Well, I'm back to beautiful Pittsburgh. And it looks especially beautiful after the month I've had so far.
Since the Camerata concerts were finished so early this season I decided to visit a bunch of former Cameratans who happen to be related to me: the newlyweds (Edmund and his lovely bride Cecy) Cecily, husband James and their two kids, and Adrian, wife Kelly, and their two kids. Unfortunately they are rather spread out, so Kayak got quite a workout as I tried to figure out the option for travel which offered the best efficiency/cost combination. This is not easy, as Edmund and Cecy live in Mexico City, Cecily, James, et al live in St. Louis, and Adrian, Kelly and kids live in Colorado Springs. (Daughter Sarah, who managed to escape Pittsburgh without ever being pressed into Camerata service, other than one appearance on flute, lives in Wales with her husband and their four kids, and I'll be seeing them in June, so fortunately Wales didn't have to be factored into the equation.)
A day and a half after first opening Kayak and typing in PIT, I finally had my trip. Although I pursued a number of alternate possibilities, it turned out the easiest option, although not the very cheapest, was a massive multi-leg trip via Delta. (And no, I'm not getting a kick-back from either Kayak or Delta, although if they would like to send me one I'll be happy to give them my address.) The sole problem with Delta is that, like the old joke, even if you want to go to hell you have to go through Atlanta, which meant one leg of the trip was flying from St. Louis to Atlanta, changing planes, and flying to Colorado Springs. Even the very sketchiest acquaintance with U.S. geography will make it plain that this is not an efficient path to Colorado Springts, but so be it.
So on April Fool's Day Tony duly deposited me at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Accompanying me were a couple of carry-ons and an enormous American Tourister suitcase (purchased for a pittance at a thrift store because of its funky old-school tiny wheels in a straight line, meaning it is just as likely to fall over as it is to roll). Said American Tourister bag contained presents for the grandchildren, as one has to bribe ones way into their affections, and a ton of Edmund's stuff he left around the house and suddenly discovered he needed. (In other words, he's the youngest : ) By careful packing and judicious choices of presents I managed to get the bag down to 49 pounds, and thus did not incur any of the overweight fees I feared, considering that a goodly portion of the bag was taken up with horn etude books.
I'll probably share more about the actual visits in later posts, particularly the concerts I attended. This post has to do with some of the unscheduled happenings on the trip, aka Acts of God and Nature.
Mexico City was remarkably hot. Not that it was remarkable for Mexico City, as spring is usually the hottest season (once the rains start in June it cools down considerably), but the contrast between the highs of 49 or so we had been experiencing and the highs of 85 in Mexico City were somewhat of a shock to the system. Another shock to the system was the earthquake, which occurred during my second or third evening there - it's a bit of a blur at this point. To be honest, we didn't notice it, but only because a massive rainstorm started up, which seemed disorienting at the time because of the noise. In fact, though, we probably felt the tremors without realizing that's what was happening.
The only other natural disaster was thanks to Edmund and Cecy's Siamese kitten, Lela, who apparently has an insatiable appetite for Apple cables, because she chewed through both my laptop and my iPhone charger cables. Fortunately there is an electronics store nearby, and Edmund sent me to another booth while he negotiated the price for a replacement for the iPhone cable, which was unrepairable, and picked up some sheathing to repair the computer cable, which was, if you see what I mean.
After a week I headed to St. Louis (through Atlanta, naturally,) and the second or third evening I was there Cecily and I were working in the basement after putting the kids to bed. About 20 minutes into the wallpapering the tornado sirens went off, so Cecily went upstairs, informed the kids that we were going to have an adventure in the basement, and we wallpapered until the sirens went off maybe 15 minutes later. At the end, Cecily's roof and trees were pretty much intact, although the area where James works as a policeman sustained considerable damage.
What more can happen, right? I flew to Colorado Springs, where the temperatures were more like what I had left in Pittsburgh. The second morning there I was rudely awakened, literally, by an obnoxious alarm on my phone. I was rather puzzled, as I hadn't set one (two and a half year old grandchildren are generally all the alarm one needs). I picked up my phone and discovered there was a blizzard alert for Colorado Springs, and they suggested that no one leave their homes for the next 12 hours. Naturally Adrian ignored this, as it was David's pre-school day. He only goes once a week, and it is a welcome break for all concerned. Thankfully, we didn't have to send the state police to dig them out of a snow drift. Adrian's SUV does have 4 wheel drive, after all : )
I boarded the train a day later, said grandson in tow (the other grandchild is now almost three weeks old, but not quite ready for a solo outing with Grandma.) It was David's third birthday, and as a treat I took him on the Amtrak to New Mexico to visit his great-grandma (and my mother.) Although it was pretty cold in New Mexico, there were no fires or floods or, so far as I know, volcanic eruptions. The only eruption was coming from the birthday boy, who picked up some stomach bug and threw up off and on all night. (That was the next night after the train ride, so I don't blame Amtrak or too much birthday cake.) Other than that, it was a lot of fun, and we took the train back to Colorado last Sunday.
Mother Nature's final little joke came yesterday morning at the Colorado Springs airport. It was snowing and 19 degrees out as Adrian drove me there (at five in the morning, which is not a real time at all in my book), and continued to snow as I checked my bag (I had ditched the American Tourister bag at this point, and some lucky soul in Colorado Springs will be able to pick it up at a local thrift shop.) It was also snowing while I went through security and as we boarded the plane, and yes, you guessed it, they had to de-ice our plane. On April 23rd. All I can say is, while I enjoyed my trip immensely, it was quite a treat when this greeted my eyes from the 28X Airport Flyer:
Note the gorgeous blue skies and the moderate temperature! Ah, lovely Pittsburgh!
Unfortunately the lovely blue skies are nowhere in evidence today. But my flowering cherry and apple trees are in full bloom, there are tulips all over my front garden, and all appears to be right with the Pittsburgh world. In the immortal words of the poet,
Mid pleasure and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
The gentleman who wrote these words, John Howard Payne, probably didn't have a stack of mail four feet high and a backlog o