lists. The rooms are over the bar & grill. My stay was on a Friday night when the affects of that are at full tilt. The live entertainment could be heard quite clearly in my room and most guests are bar patrons taking advantage of the convenience and safety of walking to bed. It's not a rowdy crowd - no fights or scary activities - but neither is it a particularly quiet crowd. It was a road trip Friday night so this was all OK by me but then the band was pretty good and did a fair number of Beatles songs. A Metallica tribute group might have left me with a different impression.

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