Carnegie Museum of Natural History dinosaur bones

Pittsburgh

I’ve been in Pittsburgh for about a month now, so I’ve had time to explore a small corner of this city of rivers and penguins.

Breakneck Rocks

Breakneck Rocks is about an hour’s drive from the city in the Southwestern Highlands of Pennsylvania. I went climbing there with CMU’s club. Top roping outdoors presented challenges that I was not accustomed to from my time in sterile indoor bouldering environments. Whereas when climbing indoors, the route’s holds are clear and sparse, outdoors there are plenty of holds but they do not offer a solid grip. There was a lot of groping around to find something suitable to latch on to. Also, the bugs were annoying. A bee buzzed around the hold I wanted to use for a good minute, so I had to pause climbing. A daddy long legs crawled precariously close to my hand. Sometimes I would stick my hand in a hold and feel spider webs. Mosquitoes constantly accosted me, and I left with 10 bug bites. But otherwise, the climbs were fun. I’m amazed that humans can scale near-vertical rock faces.

Schenley Park

Schenley Park is on the southern edge of CMU. I walked along several trails, such as the upper and lower Panther trails and bridle trail. There were a lot of chipmunks and deer.

I saw the native paw paw trees. They are something of an anomaly, with a fruit tasting like something out of the tropics, yet they grow in Pennsylvania and Ohio. They are not farmed though, because the fruit is only ripe for a short period of time before quickly going bad.

Phipps Conservatory

Phipps Conservatory
Phipps Conservatory

I walked around the Phipps Conservatory a couple times because it is just a few blocks from where I live. The greenhouses are sprawling, with rooms dedicated to tropical fruits, succulents, ferns, butterflies. Chipmunks scurry about indoors, and there are frogs populating the sustainable gardens outside. There is impressive flower glasswork throughout. I enjoyed smelling the aromatic flowers.

Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Art has an impressive collection of art from a variety of artists, mediums, and eras. Like the Seattle Art Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art houses pieces made by big-name artists. The pieces are representative of their styles but not their famous masterworks.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History plaster fabrications
Carnegie Museum of Natural History plaster fabrications

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has a large collection of taxidermy, geodes, and my childhood favorite, dinosaur bones. The museum feels old-school, with lots of static displays but few interactive exhibits.

One room had facades of famous buildings. Initially, it was mind-boggling to think that they could transport those huge stone faces intact, but then I read that they were plaster models of the originals, meant to give the locals a taste of European culture back when travelling internationally was prohibitively expensive.

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