Grumpy Just Got Back from his NASCAR Run in Pittsburgh
Grumpy hasn’t posted for a few days because he’s been busy with the Phenom and a whole lot of basketball. The family has spent the last two weekends at basketball tournaments and the team has played nine games in the last nine days. This past weekend the Grumpy’s took the Clown Car to the Pittsburgh Jamfest in, you guessed it, Pittsburgh Pa.
Now Pittsburgh is really cool American city and it has been called the San Francisco of the East. The reason it is called this is because Pittsburgh is built upon very hilly terrain and has rivers passing through it. When you have cities built on hilly terrain with rivers passing through it you have a road system that never runs straight, can’t be put into a grid and, when you look at a map, the road system resembles a big pile of spaghetti.
Cambridge, Ontario is a good example of this roadway phenomenon because you can’t get anywhere there without crossing the Grand River or going up or down a hill. The Grumpy’s packed up their bags and left Cambridge 21 years ago to move to the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as Podunkville South. The only thing Grumpy has to dodge there are tractors and combines.
Let me make myself clear, the roads in Pittsburgh run amuck among these hills, my friends. Grumpy left his heart in this “San Francisco of the East”, not because of love, but because of his 48 hours of NASCAR driving and near incontinence. Grumpy has a love hate with Pittsburgh you see. He loves the city but he hates the driving.
Grumpy will illustrate his angst by describing just a few of his experiences in Pittsburgh.
NASCAR IN PITTSBURGH
The speed sign on a two lane road that twists like a snake through a suburban suburb reads 45 mph. Everyone is driving at least 65, some probably closer to 70 mph. Grumpy feels if you live in Pittsburgh you’d better buy a Ferrari. He had the clown car up on two wheels several times.
The lady in your GPS will be drinking heavily and talking her head off when you are in Pittsburgh. There are so many roads, and just as many twist and turns that each of her commands begin to sound like she’s yelling at you.
“Turn right, idiot, then stay left, merge and turn left, and keep on the current road until you turn around and U-turn. Holy $#$%, I can’t keep up with this!”
And, if you make a wrong turn, she just might say, “You’re on your own, bub. I need another drink. Figure it out yourself!”
Some of the hills on residential streets are more like cliffs. You’d swear you were driving up the ramp on a roller coaster. Some streets are so steep that they actually lay down cobblestone at the top to give you more traction. The houses appear as if they are ready to slide down those hills at any moment. People with vertigo don’t live in Pittsburgh.
Of course, what goes up must come down. Those downslopes are freaking scary, especially if there is a turn at the bottom or a cross street. Grumpy’s thinking a parachute – like on a dragster –might be in order here. Otherwise, check your airbags.
The Bridges across the Ohio River are very pretty. One is painted sky blue and another bright yellow. The problem is you need to cross one of the many bridges (Grumpy counted at least 6 – there are actually 13) to get across the river. Choosing the correct bridge, of course, is imperative. Grumpy suggests you don’t piss off your GPS lady, because she may be your only out.
Driving into Pittsburgh from the West you will find yourself travelling on a nice expressway. This nice expressway runs down a huge hill. (Don’t know how they get up or down it in wintertime?) This huge hill leads you to another huge hill which looms right before your eyes. This hill is called Squirrel Hill. Fortunately, the powers that be have constructed a two-lane tunnel through that hill where no one slows down, the walls feel like they’re closing in on you and tail-gating is the name of the game because this, of course, is a no passing zone. Grumpy suggests adult diapers if you’re going to make that run more than once.
Penn Avenue has beautiful artsy cultural district that runs ten blocks right in the downtown (GPS lady took us there twice.) On a Sunday this main thoroughfare is packed with people. The problem is that on this two lane street people stop their vehicles right in the road, whilst thy run in to pick up food at the many restaurants. No matter, people are driving 20 mph over the speed limit and just blow by. Grumpy is thinking pedestrians are considered no less important than rodent road kill in Ontario.
The last high school we played basketball at had a steeply graded switchback road that made you feel as if you were travelling up Pike’s Peak. I can imagine school bus Armageddon on a snowy winter’s day here. But, I guess it is good training for the students who will soon be driving on these roads themselves. No doubt, they will overcome their “FREAKING FEAR FACTOR”.
The ramp from downtown Pittsburgh onto the expressway that takes you through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel HAS A STOP SIGN AT THE END OF IT!
Let me repeat this for those of you who think this is a misprint. The ramp from downtown Pittsburgh HAS A STOP SIGN AT THE END OF IT!
Yes, you come to a complete stop and twist your head to see cars racing towards you as they come around a bend which, of course, really is the blind spot from hell. This is a judgement call, my friends. You must decide when it’s safe to put “the pedal to the metal” and rocket onto that road. The first time Grumpy accomplished this it was with the soundtrack of the ear splitting screams from his passengers.
Grumpy distinctly remembers someone squawking, “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”
Roads in Pittsburgh seem to intersect everywhere. You might find as many as five roads coming together at ONE intersection. It is a known fact that Senior Citizens cannot multi-task a five way traffic decision. Grumpy now knows why traffic circles were invented.
Again, Grumpy will reiterate – HE LOVES The CITY OF PITTSBURGH. He just hates driving there. He took a lot of kidding from the Phenoms’ friends. They said, “You were just scared, Grumpy. You’re always so scared when you’re driving!”
Grumpy didn’t admit this but he’d say is feeling were more like “terrified”.
After all, in Pittsburgh you have to drive treacherous twisting roads at 30 mph over the limit, up and down hills not unlike a roller coaster, avoiding drivers that feel because it’s Sunday it must be a stock car race and all the while grip the steering wheel of a tiny Clown Car as if one small slip up will result in wreck suitable for the NASCAR NETWORK with passengers screaming, “We’re all going to die!”.
Nope, I’ll stick to my outback driving where blowing by tractors and combines, bicycles and pedestrians, is the name of the game. You see the Clown Car has a “speed governor” just like a transport truck or a school bus.
So, from here on in, just call me “Governor”, mate, because that’s who’s driving in front of you 10 mph below the limit.
BTW- we made it to the finals of the JAMFEST but unfortuntely we lost!
If you’d like to watch a video on YOUTUBE of the Phenom in action CLICK HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJsLGxxtBSw