Monday, October 15, 2007

My Adventures in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I cannot believe I'm about to climb back into the travel box! It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in Pittsburgh, but I've actually been here for over two weeks.

I was amazed to discover that my hostess' name is also Eleanor...except that it really isn't. She said that Eleanor is the name she uses when she writes on the computer, but her real name is different. She chose that name because it belonged to a famous queen she admired who lived in England and France over 700 years ago! Who knew I had such a regal name myself! My hostess said I could refer to her as Miss Eleanor, and that's what I shall do in this blog. Miss Eleanor and her husband have two children: a Princess who is 8 and a Prince who is almost 4. I got to play with them a lot while I was here, and we went on many adventures! Earhart hung out with all of the stuffed dogs in Princess' room most of the time.

We did so many things! On my first day, we went to the Mall to visit a doll store. I was relieved that I never had to stand around in my underwear like these dolls. They must be so embarrassed...and cold!
On the other hand, I loved visiting the nursery. Look at all of these cute babies!
Okay, so they aren't real babies. They're dolls. But they surely look real!

Now this was just plain spooky!
All of these doll heads were just sitting there on boxes! Miss Eleanor explained that people can choose what they want their baby dolls to look like and the store will put them together right there. I'm glad my head wasn't sitting around on any old shelves at the American Girl store, waiting for a body.

The next day, Jess and I played outside.

She let me ride the scooter, and I got pretty good at it if I do say so myself! I was proud that I could keep my balance so well.

I had a neat surprise the first weekend -- I got to see Miss Mia! She came to a conference in Pittsburgh and visited with Miss Eleanor! She said that Sprout and Bird missed me but were reading on the computer about my adventures. Hi, Sprout and Bird! Miss Mia also said she got to ride an incline when she was here. An incline is a train track that goes straight up a steep hill. One train car goes up the hill, while a pulley system brings another one into the bottom station. You can see the station and maybe the tracks behind me in this picture of the Duquesne Incline: Pittsburgh is a very hilly place, and there used to be more than a dozen inclines going up and down this steep hill called Mount Washington. They were used to carry passengers and freight between the coal mines, railroads, and neighborhoods. Now there are only two left. This one behind me still uses cars that are almost 130 years old! The train cars don't go very fast, but I'm not sure I'd like to go on one. I'll have to remember to ask Miss Mia what she thought of her incline ride.

Pittsburgh's downtown is actually pretty small. It is called the Golden Triangle because the three rivers that surround it force the land into a triangular shape. The Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join together at the tip of the triangle to form the Ohio River. There is a nice park at the triangle's tip called Point Park. The fountain at Point State Park is fed by a glacial formation and sprays 6,000 gallons per minute. You can see the fountain in this picture:

Hey, can you find me?
I'm standing beside a huge paddlewheel from an old riverboat! Pittsburgh was a major industrial city. At one time most of the country's steel was produced here. It was carried up and down the rivers, and on the railroads, all over the nation.

Okay, did you find me? I'm way down in the corner. See?

The next day, Miss Eleanor, Princess, and I traveled to a colonial tea party at old Hanna's Town, in the county where Miss Eleanor grew up. I wondered if Felicity might want to come with us, but Princess explained that Felicity refused to drink tea because it was imported from England. In her time, this country and England were at war. Felicity's best friend Elizabeth is originally from England, and she was pleased to join us. I borrowed one of Felicity's gowns.

Hanna's Town dates back to 1773, which is almost exactly the time when Felicity lived in Williamburg, Virginia. Hanna's Town was destroyed in 1782 by an American Indian tribe who fought against us during the Revolutionary War. Hanna's Town is an archeological site for people who want to learn about Pennsylvania's past. It has been excavated, restored and partially rebuilt. We visited the reconstructed Hanna Tavern/Courthouse, three log houses that were over 100 years old and had been moved to and rebuilt on this site, a reconstruction of the Revolutionary-era fort and blockhouse, and a wagon shed with a real Conestoga wagon like Laura Ingalls or Kirsten Larson might have ridden on.

Elizabeth told me to go put my head in the stocks because I ate so many tea treats. Good thing I didn't get stuck!

We had lots of fun the next week. We started to decorate for Halloween, stopped at Miss Eleanor's favorite children's bookstore, the library (where I met a very large Paddington Bear), a brewpub for Oktoberfest where I got to peek at the vats of Penn Pilsner beer, and we even went to a pumpkin festival where I got to ride on an inflatable pirate ship and climb a rock wall!

Avast, mateys!

Don't try this at home.

Our last big outing was to the National Aviary. I've never seen so many birds!

We got to visit the tropical rainforest, and I loved the flamingos. Their feathers are pink because their main diet is shrimp. We also got to feed these little lorakeets.
One even landed on my head! I saw penguins, Bald Eagles, condors, and lots of owls. There was a contest to name the new baby condor, and Princess thought up a really good name. I hope she wins. We also got to look at the kitchen, where we saw all the things that different birds might eat. I don't want to think too much about some of the things on this tray!

On my last day, I got my picture taken with the doll school that Princess has in her room. See if you can find me with all of my new friends!

I also got a wonderful surprise from Miss Eleanor. She said that since I share the name of a famous medieval queen, I need to have the clothing to match. So here I am in my Eleanor of Aquitaine gown. It's even my favorite color -- purple!

I've loved my time here in Pittsburgh and hope I can come back to visit again some day. The fall leaves are crisp and beautiful. But now, Earhart and I are off to Utah for more adventures!