22 May 2011

Zoe & The Hof: a long post for a long walk


The plan.  Since it was Rapture Saturday, Clan Costello wanted to go out with a bang.  So we decided to take a walk over to the friendly local Hofbrauhaus to rendezvous with friends, beer, and Germany.  In sum this would mean 3.5 miles, from the top of Squirrel Hill to water-level with the mighty, muddy, Monongahela.  And, of course, the same trek back up the hills to get home.  

With the Wee Box resting blissfully in the sun, we strolled right on by.  Zoster promised she was up for the adventure, even though it would be the longest walk as a whole family since we walked to the Hospital to pop her out a year ago.  

As luck would have it, the walk to the Southside is as nice an urban stroll as one could hope for.  (At least in a hilly city...)  After just two city blocks, we descended into Schenley Park, where a system of trails would connect us to a bike path.  That's right - we only had to cross two intersections on the whole journey.  Pretty nifty.  (Not that we're particularly challenged by intersections, but you know...)

Part of the magic that is Schenley Park: a few wonderful old stone bridges, just for people to enjoy when strolling about.  The first part of the trip paralleled Tommy's commute to school, which means that it was almost all downhill and speedy.  This makes for a thrilling first leg, but a rapturous return home.

Speaking of school, there it is!  Tommy's (shared) office is right above that first nubbin that sticks out from the side of the Cathedral of Learning.  That building tends to follow you around as you explore the 'burgh; it is somehow always on the skyline!  In order to get to the Southside, we'd need to walk around this wee watering hole, and then take the well-trodden - yet officially non-existant and secret - path through the bushes and over the railroad tracks...

... Which puts you onto the bike trail!  This weaves along under a few bridges, and eventually connects to the Eliza Furnace trail.  In a recent stroke of genius (and presumably some sort of clever urban development fund) there's now a nice new basketball court directly under that huge bridge ahead.  Pretty neat.

Onward to the Hot Metal Bridge, which spans the Monongahela with Pittsburgh in the background, and has an entire luxurious section dedicated to pedestrians, cyclists, strollers, rollerbladers, etc.  Anything that's human-powered is welcome to cross it for free, all day, every day.  What a wonderful, happy, and healthy thing.  

Not sure if American Eagle paid for any of the bridge's refurbishment, of if they conveniently hung their logo at the correct altitude shortly thereafter, but said eagle is well framed!  It's a fine bridge nonetheless.

Zoster was a particularly good sport on the way down.  She noshed on Joes-Os and milk most of the way down, taking breaks to wave at the passerbys and proudly announce "BOP!" to anyone who would listen.  Thankfully, the Hofbrauhaus was well stocked with highchairs, crayons, and placemats with cartoon-beer propaganda.  This lead us to the belief that people in Germany must make babies too.

In accordance with her hiberno-teutonic roots, Zoe immediately ordered the biggest beer on the menu.  Good girl, Zoe Mae!

And in a stroke of academic genius, she in turn demonstrated the flip side of the nature-nurture debate, by sharing that gigantic beer with her righteous Mama.  Well played wee girl, well played.  

After polishing off this uber-nourishing lunch, Zoe went forth in the world to proclaim the virtues of such sweet nectar.  And to go to bed, since it was almost 7pm and there was still an hour's walk to be had before the ability to get in bed could be an option.  And it was all uphill.  

You're got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel Lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?
The Zoster did demand one brief photo-shoot on the railroad tracks as we passed over them.  She'd been channeling Dirty Harry all afternoon, so it was only a matter of time before she felt the need to try out her six-shooter stance.  Go on, imagine that rock is a .44 Magnum.  Did she fire six shots today, or only five?

Lucky Duck!  Zoe Mae had a genuine, honest-to-goodness wildlife experience on the way home!  She spied herself a duck.  A real duck!

Zoe Mae wasted no time in attempting to make friends.  The duck was a fine fellow (lady?) and humored us for some time before going for a swim.  The wee baby was well impressed with both the quacking and the swimming skills displayed by Mr(s). Duck.  

As daylight waned, Zoe had a long conversation with us about how it was rapidly approaching her bedtime.  This conversation was a fairly well argued linear argument.  It went like this:  1) She would NOT be in the stroller any longer.  Fair enough, we helped her to walk home.  Until she was done walking, at which time: 2) She would not walk anymore.  Fair enough, we carried her. Which was splendid until she was done being carried, at which time: 3) She would not be carried anymore.  Fair enough.  

Sing it with me!  The long and winding road...

19 May 2011

Zoster in the wild...


Zoster scrambled right by her first birthday, and has been doing her best to keep us on our toes.  She's now cutting teeth like a champion.  No more tears for her, nosiree, she's tough.  And she's got a magic necklace from the Baltic that makes her impervious to teething pain.  Seriously.

She's taken a liking to the playground around the corner, and she LOVES the swings.  She's even mastered the art of wearing dark sunglasses so that she can scope out prospective suitors without drawing attention to herself. Well played, wee Zoe, well played.

Next, the Zoster took her parents to an impromptu zoo!  Seriously, we rounded the corner, and there was a mini carnival blocking the street! It was closed to traffic, there was a band playing, and little animals chasing little kids everywhere.  Zoe was pretty brave and all, until a miniature  horse snarfed at her.  Punk. 

Hey Buddy - how 'bout you pick on someone your own size, eh?  Oh wait...  Yeah, well Zoe will be WAY bigger than you soon, so there!  

Luckily, little Zoe managed to escape unharmed and raced back home with mama.  Good times.  Who knew that there's be a zoo around the corner?  (Aside from Zoe Mae of course!)  See that little necklace poking out from under her magenta shirt?  That's the magic.  She'd show you the whole thing, but then it wouldn't be a secret, now would it? 

Yes, yes Zoe dear, you're brilliant.  And lookin' tall in those jeans.