Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Berlin, OH/Pittsburgh, PA - Events of Tuesday, September 20 to Saturday, September 24, 2016
One reason Paul worked so hard to complete the play kitchen set he was refinishing for Lydia for Christmas was we were scheduled to go to Pittsburgh last Tuesday for several days for our annual physicals. We wanted to take the finished kitchen with us this trip so we wouldn't have to store it outside under a tarp any longer than necessary.
Paul loaded the kitchen set into the back of the truck on Monday afternoon, and we headed for Lora and J. Michael's house on Tuesday morning. During Lydia's nap, we carried the kitchen set down to the basement and covered it up so she wouldn't see it if she happened to be down there.
Our physicals were scheduled for first thing Wednesday morning. We both got in and out in fairly short order, and we both got good reports.
On Thursday, we took Paul's step mom out to lunch at Atria's Restaurant in Gibsonia near where she lives.
Most lunches cost $12 to $15, and the selections include half-sandwich and soup or salad combos, lunch salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and several lunch entrées. Atria's celebrates Oktoberfest during the month of October and they feature a number of German dishes. Paul's step mom had sauerbraten, and the rest of us had half sandwich combos. Lora had half a Reuben and crab bisque, Paul had half a Santa Fe chicken wrap and crab bisque, and Margery had half a Reuben and a Caesar salad. Everything was delish.
Lydia, Lora, Paul's step mom and Margery at Atria's
Lydia understandably gets a little restless after she is done eating, and she has trouble sitting still while the adults visit. We don't get to see Paul's step mom all that often, so we wanted to take time to visit with her, especially since the restaurant wasn't crowded. Therefore, Lora had to resort to drastic measures by finding an episode of "PAW Patrol" online to stream on her phone to keep Lydia occupied while we chatted. "PAW Patrol" is Lydia's latest, favorite, animated TV show replacing her previous favorite, "Bubble Guppies."
On Friday, we headed out to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. The garden is a tract of approximately 460 acres that is only a few minutes from Lora and J. Michael's house. Development of the garden started in 2011, and it opened to the public in 2014.
After parking, we headed to the welcome center, which is located in a renovated 1870s barn. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for kids from 3 to 18. Kids under 3 are free. There is a $1 discount for Allegheny County residents.
Coal was once both deep mined and strip mined from the land on which the garden sits, so there was (and still is) much restoration work to be done. Invasive plant species have been removed from approximately 60 acres, and thousands of trees, shrubs, perennials and spring bulbs have been planted. Most of the garden is woodland, and much of the planting has been done among the existing trees. There is about a mile of wide, gravel, ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) paths and several miles of smaller, steeper paths that wind through the woods and through a meadow. Lydia rode her stroller on the smoother paths and walked on the steeper paths.
A passive facility to treat acid mine drainage was constructed making it possible to restore a pond that existed on the property. The Lotus Pond, as it is called even though there are very few lotus plants at present, was stocked various aquatic plants and with 500 native fish.
There are a number of things along the paths that are of interest to kids, one of which is a giant bird's nest. We stopped for Lydia and Lora to sit on eggs. Fortunately, no giant birds were hatched.
The meadow, which has dozens of dogwood trees that bloom in spring, is covered with golden rod in the fall. Golden rod frequently gets a bad rap from allergy sufferers; but the real culprit is ragweed, which happens to bloom at the same time. Since golden rod is much more visible, it gets blamed even though it causes far fewer allergy symptoms than ragweed.
There are more things for kids along the trails like a fairy village and a storybook section, and there is also an old log cabin with sheep and chickens across the road. However, by the time we got to the meadow, Lydia was starting to show signs she was getting tired so decided to skip the rest of the garden and head back to the car.
While Lora and Margery got Lydia into her car seat and packed away the stroller, Paul lingered behind for a few minutes to photograph the wedding venue behind the welcome center. In addition to a seating area with a stone wall backdrop for the ceremony, there is a wrought iron gazebo and and several picturesque paths for photography.
Back at the house we had a quick lunch and finished packing up the truck. Then we said our good-byes and headed back to Scenic Hills.
Saturday was Paul's birthday, so we decided to go to Der Dutchman for the breakfast buffet to celebrate. Our stay in Ohio is nearing an end so we wanted to have the breakfast buffet at least one more time before we leave, and Paul's birthday was a perfect excuse. Everything was delish!
Since we'll be heading south soon, there are several more eateries we want to visit one more time, and we also want to stock up on some meats, cheeses, bulk spices and a few other goodies from local stores. In addition, we have a couple of minor projects to finish up before we hit the road, and we still want to take time to enjoy the fall scenery. We'll let you know what we got into in our next update.