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Viva La Resistance!

Fort Necessity

Resistance to Donald Trump’s whacked out policies comes in all forms, including scarves.

It’s evident at the Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Farmington, Pa. The park commemorates the skirmishes that sparked the French and Indian War, which then ignited a world war.

As we entered the small visitor center, I noticed the National Park volunteer behind the counter was knitting a beautiful multi-colored scarf.

Volunteer with climate change tapestry. She’s using a linen stitch to knit in the different colors on the scarf.

I’m a knitter. Knitting is a universal language. I’ve met knitters in Mexico, and even though I don’t speak Spanish, we exchanged knitting techniques.

Forget the historic battlefield. I immediately wanted to know what the volunteer was knitting, what kind of yarn she was using and what stitch.

I’m knitting a scarf with colors representing climate change, the volunteer explained. Volunteers across the country are knitting the scarves as part of a tapestry project to show visitors how climate change affects the national parks. The different colored yarns represent daily temperature for a year. Blue yarn represents cooler temperatures. Yellows, reds and oranges represent warmer days.

One scarf represents the year the park was founded and the other will be the current year, she explained. They’ll be displayed together so that people can easily see how the park’s climate has changed, she said.

That’s cool. A small act of resistance.

Climate scarf

The resistance to the Trump, though, goes further.

Later Joe went back to buy a postcard at the small park gift shop. He got to talking to the volunteer again.

National Park rangers have long kept track of the weather statistics for their parks, she explained. The collected information was uploaded to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s databases, adding to the agency’s knowledge about the nation’s weather and climate.

Two weeks after Donald Trump took office rangers were ordered to stop tracking the climate, she said. They were told it wasn’t their job to collect information on the climate.

That’s when the volunteers stepped up. They now keep daily records. When the Climate Denier in Chief leaves office, the information will be dumped back into NOAA’s databases, she said.

Viva La Resistance! Whether it takes the form of a scarf or recording data for future generations.

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Why I was staring into the men’s room

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Whenever Joe and I go to a national park I always ask a ranger what I should go see. What is something cool that most people miss?

That question lead me and my cousin Joy to poke our heads into the men’s room of The Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh.

The Duquesne Club is a private club founded in 1873 by industrialists like Andrew Carnegie as an exclusive men’s club. The building on Sixth Avenue opened in 1890 and the club didn’t admit women until nearly a century later. It currently has 2,400 to 2,700 members, according to the concierge I spoke with.

You have to be invited to join. My invite must be lost in the mail, or my spam folder.

My cousin Joy and her husband Scott, however, got an invitation to an event put on by their financial adviser. I jumped at the chance when they asked Joe and I to tag along.

Joy and Scott
Joy and Scott snuck into the “Members Only” lounge at the Duquesne Club.

 

The event was fun, two comedians, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. No sales pitch. Better yet, afterwards we were free to roam around the exclusive club with its walls filled with original art, including some Frederic Remington sculptures, and beautiful antiques.

 

That’s Joy standing beneath a painting of Cousin Andrew.

Joy and I stopped by the front desk near the revolving front door where a doorman dressed in a black coat and bowler stood outside on the sidewalk. We peppered the concierge with questions about the art work and the people who’ve stayed overnight in its 42 hotel rooms.

So what’s the one thing we shouldn’t miss? I asked.

The first floor men’s room, she replied. The concierge explained that the men’s room is huge.

It was a men’s club for a century before it opened membership to women. The room is now a little smaller after renovations to install a women’s room. After weddings you’ll find the brides and bridesmaids in the men’s room looking around, she said. Just get your husband to go in and open the door wide, she said.

Joy and I had to go to the men’s room. Forget the tired husbands, our aching feet in high heels, we had to see this plumbing wonder.

Down the oak paneled hall, past the billiard room, across from a large glassed in dining area was the magic door marked “Gentlemen.”

Scott pushed open the door and held it wide.

It was the largest men’s room I’d ever seen. To the left was a shoeshine bench, rows of sinks stood along that wall. The entire room was done in marble.

But don’t ask me about the urinals, I didn’t look to the right.

Joe was unimpressed. “It was big and marble.”

mens room
The men’s room at the Duquesne Club.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undiscovered Pittsburgh

We had expected to spend our winter exploring southern Texas and Arizona, but God had other plans.

A minor medical procedure on Joe’s legs has forced us to spend the winter in Pittsburgh. But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up exploring.

Currently we’re living like college students above a store front on Warrington Avenue in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Because we live upstairs, we can’t just tie Nikki out like we would in a motorhome. That means at least four times a day Joe takes the dog out for a walk in the neighborhood. Nik’s a great ambassador. People who won’t look up when you pass by will stop us to talk about our blue-eyed dog.

On his daily walks Joe found two really cool buildings.

On one of his walks Joe noticed was a two-story brick building and tower up on a hill a couple of blocks away.  Climbing the hill for a closer look he found the 1909 Beltzhoover Sub-District School.

 

The building was used as a school until sometime in the 2000s and is now for sale. It’s an impressive building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. We don’t know why it was placed on the register. Did someone famous go there? Was it designed by a well-known architect? Information about the school is not yet digitized on the federal government’s website.

While researching the school, a story in the Tribune about one of the six oldest houses in Pittsburgh popped up. It’s a little field stone house near us on Climax Street.

old house pix

The building dates to 1794 when German immigrant Melchoir Beltzhoover, who bought 248 hilltop acres on what was then the western frontier and built a house on his farm. There’s a Facebook page that explains a lot about Beltzhoover, his family, business and how he came to Pittsburgh.

old house front
Beltzhoover homestead

The front of the building on Climax Street looks like a 1900s store front that was later converted to housing. The vacant lots beside it are weedy and overgrown. The store front is attached to the two-story field stone building. The news story says someone from Baltimore bought the building and land for $20,000, but he hasn’t done anything with it.

It’s not likely anything will be done to the building. Beltzhoover is not a prosperous area by any means. The properties around the homestead are run down or abandoned and that area of the city hasn’t drawn developers to redevelop properties like the South Side, the Mexican War Streets or Lawrenceville.

The Beltzhoover homestead sets me to dreaming. What would I do if I had the money to return that old house to its former glory? And what else lies undiscovered in this neighborhood?