Leaving West Virginia and Heading North to Pennsylvania

US flag in WV We are leaving West Virginia and heading north to Pennsylvania on our road trip adventure across the USA.

We left behind the largest city in West Virginia and departed from the small town of Romance.  We headed to our next destination.

First, we headed north.  Next we turned east.  Then we entered the state known as “The Birthplace of Aviation”.  However, we didn’t stop in Ohio.  We kept driving.

Lastly, we turned northeast to travel to the “State of Independence”.  PA Welcome Sign

“Honk!  Honk!”  We welcome you to the state of Pennsylvania with us.
Pennsylvania is our next destination.

We have only been gone from home five days.  We have visited two states (KY and WV), traveled through another state (Ohio), and arrived at yet another state (PA).  Realizing our adventure is not a race across America, Gary and I decided to slow down in Pennsylvania.

The travel day had been uneventful with a backdrop of a beautiful blue sky filled with fluffy fair-weather clouds.  traffic on way to PA

We had clear passage, but others did not.  We were thankful that we were not one of the vehicles traveling in the opposite direction.  These vehicles had come to a complete stop for miles and miles.  We watched for a cause of the stand-still traffic on the interstate, but we never saw a reason.

Since we have arrived at our next state destination, you might be wondering where are we heading in Pennsylvania?  Buddy was excited when he heard that we were heading to PA, but he was quite disappointed that we here not heading
to Gettysburg.

Buddy understood, but he didn’t enjoy hearing these words,  “Not yet, Buddy.  We will tour Gettysburg on our southbound loop of travel through the Mid-Atlantic states.  We’re exploring Pittsburgh first, but I promise we’ll stop in Gettysburg before heading home for Christmas.”


Pittsburgh not only fit into our basic route, but it also attracted our attention when Gary and I learned that:

  • Pittsburgh has been rated “a top world destination” by National Geographic and Today.
  • Pittsburgh has been ranked as “the most livable city” by Forbes, Places Rated Almanac, and The Economist.

However, when planning our route we did not uncover that the New York Times had also given Pittsburgh these accolades:

  • Pittsburgh is “the best way to enter an American city”.
  • Pittsburgh is “the only city with an entrance”.

We discovered these accolades from first hand experience.

I have already shared with you that our travel day had been uneventful.  Had been uneventful.  However, our travel day did not remain uneventful.

As we approached “the only city with an entrance”, our uneventful travel day became an eventful travel day when we experienced construction, a warning sign, a tunnel, and a bridge.  Despite our best efforts to examine our route before our travel day, somehow Gary and I had missed all of these events.

At the time, I had not researched Pittsburgh thoroughly.  So, I did not have any notes on the tunnel or the bridge,
but I will share notes with you on this virtual-travel day.

DSCN3336Let’s begin the events with a sign.  This sign immediately caught the attention of both of us.  Gary and I looked at each other.  Neither asked, but our expressions spoke, “Did you know about the tunnel?”  The sign clearly stated that the tunnel had a clearance of 14 feet.  With our big rig topping at 13’3″, Gary was not concerned.

Even though the warning lights for truck over-heights were not flashing, I was still concerned.   I was not only concerned about the height of our home on wheels being less than the tunnel clearance, but I was also concerned
by the words ‘flammable liquids prohibited’.  “Aren’t we carrying propane?  Isn’t propane flammable?”

My knight did not answer me.  He did not say a word.  He concentrated on keeping our big rig within the lanes,
which had been narrowed due to construction.  He focused on maneuvering our dually and 5th wheel through traffic and concrete barriers.

The tunnel eventually came into our view.  Now we saw more than a sign, we could see what we were about to face.  The tunnel we had unexpectedly encountered had a name:

approaching Fort Pitt TunnelFort Pitt Tunnel

  • was constructed between 1957-1960.
  • travels underneath Mount Washington.
  • has a North and South portal.  This is the South Portal.


DSCN3338We inched our way forward with the traffic waiting our turn to enter the tunnel.  I saw another warning sign.
I looked for another clearance sign for additional verification.  I did not find one.  I looked to my knight for reassurance.
My knight remained silent.  He concentrated on the task in front of him.

entering Pitt Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA

The tension mounted as we faced the mouth of this portal.  We were putting a lot of trust in the posted clearance height of 14′ as well as the recorded height, 13’3″, of the RV from a brochure.  I wished we had 9 feet to spare instead
of 9 inches.  I help my breath as my knight drove us into the tunnel.  Once inside, I exclaimed,

inside Pitt Tunnel, Pittsburgh, PA “We fit!”

My knight, who is now concerned with the nearness of the tunnel walls on his left and the traffic on his right, remained silent.

Did you know that The Fort Pitt Tunnel

  • is 3,614 ft. long and 28 ft. wide
  • is lined with 187,200 sq. ft. of ceramic tile
  • has 1,788 light fixtures.

exiting Pitt Tunnel, Pittsburgh, PAThree thousand, six hundred and fourteen feet is a long distance to drive when you driving in a tunnel.  Today,
I remember wondering if this tunnel had an end.  We did not see light at the end of the tunnel for quite some time.
And once we did see light, I remember being blinded by sunlight, as we finally exited the tunnel.

Pitt Bridge

As soon as Gary had successfully navigated through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, we saw his next challenge, the Fort Pitt Bridge.

But we did not have time to concern ourselves with the bridge, because we were distracted.

We were distracted by the striking skyline of Pittsburgh.

Today, with the surprise and stress behind us, Gary and I agree that Pittsburgh truly is “the best way to enter an American city”.

Since pictures can’t capture the actual adventure, I have found a video I want to share with you.  If you would like to witness “the only city with an entrance”, click here for a short video.





Pittsburgh skyline through Pitt Bridge

At the time we did not know that Fort Pitt Bridge:

  • is a double-decker bridge.
  • is known for difficult lane changes, especially on the lower deck.

Fortunately, there were no lane changes for my knight to make, as we traveled over the Monongahela River with ease.

We admired the sight of downtown Pittsburgh and continued our drive in a northeast direction past Pittsburgh.
We drove for another twenty miles, which thankful were uneventful.

So, why did we bypass Pittsburgh, if that was our chosen destination in Pennsylvania?

We continued our drive, because Gary and I were unable to find our family a temporary address in Pittsburgh.  For Pittsburgh campgrounds, we found that either our big rig didn’t fit into the campground or the campground rate didn’t fit into our budget.

However, we found an amazing place to park our big rig for an extended stay in Tarentum, Pennsylvania.

I’ll see you next time at the campground.

Coal Mining in WV

Coal Mining – Sightseeing in West Virginia – Part 3

We didn’t walk far before we found this statue.

coal mining statue in WV

Since I hadn’t read anything about this statue, I was surprised to find this coal miner.  Thus, I didn’t have any notes on this coal miner to share with my family.

However, I had plenty of notes on coal mining in West Virginia.

  • More than half of West Virginia’s land contains soft bituminous coal.
  • Bituminous coal is the official state rock for West Virginia.
  • Reportedly, there is evidence that Native Americans and early European settlers knew about and used coal as early as the 1740s.
  • With a rail yard and excess coal in Charleston, large quantities of this natural resource from West Virginia were transported throughout the United States.
  • After the World Wars, many immigrants found work in coal mines in West Virginia.
  • Labor unions were formed in attempts to improve work conditions in the mines.
  • In West Virginia, coal production reached its peak in 1947.  After the 1950s,
    coal production declined.
  • Coal production may have declined, but coal mining in West Virginia continues today.

I didn’t have any information on the coal miner statue, but our family speculated that this statue represents West Virginia’s long history in coal mining.  From an attached placard at the base of the statue, we read these words,

“… coal is the fuel that helped build the greatest country on earth…”
(I never got the importance of mining coal to our nation’s history when I went to school.)

Before we moved on, I noticed a small lone white stone marker close to the ground.  This small marker was a simple memorial.  This memorial was for those who lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster that occurred on April 5, 2010.

The year 2010 stuck with me, I hadn’t really thought about the continued dangers of coal mining and the lives that were still being lost in today’s time.

Later that night, I researched the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.  For 40+ years,
I have remained ignorant to the sacrifices of coal miners who in the past and even today continue to risk their lives as they go off to work.  (If you want a glimpse into a coal miner’s thoughts, here is a video I stumbled upon during my research.)

With these memorials behind us (for the day, but not forgotten in our minds), the solemn tone was lost when our family finally reached the West Virginia State Capitol,
which I will share in the next post.

Capitol Market in Charleston, WV

Part 1 Capitol Market was the beginning of our sightseeing adventure in Charleston, WV.

Capitol Market, Charleston, WV

Our family initially decided that the Capitol Market was a stop to see only if we had time.

free parking at the Capitol Market, Charleston, WV


However, when Gary found plentiful, spacious, and free parking for our dually
at the Capitol Market,


we decided to start our sightseeing adventures in Charleston there.



Since I believe that most topics are more interesting with some background information, I researched most sites prior to our sight-seeing adventures.   On the day of our adventures when we arrived at a site, I would share this information with my family.  In doing so, I hoped each stop would be more interesting and more memorable for each
of us.

Wanting you to enjoy your virtual tour of Charleston with us, I want to share my notes on the Capitol Market with you:

  • In the 1800s, a rail yard was built in this area.  The railroad provided a means
    to exchange goods.  This exchange of goods brought growth and wealth to the town of Charleston.
  • When the rail yard outgrew its prosperity, it was abandoned.  As a result, it deteriorated.
  • In 1997, as a means to revitalize this area and to preserve a piece of Charleston’s history, the Capitol Market opened where the rail yard once prospered.
  • The Capitol Market now houses an outdoor farmer’s market, several indoor specialty shops, and an Italian restaurant.

outdoor farmer's market, Capitol Market, Charleston, WVThe outdoor market is actually located
in the old transfer docks of the rail yard.

On the day we visited, the outdoor market was selling primarily produce and plants.  Despite the bold and bright colors of the flowers, the flowers were only admired by me.  The rest of my family walked by the plants quickly.


But once inside the market, all four of us found a place to appreciate and to enjoy: the West Virginia Marketplace, a specialty store which sells locally made products.  We spent some time browsing in the shops, but didn’t find anything we needed or wanted to purchase.

With a physical map of Charleston and with GG (Garmin Girl) on the walk setting, we left the Capitol Market and headed towards the West Virginia State Capitol Complex.

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