I'm going to stretch the boundaries of the sentence for these posts (mainly because I'm competing against another, ersatz blog being written by my wife -- Sentences of Cat -- and I want to be the definitive and comprehensive provider for information about this cross country trip) and so I'm going to use a chronological listing format to give you all the stuff you need to know:
1) we made it to Fallingwater without much conflict in the car, mainly because of two podcasts -- Song Exploder . . . artists take apart songs track by track and explain how they put them together -- and Professor Blastoff . . . which is slightly inappropriate for the kids but hysterically funny;
2) Fallingwater makes miraculous use of steel-reinforced concrete, which I just learned all about in the highly entertaining book Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World, and while I could appreciate the aesthetic charms of the place, mainly what kept running through my mind was: this would be an awesome place to have a party! but then I kept imagining drunk people leaning over the low balustrades and falling onto the wet slate below, and I questioned Frank Lloyd Wright's brilliance;
3) Hotwire upgraded us without telling us, and we found ourselves staying in the Pittsburgh Wyndham Grand, with a fantastic view from high above the confluence of the three rivers (the Ohio, the Allegheny, and the oft forgotten Monongohelalhgonelagonorrhea) and so after a surprisingly cheap meal at Pittsburgh's oldest restaurant -- the Original Oyster House-- we were able to watch the sun set into the confluence (and you're not going to get a word like "confluence" over at my competitor's blog;
4) the concierge at the Wyndham asked me where we were coming in from, and when I told him New Jersey, he said, "I've been to Elizabeth . . . they'll murder you twice there before you get out of the car," and I agreed that it was a tough town -- but not quite that bad (we travel there and play soccer, and while they play rather rough and tumble, no one ever gets knifed) and then he said, "I've also been to Camden" and I told him that's a rough town too, but "with a great aquarium" and I didn't bother to explain to him that not all of New Jersey is evocative of Mad Max and that I live in an innocuous Jersey town full of liberals, lesbians, Orthodox Jews, grad students, and a sprinkling of every ethnic group on the planet, and he assured me that Pittsburgh "is like Mr. Rogers" and it did seem to be full of nice old white men like the concierge, but we did meet one black guy, who owned the ice cream parlor we went to . . . the place is called DreamCream and each flavor in the shop represents a charity-- it could be an organization like the Red Cross, or an individual who needs an expensive medical test -- and by purchasing a particular flavor, you support that particular charity . . . so very Mr. Rogers;
5) and while I'm not above trashing my competitor's blog, I will steal one of her pictures.