April 30, Cleveland/Pittsburgh

Well, I’ve made it three time zones east in my journey. The plane trip was okay, as good as a trip with a four-hour layover and no access to the internet could be. Perhaps, like for some medical procedures, the less said about plane travel the better.

My friends Ann and Bob were at the airport to greet me, and things improved immeasurably after that. I was organized, taken home, fed, cossetted, not-entirely ignored by their kitties, connected to the net, and put to bed.

The next day was Road Trip Day. Ann and I drove to Pittsburgh to collect my son, all finished with his first year in college. I never thought anyone else would be cursed with my non-existant sense of direction, but Ann is almost as weak geographically as I am.  Perhaps that’s why Bob organized extraordinarily-detailed maps to guide to us on our journey, for we would have ended up in Delaware, or perhaps Rhode Island, without them.

Pittsburgh, hot, vibrant, noisy, was bursting with students, often with a parent in tow. The parent was usually busy opening a wallet to pay for something, or trying to to cram a year’s worth of college detritus into an already overburdened car. A great time was being had by all.

We had time for a little sight-seeing, so Jesse took us to the very top of the Cathedral of Learning for the view, which felt like we were looking from a spaceship. No time, alas, to see the famous nationality classrooms. We made a quick stop at the Heinz Memorial Chapel. When we arrived there, a memorial service was just finishing that honored those who had willed their bodies to science. Half the attendees wore white medical coats, and the organ thundered out a recessional hymn.  The chapel had been constructed as a Gothic jewel box, intricate with all the extraordinary details of 13th Century cathedral, and illuminated with light filtering through the tallest stained glass windows in the world. Words failed us then, and me here.

 We collected Jesse, loaded his stuff, and headed home. I was inordinately pleased to be with my tall, wry, interesting son again.

Friday night’s treat was a concert at the very famous Severance Hall. It was an abriged concert, sans intermission, and featured a trumpet concerto by Jan Neruda, and Handel’s justly-famous Water Music.  I managed to get a few photos of the famous performance hall which opened in 1931. The hall’s opulent and elaborate decorations all seemed to imitate fabric, that really fancy embroidered brocade used on high-end mattresses. The music was wonderful, powerful and refined, stately and sprightly. It was the perfect endpoint to what was a wonderful, long, adventuresome day.

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