While I was heading for Pittsburgh of course being on vacation I couldn't go the most direct route, and on the way I checked out Crystal Cave. Discovered in 1871 it's Pennsylvania's oldest show cave, and no doubt used as an example by purists of what NOT to do with a cave. I was afraid the place would be flooded with school kids but it turned out I had a private tour.
I've been in a few caves now, of course the most impressive was Carlsbad Caverns, but I've also been to Dixie Caverns,Linville Caverns and Penn's Cave. Of all of them I enjoyed Dixie Caverns most because of the company but Penn's Cave was especially interesting because it's flooded and you go through on a boat. It was even more interesting because a wildlife park surrounds it and a swan chased our boat around the lake!
After leaving the cave I let the GPS pick the route, and it did a great job. It had me going down a narrow dirt road winding through farm country (and right between the house and barn of a farm!) and then through hills and woods finally coming out at a covered bridge. You don't find things like that using Rand McNally!
Finally, and inevitably, I found myself on the PA Turnpike, America's original superhighway and that took me most of the way into Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Riverwalk goes along all three of Pittsburgh's rivers and is a very nice feature of the city. It passes two professional sports stadiums, the submarine USS Requin, the old Heinz factory, ruins, some amazing bridges and even goes through a bit of woods. There is so much history along this walk, it even goes past where Lewis and Clark started their famous expedition and a bunch of wonderful old buildings.
Two of my favorites were the Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction & Sales Building, a huge building that I believe used to be a part of a complex of three buildings. It's genuinely tragic what happened to the once mighty Pennsylvania Railroad. The other building is the Pittsburgh Renaissance Hotel, a really neat building that is also the home of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
The Duquesne Incline has been operating since 1877 and is a wonderful example of 19th Century technology. If you park at the lower end parking is free and it's only $4 for the round trip. Another 50 cents will get you into the museum at the top where you can watch the machinery that operates the Incline work. The big wheel is from 1877 and is original, it's built of cast iron with wooden teeth that can be replaced as they wear. The only major change from the original design is it was converted from steam to electricity in 1932. They have since added a new electric motor to serve as a backup to the original motor... the new one is WWII navy surplus!
The USS Requin was launched in 1945 and went to the Pacific just in time for the end of the war. It came back to the Atlantic and served as a radar picket and training ship until 1968.
If you get the chance don't hesitate to visit Pittsburgh, the place has a LOT to offer... just remember the Carnegie Science Center is really for kids (but they will have a ball and not even realize they are learning something!)