Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vacation: Day 9 Pittsburgh, Part One

Well, better 3 months late than never, right?

Our time in Pittsburgh was one of my favorite parts of our vacation this summer, so I don't know why it has taken me so long to post about it. At long last here it is.......

We left the mosquito ridden shores of Assateague Island just as thousands of poor saps were rushing in there for the weekend. We took a detour through the Antietam Battlefield and then rolled in to my brother Eric's house in Pittsburgh about 10 pm on Friday night. Everyone there was already in bed so we just threw some blankets on the floor and passed out. (Our first night not in a tent for 8 days.)

On Saturday morning we just vegged out, eating pancakes and watching the kids play. Eli and Kinley particularly enjoyed the princess shoes. Then on Saturday afternoon we packed up and went to a beautiful State Park near Pittsburgh. We hike through boulders along the river, watched the kayakers negotiate the rapids, explored an old grist mill and saw a covered bridge. It was our first real "nature" experience of the trip, which is really strange for us. Usually we are out traipsing around in the woods all the time when we are camping. Ironically, I apparently did not take my camera on this outing....or I forgot to use it. I'm not sure which.

Saturday evening it was time for the big event.....the reason we were there....well, not the reason we were in Pittsburgh, but the reason we were there on that particular weekend.....The Cardinal Game!!!! Eric got tickets for all of us to go together. We packed all of our red just for the occasion. On the way to the game we would have to drive right past the bridge that Eric's company was building. So we stopped for Eric to give us a tour.

It was drizzling a little bit but luckily Kira had an extra umbrella for Kinley to use.
At first we explored the job site from the ground. You can see how huge the support pillars are. Before they could be built the Allegeheny River had to be dammed around the job site and a base of rock many, many feet deep had to be built up.In this picture you can see the existing highway bridge (steel structure) on the right, and then the two new two lane bridges they are building on the middle and the left. As you can see they first build the vertical support columns and then they start pouring concrete horizontally in each direction for the actual road. They have to keep it balanced by pouring evenly on each side.
Pouring concrete horizontally in mid-air requires this contraption. I don't remember the technical term but I think we referred to it as a creeper. It is a form for the concrete that stays in place while the concrete is poured and while it cures for a couple of days, then it slides (or creeps) out a little further so that the next section can be poured.

These two sections of the bridge are just about to meet.Eric decided we could get a better view of the bridges from up on top but none of us wanted to climb the switchback scaffolding all the way to the top like the workers do. (If you look closely in the picture of the three bridges you can see it going up the side of the middle bridge. Scary.) So he took us around, through a toll plaza and up on top.

From there we could see the view that the workers have everyday of the river far, far below.

This is the creeper contraption. It is hard to make heads or tails of what all of the parts are but you get the idea.
This is the finished product before the next section is poured. The workers eat lunch inside these tunnels inside the bridge on cold or rainy days instead of going down to the ground. The bridge is actually open all the way from one end to the other.And here are the two new bridges, one mostly complete and the other still under construction. We were kind of shocked at how close together they were. (And you can see the existing bridge with traffic going by in the background too.) You can also tell that the guardrails have not been poured yet. That made it a little scary watching 5 kids run around up top.
The boys loved seeing the construction site and learning all about what Uncle Eric does. Truth be told so did I. "Engineer" is such a broad term. It was fun to see exactly what he has been engineering. I'm so proud of him.
Cainan and Eli were excited to see a real Gator up on the bridge.

I'm not sure what the people driving by on a Saturday evening thought when they saw 12 people, dressed all in red, roaming around an unfinished bridge, but who cares? We had a great time and we learned a lot. We had to tear the kids away, but the promise of a Cardinal game did the trick.

It was time to get on the road and go to the game. First we had to get back through the toll booth just outside the construction site. Eric went up to a State Trooper on duty at the "pass-through-for-free-gate" that the construction workers are allowed to use. He said the magic words and we all got through without paying a toll. Whew!

On to the be continued.......

To read about Day One traveling and Day Two in Gettysburg go here.
To read about Day Three in Baltimore go here and here.
To read about Day Four in Washington D.C. go here.
To read about Day Five in Washington D.C. go here. and here.
To read about Day Six on Assateague Island go here.
To read about Day Seven on Chincoteague Island go here.
To read about Day Eight at Antietam go here.

No comments: