Vacationing near the 'Burgh

Just got back from a five day getaway in southwestern Pee-ay with M. I won't bore you with all the details, but here's a quick recap of the highlights.

1) I've now seen three Frank Lloyd Wright homes in three weeks. I visited his "masterpiece", Falling Water, and one of his Usonian homes, Kentuck Knob, just a few miles away. Falling Water was spectacular, in so many ways. The below photo (top) showcases how it works with nature, but there's just as much of interest inside the home. Kentuck Knob (below, bottom), by comparison, was a snooze, although it did feature a circular kitchen with a nearly two-story tall ceiling. (If you've ever been to a FLW home, you know how strange that is.)

2) Later that day, we visited Ohiopyle State Park and took in some river rapids and Cucumber Falls. (Lots of falls for one day.) It was nice to actually visit the mountains after spending a lot of time in southwestern Pennsylvania ignoring them on previous trips.

3) Spent a day-plus in Pittsburgh, and took in my second Pirates game at PNC Park, which still gets my vote for best park in the majors (that I've visited, at least). Our seats were great, about even with the first base bag and around thirty rows in. I haven't had seats that good at a major league game for years. I told M before the game I felt good about my chances of catching a foul ball. Well, I underestimated myself. I had a play on two foul balls. The first came off the bat of Curtis Granderson. (He's on both of my fantasy baseball teams, so maybe he was rewarding me for being faithful.) Curtis hit a pop up that landed two rows directly behind me. It bounced off a guy's hand and I snagged it on the fly with my left hand. After taking a bow, I gave the ball back to the guy's kid, who was probably four at the oldest. Less than a minute later, the ball went whizzing by my head, landing about eight rows in front of me. Apparently, the kid wasn't too happy that his dad didn't catch it. Or something. I retrieved it and gave it back to the kid, and he managed to hold onto it the rest of the game.

A couple innings later, another of my fantasy players, Chris Shelton, hit a pop up directly above me, which landed in the second deck. I waited a beat, and sure enough, it dropped down from the deck. I reached across the aisle and got my right hand on the ball, but it hit my hand and dropped right into the lap of some dude who wasn't paying attention. He kept the ball. Oh well, 1-for-2 ain't too shabby. I wish I would have remembered to have M take a picture of me and the ball, but neither of us thought of the idea until it was too late. I did get a picture of this guy, however. Gotta love someone daring enough to wear a Craig Paquette jersey (autographed, no less!) to the ballpark.

There was no shortage of Tigers fans at the park, and Pirates fans were particularly interested in Detroit's first-base coach, one Andy Van Slyke. M's sister brought her vintage Van Slyke pennant to the park, along with the ball Andy tossed her when she was a kid. But Andy wasn't paying any attention to the crowd.

It's hard to root against these Tigers. Like the Pirates, they've been in the dumps much of the last decade. Unlike the Bucs, however, they've turned things around this year and currently find themselves with the best record in baseball. They've also got a couple ex-Cardinals (Van Slyke and current Tiger, Placido Polanco), a great group of young players, and one vicious bullpen (Todd Jones and his handlebar mustache aside). I was hoping for the game to be close enough in the 8th inning for Detroit to bring in ace set-up man Joel Zumaya. The Pirates did their part, rallying late in the game to force Jim Leyland's hand. Zumaya entered the game, pitched pretty well, but topped out at 99 mph on the gun. (He hit 101 on a pitch just two night's earlier.) Sadly, I'll have to wait a bit longer to see 100 in person. (Oddly enough, the last young gun to almost hit 100 for me, Matt Anderson, was a Tiger as well.)

4) After the game, I tried Ethiopian food for the first time. I gotta say, it wasn't bad. Although their bread, called injera, shares a similar texture to a sponge.

Coming up later this week: thoughts on Ben Wallace, a preview of the Pitchfork Fest, and some photos from our trip to see Central Illinois' Danville Dans.

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