day one. the beginning. and i think it's appropriate that our first city is known as the city of bridges.
i couldnt sleep the night before. i packed instead. melissa arrived at around 8. we left to go pick up the rental van, which was in middletown, nj, which is right by keyport off of the parkway. traffic for the shore was a bit ridiculous. what was even more ridiculous was the place: adventures on wheels. im not sure they're the best and most professional. but whatever. they are widely used. i wasn't thrilled with the service or the wait we had for the van. but the van turned out to be just fine with plenty of room. what was very interesting was that there were a few families coming in to return cars having done the exact same trip we were embarking upon. the lady at the desk told us that they get a lot of young europeans going on amerotrips by car. i guess its their version of our eurotrips on rail. we also saw an aussie dropping off his course.
we brought the car back home and immediately began to pack. with our mothers going nuts. and somehow the minivan, which was very spacious, ended up entirely packed. ENTIRELY packed. my god. and we set off. for this crazy adventure.
we decided to take i-78 to harrisburg area, basically to i-81. because the car rental place took forever bringing up the van we decided to just take the interstate instead of back roads. we were going to go to harrisburg but then melissa saw a sonic. and of course, we went. it was actually a brilliant idea. she then taught me how to pump gas. win for the jersey boy.
we continued along the pennsylvania turnpike, i-76 all the way to pittsburgh. we passed through farm country, lots of cows. also tunnels under mountains! very interesting! melissa also taught me the yellow car game. every time you see a yellow car you have to point it out before the other person in the car. service cars do not count. she's....slightly in the lead right now. but i expect i will be making gains soon.
after i-76 you take i-376 straight to pittsburgh. but we were weirded out. the GPS told us that we were five minutes from the city. all we saw were trees along the highway. wtf? then there was a tunnel! omg! the tunnel to the ci...no. more trees. but oh wait, we were going through this quaint dense city area. we were in pittsburgh. and we were at the lassmans.
the lassmans, david, his wife, and their two sons have graciously agreed to host us while we're in pittsburgh. they treated us to dinner and then a ride around the city. now, i have not seen many cities in the world, but i have seen new york, philadelphia, boston, montreal, london, manchester, oxford, and a few others. but the view of pittsburgh at night is one of the most astonishing things ive ever seen. it's magnificent. they took us to the top of a peak overlooking the downtown district. so beautiful. they also gave us the real tunnel view into the city. you drive along a highway surrounded by forests, enter a tunnel, and are pushed out onto a bridge that sends you straight into downtown. it's exhilarating. the city is surrounded by bridges as its a peninsula surrounded by the confluence of three rivers. it began as a steel city, the city of mellon and carnegie. but now it is a technology, biotechnology, computer science, service city. it is one of the best places to live in the united states (and i would love to live here). it bridged the transition from industrial to knowledge economy. but the city is also a bridge for us, for our journey across the country to see what all these different cities will be like.