Day 1: They put fries on their sandwiches

Sitting here in the Days Inn in Macedonia, Ohio, just outside Cleveland, having just realized I’ve already lost my hairbrush, meaning I’ll have truly radical hair when we visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later today, I thought I’d take a moment and write a little about the first day of our road trip. We were sent on our way yesterday at my grandmother’s house in Bryn Mawr, PA, by my aunts and my uncle, a cousin and, of course, my wonderful grandmother, who stood outside her house waving goodbye to us as we started the engine and drove off.

Literally less than a minute later, we’d pulled over to the side of the road to fix a problem on our TomTom GPS navigation unit. So, you know, a little anticlimactic. But better, I guess, than getting horribly lost in the first 20 minutes.

We spend most of the afternoon driving with a few stops. Driving through beautiful farmland and along mountains and through many tunnels, our ears popping every now and then due to the altitude. We’ve both visited Pennsylvania on numerous occasions, and so driving straight through the state wasn’t really anything new, but it was still somehow thrilling to be off the roads we’re become so accustomed to driving the past few years. From North Carolina to DC and Connecticut and back. This was a change of pace. And we could do whatever we wanted on our own schedule.

We’ve basically got a library going in the back of our car – guidebooks on the entire country, books on specific parts of the country, books about wildlife and books about food. So when we checked out the expert advice and read about this place called Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh – open 24 hours a day – we decided to stop in for a late dinner before driving a few more hours and calling it a night.

The restaurant was a small place in this area called the Strip District. It only took a little bit of driving around the city to find it and we enjoyed checking out the Pittsburgh downtown area, which I’ve only had the chance to visit on extremely brief trips in the past. Pittsburgh is really nice looking, with cool architecture, and is also really easy to navigate, which is great when you’re hungry and sort of tired.

Primanti Brothers specialized in Pittsburgh-style sandwiches. Despite the fact that it was almost 10 p.m. and they had the two televisions in the restaurant on a channel playing the movie “Old School” instead of the World Series (Yeah Red Sox!!!), it filled up with other hungry people like us very quickly. J and I got roast beef and cheese (for me) and pastrami and cheese (for him) and when the sandwiches were delivered to us only minutes after we’d ordered them I pointed excitedly and exclaimed the one truth I know about Pittsburgh from my very limited experience here. “They put fries on their sandwiches!” I said. “Right on them.”

And with that useful piece of knowledge under our belt, we ate, and observed, and returned to our car to get back on the road, happy and full and ready to go to Ohio.