Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Monday, September 6, 2010

The P-Day Invasion:

This is Dave's patented posed-picture goofy face.

Dude loves going into Pittsburgh. I should have said 'Dude LOVES going into Pittsburgh! Just about every time we're on the highway and there's a sign that says 'Pittsburgh-? miles' he leans forward in his seat and yells, 'Pittsburgh! 7 miles!' or 'Pittsburgh exit only' or just, 'Going to the Pittsburgh!'. I actually think it's because we normally go through tunnels when we go to or through Pitt, because we don't actually go into the city very often, and it's almost never to do something that Dave likes to do (There are no GameStops or Wendy's in Downtown Pitt), but the other week we went into Da'Burgh twice because we'd heard that the city was being invaded by, of all things, WWII. It was also, incidentally being invaded by the NFL in the persons of the Carolina Panthers, but it was pre-season and we didn't much care.

What we cared about was the LST 325, normally based in Evansville Indiana as a floating museum, but recently driven upriver to Pittsburgh for a week. This 327 ft long 50ft wide (I looked it up) ship sailed up the Ohio River. They had tracking on the ship during the transit, and we (Raine, Dude, and I) took off at dusk on Wed night when it looked like it was in the Stratton OH locks, thinking that there would be no way to hide a 300 foot long boat in a 900 foot wide river, but we were wrong. There are these things called trees, and it seems that quite a few of them grow along waterways (go figure) mostly right between the highway and the river. Dave was enthusiastically helping from the backseat. I don't think he actually looked for the boat, but he was right there the whole time to tell us that we hadn't found it. The next day (Thursday) we were pretty sure we couldn't miss the ship as it had tied up in Pittsburgh. By this time Dave was more than enthusiastic about going to see 'the boat'. Mostly, I think because we'd already turned off his game and put his shoes on, so it was obvious we weren't going to leave him at home.

Alayna is taking pictures for a Senior Project so all four of us jumped in the car and trooped to Pittsburgh with our DPS (Dude Positioning System) in full working order and volume. (still can't find the mute button) Since the Stillers (Steelers) were playing we had to park on the wrong side of the river and walk to the ship. We walked along the river, committed a minor misdemeanor by climbing around a fence, walking along the edge of a closed park, then around another fence to get to the walkway over the river. (the next walkway was 1/2 mile back the way we'd come) Unfortunately for my blood pressure, Dave was fascinated by the water. There's no railing on the river walk because people actually tie up their boats along both sides of the river. So I was forever catching Dave sneaking around behind me to walk over to the edge to look down at the water 2 feet below. Not wanting him to fall in (after all I didn't want to get my camera wet) I'd grab his arm and drag him to my other side. I think he thought this was a cool game. Or he just likes seeing me aggravated, he is my son after all.

So as we're headed back to the car, there Alayna and I are, clicking away, taking more pictures than a busload of Japanese tourists, and Raine is dropping further and further behind. Nothing unusual there, there's no real reason for her to keep up. Usually we bolt ahead, and while we're focusing and framing or whatever the hell photo-bugs do, Raine will catch up and pass us. The 'catching up' part happened with less and less frequency as we got closer to the car. At the same time I notice that Dave had developed some strange gravity disease. I'm pretty sure he did anyway, because the further we went along the more I felt like I was towing him. Through oatmeal. (perhaps there's some strange oatmeal universe he partially phases into, I don't know) Raine and Dave were acting like they were on a Trail of Tears/Bataan Death March combo pack and Layna and I just looked at each other and shrugged. We couldn't figure it out. I totalled it up in my head later and I figure we walked something like 6 miles in the two hours we were there. That could be either a Trail of Tears or a Death March. Not both. They're just... wussies I guess.

On a strange, but kinda cool Western Keystone note: Since Heinz Field sits right next to the Ohio/Alegheny river(s) I ran into a whole new type of tailgater. Or nautical nutjobs, as I like to call them. This friendly but fanatic group ties up, sometimes three or four houseboats deep, for about half a mile along the bank of the North Shore side of the river. They tie up their large (insert incredibly expensive) houseboats at the walk side, fire up their gennies, plug in their 42 inch plasma tv's (I counted 4) and watch the game.... on tv... 600 yards away from the stadium. Then, all boozed up they play bumper-boats all the way back to their home berth. The only guy I actually sort of understood was the one that was riding up and down the walkway on a little cooler/scooter. I so wanted to push him in the river and swipe that thing, but there were too many people around.... and Raine told me I couldn't have one unless she got to ride it back to the car... oh well, better luck next time.

Raine, Dave and I did go back Saturday when the boat was open. We walked all around the boat after waiting in a line that was twice as long as the (327 foot long) ship, past the really creepy statue of Mr. Rogers (he's from here, did you know that?). It was kind of a 'here the crap is, keep the line moving' kind of a tour, but it was actually pretty cool walking around just about the only working reminder of D-Day. There were 55 gallon drums instead of depth charges, and Raine did bug the guy in the crew galley trying to get him to serve us lunch (it was a long line), but all in all it was fun. The crew were knowledgeable and friendly, some of the local historical nuts brought their own vehicles (to assist in the invasion), one guy had just finished restoring a Vietnam-era PBR (Patrol Boat-River) the day before the LST passed and joined the trip. And once I fed everyone there were no (further) complaints.

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