Look. I used some ironic Pittsburghese up there in that title and typically that is a pet peeve of mine but I figured since this is kind of a Pittsburgh tourism post thing, might as well add the full flavor, right YINZ GUYS?
Scott and Maya had left the itinerary of the day up to me, but they did express interest on going to the aviary at some point to watch the bats getting fed. I had no objections to this, but I will admit that the aviary is not something that I would have put on my own Pittsburgh travel itinerary. Not because I’m like, anti-birds or whatever, but because I honestly usually forget that this place even exists.
In fact, the last time (and maybe possibly even the only time?) I was ever there was when Chooch was 3 months old and I was adamant on taking him there for some reason even though Henry kept reminding me things like, “He’s only 3 months old” and “His eyes can’t even focus yet” and “He will never remember this.”
I think I got a discount for being a Pitt student maybe, and that was back when I was trying to milk it for all it was worth. So we went and two things happened:
- Chooch didn’t care
- Chooch doesn’t remember it (and I barely do, either)
I went to the aviary’s website the night before to see what the admission fee situation was like, and was surprised that it was only $15 (that seems reasonable) and that it’s apparently the largest in the country!
So after our Millie’s ice cream lunch, we walked over to the Gateway T station where some elderly couple, clad in Hawaiian button-downs and fanny pants, accosted us and started firing off questions; first they asked us if we were from Pittsburgh and I hesitated, unsure of my answer, because I was afraid of the questions that would follow. Turns out they were trying to get to the Carnegie Museum of Art and Janna and I tried to explain that they couldn’t get there by using the T and then the lady was pointing at a map like, “But it’s right there, can’t we just walk” and we just like, “Hey babe, that’s just where you catch the bus to get you there” but she was arguing with us about it and then the guy was like WHERE ARE ALL THE CABS which is the Pittsburgh equivalent of Pee Wee asking to see the Alamo’s basement, for real.
We suggested an Uber or Lyft but the lady was like, “I DON’T HAVE THAT APP” and honestly, their attitudes were pitiful and didn’t make me feel inspired at all to help them any further. Fucking swim there, it’s a beautiful day and the river’s right there, you know?
Ugh, talking to strangers is so exhausting.
Anyway, we got on the T and Maya was just like, “Aw, this is cute” because she and Scott lived in NYC, so…..the trolley here really is cute compared to a true urban transportation system. But I managed to get us off at the right stop (fine, Janna did – I’m not very familiar with the T past Gateway) and then we made it to the aviary on foot without getting lost so this day was shaping up to be quite the success. And all of my work friends were so worried about what I was going to do to these poor people!
Inside the aviary, I was reminded about how much I love birds and how so many of them remind me of my cats. There was one majestic owl in particular that made me mentally weep for Marcy. :( She always reminded me of an owl.
The penguins were especially delightful and showing off for us. Maya said their daughter is really into penguins so that’s just another check for the “pro Pittsburgh” column because HELLO OUR HOCKEY TEAM IS THE PENGUINS. Plus, they’re a better team than Nashville. *insert fingernail painting emoji*
I really liked this room because not only was there a Buffalo Bill’n flamingo, but Janna almost whacked in the head twice by free-flying birds and it was amazing.
You guys, I didn’t realize the bats were going to be so big! I was expecting those little tiny fruit bat things that my dad used to taunt in our backyard by throwing a wiffle ball high up into the air and making them dive down for it. Sigh, fun times on Gillcrest Drive. These bats were like ACTUAL VAMPIRES. I was so stoked! These particular bats are Flying Foxes.
Janna mused, “Aw, they’re like foxes with wings.”
“That’s why they’re called FLYING FOXES, JANNA,” I yelled. God!
Anyway, the feeding was way more exciting than I ever could have imagined. One of the aviary workers came into their habitat with a pail of watermelon, grapes, and…papaya? I can’t remember what the third fruit was now. You know me and my details! Let’s just gloss over everything as usual.
While the lady was hand-feeding them (they’re particular little suckers! GET IT—SUCKERS?!), she relayed some facts about them, like how big their wingspan is (like 4 feet or something) and then started talking about the dangers of unsustainable palm oil so now I’m obsessed with it and even downloaded the app that she recommended so that when I buy Halloween candy, I can make sure it’s from a company that’s not an enemy of the rain forest. (Look up “sustainable palm oil” in your app store and join me!)
Major props to Scott and Maya for suggesting the aviary. I had a lot of fun there and felt that just watching the bat feeding alone was worth the price of admission.
While we were there, I sent Chooch a picture of some giant condor that reminded me of his idiot cat Drew and he was so angry that we wnet to the aviary without him. I mean, even before he knew we were going to the aviary, he was mad that he got left behind, but have you met Chooch? He is the worst when it comes to things like this and would have totally impeded upon the day and started to complain that his hip hurt from walking too much. He’s pretty dramatic.
We capped off the day of sightseeing with some coffee at Colony Cafe, where we got to relax and get to know Scott and Maya some more. They are so freaking easy to talk to, it’s kind of maddening. How do I unlock this life skill?!
After that, we all walked back to the Wood Street trolley station, where Janna had a total tourist moment by not being able to put money on her Connect Card, so Scott gave her a dollar so that she could just be a TRUE N00B by paying cash on the T. Oh, Janna. While we waited for the T, some crazy Steelers fan tried to engage me in FOOTBALL TALK but I shot him down, only for Scott to be like, “I know football things” so then they started talking about sports things and I thought to myself, “If they move here, they will be just fine.” Honestly, all it takes is even one small nugget of knowledge of one sport, any sport, and you can get by. Plus, Maya accidentally was wearing a Batman shirt in the official color palette of Pittsburgh so I think people were mistaking her for a fan of the Pirates/Penguins/Steelers, pick one, any one.
(I think it was on the trolley where we heard people talking about Nashville for the second time that day, and we all exchanged looks because what were the odds, you know?)
Anyway, we parted ways with Maya and Scott when the trolley rolled up to Station Square. They were going to check out Mt. Washington via the incline and I really wanted to do that too but Janna had a pie to make and I had to go home and get all of the pie party decorations out of the basement and then decompress because I always get so stressed out the night before the pie party, you have no idea.
As soon as they got off the trolley and the door closed, I looked at Janna and gushed, “OMG I LOVE THEM!” and Janna agreed that she also thought they were great and we both started to hardcore hope that they will move here. There were absolutely zero bad or weird vibes. Yes, I was still a little nervous and a lot shy because that’s just me, but I could tell that these are people I can be myself around and I was really excited for Henry to get to meet them the next day.
Meanwhile, not only did Janna have to pay an extra fare for using cash, she also lost a quarter because the fare thingie doesn’t give change. She was pretty nonchalant about this though which was annoying because I wanted her to be more upset. On the walk back to my house, though, some (possibly drunk?) guy walked past us and when he pulled his hand out of his pocket, some change flew out and clattered to the sidewalk. He glanced behind him when this happened, but then kept walking, undaunted that he lost money.
“Janna, you should pick that up. It will make up for the quarter you lost,” I urged. There was at least a dime and a nickel chilling on the sidewalk, plus whatever he dropped further up the sidewalk, but she chose to just pick up the nickel. As soon as it was in her hand, I yelled, “JANNA YOU JUST STOLE FROM THAT MAN!” and he whipped around to look at us while she tried to pass the nickel off on me! I was like, “I DON’T WANT YOUR STOLEN MONEY!” so she ended up leaving it on some sign that was in front of the pool hall we were walking past.
It was great. You should have been there.
Later that night, I got an alert that the Pens game wa starting. They were playing Nashville. I guess all the “random” Nashville talk we kept overhearing that day wasn’t so random after all! Oh ho ho hockey.