Welcome to Pittsburgh
It’s been a fairly painless trip on my maiden voyage here in the Steel City, hasn’t been perfect, but it also hasn’t been Louisville either.
Boarded a tuna can with wings out of Bradley on Friday morning with three other state football writers for the quick flight to Pittsburgh. The flight to Pittsburgh basically went something like this, “Those wishing to use electronic devices may turn them on now. . . . Oh and by the way, please turn off all electronic devices as we prepare for landing.”
Pittsburgh International is a monstrosity of an airport. First if felt like we taxied the distance between Storrs and Hartford after we landed (somewhere near Morgantown, West Virginia I’m guessing). You know it’s bad when you have to stop for gas on the way from the runway to the terminal. Then it was another walk back to Morgantown seemingly to get the luggage.
One thing I did quickly notice in the airport was the amazing civic pride the town has for the Steelers. Not that I didn’t realize that the Black and Gold is huge here, but it’s everywhere, as I learned throughout my Friday here.
I got to the car rental booth where I was greeted with this option.
“Would you like the Impala, the Malibu or the Charger?”
Now I’m not a big car guy. Yeah, I cover racing and all, but muscle cars and all that stuff, I’m just not into it. When it comes to rental cars I just want comfort and not a boat.
I’ve driven Malibu’s before, didn’t mind them, so I said “Give me the Malibu.”
After the clerk fumbled with the keys and paperwork for a couple minutes she told me, “Sorry, I guess I was wrong, the Malibu isn’t ready to go.”
OK then, if I like the Malibu, I’ll probably be alright with the Impala, “Give me the Impala,” I said.
After another few minutes of fumbling with keys and paperwork my trusty clerk trying to get me in and out in oh just under and hour or two said, “I’m so sorry, my mistake, the Impala isn’t ready yet either.”
Hmmm, that leaves a lot of choices. “I guess I get the Charger?” I said.
“I guess so,” said Miss rental car woman.
Now I’ve never driven a Charger in my life and had no burning desire to drive a Charger ever, much less this weekend.
I nearly burst out laughing though when I got in.
Now I’m no tall guy, in the words of Ron White, I’m between 5-6 and 5-9, depending on which convenience store I’m leaving.
I had all I could do to see over the dash board on this thing and I didn’t see “driver booster seats” on the list of extra options available. I’m surprised nobody called the police on the highway after seeing the driver-less Charger pass them on the left.
So I rumbled the Charger into my hotel, on the wrong side of the city of course. I did well in geography in school, but I’m horrendous at picking hotels near where I’m going to be covering something. But I made it nonetheless, albeit after some scary moments in mid-day city traffic in the beast on wheels.
Checked into my beautiful hotel, with the beautiful lobby and beautiful appointing and relaxing piano bar only to find no wireless internet in the room. Where are we here? Now I appreciate all the wonderful amenities the hotel offers, but I’ll take nothing else if only it means I have wireless internet. Isn’t this a major American city? This isn’t middle Alaska circa 1954 here. Let’s get with it hotel folks.
It meant a lot of time in the lobby area, where oddly wireless was offered. Managers were against the idea though of me setting up a room in a first floor hallway. They nearly made up for things though with the Executive Room on my top floor, which gave me access to an unlimited supply of Diet Coke. That works for me.
Friday evening I took in some of the city on a dinner trip with five other writers in town from Connecticut. On recommendation from men’s basketball writer Mike Anthony, we hit up Fatheads on the Southside. It was quality, I would recommend it to others, although, Mike’s fascination I think was a bit over the top. If you’re a big beer drinker, which I am not, the place looks like heaven with like 40 beers on tap and wings, wings, wings and more wings. I’ll give Mike one thing, the wings were outstanding.
After dinner it was back in the lobby for some late evening blogging (I won't tell you to remember this Connecticut kid's name because you'll hear about him plenty soon enough), where I’m surprised I didn’t get arrested. Friday night in the lobby of a high end hotel where I was sitting on the floor in front of a glass top table in shorts, a t-shirt and no shoes. Can you said, “Security!”
Slept in a little late today in preparation for a late night today and a long day tomorrow with a flight home on tap followed by race coverage at Thompson International Speedway.
Decided to get some lunch in the hotel restaurant this afternoon and I left asking this question: How are hotel restaurant managers not charged with felonies for stealing? Explain to me how a not so special cheeseburger, even less special fries and a small glass of flat Diet Coke can cost $13? Just ridiculous. People think the mafia in this country is bad. How about FBI agents take a look at hoteliers first. They’re the true criminals.
Ok, we’ll end the travel travails on that note. See you in a couple hours at Heinz Field.
Shawn Courchesne, 2:22 p.m.