Jump on the Sustainability Train

photo Sustainability is a big buzz word today. In common vernacular we hear words like “green”, “environmentally conscious”, “carbon footprint” and “global warming.” We all have a responsibility to take care of our world and pass on a better world for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come. My company is taking sustainability very seriously by corporate and warehouse recycling programs, utilizing intermodal transportation where tractor trailers are taken off the road and loaded on to flatbed rail cars, reducing carbon emissions,and saving on tire wear, and engine repair. It is a less expensive form of transportation as well. Companies, people, countries are all now conscious of our use of natural resources and the paths we trod on our planet.

Please take a look at the video on the following link: http://wornwear.patagonia.com This short film shows how folks utilize good clothing, repair it, and keep it often to be passed on to the next generation. Patagonia is a very progressive company founded by the well known climber Yvon Chouinard. Chouinard started the company as a hardgoods concern manufacturing pitons, ice axes, and other climbing equipment. When he ventured into the soft goods arena, he was bound and determined to make it the best quality and be socially responsible as well. If you look at my picture above, you will see the original Patagonia pile pullover that I am wearing on the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. This picture is from the late 70s and I still wear this pullover today. I still have my Vasque HikerIIs(hiking boots) from 40 years ago. My wool sport coats are from my college days and my wife finally threw out a pair of duct taped Docksiders from high school. I was bummed. Without really trying, I ventured into sustainability because wearing this stuff prevented the use of natural resources to make new clothing and boots which I really don’t need. Now my gas guzzling Jeep is setting back my credits and I do replace skis, bikes, parts,and ski boots, when necessary. But along with my contentment with clothing, I do try to do my little part to save the planet when I can.

Sustainability is really an active way of portraying the spirit of Thanksgiving. We really have a lot to be thankful for and among our blessings is our planet and our natural resources. We each can take a part in the sustainability movement by looking at what we really need and what we really don’t need. We can recycle responsibly and in our own little way, we can contribute. We may not be able to make a large impact like Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia, but maybe by looking at our lifestyles and what we can do like what is shown in the film, we can help save our world, little by little. I love Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my wife, my son, my health and the ability that God gave me to enjoy life. I love being outdoors and enjoying our world. Personally, I am glad that there is awareness that we must protect the planet. In many ways, it brings us all together even though we may have differences. Go hug a tree will ya? Thanks for reading and watch that flick!!!

The Internal Amplitude Dial

photoCottonwood-20120216-00019IMG00132-20100208-1434 We all have an internal dial or dials which are like radio dials. We have the ability to turn up the dial, turn down the dial, look at a second dial which might indicate how we approach fun, aerobic limit, or competitiveness. Everyone’s dial is different based upon experience, age, physical fitness, and the ability to assess risk. I have written previous blog posts entitled Risk versus Reward and I would encourage you to re-vist them for a perspective on that subject. Outside Magazine’s current issue is dedicated to the topic of risk. But all of us have the ability to adjust those internal dials based upon where we find ourselves at the moment when we are partaking in a physical activity.

If you look at the picture above, this is our skiing group that gets together once a year in Tahoe/Mammoth for a week to 10 days of pretty hard core skiing for a bunch of guys who are pushing 60.( Some of the group are already there). The good thing is that this group is extremely enthusiastic and skiing is very important to all of us. Last year, I turned the group on to the I-Phone App “Alpine Replay.” This is one of many apps that measure vertical feet skied, speed, calories burned, and other measurements. We all got sucked into the technology and spent one day during the week at Northstar at Tahoe skiing perfectly groomed trails with no crowds. We actually had the perfect day to beat the single day record because there are several high speed chairlifts,and we have the equipment that makes it easy to turn and control at speed. The dial was turned up a little that day with our enthusiasm. We ended up skiing 57,833 vertical feet (each of us). The next day, Hutch and I logged 52,000 vertical each. That is a lot of runs in two days but again, we had perfect conditions which allowed us to turn up the dial a bit.

Even guys our age can get caught up with modern technology. I-Phones, Map my Ride, Go-Pro cameras which allow you to video document your own experience as you race to get it on You Tube for the chance to go viral. Equipment advances, high speed chairs, over-sized racquets and clubs, dual suspension all carbon mountain bikes, carbon road bikes, power meters, the list goes on and on which allows mere mortals to venture into the expert zone. We all know our limits and the amplitude dial is relative to each person. But the outside influences on the dials can increase the amplitude sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. The secondary dial is more important to me. As the 59 year old kid, I love the challenges on the trails and the slopes. But the competitive mark on the dial is seldom used any more. It is more of an adjustment between fun and aerobic fitness. I love the roller coaster sometimes with friends on the slopes and the trails with all of the modern technology. But sometimes, I like to get off the roller coaster and stand on the platform or have a seat on the bench and dial it back a bit. Take today. I was running trails in the rain and ordinarily I try to push myself to the best of my ability. The amplitude and the secondary dial were not that high but I enjoyed the run and even stopped to see two beautiful bucks. I took the time to count their points. In the old days, I would have just kept running. My wife and I were hiking up at Glendorn a few weeks ago and I stopped to observe a beautiful salamander on the trail. Other days, I would not have even noticed. This week, Mark Sauers and I rode with an old friend who has had some extreme physical problems yet keeps on riding. Bill Belch is a testament to fortitude and continues to ride even at night with some serious vision issues. Mark and I dialed it back a bit and we really enjoyed our ride with our friend as it was great for us to reconnect and great for Bill to be pushed a bit. His dial was turned up pretty far but the outcome was very positive for a very positive guy. John Staab is another friend who rode with us yesterday and wanted to stop for a bit to have an energy bar, sit on a rock and enjoy the scenery for a little bit. You know, he got off the roller coaster and wanted to sit on the platform for a while. Really, nothing wrong with that. John had the longest ride of his season, his dial was up a bit, but he also enjoyed the experience. The secondary dial was turned to …..FUN.

I have been reading some interesting commentary lately about smaller ski areas and how they do not necessarily have high speed chairs. It is part of the experience. They even talked about the single chair at Mad River and mocked it as “stupid.” I tend to disagree and respect the history of the single chair. I remember riding the one at Stowe,Vermont when they would give you a blanket for the ride up. Sometimes, the slower double chairs allow for longer conversations. Skiing is a great sport and a fun activity, but it is as much social for me as it is making turns and runs. Sometimes, I am fine with not constantly taking the high speed chairs and maybe turning the dial down a bit and enjoy the slow ride up the mountain. Kind of like listening to the Frank Sinatra station on Sirrius Radio. As much as I like to stay up with current music, sometimes listening to the Chairman of the Board and even the Spa Channel, relaxes me. Sometimes that dial needs to be turned down a bit. Not all the time. But sometimes when you need it.

My friend Eric drove down to Mammoth this week to catch the first ski runs of the season. Eric has had neck surgery, shoulder surgery, and foot issues which have limited his ski time a bit. But he was enthused when he made his first runs down there and had no pain. The ability to ski like that and to enjoy the sunny weather caused him to turn his dials up. It is funny that his doctor told him he may want to “dial back” a bit but he ended up skiing between 23-30 runs per day and then going for a mountain bike ride. Somehow, I don’t think Eric will be dialing back any time soon. He will be pushing us to break the 60,000 vertical feet in a day record this spring on the Alpine Replay app and that is ok. The dial may be turned up a bit that day, but all within reason for a bunch of older dudes. So pay attention to your inner amplitude dials. They can be adjusted many times during the course of a day or a trip depending on how you feel. Go for the gusto but know that the dials can be adjusted to the fun zone and ……………..that’s ok. Thanks for reading. By the way, that is a Porcupine on my skis. I stopped to look at him too and he liked me. Also- this is my 100th post. Thanks for reading. This has been a lot of fun.

The New England Road Trip

IMG-20121211-00079entering_white_mountain_national_forest2013-02-05-the-bowlnew-england-church I drive a lot of miles in a year. Between work trips and all my extracurricular activity for skiing, cycling and family trips, I put a lot of miles on a vehicle. For work, my general rule is that if it is 6 hours or under, I drive. I really don’t want to fly unless the distance dictates it. Airports are a hassle but a necessary evil in our day and times. But on the other side of the coin, I like to take road trips. You can pack more than you might otherwise, and you can dictate your own schedule. You can listen to your music in the vehicle, CDs, books on tape and most of all you have the time to relax,put the sun roof down, and take some personal time. I like road trips and the ones with my family are gold in that we have hours to talk and be with each other uninterrupted. But, I also like my solo trips because it is a chance to take some time, sit behind the wheel, listen, and think.

Back in the days in college when I went to New Hampshire for the first time to ski with a friend of my dad’s, I fell in love with the White Mountains. I really enjoyed Mt. Cranmore and the Mt. Washington Valley and the most scenic highway in the northeast- the Kancamangus Highway. After college, I worked at Sugarloaf, Maine for the winter and really enjoyed my experiences there. (See my earlier blog post-Maine Memories). All in all, that area of the country had a special appeal to me and it drew me back, year after year, with road trips in all the different seasons. I had taken the path of least resistance after my winter in Maine and worked for my father in our small manufacturer’s rep business. As I made my way through my early days in the sales wars, I often made lunch stops between visits to the steel mills and machine shops, and read my ski magazines and other periodicals about life in New England. My commitment to my family business was taking root for better of for worse, and the need for a road trip was a welcome respite from the industrial day to day in the sales world. I racked my brain trying to think how I could make a living at the time somewhere in the Northeast living in that great area of the country, but as adventurous as I was with my avocations, I was not that adventurous with a career change or taking a chance. I figured the best thing I could do was to stick with what I was doing and save up to take the frequent road trips to the Northeast.

The best road trips up there were to visit my buddy Mike Smith who owns a marina on Lake George. The both of us would frequently make the trek to Killington to ski with our good friends, the Durfees, who lived in Bethel, Vermont at the time. I think I could take that trip from Pittsburgh in my sleep. 79 North, to 90 East, cut the corner in Amsterdam, New York, get spit out at Ballston Spa, hop on the Adirondack Northway(I-87 North) to Rt 189, to Rt 4 to Rt7, past Killington and turn at Bills Country Store for the home stretch into Bethel. Lots of good times up there including our cross country ski excursions on Sundays in the stone quarry where we tried killing ourselves xc skiing up and down the piles of gravel covered with snow. Lots of busted equipment and lots of laughs between ski outings at the Beast of the East- Killington,Vermont. I learned about the value of Grade A maple syrup by observing the sugaring process at the Durfee’s neighbor’s house. I learned about wood stoves and how important it was for Bethel residents to make sure they got their wood in the basement for the winter to power their furnaces. Lots of sub zero ski days, road cycling outings on the back roads of Vermont and treks to the White Mountains to ski our beloved Tuckerman Ravine.

I couldn’t wait for those trips and had some hairy experiences in the winter making my way through Buffalo. Freezing rains with tractor trailers sliding sideways on the Interstates, to 3 foot snow events slowing my usual 10 hour trip times. However, it was adventurous and I always drove four wheel drive vehicles so I felt that I had some advantage even though they slide as much as any vehicle. If you check out my Fourth of July post, you will see that one year, my neighbors thought I was moving when I took a New England road trip with my bike, skis, golf clubs, tennis racquets, and water ski. That was maybe one of the best road trips of all time.

I still take road trips often and when I travel regionally for work, I always take my toys with me, either skis or a mountain bike and make the most of a trip. Why spend your evenings sitting in some restaurant by yourself or a bar pickling yourself when you can see a great state park, a lake, a great mountain, or take advantage of some other nice outdoor adventure right nearby? I have not taken a New England road trip for a while because the Durfees are now out in Tahoe and we visit them there. But,I do make a point to see my friend Mark Hutchinson in East Randolph, Vermont and ski the Beast whenever I am in the New England area. Also, Mike Smith is still at Lake George and we get together to ski the Adirondacks and enjoy the lake. It’s just like anything else, you have to make the effort to go see other places and the road trip is a great way to do it. It may take longer than flying and getting a rental car, but if at all possible, the road trip is relaxing, and living out of your vehicle is comforting and practical. Hit the road Jack!!! Thanks for reading.

The Lifechanger

imagesphoto Several posts ago, I wrote about people who are mentors. There are also folks who fall into a slightly different category and they are what I call Lifechangers. I was at a birthday party last night for one of them and his name is Hot Harry Kirsch. Harry turns 90 this week and it has been my distinct pleasure to know him. Mary Jo Neff got up last night after organizing the affair and eloquently told the assmebled crowd how much Harry has influenced all of our lives by starting and running the Hot Harry’s North Park Runners. There are people like Harry who influence us and in many ways facilitate a life change.

I first met Harry when I started running at North Park during the running boom of the 80s. I had quit tennis and was looking for a change when I saw a group run by the tennis court and I said to myself that I was going to start running. I became passionate about it and ventured into the Stone Field parking lot and one of the first guys I met was Hot Harry. He was very friendly and introduced me to some folks and invited me to have a drink out of some jugs from his open trunk. I soon found out that Harry always left his trunk open to his car and anyone who ran from Stone Field was welcome to a drink from Harry’s stash. Harry also told me about his loosely organized club and soon I was wearing the shorts and singlet in the races indicating that I was a member of Hot Harry’s North Park Runners. I was actually very proud to wear that garb and be part of the whole North Park running scene.

Harry organized a bus to go to the Marine Corps Marathon every year. He was fond of the marathon because he was a Marine.He always organized picnics at his farm in Evans City,Pa and soon the group swelled to very large proportions including family and friends of the North Park Runners. Harry has an infectious positive atttude and a smile for everyone who comes his way. There have been a lot of folks who have come to the park in a similar fashion as me and have sheepishly tried to start to walk, run, or jog to make a change in their lives. You get to the point sometimes in your life when you realize that your health and mental well being are more important than any job. Everyone has stress in their lives and exercise is a great antidote to those daily pressures which can consume our lives. Harry made sure that everyone who was new had someone to run with and if no one was available, he ran with them himself. Harry loves the park and as a retired bus driver whose wife had passed away, the park was a good way for him to reconnect with people and soon his running prowess and enthusiasm for the sport got him a lot of notoriety in the local papers. I believe that Harry has 50+ marathons to his credit including countless Boston and Marine Corps Marathons.

I had the pleasure of running in Boston with Harry and his group and was amazed at how well Harry knew the drill up there with the accomodations, the food, the travel arrangements, the expo, and all with only a small duffel bag containing a spare set of running shorts, another singlet, and a toothbrush. Harry traveled light. He loved the marathon up there and took me under his wing as a rookie and I will never forget his wisdom, humor and friendship. Four of us crashed in one room and Harry snored like a chainsaw, but we didn’t care. We were having too much fun. No hot water in the hotel after the race,the elevator was down, but Harry and his sense of humor had us all laughing through an uncomfortable end to a great run.

Harry and the North Park crew changed my life for sure. Even though I eventually gravitated to road cycling and mountain biking, I still run on trails in the winter and on nasty weather days. Running is still in my veins thanks to Harry and the wonderful people of North Park. They say that you get an endorphin high from running but I am not sure if it is more the chemical high or the psychological high that you have completed a healthy activity for the day and you did it with friends. The comraderie of the running crowd cannot be matched. I see folks from all over the country running in groups. The exercise and the lively conversations are indigenous to running clubs and if you have not had the chance to join a running, cycling, skiing, hiking, outdoors club, go do it. Chances are you will meet fun folks who will hold you accountable to join them on a daily or several times a week basis. You will be fortunate if you ever meet a guy like Hot Harry. He is one in a million and if you ever see the car with the open trunk, help yourself and allow yourself to meet one of the all time greats. Thanks for reading.

The Lodge at Glendorn

photophotophotophotophotophotophotophotophoto Sometimes as the 58 year old kid, you have to treat yourself to life’s wonderful pleasures that are not muddy, adventurous, snowcovered, or viewed from underneath a smelly sleeping bag in a tent. This was the case this weekend when Janet and I went to the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pa. This woodland retreat was created in 1927 by C.G. Dorn as a wonderful family camp to enjoy for years as a respite from the rigors of the oil business. The family built cabins for each of their children and enjoyed hunting and fishing for years until 1995 when they opened it up to the public. Fast forward to the fall of 2009, the Dorn family decided to put the property up for auction and two of their regular guests, Cliff and Tracy Forrest, had the vision to buy Glendorn and not let it be sold into parcels of land. The Forrests have put their heart and soul into the place as evidenced by their induction into the exclusive membership of Relais and Chateaux. http://www.relaischateaux.com Only the finest hotels and resorts are in this directory and you can appreciate this as you wander the grounds and see the thoughtful way the place is landscaped and the cabins are appointed.

As Janet and I approached the black iron gates in our Jeep,which recently hauled mulch and firewood, I tucked my shirt in and announced our presence to the staff who were waiting for us. We were shown to the Dale Cabin built for one of the Dorn sons. This was our second trip to Glendorn and it was our 25th wedding anniversary. The accomodations did not disappoint as each cabin has it’s own flavor and decor consistent with the history of the retreat. As we wandered to the Big House for our lunch, we were greeted by a friendly staff and escorted to a table in the dining room with a great view of the brilliant fall foliage. The fresh flowers on the table adorned with white linen tablecloths and napkins, were welcoming along with the beautuful silverware and utensils. The cuisine is prepared by Executive Chef Joe Schafer and his unique style of menu is second to none. To show you how good this guy is, my friend Cliff gave us a tour of the kitchen and presented a country ham to Joe to prepare for the breakfast menu for the next day. Now if you know anything about country ham, you know that it is like a catcher’s mitt that has been salted to death and is stored in a dry place. It is big in the south and when the boss says to prepare it for the next day, you better know what you are doing for the guests. Joe was spectacular and even prepared it with the traditional red eye gravy and grits. Pretty good for a guy that can prepare world class meals in the Pennsylvania wilds. Cliff even dropped the damn thing in the parking lot but I will tell you, it was good. Dinner was unbelievable and the fresh bread and butter with black sea salt was so good, I remarked to my wife that I would like to swab the butter dish with the warm sourdough bread. But I envisioned the whole dining room staring at me in horror with fixed eyeballs if I had done something like that. Hey, at least I wouldn’t lick the butter dish? But again, Jan’s filet, my salmon and the soups and desserts were to die for as we made our way to the two story fireplace which was lit for us to enjoy. The opening of the fireplace was circled with a stone archway that was protruding from the wall and Cliff told us that when a Dorn became engaged, they had to walk that stone protrusion above the opening of the massive fireplace. Up and over the arch and down the other side. Lots of accidents Cliff said, but part of the great fun with the Dorns and the traditions that they have instilled in the place.

Janet and I hiked and explored the trails which was pretty adventurous seeing that Janet had broken her elbow hiking six weeks ago. But she was game and the beauty of the place was spectacular. We even did a little skeet shooting this weekend under the watchful eye of Cliff and his Orvis endorsed staff. I am not a good shot. I can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a bag of rice, but I had fun trying. You can fly fish here with excellent instruction. Mountain bikes are available for exploration and in the winter, there is cross country skiing, showshoeing, and just up the road is Ellicottville, NY which has loads of alpine skiing opportunities. But if you just want to walk and explore the grounds, that is really relaxing and you can really soak in the atmosphere of this storied 1500 acres. You almost feel as if you are back in time especially if you take the time to read the history of the Dorns at their special retreat. I laughed at the sense of humor of C.G.Dorn in a series of published letters to his best friend bound in an old book on the desk in our cabin. Cliff and Tracy have respected that heritage and kept the history of the place in tact with references to the Dorns and their way of providing rest and comfort for their guests.

Perhaps the most impressive thing abount Glendorn is the attention to detail. The training of the staff is superb as they concentrate on the little things. They serve you coffee with the logo on the mugs facing you and the handle on your appropriate side. The cabins are serviced twice a day. You can go out to fish, hike, etc., and when you return, your bed is made or turned down and everything is tidy as if you had just checked in. Fruit, wine and cheese, snacks, are all available in the rooms in the lodge and the cabins. Really, there is nothing that you can desire because the attention of the staff is so keen. Cliff does not allow tipping. He and Tracy feel that the service should be excellent without the incentive of monetary compensation by the guests. For the 58 year old kid and his bride of 25 years, this was a wonderful getaway. We were sad when we had to drive the Jeep through the black iron gates on the way out, but I said,” Dear, wasn’t that wonderful? I will definitely bring you back here in another 25 years.” Just kidding dear……………. we can’t wait to get back. Check it out and definitely go there. http://www.glendorn.com

As we met our friends for pizza when we returned, we laughed and said,” Well, back to reality.” But, you know, sometimes you just have to appreciate the finer things and “go for it.” That is what good memories are made of and celebrating a wonderful life with my wife couldn’t have been at a better venue. Thanks for reading and go to Glendorn.

Why I like Pittsburgh

IMG00035IMG00012-20091025-1208Giant Rubber Duck's American Debut Goes Swimmingly - Wired Scienceneil_walker.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxphoto Imagine if you will coming into the airport in Pittsburgh,Pa. and not knowing much about our fair city. The first two guys you see are shown above. One is George and one is Franco. Now George made a big splash here in 1753 as a surveyor and almost literally drowned in a big splash in the Allegheny River. But he went on to great notoriety as a British officer and helped to secure the cornerstone of our city’s early existence -Fort Pitt. He later made many trips to our region and Pittsburgh was near and dear to his heart. The other guy, Franco made a great catch in a football game against the hated Oakland Raiders that went down in gridiron history. If you ask most older Pittsburgers today, they will all tell you, in a friendly way, that they were at the game and saw the “Immaculate Reception.” Now if that were true, I would estimate that there were 600,000 people at that game. Wow- that must have been crowded. I don’t rememberit being THAT crowded because I was there. ( Yea – sure you were Pat). But I was.

As you make your way through the tunnels, you are treated to a spectacular collage of buildings and 3 rivers that form the “Point”. You can see the most beautiful baseball field in the country( PNC Park), as well as Heinz Field that is the home of the Pitt Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But as you make your way to the Strip District and perhaps the South Side, you will begin to notice what makes Pittsburgh so special- the people. Pittsburghers are a friendly lot and will be glad to help you find your way even take you there if they have the time. In many larger cities, folks are in survivor mode and will hip check you to get a cab, or they will do whatever they can to get over on you just because there are so many people. It is survival in the bigger cities, but Pittsburgh is just small enough that the pressure of urban civilization has been lost a little bit on our community.

To go along with the friendliness of the city are the neighborhoods. Please check out a great blog, http://90Proofpgh.wordpress.com This will give you a great feel for the neighborhoods that make the city so special. Local cuisine, taverns, restaurants in corners and nooks, all are represented. Everyone thinks that Pittsburgh is all about Primanti sandwiches, but as good as they are (late at night), there are so many more eateries and establishments in Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods that can be enjoyed. 90 Proof can illustrate it well.

Pittsburgh is an enthusiastic town. When the steel industry went in the tank in the 80s, Pittsburgh was resilient and vowed not to be a “rust belt” city. The city fathers welcomed construction of new residence communities to encourage surburbanites to think about living and working along the rivers and supporting the new life that was sprouting up out of the coal and dust of the industrial evacuation. Pittsburgh quickly became a white collar community with the UPMC Medical Facility expansion and the rise of the financial markets in town. Along with this entrepreneurial excitement and resiliency, was the spirit of our community in it’s tireless support of it’s sports teams. The Steelers are having a rough start, but that does not stop the Black and Gold faithful from attending in sell out conditions and having their beloved tailgates at every home game. We are in playoff baseball right now and it is the first time that the Pirates have been in the post season in 21 years. The other night the park was standing room only and the balance of fans were either on the Clemente Bridge watching what they could, or glued to ther TV sets at home sporting Bucco gear in their neighborhoods. The Penguins opened their season this week and Stanley Cup fever is in the air and Pittsburgh fans hang on every word that comes out of Sidney Crosby’s mouth.

We even have a 40 foot rubber duckie moored in the water!! Pittsburgh is the innaugural bathtub for the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s duck and Pittsburghers lined the rivers and the point by the thousands welcoming this piece of inflated art that will be here for a month. The crowds at PNC Park say that the duck is good luck to the Bucs and are grateful that it will be floating close to the stadium in the post season. Shaundra Miles of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust says it best when she remarked that the duck is a “reminder with all that is going on in the world, that there is joy, and joy in simple things.” That is what defines a person living in the ‘burg. We have joy in our communities, our city, our sports teams, and in our lives in general. There is a spirit in Pittsburgh that is most evident in the happiness that a kielbassa sandwich brings at a football game, the micro-brews that are enjoyed at the many local establishments, the thrill of a home run in the post season, the visual bonus of fireworks over our three rivers, the colorful buildings, and the comraderie in the streets during a game or in the work place in anticipation of a win on the ice, field, or gridiron. That spirit is alive in me because of the many nights I sat up and listened to Bob Prince (The Gunner) broadcast a Pirate game and announcing after a victory that ” we had then alllllllll the way!!!” That red plaid sportcoat is etched forever in my memory.

Pittsburgh also has a vibrant outdoor community. Visit http://www.ventureoutdoors.org to see the many hikes, beer tasting hikes, bike rides, snowshoe events, and other outdoor instructional outings that this organization so aptly make available to visitors and locals alike. Janet and I like to use the many bike paths that wind their way through the city. You can park up river and ride to the games, leave your bike in the racks at Kayak Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River, and then return without having to worry about parking. Ride to the Red Fin on Herr’s Island and take in a good lunch while looking at folks enjoying the river on their boats and jetskis. Get involved with the rowing clubs on the island and get instruction on how to take part in a great activity on the river. You don’t have to go to an Ivy League school to learn to row. You can do it on the Allegheny River with a local club.

Well, I may have exhausted that visitor who first stepped off the plane and met George and Franco in the airport. But there sure is enough for him or her to do and maybe, just maybe, they will begin to have that great Pittsburgh spirit as they enjoy dahntahhn with a chipped ham sandwich and some Blend an at. Go see the duck, root for the Bucs, and be glad that you have experienced the “Most Liveable City in America” Thanks for reading.