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us politicspennsylvaniapittsburgh days • Places: Market Square

Grafitti near the Herron Ave Bridge, Pittsburgh PA, 2018.
Grafitti near the Herron Ave Bridge, Pittsburgh PA, 2018.

Since the start of 2021, we've had a peaceful transition of power, and Joe Biden is now President of the United States.

If the beginnings of 2021 have shown me anything about U.S. politics, it's that although Democratic party is not nearly as progressive as I would like, I think that recent events have made its precise value very clear.

Appalachian Trail: Caledonia Park to Old Forge Road

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: hikesappalachian trail • Places: Caledonia State Park

In early December 2020, my phone buzzed with a message. Someone replied to my suggestion of "maybe going on a scocially-distanced hike" (sic) from months earlier. That weekend, the weather seemed nice, and the arbitrarily chosen meeting point was (for once) closer to me than to my friends.

Trail Information
Name Appalachian Trail: Caledonia Park to Old Forge Road
Type section hike
Location Michaux State Forest
State PA
Country USA
Miles 11.6
Difficulty easy
Check out the trails index for information on more trails!

This would be first day hike on the Appalachian trail, one of the most important hiking routes in the United States. My company would be the inimitable Nik and Andrew, former colleagues. Both of them are connoisseurs of fruit-essenced sparkling water, experts at making strange faces, and brilliant at pointing at things. Andrew's special skill is consuming vittles.


The sights?

Ohiopyle State Park

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Attractions of Pennsylvania • Tags: fayette county pa • Places: Ohiopyle State Park

I'm really behind the eight ball in getting my "Attractions of Pennsylvania" written up about, but hopefully you enjoy this one from November of last year!


A few years ago, a close friend invited me to dinner at his parents' house, in suburbs east of Pittsburgh. We floated a few ideas for different activities near the area, including a visit to Ohiopyle, but due to time constraints and other reasons, just ended up hanging out at the Greensburg Mall.

Sans automobile, I didn't have an easy way to go to Ohiopyle myself, and so I never went.

A few years later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I made arrangements to meet another friend in Ohiopyle, back in November. I drove five minutes away from Fallingwater, pulled into the visitor's center parking lot, and was immediately blown away.

Ohiopyle Falls
Ohiopyle Falls

And, also, I was quite miffed that it had taken me so many years to visit this amazing place.

Believe me, the mall cannot compare.

Mirth in Maastricht (2018)

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Western Europe 2018 • Tags: travelnetherlandsmaastrichtrealizationsrivers • Places: Maastricht

In this post, I finally explain why I decided to write about some random, fairly spontaneous travel to Western Europe in 2018. Bear with me.

Maastricht, the Dutch city that is the subject of this post.
Maastricht, the Dutch city that is the subject of this post.

Here's a quick recap. In 2018 I went on an impromptu work trip to Berlin, which was extended at the last minute to Aachen, Germany. This was stressful, but fun.

(If you want, you can read the previous posts in this series for more context. Otherwise, the next paragraph serves as a condensed recap.)

My boss gave me a few extra days off before I returned to the United States, so obviously I wanted to take advantage. My goal was to hit up some cool places and stuff.

I got some travel recommendations from colleagues, and picked a few of them to visit.

The first was Maastricht, Netherlands.

Low-Flying Hawks and the Onset of Winter

life updates

I haven't written anything along the lines of a "life update" since August, I think, so it's time to remedy that.

The truth is, I had a lot to look forward to coming into the Fall. I decided to actually go on a nice solo backpacking trip, and made a couple of plans for socially-distanced meetups with friends -- some of which actually came to fruition. But after that, at times I felt like I had little left to do but to wait out the rest of the year, and ride out the increased cold, darkness, loneliness, boredom and isolation that winter would bring. (I don't think I minced words with those adjectives.)

The truth is that the last few months have been much better than I was expecting. And no, not just because of birds.

One in the tree, one in the aire